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

Monthly Archives: September 2013

FIVE SURPRISING THINGS TO DO IN AKAROA

Beneath the picturesque surface of Akaroa there are many things you can do that you may not expect from the small seaside village. Here are a few you should try out the next time you’re over in the beautiful Banks Peninsula:

1. Getting in the Water

With the harbour on its doorstep, the fact that you can get in the water in Akaroa may not be all that surprising – but the array of exciting activities available is. During the warmer months of the year, going out into the harbour for a refreshing swim, hiring a kayak or pedal boat, or jumping off the wharf is the perfect way to spend a summer afternoon with the kids. For those who are a little more adventurous, book an Akaroa Sea Kayaking trip –  and get you up close and personal with what the water has to offer. Or if you want to up the ante, clip on a life-jacket and take a spin around the bay with Akaroa Jet Adventures.  And of course there is always the wonderful staff at Black Cat cruises to tour you around the harbour on an Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise and introduce you to the fascinating history, geography and wildlife of the region.

2. Perfect Your Culinary Skills

Situated by the waterfront with a gorgeous view of the bay, The Akaroa Cooking School is a great place to spend a day picking up a recipe or two. Named by Lonely Planet as one of the top ten places to learn to cook local cuisine in the world, you can be sure that you’ll be learning how to make something exciting with great produce. Using fresh, local ingredients – much of which is grown in their own garden – and keeping class sizes small so that everyone gets one on one time with the chef, The Akaroa Cooking School ensures quality for your day of cooking. And of course, a fantastic meal you can replicate at home.

3. Under the Stars

Away from the light pollution of the inner city, Akaroa provides the perfect backdrop for aspiring astronomy aficionados. On Friday and Saturday nights you can head over to Astronomic Delights at the nearby Heritage Park to gaze up at the stars through a 10 inch Newtonian telescope. With spectacular views, especially on a really clear night, it’s well worth the 10 minute drive out of the township – just remember to wrap up warm.

4. En Français

Every second year Akaroa celebrates its French cultural heritage with the Piper Heidsieck French Fest. As New Zealand’s only French settlement, this event gives you the unique chance to experience what that those who started out in this place had to offer. Market stalls, a parade, and a re-enactment of the French landing at the beach are just some of the famous and fun activities on offer. Add fabulous French cuisine and the streets lined with entertainment and music to the mix and you’ll see why this Akaroa event is a must-do. This year the French Fest will be held on October 11th – 13th and the Christchurch City Council will also be helping locals get into the spirit of things with a special Christchurch to Akaroa shuttle service running on the 12th. Check out our next blog post for more details…

5. Go For a Walk

Seeing the beauty of Akaroa’s natural landscape on foot, or walking up and over the surrounding hills is a great way to spend some time in Banks Peninsula. Go for a wander yourself on one of the marked tracks around the harbour, soaking up the beautiful views before lunch by the seaside. Or if you’re up for more of a challenge, check out the Banks Peninsula Track – a private track that includes volcanic coastline, native bush, waterfalls and sandy beaches. You can book a two day walk for a more fast-paced and high fitness adventure, or a four day trek for a more relaxed and leisurely pace through the hills. The spectacular views make trekking through the hills one of the most stunning experiences in the South Island.

For more information on Akaroa visit www.akaroa.com

THE BENEFITS OF SWIMMING WITH DOLPHINS

Getting up close and personal with the Hector’s dolphins of Banks Peninsula has been an unforgettable experience for hundreds of people every year. For many, having the chance to swim with these endangered creatures is simply an amazing opportunity in itself. However, there is more to swimming with the dolphins than just the thrill of getting into the water with such a rare, friendly, and playful animal.

Dolphin Assisted Therapy

Over recent years, research into the benefits of swimming with dolphins has resulted in some interesting discoveries. Dolphin Assisted Therapy, as it is sometimes called, is where people with mental or physical disabilities undergo sessions where they swim and interact with dolphins in the hope that it will improve their ailments. This has become a fairly popular treatment for those with disabilities, as its benefits are said to include improving the immune system, self-control, awareness, and feelings of compassion and self-confidence. However, although successes have been achieved, there are mixed opinions about taking the animal out of its natural habitat.

The benefits of swimming with dolphins in the wild, with minimal interference in their natural day-to-day lives, can have a great outcome for both humans and the animals.

Hector’s Dolphins Jumping in Akaroa

Hector's Dolphins Jumping in Akaroa

The Science Bit

Firstly, for us humans, swimming in general is beneficial for our health. Getting active out in the open water is not only great exercise, but also a wonderfully refreshing experience. The salt water you are swimming in contains many magnificent minerals which are great for your health and you skin. Sodium keeps the immune system in check. Bromide relieves muscle pain and soreness.  Magnesium helps with a healthy nervous system. Not to mention the fact that an improvement in circulation and the state and elasticity of your skin are also benefits that have been attributed to swimming in seawater. And if this isn’t enough to convince you salt water also helps to detoxify the body and promote cellular regeneration.

With the summer approaching it’s simply great fun to get out there and cool off!

Sustainability

And then, of course, there are the dolphins. We get the thrill of seeing what it’s like for these fascinating creatures in their environment, and they reap the benefits that come with our interest in them. Aspects of keeping the species alive and well protected, such as community education, conservation initiatives and legislation, and encouraging an interest in nature and sustainability, are all bi-products of marine ecotourism and have wonderful outcomes for the dolphins.

If one looks at what people like Liz Slooten, Ron Bingham, and others associated with wildlife conservation in Banks Peninsula have done, it’s easy to see how this fun tourist activity can have a long-lasting, positive effect for our endangered species.

Dolphin Swimming in Akaroa

Swimming with dolphins Akaroa

Experience It

Swimming with the Hector’s dolphins in Akaroa really is a once in a lifetime experience as not only are the world’s rarest and smallest, they are also native to New Zealand and Akaroa is the only place you can book this experience.

If you’re keen to see the benefits of swimming with the dolphins for yourself, get out there with Black Cat Cruises in Akaroa. Last Sunday our boats hit the water again for the summer 2013/14 season.

First dolphin swim boat of the season in Akaroa

Black Cat Dolphin Swimming Akaroa

You can find more information and make bookings here

http://www.blackcat.co.nz/swimming-with-dolphins.html

Have you had an experience with dolphins you’d like to share? Tell us your story by commenting below. We’d love to hear them!