anks Peninsula Tourism Operator celebrates 30 years in Business

It’s been a fantastic start to the new summer season for New Zealand eco-tourism operator Black Cat Cruises as they celebrate 30 years in business.

Labour weekend 1985 Ron Bingham and his wife Durelle officially started Black Cat Cruises with a single boat called the Charmaine over in Akaroa. Skip forward to today and they have grown to become the largest tourism operator on the peninsula operating 7 vessels across both Akaroa and Lyttelton Harbour.

This labour weekend if your birthday falls on Monday October 26th (of any year) you can cruise with them for free! 

‘’It’s been a great start to season’’ Paul Milligan, Chief Executive of Black Cat Cruises said.

‘’Over the last couple of weeks we have celebrated 175 years of Akaroa at the bi-annual French Festival, hosted our 30th birthday party with the family and friends of Black Cat, welcomed the first of this season’s cruise ships and to top it off received a new accreditation from DOC as the Peninsula’s first (and the country’s second) ‘SMART’ operator.’’  Milligan said

The 30th birthday party was hosted locally at Mt Vernon lodge in Akaroa where 100 guests including the Bingham family and Real Journey board members, who purchased a 50% share in the business back in 2007, were entertained by the 17 piece Garden City Big Band.

real journeys akaroa birthday partyThe binghams 30th party in akaroa

Garden City Big band in Akaroa

‘’You usually receive gifts on your birthday however as an eco-tourism operator we thought it only appropriate to give back something on our birthday, so we gifted Professor’s Steve Dawson and Liz Slooten from the University of Otago with a brand new boat engine. ‘’ Milligan said

Professor Steve Dawson and Professor Liz Slooten, both of the NZ Whale and Dolphin Trust, were delighted to receive the keys to a brand new Suzuki 90 hp outboard for their research boat. “The new engine is a perfect match for our research boat and will be a tremendous asset to our work. The old engine was 11 years old, so it was high time for an upgrade. It is terrific to see a nature tourism company giving something back – we really appreciate Black Cat’s commitment to the dolphins that support their business” Prof Dawson said.’’

Liz Slooten and Steve Dawson in Akaroa

Over the last 30 years the company has become the leading tourism provider on Banks Peninsula. Re-cognised as New Zealand’s first ever eco-tourism operator they have won numerous accolades and awards including the New Zealand Supreme Tourism Award, Qualmark Enviro-Gold award, the Green Globe award, listed as one of the top 10 marine mammal experiences in the world by Lonely Planet, voted the Number 1 wildlife experience in New Zealand, made it into Trip Advisors Hall of Fame and earned the Moss certification (Maritime Operator Safety System) along with the newly appointed ‘SMART’ operator certificate from DOC.

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‘’Ron and his family had a passion for the peninsula and its marine inhabitants. To this day a portion of all of Black Cat’s ticket sales goes towards the education and conservation of Hector’s dolphins; the world’s rarest and smallest dolphin. We felt it was the right time to throw a party with Black Cat’s friends and family from across our region to celebrate success and look forward to a prosperous and sustainable future.’’ Milligan said

For the month of October you can also purchase an Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise ticket for just $30 when a full price ticket is purchased. Use 30birthday as an online code or call and book on 0800 436 574.