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

Monthly Archives: February 2012

CHRISTCHURCH IS NOT BROKEN!

While many visitors to Akaroa are aware that things are still operational over the hills in Christchurch, it seems that some have interpreted the redirection of tours around the outskirts of the city to mean that the entire city has been flattened by last year’s earthquakes.

So we thought it was worthwhile to clear up any misunderstanding and remind people exactly what is still running in the garden city.

Christchurch International Airport

The largest airport in the South Island, centrally located and recently upgraded, is very much up and running. The airport remains a hub for international visitors to New Zealand, and provides a direct link to Asia via Air Asia, as well as direct flights to Australia, the Pacific and the United States.

Canterbury Museum and Botanic Gardens

In a city known for its beautiful gardens, the centrally located Botanic Gardens are the jewel in the crown. Still extremely popular with locals and visitors alike the Gardens neighbour Canterbury Museum, which is also operational with new exhibitions (including one around the earthquakes), and the Hagley Park Event Centre which has become the venue of choice for arts, music and other events. Coming very soon is the Ellerslie Flower Show, which is currently under construction.

Cafes, Restaurants and Bars Galore

Although the very popular bars and cafes along the Strip and SOL square are no longer, the city has benefited from new “pop-up” bars and food outlets including the Carlton Country Club on Bealey Ave, Revival Bar in Victoria Street, Cargo Bar and Dux Live in Addington and the Brewery in Woolston. For more information about what’s on offer where, visit the www.popupcity.co.nz blog.

Accommodation

Central city hotels are now mostly unavailable, but the majority of motels along Papanui and Riccarton Roads are fully functional, as well as hotels a little further out like The Chateau on the Park, the George Hotel, Pavilions, Heartland Hotel and many more.

Shopping

All the suburban shopping areas around the city are open for business, and the central city has come alive again with the addition of the Re:Start Popup Mall located in Cashel Mall. This has been a highly popular initiative with locals and visitors alike, featuring 30 retail outlets and several cafes. Two hours of free parking nearby makes this an easy location to explore – and of course shop!

CBD

Many will have heard about the CBD (central business district) “red zone” where demolitions are currently taking place. Focusing around Cathedral Square, the red zone now only involves a small number of city blocks. The majority of the rest of Christchurch continues to run very much as usual.

The map below shows how small the red zone currently is, with further reductions planned within the next two months.

More things to do in Christchurch

More Akaroa activities

THE BREEZE 61

Thanks for taking some time to scan our latest news and events. Below you will find some information on the biggest dolphins on them all – the mighty Orca through to the smallest – hectors dolphins calves. There are also details of local events in Diamond Harbour and Akaroa along with confirmation of our top rating as voted by members of the AA.

Cheers Paul


 

Orca visits much more frequent

We started cruising Banks Peninsula in 1985 and over the next 21 years we reckon we had only 5 visits in total from Orca. So why have we had 5 visits in the last 12 months? More than likely it’s related to Orca chasing food in Akaroa and Lyttelton harbours. They sure do scare our local population of Hectors dolphins though and that’s not surprising! Click here for a blog including views from marine scientist Liz Slooten.


 

Up close with Hector

Check out this nice video from a swimming with dolphins cruise in January showing some of our customers out having the time of their lives. There’s a great example of one little dolphin swimming rings around one of our customers. Nice….


 

Cruise ship update

We have now welcomed 60 of the 80 cruise ships set to visit Akaroa this season. February is set to be another busy month with just a handful of visits scheduled for March and April. We don’t know whether the cruise ships will be back again next season but Akaroa has sure welcomed them with open arms and hope they will be back in later in the year.


 

Dolphin calves

Over the past few months Hector’s dolphin calves have been spotted swimming with their mothers in the harbour. Our Akaroa manager Pip Journeaux said the calves were first seen in November. ”They are divine. We swim with the adults, but we can’t swim when there are calves in the pod,” she said. ”We wouldn’t swim with calves until they’d be well over 12 months”. Read article from Stuff here


 

Black cat number 1 voted by AA

We’ve been voted the number one activity in NZ for wildlife spotting. Thanks a lot AA members from all over NZL. We’re also the number 2 activity (after Hanmer Springs) and in the top 10 of all activities for all of New Zealand.

Read about us on the AA website


 

Swim the harbour

The big La Grande Swim was held on the 19th February, featuring the world’s largest tic tacs as marker buoys for the swimmers. La Grande Swim is the fourth race in the hugely successful State New Zealand Ocean Swim Series.  Previously held in Corsair Bay in Lyttelton Harbour this is the first big harbour swim in many years.


 

Diamond Harbour day out

There are some great bands set to rock out Diamond Harbour every Sunday during February 12.00pm to 3.00pm. Take the ferry over and make a day of it. For details of who is playing click here http://www.sprig.org.nz/sprig/Home.html


 

Blogging favourites

Check out this great blog from on swimming with dolphins in Akaroa.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/travel/2011/12/18/akaroa-new-zealand-swimming-with-world-smallest-dolphins/KB3YYVmN6n7mc4Rr1IRW0L/story.html


 

Great Feedback

Hi to blackcat crew, particularly Julian & Laura,

Thanks to everyone at Blackcat who made our dolphin experience so special.
I have popped in to work today & boasted of our trip. One colleague is going to NZ in Feb and is keen to do the swim with dolphins. You people are so fortunate to have these wonderful creatures in your backyard. It is heart-warming to see you engaging with them whilst respecting and nurturing your relationship with them. I wish you continued success. I will certainly be endorsing your attraction as one of the “not to be missed”. We are so pleased we had the opportunity to do the swim; it was worth every freezing moment.

Merry Christmas to all. Kind regards Kathy

LYTTELTON’S BEST ATTRACTIONS

Lyttelton is just 13km from Christchurch and is a fantastic place to visit especially on a weekend.  Take the number 28 bus from Christchurch or its an easy 15 minute drive from central Christchurch.  This quirky historical town has seen much damage since the earthquakes in Canterbury but is definitely on the mend.  The locals are vibrant, fiercly loyal and very proactive when it comes to keeping their community alive and consequently there is always something going on in and around the township.

Lyttelton Harbour

13km from Christchurch

The Farmers market every Saturday morning from 10am-1pm is a must do and has become extremely popular with people travelling from afar to buy and sample delicious local goodies.  When you are done with purchasing your produce and fresh food for the week you can amble along to Oxford Street where there is a large community garage sale which also runs from 10am-1pm.

From there you will most probably be in need of lunch and refreshments to replenish your energy for the afternoons attractions.  Head to the Fishermans Wharf on Norwich Quay which is open 7 days a week for the best fish & chips or seafood chowder.  Or walk to Corsair Bay to Freemans Restaurant.

The afternoons activities could include a visit to the Torpedo Boat Museum open Tuesday/thursday/Saturday & Sunday or play a game of petanque on London Street.

Quail Island lookout

15 minute ferry ride from Lyttelton

One of best things to do in Lyttelton in the summer is to take a ferry from B Jetty on the wharf to Quail Island.  Black Cat Cruises run this ferry dailyfrom October to the end of April.  For more on Quail Island click here

10 REASONS TO VISIT DIAMOND HARBOUR THIS SUMMER

Diamond Harbour is one of the sunniest and unspoilt destinations on Banks Peninsula and is great for a day trip. Getting there is easy, the best option is to take the Diamond Harbour Ferry from Lyttelton harbour (departs from B Jetty).  Black Cat Cruises run the ferry over there on a regular basis throughout the day.  check out the website for timetable information and more.

The Black Diamond boat

Diamond Harbour ferry video

Top things to do while there:-

Road and mountain biking has become one of the most popular activities for New Zealanders, mainly due to our fabulous scenery and relatively quiet roads and of course easy access to the countryside.  Take your bike on the ferry from Lyttelton (an extra $2 fee applies) and bike around Diamond Harbour and back to Lyttelton again.

Walking would be a close second to biking for most loved activities for locals and overseas visitors or maybe its the other way round! walk from the jetty to the fabulous new look Diamond Harbour Store, the food and coffee are quickly becoming legendary.  Once you have refreshed and re-energised there are plenty of wonderful walks to choose from including Mt Herbert (you will need all day for this one).  Ask the wonderful friendly staff at the store to point you in the right direction.

If excercising is not your thing, there are four wonderful beaches to choose from, Diamond Harbour beach, Paradise Bay, Purau and Camp Bay.  Pack a picnic, take the togs and relax!

There is a beautiful golf course at Charteris Bay with some wonderful views across the harbour and looking back at Lyttelton.