Tim travels to Akaroa for a visit with former rally driver who has a penchant for the Fiat marque
Akaroa sits on the edge of an ancient volcanic crater on the Banks Peninsula in the South Island. It also sits on the outer rim of French culture. In colonial times, French settlers heading for New Zealand thought they were about to settle in a new French colony. However, while at sea (to cut a long story short) the English beat them to it, signing over land to the British Empire. The French immigrants arriving at a new British colony simply shrugged their shoulders, and got to work creating a little slice of France out on the peninsula.
So, here I was in 2008, finding myself driving a German Beetle to a French settlement to see some Italian cars!
Leaving Christchurch in a bright red VW Beetle convertible, I passed briefly through Lyttleton where I spied a collectable old Maserati and rare old Isuzu Bellett coupe being unloaded at the wharf — hopefully bound for local classic car collectors.
On I wound through the Banks Peninsula hills until I arrived at the French flavoured Duvauchelle Hotel, now known as New Zealand’s oldest standing pub.
Not only did I sink an inviting cold drink at Duvauchelle, but I was amused in a Jungian sense to be met by the sight of a bright red VW Beetle model staring back at me over the counter. Talk about synchronicity!