Delve into the past in this fascinating little local museum with its three heritage buildings on the South Island’s Banks Peninsula.
The Akaroa Museum (Te Ware Taonga) may be small, but it gives an in-depth look into various aspects of the history of Akaroa and the surrounding Banks Peninsula. First visit its galleries in the main complex to enjoy a short journey through the Māori, French and British history of the region, then explore its nearby historic buildings.
While browsing the rooms of the Akaroa Museum, you will become familiar with the three different cultures that shaped the history of the peninsula. The permanent and temporary exhibitions in the main complex cover the region’s original Māori culture and the more recent influence of the French and British settlers. The displays touch on the local industries, such as whaling and agriculture, as well as art and fashion through the centuries. Browse the wide range of photographs to get a glimpse of Akaroa in times gone by. In the museum shop, buy a book about local and New Zealand history or purchase an intricate Māori carving as a special souvenir.
After visiting the main museum complex, take in the architecture of the small collection of historic buildings that are managed by the museum. Start with the Langlois-Eteveneaux cottage from the 1840s just outside. Because Akaroa is the only French settlement in New Zealand, this cute two-room French cottage is a rarity in the country. The wish to conserve it is what prompted the founding of the Akaroa Museum in 1964.
Afterwards, visit the Customs House from the 1850s near Daly’s Wharf, a short walk away. The museum also preserves the central Court House from the 1880s, which is also open to the public. Enter its small theater to watch a 20-minute video about the history of the region. Akaroa means “Long Harbor” in Māori and the documentary tells of the volcanic history of the peninsula.
Centrally located, the Akaroa Museum sits across the road from the Akaroa i-Site Visitor Information Centre. The gallery is open daily from mid morning to mid afternoon, but closed on Christmas Day and the morning of April 25 (Anzac Day). Entry fees apply. There is free on-street parking out front.