Welcome to Banks Peninsula, home of The Hector’s dolphins and eco-tourism pioneers Black Cat Cruises

Monthly Archives: July 2008


A Korean fisherman who fell overboard in Lyttelton Harbour this morning owes his life to the crew of a tugboat and the skipper of the Black Cat Cruises Diamond Harbour ferry.

The man was thought to have fallen off the trawler at about 6am on Thursday morning and was spotted by the crew of the Blackadder tug operating in the harbour.

The tug crew threw him a life ring but were unable to haul him aboard and enlisted the help of the Diamond Harbour Ferry and its skipper John Rocheford.

Rocheford single-handedly rescued the man in the choppy early morning seas in very dark conditions. The man was treated for hypothermia by paramedics

“We think he was in the water for 20 minutes,” Black Cat Cruises managing Director Paul Bingham said.

“He didn’t speak any English and our skipper showed excellent seasmanship, skills and strength to haul him on board in tough conditions.”

All in a days work for a Black Cat Skipper!


The image of James Bond stepping out of a wet suit with a dry tuxedo underneath becomes a reality for Akaroa dolphin swimming operator Black Cat Cruises from 22 July this year.

The company is introducing a world first dolphin swimming experience – the use of dry suits which are also used by New Zealand Armed Forces, the US coast guard and the NASA space programme for Escape Suit Life preservers.

Black Cat Managing Director Paul Bingham product tested the suits upon their arrival this week.

“I wore my normal clothes under the suit and remained 100 percent dry despite spending nearly half an hour in the water. Although the water temperature was around 10C I was very warm, and additional benefits were that they are very buoyant and after being in the water I could slip out of the suit and walk straight off the boat and jump into the car – just like James Bond”.

“You can lie flat in the water and almost go to sleep. The weightlessness is very relaxing. Under normal circumstances I would not be swimming in July but now dolphin swimming is a genuine all year round experience,” he said.

“This is a world first and I believe the investment we have made will really improve the experience that our customers have with us – it’s warm and enjoyable; of course the dolphins don’t mind if you are in a wet suit or dry suit, they seemed to be as friendly as ever.”

The dry suits will be available free of charge from mid July to September and there will be a small surcharge for the rest of the year. Normal wetsuits remain available at no charge year round.

Bingham said the dry suits have proven extremely successful with Canadian rafting companies operating in cold winter months.

Black Cat Cruises has been operating for 22 years and is a former winner of the Supreme tourism award and is the largest tourism operator on Banks


New technology paint being applied to vessels operated by Black Cat Cruises will result in huge savings on fuel costs and is better for the environment.

“We are replacing our existing traditional paint with new intersleek 970 antifoul paint on two of our vessels that operate in Akaroa,” Black Cat Cruises Managing Director Paul Bingham said.

“We expect to save around six percent of diesel use as the intersleek paint is more ‘slippery’ and allows the vessel to move through the water with greater efficiency – the new paint system has much less friction than the one we currently use.”

“Currently after about six months in Akaroa Harbour we see quite a lot of weed on our vessels. We only pull the boats out of the water for cleaning and servicing once a year so the weed stays on the vessel meaning there is greater drag and we use more fuel.”

“The new intersleek paint is also far more resistant to the weed growth so drag on the vessels over a period of time will be reduced – it’s amazing that what seems like a small thing will have such a big impact on our fuel costs,” Bingham said

The application of new intersleek paint needs to be done only once every five years where normal painting is done annually.

The intersleek paint is also better for the environment as it does not emit toxins into the waterways like traditional anti foul paint used on vessels.

Black Cat Cruises applied to The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) for funding support for the project.

The EECA works to raise community awareness of energy efficiency issues and provides businesses and individuals with the tools and support to make changes and promote a sustainable energy future by changing the way New Zealanders think about and use energy.

“We received $5,000 from the EECA and will be monitoring the project closely and reviewing our findings with them,” Bingham said.

The cost to paint the Black Cat vessel with the new technology paint is $17,000 and the company expects annual diesel savings of up to 3500 litres per year. The cost to paint its other vessel Cat 2 is $7,800 with expected annual savings of up to 2000 litres per year.

“Our fuel bill is expected to be in excess of $500,000 over the next 12 months so we need to be looking for new ways to reduce fuel consumption. Reducing drag on our vessels with the new intersleek paint is a one way to do this. We’re also looking at how far we take our vessels each day and at what speed.”

“In addition we think we’re probably running the newest engines in New Zealand. From October the average age of our engines will be 9 months old. This creates greater efficiency and reduces fuel use”

Black Cat Cruises has been operating for 22 years and is a former winner of the Supreme tourism award and is the