When Nick surprised me with a weekend away in Akaroa, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew very little about the only New Zealand town colonized by the French. Located on Banks Peninsula, Akaroa is approximately an hour and a half from Christchurch depending on traffic and how accustomed you are to New Zealand roads.
My limited knowledge of Akaroa worked in my favour as we spent a sunny Friday afternoon navigating the winding South Island roads. Immediately upon arrival, I spotted a tangled up French flag and knew I was in for a treat.
I was enrolled in French Immersion from kindergarten to grade twelve, which means the majority of my classes were conducted in French. Needless to say, I was delighted to hear French spoken by both the locals and tourists. While I knew Akaroa maintained some of its French character, I didn’t expect much more than French road names and freshly baked croissants.
Upon arrival, we headed straight to our bed and breakfast, Villa Vangioni (also a surprise!) where we were warmly greeted by innkeeper, Kirsty. My experience with B&Bs is basically non-existent and Villa Vangioni, an immaculate, gorgeously decorated boutique property with sweeping views of the sea, provided the perfect introduction. Every detail was seamlessly executed and Kirsty even armed us with dinner recommendations.
Care for a bath? The traditional freestanding bath is absolutely dreamy and I loved perusing the wide range of potions and candles on display.
There’s even a dining room where you’ll be graciously served by the lovely hostess, Kirsty. I wore stripes in hopes that I would look Parisian.
A night spent at Villa Vangioni delights from start to finish. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw these stockings hung at the foot of our bed. We had the entire upstairs to ourselves, and at the top of the staircase was a bench adorned with figure skates and a beautifully decorated Christmas tree. Every detail of the property is so carefully considered that I’m already dreaming about a return visit!
I couldn’t help but take a photo of these tiled floors in the bathroom!
Other highlights of Akaroa included dinner at The Little Bistro, this small restaurant has a lengthy wine list and resplendent views of the harbour. The cuisine is French, of course and service is attentive. I also recommend the Akaroa museum to gain some understanding of the town’s history.
A lovely spot for coffee is The Brasserie. The garden restaurant is an cozy spot to settle in with a flat white for some quality people watching.
From virtually any vantage point, within this small seaside town, there are plentiful views of the quiet harbour. Fortunately, we ventured to Akaroa just before prime tourist season, and it seemed as though we had the entire town to ourselves.
For more information or to book your stay at Villa Vangioni, visit the website.