Okains Bay

Okains Bay is a settlement, beach and bay on the Banks Peninsula in the South Island of New Zealand.

Okains Bay (December 2020)

It is located approximately 10 kilometres (6 mi) from the main town on the Banks Peninsula, Akaroa. It is 86km (90 minutes drive) from Christchurch. The sandy beach is popular with tourists and has a river estuary emptying into the bay. The settlement itself contains the Okains Bay Maori and Colonial Museum.[1] There is a camp ground on the beach near the estuary. The beach is often deserted and there is a large cave to explore at one end.[2]

Okains Bay

Maori settlement

Okains Bay is known as Kawatea in Maori. It is important to the Ngai Tahu because a rangatira or chief called Moki established his Pa or settlement here when Ngai Tahu migrated to Canterbury. Okains Bay has been recognized as the first landing place of Ngai Tahu on Banks Peninsula.[3] Carbon dating of artefacts suggest that Maori were present in Okains bay in the 1300s.[citation needed]

European settlement

Okains Bay gained its European name from a Captain Hamilton, who, when was sailing past, was reading a book written by Okain (O'Kane), an Irish naturalist.[4] It was first settled by Europeans around 1850. By September 1850 the first sections of land were sold by the Canterbury Association to the first European settlers. Due to the lack of roads, transport was to and from Lyttelton (21 miles away) by a steamer, which stopped along the way at Little Akaloa.[5]

The main sawmill began operating in 1874. It is now a shearing shed. Timber was moved by a trolley line to the first wharf which was situated at the centre of the beach. The cheese factory opened in 1894 and closed in 1968.

Three different wharves were built at different times to accommodate boats berthing at Okains Bay. They were used for transporting livestock, meat, wool, timber, grass seed, dairy produce, store provisions and people. The first two wharves became inoperable due to the movement of the sand around them. The third wharf was closed and demolished in 1964 and the timber from it was used to repair road bridges in 1964.[6]

Notable buildings

The Maori and Colonial Museum

Okains Bay Museum (December 2020)

Originally a cheese factory, the museum was developed thanks to the enthusiasm and collection of Murray Thacker, a local resident who spent his childhood collecting Maori taonga from local beaches. The collection includes tiki, fishing equipment, tools, weapons, cloaks and is of national significance.[7]

Tini Arapata marae

Tini Arapata Marae, Okains Bay. (December 2020)

The Tini Arapata marae was named by Aunty Jane Manahi for her mum Tini Arapata Horau.[8]

Okains school

Okains Bay School Building (December 2020)

The original Okains Bay school building. This was built in 1872 and used until 1938.

Petrol station

The rustic Okains Bay petrol station (December 2020)

Okains Bay store and post office

The Okains bay store and post office (December 2020)

The store and post office were built in 1873.


The Okains Bay Library

The Library was built in 1865.

St John the Evangelist Anglican church

The church was completed in June 1863. The total cost was 554 pounds, nine shillings and eight pence. It was built by a Mr. Morey, a stonemason. The stone and timber were all sourced locally and the slate roof and the stained glass were obtained from England.

In 1884 the organ was purchased from St Barnabas Church in Fendalton. The church bell was donated by the vicar in 1912. IN 1955, 400 pounds was spent repointing the stone work and other repairs. The floor began to crumble in 1959 due to dry rot. A concrete floor was laid.

The church was in 2020 the second oldest standing stone church in the diocese of Christchurch. It was severely damaged by the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes.

St John the Evangelist Anglican Church (December 2020)


  1. "Okains Bay Museum". Www.okainsbaymusem.co.nz. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  2. Algie, Jon (24 November 2019). "Okains Bay / Le Bons Bay, Banks Peninsula". See the South Island NZ Travel Blog. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  3. "Introduction to the Okains Bay Maori and Colonial Museum" (PDF). 18 May 2010.
  4. "Okain's Bay | NZETC". nzetc.victoria.ac.nz. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  5. "Okain's Bay | NZETC". nzetc.victoria.ac.nz. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  6. Notice Board located at the Okains Bay campground. Accessed December 2020.
  7. "Okains Bay museum" (PDF).
  8. "Non Ngāi Tahu Marae in the tribal area". Ngāi Tahu. Retrieved 24 December 2020.