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

Author Archives: Black Cat

One in a Million Experience Swimming with Dolphins

Black Cat Cruises guide Laura Hansen captured this amazing photo of a dolphin ‘spy-hopping’ in Akaroa Harbour.

Jason Hagedorn, from Chicago, was swimming with dolphins when the dolphin raised vertically out of the water for an eye to eye encounter.

Spy-hopping is the term given to a dolphin or whale raising its head vertically out of the water. The animal rotates slowly to view the surrounding area, before sinking quietly back below the surface.

“The dolphin did a couple of spy-hops and was really into this swimmer. The dolphin also did some ‘logging’ which is coming to a complete halt in the water and eyeballing the swimmer which is quite unusual behaviour.”

Christmas Cruising Schedule

Our Xmas day schedule is as follows:

Akaroa Harbour Cruises, 11.00am $85/$35 Dolphin swimming 0900, 1200 $174/$144 (watching $144/$44).

Christchurch Wildlife Cruise (Lyttelton) 130pm $85/$35 (includes free shuttle) and the Diamond Harbour Ferry is a normal Saturday timetable with nothing after 6pm.

Wonderful Trip Swimming with Dolphins

I just wanted to pass on a big thank you to Hamish and Julian for a wonderful trip swimming with the amazing Hector’s dolphins on Sunday. It was a truly incredible experience made even better by their shared knowledge and enthusiasm which was inspiring. I ended up with some pretty good pics so thought I would send them along just in case they can be put to any use which may benefit the dolphin conservation effort. Many thanks again, Al Sears PS. I will be back with the parents!

We wish to thank you for allowing us the opportunity to experience the Black Cat Lyttelton Harbour Cruise. We were well looked after by Fergus and Tash, and are happy to announce that a pod of Hector’s Dolphins was located which was wonderful. We certainly had a beautiful day for it. The level of area knowledge and commentary was impressive, delivered from both the cruise staff and coach driver. It was not only informative, but entertaining also. We appreciate that we are able to experience your product in order to better promote and sell to our clients and, in addition, look forward to introducing family and friends to a cruise in the future. Thank you again, Mel and Antin

First Black Cat Cruise Customer comes Forward

After an exhaustive search we have found one of the very first passengers from the first cruise in 1985. Brian Woods took part in the inaugural service and we have presented Brian with free cruises for the rest of his life. Brian joined former and current Black Cat staff members, customers and the original skipper on a harbour cruise of Akaroa exactly 25 years to the day later. It was a celebration of the journey and included reliving some of the most memorable moments on the harbour since 1985.

25 Year Anniversary for Black Cat Cruises

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.

The Original Black Cat Cruise Boat

The original Black Cat boat was called Charmaine. She was bought from the Marlborough Sounds in 1985 and held a maximum of 42 people. After three years she was sold and the larger Canterbury Cat brought from Whangarei in 1988. Prior to the Charmaine there were no cruise operators on the harbour, though one or two had tried to operate seasonal trips including the Tug Lyttelton and Miss Akaroa.

Thar she blows

Visitors on board a Christchurch Wildlife Cruise in Lyttelton Harbour in October had the privilege of seeing a very relaxed southern right whale. The whale was sighted at Breeze Bay inside the harbour and we spent about 45 minutes with it, even turning off the engines to watch it roll around in a friendly manner. These whales were very common before whaling out of Lyttelton decimated their population. It’s likely this one is en route to feeding grounds of the Southern Ocean and was resting en route.

Prices update

On October 1st some of our prices went up but most stayed the same. Akaroa Harbour Cruises adults is now $68. Christchurch Wildlife Cruises is now $67. And swimming with dolphins is now $139, child $115. All other prices including children’s fares remain the same.

Swimming with dolphins refunds have also increased. If you are unlucky enough to be in the 1.6% of people who do not see any dolphins you will receive a 75% refund (whether you watch or swim). For those that swim with dolphins but its deemed the swim was not interactive enough, we refund $59 (adults and kids). Note there are no refunds on or harbour/wildlife cruises as there are plenty of other things to see.