About Black Cat Cruises

The Award Winning Black Cat Group is internationally recognised as one of the success stories of the New Zealand tourism industry and an eco-tourism pioneer. They were the first to offer daily wildlife cruises in Akaroa and are recognised as New Zealand’s first Eco-tourism operator.

From humble beginnings carrying a few hundred people per year in small canoes and dinghies, the Bingham family grew Black Cat Cruises to become one of the largest cruise companies in the South Island, with a history of quality, safety, conservation and world class experiences over the last 36 years.  

Millions of guests have experienced a Black Cat Akaroa Nature Cruise, Swimming With Dolphin encounter or Lyttelton Island escape. They have a fleet of modern catamarans located at Black Cat’s home territory on Bank’s Peninsula, just a short drive from the South Island’s largest city, Christchurch. This is one of the most spectacularly beautiful parts of the Island, and home to an inspiring collection of marine wildlife and birdlife, including several endangered species.

Handy man

Chris has lived on the peninsula for most of his life and has a fantastic knowledge of the area. He has been with us for several years now as swim boat skipper. Chris is also our handyman and can fix almost anything, boats, shelves, stairs. A “handy man” to have around!

paul bingham
Chairman of the board

I am lucky enough to be one of the shareholders and Chairman of the Board for Black Cat Cruises. I have been on board since 1999.

When I’m not working I’m either playing golf or spending time with my young family.


As the Chief Executive my life at Black Cat is a very busy one. I started out as a skipper for the Diamond Harbour Ferry and worked my way up the ranks. 10 year’s on and I’m now steering the company, along with the occasional boat.

marketing manager

Natasha joined our team as Sales and Marketing Manager in May 2013. I can’t think of anywhere more beautiful in the world to work than Akaroa. The team, cruises and environment are second to none!’.


Akaroa Manager

Pip is our General Manager here in Akaroa and has her finger on the pulse of everything on the wharf and the water. Pip has a long history with Blackcat and Akaroa.

Maintenance Manager

Mr Fix it! Jared started off crewing and skippering on our dolphin swim boats in Akaroa, and is now based in Lyttelton and in charge of taking care of the whole Black Cat fleet. 

Customer Service / photographer

Sonya is bit of a legend to us and has been with Blackcat in Akaroa more years than she can count. Sonya also helps out with customer service and always has a joke or two to make people smile. A local resident for most of her life, she is more than happy to answer questions about the town and its history.


Dan, a voice made for the radio is the voice of our Akaroa Nature Cruise. Dan started off as a crew member, photographer and is now our skipper of the big beautiful Black Cat catamaran in Akaroa.  


Jan is our Assistant Manager here in Akaroa. Jan is always flat out answering emails and making sure everything is running smoothly. She always has a smile and is ready to help in any situation.

Lyttelton Administrator

Mags is your lady for all things Lyttelton. Between booking our charters, crewing on the boats, to hanging the decs for events she’s our wonder women on and off the water.

Health & Safety Manager

Ferg has been with us on and off for 15 years now. He’s been a Skipper, crew and now our super-efficient Health and Safety Manager, and all round great guy.

Finance Administrator

Kate keeps our boats afloat with her diligent finance and accounts. She’s a mean baker. Ask her about her lemon slice.


As an ex-fisherman, John loves early mornings. So much so, he has been getting up at 5am 5 mornings a week since 2005 to operate the Diamond Harbour Ferry!

He even got to meet Princess Anne to receive a Local Hero award after saving a fisherman who fell overboard in Lyttelton a few years ago – Go John!!

Deck Hand

Helen has been with us working on Blackcat for several years now. Helen makes a mean cup of coffee and is always ready to answer any questions on the boat. She is pretty handy with the ropes and a boat hook.


Hamish worked for Blackcat for eight years before he joined the New Zealand Fire Service. He missed us so much that he comes back to skipper the Blackcat and swim boats every now and then.


Dan moved from the deep south to join us in 2012. His smiling face can be seen on the Diamond Harbour Ferry most afternoons. He loves driving the Fiordlander 1 as it reminds him of his time on Lake Manapouri.


A key part of the team is our dolphin mascot seen on special occasions like the odd cruise ship welcome or santa parade!


A long time employee at Black Cat Cruises, the thing I love about my job is that no 2 days are the same, you never know what sort of day you are going to get and variety is the spice of life!!