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

Monthly Archives: September 2011


Planning a romantic weekend in Akaroa?

Peaceful Akaroa

Akaroa is the perfect place to go to for a romantic escape from the stresses of city life. The town has retained its ‘French Village’ character with many colonial-style buildings and French street names and throw mix in the ambience of a small seaside settlement with lots of cafes, restaurants and galleries and it’s just made for a lovely night away.

Driving over from Christchurch its worth stopping at Little River and visiting the cafe and art gallery, then once up the top of the Hill Top Pass Akaroa is revealed in the distance with quite an amazing view.

There are many great Akaroa activities – The key is staying somewhere that fits the bill and the Akaroa Country House and Tree Crop Farm are two very special spots.

Akaroa Country House

Akaroa Country House is very private with the cottage two hundred metres away from the main house down a pathway. The cottage is beside a small stream and has an outside bath, perfect for candlelight stargazing and is situated up secluded Takamatua Valley, amongst the native forest.

If you want something a little different Tree Crop Farm is well worth a visit. Also set in amongst the lovely native forest, many of the individual cabins do not have power, but they do have loads of candles and big fireplaces.

A theme of ‘Bohemian Love Shacks’ prevails, with lots of rugs and very little to disturb you. The place is full of colonial antiques amongst loads of sheepskins and fur rugs, herbs and flowers.

Tree Crop Farm

The  cafe has loads of insightful quotes written all over the walls, and it does have power, as does at least one of the cabins, if you really do need to plug in.

It is fair to say the world disappears at Tree Crop Farm as you sit in the outdoor bathtub – with a fire you’ve built underneath – at night, under the stars.

After a bit of a sleep in; which is encouraged, head into Akaroa for brunch at one of the many cafes that look out over Akaroa Harbour. It makes for a great prelude before walking along to the main wharf to jump on a Swimming with Dolphins trip with Black Cat Cruises.

Akaroa Harbour offers so much, and the chance to swim with the rare Hector dolphins is just an amazing experience. The team at Black Cat are so helpful and knowledgeable about the marine environment and the dolphins.

Everyone plays ‘dolphin spotter’ and once they’re found it’s into the water in wetsuits and time to really swim with the dolphins. You get loads of playtime with these amazing creatures, and then sadly it’s time to head back to base.

Akaroa is the only place in the world where you get to swim with the Hector Dolphins, the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin.

sometimes the best thing to do in life is doing nothing!!

After the swim a visit to Lumiere Day Spa is a great way to relax and unwind before facing a trip back to Christchurch. Located in the centre of Akaroa, getting a massage at Lumiere wil pamper your body and mind.

After leaving Lumiere, a coffee stop to fuel you for the drive back over the hill isn’t a bad idea. Just make sure it’s in a takeaway cup or you’ll find more reason to stay.

See more Akaroa attractions and things to do.


Spring is here and its time to look forward to summer. Over the winter months we’ve been planning and preparing to welcome visitors this season. Around 80 cruise ships have selected Akaroa as their Canterbury base this season which should really add some buzz to the town. Of course the buzz right now is about the world cup so we are wishing our boys all the best and of course the profile the event will create around the world will be huge. Also in this Breeze are details of our new treasure hunt, Lyttelton to France cruise and our latest promotions. Thanks for reading in advance.

Cheers Paul

Dolphins up close

If you have ever wondered how close we get to the rare Hector’s dolphins then this picture sums it up! So close in fact that not all of the dolphin fitted into the frame with its leap almost knocking the camera out of the guide’s hands. In truth this is a little unusual. Like us, teenage dolphins can get a bit excited sometimes and this one may have slightly misjudged his jump. An incredible sight for all on board though.


Akaroa chosen for Cruise liners

Lyttelton’s loss is Akaroa’s gain with the recent announcement that cruise ships will be visiting Akaroa on 72 days between October 2011 and April 2012. Here is the Press article on it. On 7 days there will be two cruise ships in the harbour at once. Cruise ships are an incredible sight in Akaroa dwarfing Black Cat which is normally the largest vessel around. If you fancy the buzz and excitement of cruise ship days then akaroa will be going off. If on the other hand you like to have the place to yourself you may want avoid those days. We have posted a schedule of cruise ship days on our web site.


The big Snow

Not once but twice Banks Peninsula and Christchurch got a huge dump of snow this winter. This did disrupt our cruises a few times with public transport shutting down the ferry and the road to Akaroa needing to be cleared to allow customers to get through. These images show how beautiful it was though and quite different to the normal scenes.


All Black Cat

The world’s eyes are focused on NZ for the 2011 Rugby World Cup and Black Cat are getting in behind the All Blacks. Not many people know in 1987 just days before winning the first world cup the All Blacks came for a cruise with us out on Akaroa Harbour. Maybe it was something in the air in Akaroa that made them kick on to win the world cup that year. Go the Blacks!


Akaroa triple treat

We’ve teamed up with the Akaroa Salmon and Akaroa Cooking School to create a great new cruise product this year. Aimed at groups of 15 or more the day starts with a two hour nature cruise of the harbour including a stop at the Salmon Farm to catch a fish. Then it’s on to the cooking school to turn the Salmon into a delicious feast. For more details contact alison@blackcat.co.nz


Treasure Hunt is back

We’re launching The Great Quail Island treasure hunt on 1st October. All you need to do is pick up a treasure map on the ferry on the way over, find the ‘x’ markers and solve a secret word. All correct entries win a $5 prize for the kids with 2 for 1 coffee for the hard working adults at coffee culture. Adults $25, Children $10. Departs daily at 10.20am and also 12.30pm during school holidays. Phone 03 328 9078.


Quail Tree Trail

We are proud to be helping with the planting of native trees on Quail Island. Its part of our commitment to give back as much as we can, and of course to help transform the island into a native paradise for wildlife. Black Cat will spend $50,000 via its Community and Environment fund on local projects in the next year.


Lyttelton to France

We have our once a year cruise from Lyttelton to Akaroa coming up on the 25th September with the following two Sundays as reserve days. It’s a unique way to see a part of Canterbury’s coastline few have seen, and of course to spend a peaceful day in Akaroa too. $99 for Adult, $49 for children. Includes cruise over and coach back. Tel 03 304 7641 to reserve your space.


Intercity to Akaroa

You might be interested to know that Intercity now have daily bus services to Akaroa. You can book this through your normal Intercity system or phone them direct (03) 365 1113 .http://www.intercity.co.nz/timetable/lookup/8615


Book a Christmas charter before end of Oct and get a free wine.

Have you organised your Xmas function yet? No? Forget the earth, head for the water for a great night out on the Canterbury Cat in Lyttelton harbour. Prices including food start at $55 per person with a free glass of wine to kick you off. Email alison@blackcat.co.nz for details.


Promotions and marketing

As spring is here, you may notice us increase our marketing efforts. Here are a few of the highlights:

We commence a TV1 advertising campaign 6th to 23rd October. TVC here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gz5PQ_YSpUk

Press Competition. Keep an eye out for full page ads early October with the chance to win one of 25 family passes on Akaroa Harbour Cruises).

Mastercard promotion featuring free fish n chips on: http://www.mastercard.com/nz/rwc/offers/details/#!/866256


Viator rates us tops

We’ve received a special commendation from Viator, one of the large on line travel companies. In recognition of our consistently high rankings we have earned ‘’top rated on Viator’’ status. See http://www.viator.com/search/akaroa


Blogging favourites

Check out this great blog on Akaroa