The Cimetière Catholiques or French Cemetery as it came to be known is the oldest consecrated European cemetery in the South Island. It opened in 1840 and is now closed.

Akaroa French Cemetery

The cemetery is located on a flat terrace in the L’Aube Hill Reserve(external link). From early photographs it appears the cemetery had good views down to the township and the waterfront, which is very different to the enclosed feeling the cemetery has today surrounded by established trees and dense shrub vegetation. The layout of the original cemetery is now not visible and there are no remaining headstones as they were removed in the 1926 clean up
of the cemetery.

As part of the 50th anniversary of the constitution of the Akaroa Borough, the cemetery was given a total face lift. Funded by the War Graves Commission, all existing plant fabric and remnant grave material was cleared from the grounds. Bodies were reburied in a central plot and two coffin inscription plates were salvaged and included as memorial fabric mounted on a central memorial. The central memorial feature lists the names of those known to be buried on L’Aube Hill as far as it was possible to ascertain.

The cemetery was the first in Akaroa and therefore would have had both French and English burials until the Akaroa Anglican Cemetery and Akaroa Dissenters Cemetery were opened at the opposite end of the Akaroa settlement. Early descriptions of the original cemetery landscape indicate that it was originally hedged with Gorse, Ornamental Willow trees and Roses.