Places of Worship

Akaroa and The Bays warmly welcomes all denominations for worship. And with ties to early European settlement, Akaroa is home to historic churches more than 100 years old, but equally cherished today.

Saint Peter's Anglican Church (1864)

St Peter’s have entered into a partnership for worship and mission with Trinity Presbyterian Church, Rue Lavaud. St Peter’s hosts services on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month at 9.30 am. Trinity Presbyterian host the services on the 2nd and 4th Sundays, also at 9.30 am. A special community-oriented service is held later in the day when there is a 5th Sunday. A timber copy of an English parish church. Enquiries can be made to Rev Michael Baker. Free guided tours of the church are available.

St Peter's Church memorials, Akaroa from NZ Govt site:


“This Jesus God raised up, and that we all are witnesses” Acts 2:32


The French settlers had arrived in Akaroa ten years before the first Anglican church was built in 1851.  It was situated at No.54 Church St. on a section that is now part of the Area School in Rue Jolie.  The architect was Samuel Farr, and the contract price for the building was £98.

The congregation, and a more central site was given by the resident magistrate, Mr John Watson, in Rue Balguerie.  The building of St. Peter's was made possible by grants from the Canterbury Provincial Government, the Diocese, the sale of the Church Street Church and subscriptions from personal donors.  Work commenced on the new Church in 1863 and was completed in 1864.  It is thought to be a Selwyn Church after George Augustus Selwyn, the first Bishop of New Zealand.  The builders were Messrs. Checkley, Bates, and Newton.

A meeting of parishioners in 1876 referred to the need for more room, and Messrs Kane and Drewett drew up plans for enlargement.  Transepts were added, giving extra space for the choir and organ.  The sanctuary was retained and moved eastward.  Mr Penlington's tender of £280 for the work was accepted.  On St. Mark's Day, 25th April 1877, the new transepts were opened with a choral service with selections from the "Messiah".

In October 1907 repairs were made to the cross on top of St. Peter's; damaged by the wind.  Two years later the Church was painted for £17, in 1950 it was again painted for £140.  By 1996 the cost for painting, including the lounge, had risen to $10,875.

The Rev. William Josiah Aylmer became the first Vicar in 1851.  He and his wife together with six children made "Glencarrigh" their home, during his 33 years in Akaroa.  Still standing but with additions, it is located at No.7 Percy Street, in that part of town once called Aylmerton.  A keen gardener and lover of nature, he was much loved by his parishioners, and laid strong foundations for the growing Parish.  He retired in 1873 and continued to live in Akaroa until his death in 1883.  His body was laid to rest in the Akaroa Cemetery, and his name lives on in the beautiful Aylmer's Valley.  William and Percy Streets are named after a son and daughter respectively.

St. Peter's has many memorials that speak for themselves, but the grave in the churchyard needs an explanation.  The inscription on it reads “Sacred to the memory of the Rev. E.B. Nevill, Curate of Wanganui.  Born at Nottingham, September 29 1835.  Died January 31 1875”.  His brother, the Right Reverend Samuel Tarratt Nevill, first Bishop of Dunedin, decided that his brother Edmund, should be buried near the east end of the church instead of in the cemetery.  As there was no vicar in Akaroa at the time, the Bishop chose the place of burial and found a grave digger who worked through the night in pouring rain, working under a tarpaulin.  From time to time the Bishop brought hot refreshments.  At about 4.00 am the grave was ready, the coffin was brought, and the Bishop read the burial service.  That morning he left by stage coach for Pigeon Bay, Lyttelton and Christchurch.  The Vestry considered removing the body at a meeting on September 4, 1877 and decided that the grave should remain, but that this burial should not set a precedent for any future interment in the churchyard.

Among the church's treasures is a Communion Set with the Canterbury Arms and inscribed in Latin “For use in the Church of Canterbury”.  This set of paten and chalice is one of the sets that came on the First Four Ships which reached Lyttelton in December 1850.

The organ was installed in 1869 by Richard West of Dunedin who imported it from London.  The action was mechanical throughout.  In 1965 it was found that the trackers, roller boards and action in general was impossible to repair.  Restoration was completed in 1971.  The stops, Open Diapason, Gamba, Dulciana and Principal are on the origins bar and slider chest.  The stop action for these is mechanical.  The remainder of the organ is direct electric.  A one-horse power three-phase motor drives the wooden fan for the blower.

From the first registers we read that in the 1850's and 60's there was a wide range of occupations and professions in Akaroa.  As well as sawyers, carpenters, farmers, shopkeepers, and bushmen, the records speak of a lawyer, doctor, schoolmaster, postmaster, boatman, custom's officer, cooper, brick maker, and hotel keeper.  The first recorded baptisms, marriages and burials were in 1851.  Between 1851 and 1860, of 24 burials, only four passed the age of 40 years and the average age is a little under 27 years.  As well as hardships that the settlers had to face, the early cessation of life was due mainly to the struggle against nature as the records so poignantly show.

Vicars of Akaroa:
• W.J. Aylmer 1851-73                                               
• Henry Cooper 1873-77                                           
• P.C. Anderson 1877- 79                                          
• Harry Stocker 1879-82                                            
• Arthur Davidson 1882-87                                        
• McKenzie Gibson 1887-90                                     
• E.A. Lingard 1891-92                                              
• T. Jasper Smyth 1892-03                                        
• W.W. Sedgwick 1903-04                                        
• A.H. Julius 1904-24                                                 
• Alban Purchas 1924-28                                           
• Cecil Wilson 1928-31                                              
• Henry N. Wright 1931-1937                                    
• A.J. Petrie 1937-40
• R.P. Andrews 1941-43
• Frank Ault 1948-52
• F.C. Allen 1952-55
• Wilfred Bool 1955-61
• John Merton 1961-64
• William Dewey 1964-68
• John Coulson 1968-72
• Lawrence Wards 1972-78
• Donald Williams 1978-84
• Martin Warren 1985-97
• Stephen Baxter 1997-2000
• Diana Rattray 2001-2003
• Rory Redmayne-2004-2010
• 2012-2015 John and Rae Major
• 2015-          Michael Baker

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Trinity Church (1886) - Presbyterian

Trinity Church (1886) - Presbyterian

The first Presbyterian Church was built at 57 Rue Lavaud in 1860. The present church was erected in 1886. We are in the process of merging with the local Anglican Parish as a Mission Church. At present church services are held at St Peters Anglican, or Trinity Presbyterian at 9.30am each Sunday. Most of these are non liturgical. Notice boards at each of the churches show the location of the weekly services. Mainly Music 10.00 am Mondays during the term. This is a nation wide pre school music gathering, to which visiting mothers and children are welcome. Contact Ken Paulin 03 304 7012 for use of the grounds or buildings, or Clive Weir 3047151.

Akaroa combined churches web site:  

Akaroa Craft Market Contact:

Jose Thomson
Phone: 03 3291000
Cell Phone: 027 4302308

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Church of Saint Patrick (1864) - Catholic

Church of Saint Patrick (1864) - Catholic

The first mass was celebrated in Akaroa in August 1840, and this church, the third, was built in the 1865. Mass is at 10 am on Wednesday and Friday and always at NOON when a Cruise ship is in Akaroa harbour. Mass time is also on SUNDAY at 9.30 am. Visitors and Cruise ship tourists are most welcome. Enquiries are welcomed for marriages, baptisms and funerals. Ring Fr Paul Shannahan sm 03 304-7083.

Christmas Services:

• St Patricks. 25 Rue Lavaud, Akaroa. All welcome.
Christmas Masses.  8pm on Christmas Eve. At 9.30 am Christmas Day.
At St John’s Little River at 5 pm Mass in Church grounds on Christmas Eve.
This Church is closed awaiting earthquake reconstruction.
St Patricks is open to visitors all day every day. Make a visit. Light a candle. Say a prayer.

The French clergyman Bishop Pompallier offered the first Episcopal Mass in the South Island at Akaroa. This pretty church, with its dark backdrop of manuka bush and ornate fret-worked fascia boards, is the third on the site (the first burned down; the second blew away!).
Constructed from rough-sawn totara slabs the interior features an intricate stained glass window behind the altar, various plaster icons and side windows with red crosses and Latin inscriptions. Stand at the front of the nave and look down the rows of pews to the view of French Bay out the front door.

Services: 9.30am Sunday
Open Hours: 9am-5pm daily.  The Parish Priest is in residence next to the Church.

Church of Saint Patrick (1865) - Catholic
Address: 29 Rue Lavaud
P.O. Box 30
Akaroa    7542.    New Zealand
Phone /Fax     03 304 7083       Email   


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