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

Monthly Archives: April 2015

Banks Peninsula Must-Dos – A Guide to Lyttelton Bars

Lyttelton is a great family destination – the rich and interesting history and nature of the place puts something on offer for everyone. But if you’re after somewhere to wet your whistle after a long day of exploring, or something exciting for the 18+ crowd to do in the quirky port town, then check out one of these fine local establishments for a bit of Lyttelton fayre and late night fun.

Porthole Bar:

porthole lytteltonSituated on the site where the popular Volcano Bar and Café once stood, Porthole is another example of Cantabrian ingenuity that’s come out of the other side of the quake.

Although one of several container bars around the city, Porthole has a uniquely Lyttelton flavour.

The live music, craft beer, and loyal customers all come from the portside village, and the porthole windows cut out of the container are an appropriate finishing touch – head down for a beer and a bite on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

 

 

 

Wunderbar:

wunderbarA popular watering hole for the locals, Wunderbar is perfect for a taste of the creativity that Lyttelton is so famous for. Renowned for its quirky décor – which includes a collection of infamous doll’s heads amongst other bits and bobs – Wunderbar is a little left of centre.

A visit on any given Friday or Saturday night could get you caught up in anything from a poetry reading to a burlesque show to a local folk act.

Definitely a must-do if you’re after something a little different out of your visit.

Civil and Naval:

Civil and naval barA great example of that ‘cult bar’ theme Lyttelton has going on nowadays,

Civil and Naval has cosy-chic written all over it.

A tapas bar, restaurant, beer garden and coffee shop all rolled into one nautical-but-not-in-a-cheesy-way package, this casual dining experience fits perfectly into the town’s atmosphere.

 

It possibly has the best wine and cocktail list in town too.

Using fresh, locally sourced ingredients for creative and tasty dishes, Civil and Naval fits in with the community ethos so well known on the streets of Lyttelton.

 

Tommy Chang’s:

Tommy ChangsTucked away amongst the cool of London Street, Tommy Chang’s is an ode to Lyttelton’s past and future.

Formerly known as Dave’s Place, the café and bar came about after owner, Dave Watchorn, lost an almost complete restoration of the Canterbury Hotel in February 2011.

Although a tragic loss, Tommy Chang’s is yet another amazing Lyttelton establishment that’s come out of the resilience of this community.

With live gigs, superb fare, and, of course, that rich and interesting history, the place is a classic dining experience in the port town.

Hector’s Dolphin Killed By Set Net in Akaroa Harbour

Yesterday, Monday, April 6th, a dead Hector’s dolphin was discovered in Akaroa harbour. The cause of death was drowning by set net. This happened just days after the legal set netting summer ban had been lifted.

A local man found the dead dolphin and alerted Black Cat Cruises, who in turn alerted both DOC and local researchers, and sent out a boat to locate the dead mammal.

Hector’s dolphins are the world’s smallest and rarest marine mammal and are endemic to New Zealand. As a company and a community we are extremely disappointed to see this happen.   The region has taken great steps in the creation and opening of the marine mammal sanctuary and newly opened marine reserve.

 

University of Otago marine biologist Professor Elisabeth Slooten happened to be in Akaroa for Easter and we able to examine the dead dolphin. Together they have studied Hector’s dolphins for more than thirty years and have dissected more than 130.

 

examining dolphin 2 webThe young male Hector’s dolphin, which was 123 centimetres long was likely to be only four or five years old. “A firm estimate of age can only be gained from looking at growth layers in the teeth” Prof Dawson said.

“Going from its size and lack of tooth wear, this dolphin was probably 4-5 years old. They can live to well over 20 years. The dolphin was in good condition, apparently healthy, and would have reached maturity within the next couple of years”

It is extremely sad that at one end of the harbour we now have this wonderful marine reserve yet at the other end it is legal for 6 months of the year to set nets which are proven to be deadly to this endangered species.

Setting nets for flatfish in the inner parts of Akaroa Harbour is legal from April 1 to 30 September. ‘’The problem is that dolphins use this area surprisingly often, even in the depths of winter’’, Prof Dawson said.

Biologists estimate only 7000 Hector’s dolphins remain in South Island waters.

There is currently a petition started by marine experts to ban nets and trawling in the areas that Hector’s dolphins inhabit. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/818/564/528/ban-gillnets-and-trawling-in-mauis-and-hectors-dolphin-habitat/#next_action

dolphin profile webBlack Cat Cruises, who are recognised as New Zealand first ever eco-tourism operator, employs over 50 members of staff alone and have been cruising the waters of Akaroa for 30 years.   Whilst tourism is the backbone of business in Akaroa, which the dolphins single handily spearhead, this isn’t an argument about commercial loss or gain. The fact is that the set netting that is occurring in Akaroa harbour is for recreational purposes.

To call for a complete ban on year round set netting would not have an impact to anyone’s livelihood. ‘’To wipe out the world’s most endangered species of dolphin would be a huge loss commercially but an incomprehensible loss environmentally’’ said Natasha Lombart, Black Cat Cruises Sales and Marketing Manager.

 

In over 30 years of operation it was this summer that Black Cat Cruises captured their most magnificent footage of the Hector’s dolphins in Akaroa harbour on both their dolphin swim, and Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise. They are the reason that visitor’s come to Akaroa from New Zealand and all over the world. We look forward to the day that we can post on this blog that there has been a complete set net ban. If you agree please comment below…

 

Akaroa Harvest Festival

When you think of Banks Peninsula do ever think of fresh smoked salmon, award winning olive oil, juicy chorizo and New Zealand wine?

Well…you should, because our beautiful Banks Peninsula has even more to offer than just world class scenery and wildlife, we have an abundance of award winning food too!

This weekend us folk in Akaroa will be celebrating our fourth Annual Akaroa Harvest Festival. It promises to showcase an array of excellent local produce……and you are all invited!

The Details

When: Saturday April 11thAkaroa Harvest festival

Where: The Akaroa Area School

Time: 10 am to 4.00pm.

This year’s festival boasts at least 30 stalls all offering prime locally-sourced produce ranging from mussel and paua fritters to Pig in a Day – all things pork including a workshop – ‘Three things Italian’,

As always, the atmosphere will be enhanced with live music and local wine, and to create a fun fairground vibe the day will play host to traditional games such as the egg-and-spoon race and sack race.

Food Glorious Food

Let your taste buds discover Banks Peninsula sourced honey, tasty French crepes, sumptuous berries, fresh local lamb,artisan cheese and quince, along with locally produced wines that will be available to both taste and purchase.

There will also be some competition on the day. Bakers will go head to head in a cake auction.

Top chefs will return to Akaroa by way of some marvellous cakes; all fighting for the highest bid to raise money for the Akaroa Health Hub.

Whilst other locals will compete for the ‘best jam’, and who better to judge this than Lou Bentley from the Akaroa Cooking School.

The festival truly celebrates some of the best food and wine in New Zealand – all produced on Banks Peninsula.

Best of all this is a free event, so come on over to Akaroa for a great day out and support the local folk…..

The Quail Island Easter Egg Hunt

Happy Easter holiday eve everyone!

If you have little people at home and are wondering what to get up to over the long weekend then look no further.

Black Cat Cruises will be hosting their annual Easter Egg Hunt on Quail Island. You’ll have two and half hours on the island to hunt for coloured tokens which can be swapped for up to 3 chocolate Easter eggs each! If you’ve never been to Quail Island before, which is a DOC reserve set in the middle of Lyttelton harbour, you’re in for even more of a treat. To see it for yourself watch our video here.

 

We’ll have 3 departures a day every day over the Easter break. Best of all it’s the same price as a standard Quail Island ferry ticket and under 5’s travel for free!

Whilst we don’t take bookings for the Quail Island ferry throughout the year, we do for the Easter weekend as it’s always a sell out! Tomorrow and Saturday are already booked up,so calling to pre-book is highly recommended. If you’d like to book just call 0800 436 574

Easter 2015