With travel to Europe so restricted at this time, we asked the Travel Experts to take a look around New Zealand and Australia and find us some “Pockets of Europe” where we could indulge in some European culture & heritage until we can travel again. Here’s what they found!
In this post:
- NEW ZEALAND
- An historic bavarian village- PUHOI
- A French Settlement- AKAROA
- Such very very scottish ARCHITECTURE! – DUNEDIN
- A touch of the netherlands in Foxton-THE DE molen windmill
- The AMBIENCE Of Austria & the Swiss Alps in Hanmer SPRINGS
- Strong ScandinaviaN heritage in Dannevirke
- New Regent Street- a touch of Europe in Christchurch
- EdinburgH of the south -Another view of Dunedin
- Hahndorf- little germany!
- A TOUCH OF SPAIN -Australia’s only monastic town – New Norcia
- STRONG ITALIAN INFLUENCE & birthplace of the coffee culture in Melbourne- CARLTON
- A little bit of England near hobart-New norfolk & salmon ponds
- JUST LIKE PARIS- MELBOURNE’S “Covered passages”
- Maclean NSW- the scottish town in australia
- A TASTE OF GERMANY- MORE ABOUT HAHNDORF
An historic bavarian village- PUHOI
Less than an hour’s drive from the center of Auckland, just off the main highway, is a small rural community that is one of the very few historic villages in New Zealand. In the early 1800s, it was settled by a group of hard-working immigrants from Bohemia which was in the country now known as the Czech Republic.
Puhoi Village is worth a detour when you’re traveling north and it’s also a great day trip from Auckland. The first thing you’ll notice is a shrine on the roadside just before you reach the village. This is not a common sight in New Zealand and reflects the European Catholic influence.
Many of the original buildings are still there. The Puhoi Pub and stables is a very popular place and is laden with interesting memorabilia of all sorts. There’s the century-old church and one of the smallest town libraries anywhere in the world! The Museum is located in the original Catholic school and the General Store still operates from the main street. A wander around the cemetery gives an insight into the lives and families of the settlers.
Further up the road on the old goat farm is the very modern Puhoi Valley Cheese Company where you can sample award-winning cheeses, yogurts, and organic milk. Many of today’s residents in Puhoi are descended from the original pioneering families.
A French Settlement- AKAROA
An hour south of Christchurch, on the South Island of New Zealand, is the Banks Peninsula. I discovered it purely by accident when I had a few hours left in New Zealand and did not want to hang around Christchurch.
“Why not take a final drive before flying out?” I thought. It’s only an hour’s drive and the scenery is very pretty, with rolling green hills and coastal views so it was promising.
The Banks Peninsula is quite distinctive on the map. It’s the result of a volcanic explosion millions of years ago, with a deep and sheltered harbour in what remains of the original crater.
Akaroa is the main township, on the edge of the harbour. To get there, you need to drive along the road that meanders around the harbour. If you have time and are comfortable driving on narrow roads, the Summit Road is a fantastic drive along the edges of the crater. The views of the peninsula are stunning.
When you get to Akaroa, you will probably do a double-take, I know I did! The French flags, French shops and French restaurants seemed out of place, so far away in the Southern Hemisphere. But here it is!
The French established a small settlement just two years after the British colonized what is now New Zealand. For 10 years, the pioneers in the small French colony hunted whales in the area. Eventually, the British Empire bought them out and that little piece of France in New Zealand disappeared.
But some of the settlers remained and their descendants now keep the memory of this unique adventure alive. Today in Akaroa, some streets have French names, restaurants and cafés serve French food and the French memorial sits on the waterfront. And of course, some of the settlers rest in the French cemetery, which is quite moving.
With this identity unique in New Zealand, Akaroa is a very pleasant destination for a few days when you visit New Zealand.
By Delphine from LesterLost
Such very very scottish ARCHITECTURE! – DUNEDIN
Dunedin offers a distinctly Scottish and European experience for visitors looking for European influences and architecture in the South Island. Scottish settlers founded the city of Dunedin in 1848. The founders wanted to give Dun-Edin a Scottish look and feel. To do this, they modeled the central feature of the city, the “Octagon” and its streets after the layout and streets of Edinburgh. Still today, George and Princes streets form the main roads through town, just like Edinburgh’s main streets at the time.
As Dunedin grew through the gold rush of the 1860s, the city built a number of European-inspired buildings. Many of the 150-year-old buildings in Dunedin have Gothic and Gothic Revival features, including highly decorative finishes and elaborate, high arches, and spires on the outside of the building.
Today you can tour many of the Scottish and European-styled buildings in Dunedin. The central Octagon offers the best starting point to visit the two Presbyterian churches, one with an ornate wood ceiling and the other with soaring spires and flying buttresses on the outside. From the Octagon down George Street to the University of Otago, you’ll find many European inspired buildings and even some newer additions, including the Robbie Burns Pub. The Octagon is a short walk from the university campus, where you can view the clock tower and adjacent buildings that look very similar to buildings at the University of Glasgow and Edinburgh. The Otago Museum sits across from the University’s library, and the Trinity Methodist Church, home to the Fortune Theatre until its closure in 2018, sits just beyond campus on Stuart Street.
Dunedin offers visitors rich, European inspired architecture and history, visible throughout the city. From the University of Otago’s historic buildings to Dunedin’s Octagon and First Presbyterian Gothic Revival Church, you’ll find a surprising variety and number of European influences and styles throughout Dunedin.
By Michelle Earwicker from Mod Fam Global
A touch of the netherlands in Foxton-THE DE molen windmill
In Foxton, which is a town in the Manawatū-Whanganui region of New Zealand, stands a full-size replica of a Dutch windmill called De Molen. It was built in 2003 and this Stellingmolen windmill produces stone-ground flour.
The project began when a couple of Dutchmen had bought land in Foxton to grow tulip bulbs. The land reminded them very much of the Netherlands and they decided to build a full size operational 17th-century replica Dutch windmill. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the mill and climb up three floors, to witness the wooden mechanical workings of the mill.
On the ground floor are The Dutch Market and Dutch Deli where the milled stone-ground flour can be purchased along with a wide variety of Dutch products including imported Dutch cheeses, croquettes, and eel.
The Foxton Windmill Trust organizes a very popular “Big Dutch Day Out” every April. This colorful festival includes everything Dutch! There is Dutch music, Dutch games, Dutch costumes, favorite Dutch foods, and even a horse-drawn tram decorated in Dutch colors. A fun day out.
The AMBIENCE Of Austria & the Swiss Alps in Hanmer SPRINGS
If you want the feel of an Austrian Alpine village, with ski slopes just over an hour away, then you should pay a visit to Hamner Springs in the Southern Alps, which is about an hour and a half in a car from Christchurch.
This village is in the foothills of the Southern Alps and has borrowed extensively from Swiss Alpine architecture. Grab a drink at the Alpine Village Inn, or some delicious food at Restaurant No 31 which is an award-winning restaurant offering a combination of local produce European inspired dishes such as the Alpine Merino Lamb Loin.
One thing you get in Hamner, which you wouldn’t find in the Swiss Alps, is the hot springs themselves. These natural sulfur-rich hot springs provide a relaxing and soothing experience that is said to boost blood circulation, reduce stress, promote sleep, and relieve pain. Certainly, something for the Europeans to envy!
By Nancy Moor from Around the World at the Weekend
As you drive into this little town between Palmerston North and Hastings you are left in no doubt about it’s Scandinavian Heritage! A huge Viking greets you on the Welcome sign and another huge Viking sign farewells you in Danish when you leave.
Dannevirke translates to “work of the Danes.” In the 1870s twenty-one Danish and Norwegian settlers arrived in Dannevirke to clear the native forests and begin farming. They initially made railway sleepers from the Totora trees and there were 50 sawmills in the area at one time. As the trees were milled and the land was cleared they were able to start farming. A huge fire in 1917 destroyed many of the original buildings in the town.
The strong Scandinavian heritage is evident throughout the town today. The Information Centre has a large Viking sign hanging above it. The playground has been designed around a Viking ship. The Gallery Of History is a must-see for visitors to the town. There are many quirky features and obscure museums like The Fantasy Cave and Dave’s Den!
New Regent Street- a touch of Europe in Christchurch
If you’re craving to experience a bit of Europe in New Zealand, then look no further than Christchurch. Christchurch is a beautiful city located in New Zealand’s South Island that is known for its lovely gardens, parks, and picturesque streets lined with trees. It is for this precise reason that it is also called the “Garden City” of New Zealand and is so very ‘English’ through and through.
There are several pockets in Christchurch that remind you of the English and European charm. Rolleston Avenue in the central city area with its parks, museums, streets, and buildings is one of them. The Heathcote Valley area with stunning views of Mount Cavendish and Lake Ellesmere is another such pocket in Christchurch. Of course, the punters on the River Avon that runs through Christchurch make a picture postcard English scene.
However, if you too, like me, associate Europe with its streets, then the New Regent Street is literally a mini-Europe on its own. Filled with pastel-colored buildings, quaint open-air cafes, bars with rustic wooden interiors, tiled shop fronts, the street is a must-visit if you’re in Christchurch.
You can spot the Spanish Mission style architecture in the buildings with lovely facades, cute balconies, and charming windows. The best part about the street is that it falls in the tram route that shows you around Christchurch, so getting here is really convenient. You can get on the tram and explore this one-of-a-kind European street in the city at your own pace.
There are some great places to eat, grab a drink, and even shop on this street that takes you on your European nostalgia trip. So remember to include this street in your New Zealand itinerary if you want to taste a slice of Europe.
By Vaibhav Mehta from The Wandering Vegetable
EdinburgH of the south -Another view of Dunedin
Dunedin in New Zealand isn’t always high on the tourist to-do list, however, both the city itself and the surrounding natural beauty of the Otago region are well worth a visit. From sublime street art to the world’s steepest street (recently regained from Wales), plus a bevy of breweries and bars to unwind in (it is a largely student city after all), Dunedin is a delightful escape.
As we are travellers from the UK. There was an odd feeling of deja vu for us when we first visited Dunedin. From the stone architecture to the geographical layout, it felt like we’d returned home. As it turns out, this is due to the Scottish ancestry and forefathers that travelled to New Zealand to establish the area in the 1840s.
Dunedin’s name originates from the Gaelic word for Edinburgh – Scotland’s largest city, and even the road layouts and titles replicate those back in Scotland. So much so that some even refer to Dunedin as the ‘Edinburgh of the south’.
Today, Dunedin has a rich mix of the modern and traditional heritage, and much of that history still continues today, from one of their main breweries (Emerson’s) beer range being inspired by the owner’s European adventures to the scotch whiskey bars and tartan clothing available in downtown – although we didn’t find any haggis…
By Neil Hassall of CK Travels
Hahndorf- little germany!
If you’re missing Germany, the small town of Hahndorf just outside of Adelaide will supply all the pretzels, beer steins and oompah music your heart desires in one adorable package.
Established in 1939, Hahndorf is Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement. Started originally by 52 farming families, it now fully embraces its Deutsch heritage with a myriad of Germanic-themed shops, cafes and bierkellers complete with dirndl-clad servers, lining its small high street.
Must stops for anyone on a Euro-odyssey include the German Cake Shop Bakery where you’ll find hearty portions of strudel just asking to be covered in cream. Should you need a cuckoo clock or your own ornate stein, the German Village Shop has plenty to choose from.
And of course, there is beer. There are three German pubs in town – you could pick The German Arms whose vaulted timber ceilings and long wooden tables immediately conjure up images of Oktoberfest or choose to get cosy inside the snuggly stone walls of the Arcobrau Brauhaus. Both offer hearty portions of German staples like pretzels, sausages and pork knuckle to soak up the beer – which of course is served in 1ltr steins. Warning: they are NOT at German prices! When we went a stein cost AU$30 for a beer with an extra $20 deposit for the glass!
Hahndorf is located in the Adelaide Hills 28 kilometers away from Adelaide itself – making it a very easy day trip from Adelaide. You don’t even need to drive there if you are planning on partaking of some find German lager– the 864 bus goes to Hahndorf town centre from central Adelaide. It’s a busy route though, especially at weekends, so unless you want to stand for the one hour journey, try to get on at one of the first stops on the route.
Hahndorf is open all year round but is particularly special in Autumn when the trees that line the High Street turn a deep red and orange that really does make you think you’re in Europe. Proust!
By Helen from Diifferentville
A TOUCH OF SPAIN -Australia’s only monastic town – New Norcia
132 km north of Perth in Western Australia is a charming small town that is Australia’s only Monastic town, called New Norcia. In 1846 two Spanish Benedictines established a Benedictine mission there as a mission for the Aboriginal community in the area and the Benedictine monks still occupy the monastery today. “New Norcia” was named after Norcia in Italy, which was the birthplace of St Benedict.
The town’s architecture is strongly Spanish influenced by its stone 19th-century buildings and apart from the monastery itself, there are many cultural and historical buildings including an old mill, a wine press, a hotel, art galleries, a museum, and two old boarding schools.
New Norcia Art Gallery displays paintings by Spanish and Italian Masters and contemporary Australian artists, as well as gifts from the Queen of Spain and some interesting artefacts that trace New Norcia’s eclectic history.
The bakery that was established in 1886 still produces delicious bread, nutcakes, and biscotti. Silver medal award-winning olive oil is made from the olives grown in the 100-year-old olive grove.
Visitors are free to wander around the town on self-guided tours and there are twice-daily guided tours to explore the interiors of the buildings with all their amazing artwork, antiquities and artifacts.
STRONG ITALIAN INFLUENCE & birthplace of the coffee culture in Melbourne- CARLTON
Australia is full of European influences. From Sydney to Melbourne, Perth or Brisbane, you will find a little bit of Europe everywhere.
If you are heading to Melbourne, make sure to go to Carlton. Known as “little Italy”, it’s one of the best neighbourhoods in the city.
Carlton is split into two. In old Carlton you will find beautiful houses with Italian influence. It was where most Italians established their base back in the days. Later on the district got bigger and that’s how New Carlton came to life. Nowadays, New Carlton and Lygon Street specifically are home to the best Italian restaurants and cafes in Australia!
It was the birthplace of the coffee culture in Melbourne and is the reason why you will find amazing coffee in Australia.
If you want to grab a delicious cup of coffee, head to DOC Espresso. Not only is the coffee delicious but the staff is actually italian! Perfect for a traditional and authentic experience! For an amazing pizza, Ti Amo will be the perfect place for you! It’s just a bit further down Lygon Street.
Another landmark that was strongly inspired by the Italian culture is La Mama theatre, on Faraday Street near Carlton Gardens. Unfortunately, it burnt down in 2018 but you can still see it from outside and they are planning on rebuilding it soon!
By Pauline Vergnet from “BeeLoved City”
A little bit of England near hobart-New norfolk & salmon ponds
Fly fishing for trout in country streams and manicured open gardens. It is a quintessentially English scene, but one you can experience less than an hour from Hobart.
The Salmon Ponds Heritage Hatchery and Gardens produced and introduced trout and salmon to Australia and New Zealand in the mid-1800s. The ponds were established so the European settlers could make Tasmania feel more like home. As a result, the Salmon Ponds have a strong European influence.
While the establishment of the salmon and trout fishery points to this, it’s the grounds that really take you to the northern hemisphere. Based on a traditional English open garden design, the grounds feature dozens of European trees, plants and lawned spaces. The ponds and water channels running between them are an integral part of the design.
Many of the trees are over 140 years old. Once you have had a go feeding the fish, keen gardeners can walk the grounds with a tree map. It is a great way to explore the gardens. When you’re done outside, the café serves delicious European style crepes.
New Norfolk is less than ten minutes from the Salmon Ponds. Set on the tree-lined banks of the River Derwent, the town contains some of Australia’s oldest churches and pubs. The town is full of original homesteads, inns and cottages whose design was heavily influenced by their European immigrant builders.New Norfolk is a lovely spot for exploring antique shops, walking along the river in autumn under deciduous trees and taking in the history of some of Australia’s earliest settlers.
By Steve & Natalie from Curious Campers
JUST LIKE PARIS- MELBOURNE’S “Covered passages”
I always read that Melbourne is the most European city in Australia and this was also my feeling during my trip down under. In Melbourne, especially in the central districts, there are many buildings with a beautiful Victorian architecture that could perfectly fit in London or in other cities in Northern Europe.
The Block Arcade in the central business district of Melbourne is like a bit of Paris in the heart of Melbourne. This shopping area was built at the end of the 19th century and it features etched-glass ceiling, amazing mosaic floors, and beautiful shops, just like the famous covered passages of Paris.
During its heydays “doing the block” (walking around the block) was a popular pastime of the most wealthy citizens, not only to shop but also to see and to be seen. Even today, the Block Arcade is one of Melbourne’s most popular tourist attractions and a must for anyone visiting Melbourne for the first time.
The Royal Arcade (335 Bourke St Mall) is perhaps the most beautiful covered walkway in this area and also the most Parisian. It was built between 1869 and 1870 and it is Melbourne’s oldest. This beautiful covered passage features a high glass roof and rows of arched windows to the storerooms above each shop and it is remarkable for its elegant interiors.
By Elisa from World in Paris.
Maclean NSW- the scottish town in australia
Maclean is a riverside town on the banks of the Clarence River in the northern rivers region NSW on the traditional lands of the Yaegl people. Inland 15 minutes from the coastal town of Yamba, 3 hours south of Brisbane, and 7 hours north of Sydney, Maclean has become known as “The Scottish Town in Australia.”
In 1986 the Sottish Town In Australia Association formed to promote and celebrate the towns proud Scottish and Gaelic heritage and it does in a number of ways –
* The Highland Gathering is a Gaelic theme festival held over Easter each year with events like highland games, dancers and bagpipes.
* The Chiefs Tartan Poles are 5 poles painted to represent the past 14 chiefs that have ruled over the past Maclean Highland Gatherings. The tall poles arranged in the shape of the St Andrews Cross in Herb Stanford Park.
* The Tartan Poles are over 200+ tartan painted telegraph poles that line Maclean streets. Originally some poles were painted in preparation for the 2000 Olympic Games Torch coming to town. The poles got such high praise that many more poles have since been painted in the clan colours of many families in the area.
* The Maclean Scottish Shop sells all kinds of memorabilia you’d expect to find in any tourist shop in Scotland. The store is also a tourist information hub for visitors.
* The Maclean Bicentennial Scottish Cairn is a memorial to past Scottish settlers built-in 1988 from rocks collected in Scotland and from families with Scottish roots in Australia.
* The Maclean Stone Cottage and Bicentennial Museum each display historical collections of the region’s Scottish heritage as well as Aboriginal, WWII and other memorabilia. It is one of rural Australia’s most popular purpose-built museums.
This rural town is like no place you will find in Scotland. This Scottish Town in Australia is every bit proud of its heritage.
By Emma Kelly from Our Wayfaring Life
A TASTE OF GERMANY- MORE ABOUT HAHNDORF
Hahndorf is a small town in the Adelaide Hills, about thirty minutes drive from the city centre. It is an old German settlement, first established in 1839, so by Australian standards it’s been around a while. Much of the German heritage has been preserved, and it’s a great town to enjoy a stroll and some great food.
During your visit pick up some of the German-influenced foods. Perhaps some spaetzle or a pork hock at the German Arms Hotel, a trio of wurst at Haus, or head to The German Cake Shop for all your favourite sweet treats. And of course, everywhere will serve up a stein of German beer.
Hahndorf has plenty of small specialty stores to keep you occupied for hours. After you have eaten, wear off all of that food by fossicking through all the stores for unique gifts and bargain buys. As you walk down the main street, enjoy the German-style half-timbered buildings along the way.
Look out for stores selling cheese, knives, books, candles, sweets, honey, leather goods, jewelry, and my favourite of all, The German Village Shop, that is filled to the brim with all things German. Here is the place to buy your cuckoo clock or beer stein or bawdy milkmaid apron!
Hahndorf also happens to be set in one of South Australia’s premier wine regions, and the wineries in the area do like to grow German grape varieties. Go wine tasting and imagine you are instead doing the same in the Rhineland. Look out too for festivals and events that bring even more of that European feeling to this small part of South Australia.
By Josie Kelsh of Josie Wanders