219 Days on the Road
So we’re back on track in Akaroa and 365 days doing 365 activities thanks to loads of amazing people. After the unfortunate campervan incident of yesterday, we were left homeless and transportless for the foreseeable future. (We guess that’s the disadvantage of using your van as your home). But this morning, we are waking up in a friend’s cousin’s spare room in Akaroa. The journey continues! Although we’re so bummed that we didn’t get the chance to stay in our camper at Onuku, Akaroa Top 10 Holiday Park and Madeira, we’re super grateful to the folks at Pohatu Penguins for letting us reside in their sleep-out! Jucy have also saved this trip by renting us their last and final people-mover available in Christchurch. Now, we can get on discovering the awesome activities the “French Capital of New Zealand” has to offer, such as today’s fast-paced thrill of an activity!
Akaroa Jet Adventures
We park up the Jucy car in Akaroa and head down to the waterfront, bustling with people at this hugely busy time of the year between Christmas and New Year. We’re weaving between people, gift shops, French-named cafes and activities all promising the experience of a lifetime. We stop at the store for Akaroa Jet Adventures – a high-speed adrenaline-filled way of exploring the Akaroa Harbour.
We check-in and Critter, our driver and guide, hands us the essential wind/splash jacket and life jacket. Then we’re heading to a 14 or 15-seater jet boat roped up at a jetty. Critter takes the time to place people where they would prefer to sit, with the front two seats requiring seatbelts because the force in the 360 spins are strong, to the force getting steadily less the further back you sit. Because we have cameras we’d rather not get too wet, we sit at the back this time. (That’s the only reason, we swear! We’re usually very brave little soldiers!)
After a quick safety briefing, we slowly make our way out of the harbour until we are clear of any docked boats… Then, with the open flat water of the Akaroa Harbour ahead of us, it’s power to pedal. The initial shock of the wind blasting our our face makes it hard to even open our eyes. Without the obstructions and obstacles that you would usually find on river jet boating, the boat has the freedom to do what it does best: go freakin’ fast.
The beauty of Akaroa Harbour
Once our eyes adjust to the wind, we realise: “Holy sh*t, this place is beautiful”. We see a valley of nikau palms leading down to a waterfall trickling into the ocean below. The further out the harbour we go, the steeper, the more rugged, the more dramatic the cliffs get until we reach a series of sea caves carved by the power of the ocean.
Caves and arches
Critter stops the boat to tell us more about the geology of this harbour created by a volcano. He shows us examples in the dark-coloured cliffs with perfect layered lines running straight through. The waves crash against the cliffs, shooting water high into the air. Although Critter can usually take people into the caves on a calm day, the swell is way to high to take us any further today. (Although we love the caves, we’d rather not get lost in them forever).
Catching some serious speed down the Akaroa Harbour
From Akaroa industry to Akaroa history
There’s much more to see of the Akaroa Harbour, so Critter takes us “slowly” across the swell-filled outer edges of the harbour across to the other side. Along the way, we see a little blue penguin casually swimming at the surface of the water. Wildlife spottings continue around the salmon and paua farms, teasing shags with dinner.
Critter tells us more about these fishing industries in the Akaroa Harbour, then moves onto yet another beautiful bay to point out a World War Two bunker. He tells us stories of local fishermen having to use their torch/flashlight for Morse code to show that they were not a Japanese threat and they certainly shouldn’t get a canon fired at them! Although, it’s normal to forget some things sometimes…
It’s more than just the spins…
It seems there’s a story to every bay in the Akaroa Harbour, whether it’s about the forces of nature or about how people have used this beautiful place. By taking the time to talk to us about these places and show us some of the most stunning parts of the harbour only seen from the ocean, Akaroa Jet Adventures is more than just your 360-spin blast in the water. Ah, but don’t worry, all of that is still to come!
… Now bring on the 360 spins!
Now that we are in the flat sheltered area of the harbour, Critter gets us to hold on tight for some 360-degree spins! He travels a little way along the water, the jets give a sharp revving noise, and the boat turns on a dime. One second we’re facing the town of Akaroa relatively dry and feeling the anticipation, the next second we face Akaroa with a refreshing spray of water on our faces with the taste of sea salt on our lips. Yum!
Round and round we go, the jet boat giving five or six or seven spins around the harbour. Onlookers must think the driver has gone mad, but right here, we are giddily enjoying each spin as much as the last.
Feeling refreshed to sort our lives out
We return to shore, Robin looking like he’s peed his pants… (We assume it’s just sea water). We can conclude that it was definitely worth fighting so hard to stay in Akaroa after that thrill ride that, like we said, was more than a thrill ride!
It’s back to the sleep-out feeling refreshed, and getting back to work on NZPocketGuide.com and sorting out what the hell we are going to do about our campervan.
Tomorrow, we’re exploring the harbour at a different pace on a harbour cruise. Join us then!
Riding around in the midst of an ancient volcano
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See you tomorrow!