On October 20th 1985, the Charmaine set out on her first Akaroa Harbour Cruise. At the helm was Captain Ron Bingham and on board were two paying passengers. Total revenue $16. The business was partly inspired by the Hutchens family who started Fiordland Travel (now Real Journeys). Living in Te Anau we had seen what could be done and it’s ironic that Real Journeys now own 50% of Black Cat.
Inspiration is one thing and making a business work is quite another. While others had failed to make a go of it in Akaroa this one worked. Why? It used the owner operator model and everything was put on the line! There was some luck too with Hector’s dolphins receiving national recognition when the sanctuary was put in place in 1988 and international tourism grew. So from a total of 16 passengers in that first week, we now carry on average 2000 a week across Akaroa and Lyttelton.