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

Author Archives: Black Cat

Island paradise (Just 20 mins from Christchurch!)

Have you heard about this little Island close to Lyttelton? No?! It is such an interesting place, rich in history and scenic landscapes all easily explored in one day. Perfect for a day out in Christchurch!camping on quail island

Let me show you where it is and what you can do there…..

Location:

Quail Island Ferry

Quail Island is a small island but Canterbury’s largest one, located within Lyttelton Harbour in the South Island of New Zealand.(Retrieved from: DOC, http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/canterbury/places/otamahua-quail-island-recreation-reserve/things-to-do/otamahua-quail-island-tracks/).

It is only 20 minutes from Christchurch city centre (by car) and easily accessible by the Quail Island Ferry from Lyttelton. Black Cat Cruises operate a regular 7 day ferry service to the island from October to April. In winter, from May to October, there is no regular ferry service as the island is looked after by the Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust.

History

Uninhabited by the New Zealand native peoples, it was often visited to collect shellfish, flax, bird’s eggs as well as stone for tools which explain better its Maori name “Otamahua”  which means “place where children collect sea eggs”.

Regarding its English Name, it was Captain Mein Smith who named the island ‘Quail’ after seeing native quail here in 1842; they were extinct by 1875. The island is 81 hectares in area, with a high point of 86 metres. It lies in the flooded crater of an extinct volcano so promises wonderful views of the surrounding Banks Peninsula.

While today, New-Zealanders and travelers enjoy Quail Island for its beaches, walks and peaceful environment. In the past, it had complete different purposes. Used as a Farm base from Europeans in 1851, it then became a quarantine station in 1875 and a small leper colony from 1907–1925. It was also a place to train dogs used in Antarctic expeditions of the early 20th century. To this day you can still see the remains of the kennels of where Scott and Shackleton kept their dogs. The island was declared a recreation reserve in 1975.

Things to do

quail island shipwreckIt is a small Island but you have got plenty of things to do: walking, swimming, picnics as well as a bird-watching barricade. It is a great spot to spend some time with family and friends and have a great barbecue. You can also see and explore the incredible ships’ graveyard along the Quail Island track.

Tracks that you can do on Quail Island:

–          Whakamaru Beach (Swimmers beach) – 10 min

–          Discovery trail – 1 hr

–          Ōtamahua/Quail Island Walkway (full island circuit)- 2 hr 30 min

Quail Island mapMap of Ōtamahau / Quail Island (Retrieved from: http://www.quailisland.org.nz/)

Kiwi Ranger programme- how does it work?

Really easy! You just need to pick up your free booklet from the Quail Island ferry, or the Lyttelton i-SITE (65 London Street, Lyttelton).

Then, enjoy your day discovering this amazing island through the activities in your KIWI RANGER booklet.

“You’ll be challenged to imagine living a lonely island life with no TV or Xbox, and competing in a race to the Pole. Explore the traditional values and uses of plants, and become a ‘word witch’ in a place that inspired Margaret Mahy to write. Bring to life a derelict vessel at the ship’s graveyard, and imagine the dangerous journey to collect bird’s eggs from high cliffs.”

At the end of your experience, do not forget to return your completed booklet either on the ferry or Lyttelton i-SITE and earn your Kiwi Ranger badge!

Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust

The Ōtamahua/Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust and the Department of Conservation are currently working to remove pests and re-vegetate the island, with the aim of eventually re-introducing native wildlife. Banks Peninsula tree weta have recently been transferred to the island – you may see custom-built weta homes attached to the trunks of manuka trees.

“Since 1997 dedicated volunteers have worked to restore the native ecology of Otamahua or Quail Island. Volunteer groups contribute more than 5,600 hours annually, weeding, planting and monitoring mice traps. As the plantings mature, the island is slowly being transformed. Native bird numbers have increased as trees mature and provide more nesting sites and a more varied food source” (Retrieved from http://www.quailisland.org.nz).

If you are planning on coming over to Quail Island we ask that you read our Environmental Checklist to help us maintain a pest free environment and protect our native plants and animals.Quail Island Pest Control

Trust Aims

  1. To facilitate the restoration of indigenous vegetation and fauna on Otamahua / Quail Island and provide refuge for locally extinct, or rare and endangered species of the Banks Peninsula region;
  2. to recognise, protect and enhance the natural values and the landscape character of the island;
  3. to recognise historical sites and respect historic values of relevance both to the tangata whenua of Whakaraupo and to non-Maori;
  4. to encourage public understanding, awareness and care of the island and its historic, cultural and natural values, and to foster interest in the restoration project through publicity and education;
  5. to recognise and accommodate public use of the island;
  6. to encourage relevant research on the natural features and cultural history of the island;
  7. through a partnership between the tangata whenua, Department of Conservation and the Trust to achieve each of the above and assist in the management of the island.

who help to maintain, re-store and preserve the natural habitat.

The Black Cat team recently visited Quail Island with the trust to spend the day planting trees. You can watch the video here….

Click http://www.quailisland.org.nz/index.php/support to find out how you can support the Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust.

For more details, please see the link: http://blackcat.co.nz/quail-island-adventures

60 sec with Capitano Juliano

He’s our most raved about skipper on Tripadvisor, knows the history and wildlife of Akaroa harbour like no other….and is generally an all round amazing guy!

We took 60 seconds to find out a little more about Akaroa’s top skipper to find out what really floats his boat…….

Julian

(and if 60 seconds just isn’t enough you can watch Julian’s 114 second video here)

 

What is your name and what is your role at Black Cat Cruises…

Capitano Juliano – Black Cat skipper

Where is your role based?

Akaroa Harbour

Akaroa Wharf and Harbour

What three words would you use to sum up Akaroa/Lyttleton…

Picturesque, charming, unique

What three words would your friends use to sum you up…

Funny, Optimistic, Positive…

Tell us a secret or something unique about you…

I fly glidersglider

What did your dream you would do when you grew up and why…

Fly aeroplanes because I love flying

Why did you want to work for Black Cat Cruises…

I love boating and nature

What do you love the most about your job…

The scenery and the wildlifeBLCT BCAK 2007 02 18 C1966 7076

What is different about Black Cat to any other place you’ve worked…

Spectacular scenery and amazing wildlife

New Zealand fur seal nature cruise

What do you most value, and most enjoy, about working here…

Good team and a beautiful place

Julian and team

Describe one of your best days here…

Today, having two young orca playing with a group of Hectors DolphinsKiller whales Hectors Dolphins

 

FIRST ENDANGERED HECTOR’S DOLPHIN CALF OF THE SEASON SPOTTED IN AKAROA HARBOUR, BANKS PENINSULA

he next generation of the world’s rarest dolphin species has been captured in photos and on video!

See our exclusive images and video content below….

International passengers from the cruise ship Dawn Princess who were on a Black Cat Cruises, Akaroa Harbour cruise or Swimming with Dolphins cruise were delighted to spot the first Hector’s Dolphin calf of the season yesterday (Sunday 29 November).Baby Hectors dolphin calf and mother by Krystal

Black Cat Cruises Sales & Marketing Manager Natasha Lombart says the crew spotted four adults and a baby calf in the upper harbour near Wainui.

Image by Crew member Krystal“Seeing dolphin calves is brilliant, as Hector’s Dolphins are endangered so it is a real thrill for both our crew and passengers to spot the first baby this season.

“We are always so excited when calves are spotted as Hector’s Dolphins are classified as endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Because of their coastal habitat and slow reproductive rate they are particularly vulnerable to entanglement in fishing gear, especially gill nets, so spotting the first calf today is a real milestone.”

Black Cat Cruises skipper Julian Yates said four adult Hector Dolphins were spotted in lovely clean water at Wainui and as they moved around they realised that a baby calf was with them.

“ The calf looked around just four weeks old, you can tell their age by the folds in their skin which help indicate how young the calf is, ” says Yates.Hectors dolphin with folds on skin by Helen

“Most of our passengers on both of our cruises today were international guests from the Cruise Ship so they were really excited to see such a rare species of new born baby. It was a real treat and so delightful. The dolphins were really friendly and kept coming up to the boat.”

Females usually have one calf every two to three years. The calves are 50 to 60 centimetres long at birth and stay close to their mothers who provide them with milk and protection for about a year until they are old enough to fend for themselves. Hector’s Dolphins are among the most endangered dolphins in the world.

 

Akaroa rare wildlife encounter by TimmyThe company has just celebrated 30 years in business and huge growth in passenger numbers over that time. In its first year in 1985 Black Cat carried less than 3,000 passengers but that annual number is now over the 3.5 million mark.

The operator is adding extra services for the summer months at a time when Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism (CCT) chief executive Tim Hunter predicts tourism numbers into Canterbury could hit record levels.

“Canterbury, particularly in terms of international visitors, will probably have a record number this year,” Hunter says.

“With the increase in the number of visitor arrivals growing at 7-8 per cent a year at the moment, and more international air services into New Zealand, it is certainly likely to be the best outcome we’ve seen for some time,” Hunter says.

This visitor growth bodes well for Black Cat Cruises.

Click below to play the exclusive video footage the team captured on Akaroa Harbour

Play dolphin video

#Akaroa…Top Tips for Instagram

Here’s our quick run down of what it is, why we love it and how to make the most of it…….

So what is Instagram?

Instagram is the leading social media platform for sharing images. When it launched back in 2010 it had 1 million followers in its first month alone, so it’s no surprise that it’s become so very, very popular. Anyone can set up an account. Simply download the @instagram app onto your phone, register with your user name (for example we are @blackcatcruises) and voila…you are ready to go.

bingsamo photograph of hectors dolphins pod in Akaroablackcatcruises hectors dolphin imagedoggovtnz rangers at work within the marine reserveFrancis akaroa snaphylahyla akaroa montagewill herbie in Akaroa

Why use it?

We love using it to showcase our akaroa wildlife, peninsula scenery and behind the scene pics, however it’s also a great platform to view amazing photography and images. Whatever your interest, hobby or passion Instagram most likely has a # for it!

Tips and Tricks?

Recently the team at Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism  (@christchurchnz) held a networking event where they invited expert instagrammer Lauren Bath (@laurenpbath) to share her Instagram tips and tricks. With 443,000 followers Lauren sure knows a thing or two about taking great pics and making instagram work for you….here are her top tips…

1) Content

The quality of your content will directly affect the traffic to your Instagram

page. Attempt to post only the highest quality photo or video that you are

capable of producing and use editing tools to polish them, even if they’re just mobile applications like “Snapseed”. At the very least most images should be cropped square, straightened and colour adjustments made.

2) Consistency

Be very consistent with your Instagram habits. Be consistent with the quality

of your posts. Main points to consider regarding consistency

* How many times you post per day (I recommend 2-4 but separate each post by at least 3 hours)

* How much you engage when you are on the platform, give back!

* Keep the quality and style of your content consistent

3) Personality

Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Write interesting captions that share a little of your personality and story.

4) Use Hashtags

Use a relevant group of hashtags and I recommend using between 20-30 per post. Very important : Don’t use these hashtags in your caption. Create a note of hashtags and paste these into a comment box BELOW your caption. Keep on top of the hashtags that are relevant to you and popular, resist using hashtags like #follow4follow. I use a combination of popular travel tags, feature account tags and image specific tags.

5) Engage!

Engagement is right up there with content. The more you engage with other

Instagram users the more you will see engagement come back to you. Be social, social media is a two way street! Network, like, comment,fFollow relevant accounts.

6) Bio

Make sure you have a strong profile photo and some relevant information in your bio along with a contact if you want to be easily contactable.

7) Have fun

Try to enjoy the platform and the experience. If you only use Instagram to gain followers the interactions you have aren’t organic and genuine. Share your story, share a bit of yourself and enjoy.

Black Cat Recommends

One of the most followed accounts on instagram is National Geographic with 34.9 million followers. Find them via thier hashtage @natgeo.(first image by @arni_coraldo via @natgeo)….and a few of their photgraphers @cristinamittermeier (second image below) and @paulnicklen (bottom image)

natgeochristinamittermeierpaulnicklen

 

Follow us @blackcatcruises and #blackcatcruises to share your Akaroa  and Banks Peninsula adventures with us!

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.

50293AA number 1 wildlifeCoE 2015 HoF UKDOC-Approved-label-180greenglobeSMART Logo col

 

‘’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.

Akaroa business a SMART operator

We are over the moon to be awarded the SMART operator certificate from the Department of Conservation!

Akaroa business Black Cat Cruises have become the first business in Banks Peninsula, and the second in the country, to sign up to the SMART Operator programme in an initiative developed by the Department of Conservation (DOC) to increase the protection of marine mammals.

 

SMART Operators, an acronym for “Sustainable Marine Mammal Actions in Recreation and Tourism”, lead by example by committing to activities that have minimal disturbance on whales, dolphins and seals. Commercial operators are able to achieve this by undertaking staff training around the Marine Mammals Protection Regulations, guarantee responsible advertising and help educate the public about best practice boating around marine mammals.

SMART Logo col

 

DOC Ranger Derek Cox was pleased to have Black Cat Cruises as the first SMART Operator in Banks Peninsula. “Black Cat Cruises approached DOC earlier in the year requesting that we hosted the SMART training course in Akaroa, and they have now become the first SMART Operator – this really demonstrates to us that they are the right operators to be leaders in this community”.

 

“As more people want to have that special encounter with marine mammals, they are putting increasing pressure on them, potentially to the detriment of the very thing they love. DOC is looking for new ways of reducing this pressure and Black Cat Cruises will be able to assist with that”.

 

Black Cat Cruises Chief Executive Paul Milligan thought becoming a SMART Operator was a “no brainer”.  “We have been operating on Akaroa Harbour for 30 years now and as the largest operator on the harbour, it’s important for us to work with DOC to ensure that we minimise any impacts on our environment and the Marine Mammals we interact with, such as the endangered Hector’s Dolphin.”

 

“The SMART Operator initiative reassures DOC that we are operating responsibly and gives our customers the confidence that we take what we do seriously and strive to be a leader in the eco-tourism space.”

Hector's dolphin akaroa harbour

 

DOC intends the SMART Operator programme to be extended around the country in the future.

The Giants House Akaroa

The sleepy seaside village of Akaroa is full of unexpected surprises, and The Giant’s House on Rue Balguerie, is most definitely amongst the top of that list.

The Giant’s Housethe giants house akaroa, located just off the main road and up the hill a little bit, is truly a sight to behold. Built in 1881, the historic building is a beautiful ode to creativity and wonder, and of course, the elegance of the French that Akaroa prides itself on.

But before you explore the house itself, it’s hard to miss the world that local artist Josie Martin, has created in her own backyard. Her incredible labour of love and craftsmanship has truly taken over her terraced garden and turned it into another world that young and old from all over flock to see.

Although originally a traditional painter, Martin’s style evolved throughout her career and she began to move into more lively and colourful abstract work. After studying in the US, France, and Italy, and displaying exhibitions throughout New Zealand and the rest of the world, in 1993, Martin put down the paintbrush, and picked up some tiles.

the garden at the giants houseThe evolution of what is sometimes known as the ‘Secret Garden’ took place over a number of years. Each sculpture – a mosaic installation – reflects Martin’s surreal, flamboyant and eccentric view of the world, and of course demonstrates the enormous skill she has as an artist.

A short walk through Martin’s backyard will take you past angels and kings, ballerinas and wizards, a grand piano, and its receptive audience.

By turning her home into a work of art, Martin has earned herself recognition from the New Zealand Gardens Trust, who deem the place a ‘Garden of National Significance.’ Her garden has also featured in many prominent television shows and magazines, such as Maggie’s Garden Show, and New Zealand House and Garden.

 

The Giant’s House can be viewed throughout the year (although it makes a great springtime adventure). Or, if you’re enamoured with Martin’s work and are keen to explore her home, the house itself is set up as a Bed and Breakfast – every bit as beautiful and creative as the famous garden.

 

Accomodation

the rose room akaroa accomodation

 

 

As of recent you can now stay at The Giants House in Akaroa to. It’s a unique, one of kind Akaroa property that promises to deliver a special experience.There are three wonderful rooms to choose from; the Rose room, the Double boat room and a twin room, all of which can be booked for a minimm one nights stay and include bed and breakfast.

 

At The Giant’s House you will be pampered

the giants house piano akaroaOpen Hours

Summer (26 Dec – 30 April) the garden and gallery are open 12 – 5pm daily
Winter (1 May – 24 Dec) the garden and gallery are open 2 – 4pm daily
Cruiseship  days the garden and gallery will be open 12:30pm – 4pm (Oct to Dec ).

The ‘Artisit Palate’ Cafe is open 26 Dec – 30 April.

Prices

  • Garden visit : $20 per adult, $10 per child (2 – 15 years of age)
  • Family Concession Prices:
    • 2 Adults + 1 Child $45
    • 2 Adults + 2 Children $50
    • 2 Adults + 3 Children $55
    • 2 Adults + 4 Children $60
    • Students (with ID) $17
    • Seniors (with NZ gold card ID) $17
  • For group visits (10 or more) to see both the house, gallery and the garden: $22.50pp+ GST

10 Tips To Survive Your Family Camping Trip

What better way to spend your summer nights in New Zealand with the family than pitching a tent and sleeping under the stars?

Banks Peninsula is full of scenic spots that are perfect for such an endeavour, and many people take advantage of that fact during our warmer months.

If you’re thinking of roughing it for a few nights in Canterbury’s great outdoors, be it in iconic Banks Peninsula destinations such as Akaora, Okains Bay or Little River then here are ten things you should bring to ensure your family camping trip is a great success:

    1. Pack of Cards – Or any other board game really. Stock up on the kids’ favourites to wind down at the end of a day of running around in the sun, or for that unexpected stormy summer weather.
    2. Wet Weather Gear – Even if the forecast is telling you there will be nothing but sun, with New Zealand weather’s notoriously unpredictable reputation, it pays to be prepared. If you’re in a tent, make sure the rain cover is packed away, along with the parkas and some extra blankets.
    3. Sun Stuff – On the other hand, the ever so bright (and burning) Kiwi sun can be almost as much trouble as an unexpected storm. Like they say, be sure to slip, slop, slap, and wrap when enjoying the great outdoors.
    4. St John first aid kitFirst Aid Kit – Bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers; all essentials for the travelling family. Every kid is bound to graze a knee or get a splinter, and being able to fix up an ailment in a jiffy reduces the worry and hassle of having to ask around for a hand. St John do a great range of first aid kits from ambulance plasters to an ambulance shaped kit. Great for your trip or for a Christmas gift idea.
    5. kathmandu solar chargerMap – GPS, Google Maps, or whatever fancy technological equivalent you may have can do the job just fine, until it can’t. Have a back up old school hard copy of the way to your destination to avoid getting lost or stuck in the middle of nowhere. If you prefer plastic to paper why not invest in a solar charger. Kathmandu do a great solar charger kit so you can stay connected.kids camping torch
    6. Lights – Nobody likes having to get up in the middle of the night to find the loo, only to realise the lights are out and there’s nowhere to find them. Bring a torch or lamp, and some spare batteries, to avoid stumbling through the dark. They’re also great for a game of spotlight. We love this kids camping animal torch from Typo!
    7. Sleeping gear – Although sleeping bags and pillows are a given, it might pay to pack a few extra blankets for those colder nights. Don’t forget the air mattress or cot either – especially if you’re after a comfortable night’s sleep. Or simply bring the whole bed and call it glamping..glamping

 

8. Food glorious food – A local Four Square or dairy is usually pretty helpful for anything you’ve forgotten, but for those more remote locations, prepping meal plans before you go can make a load of difference. Snacks are an essential for the little ones too as all that running around is bound to work up an appetite long before dinner. Don’t forget the utensils either – those beans aren’t much good if you can’t get into them!

9. Toilet Paper – One can only truly appreciate the wonders of toiletries when one has accidently left them at home before a camping trip. Be sure to double check for loo paper, wet wipes, soap, and hand sanitizer in your bathroom bag before you head off into the wilderness.

10. Fun – Not everything will go to plan, and there will no doubt be a bit of stress in the atmosphere, but try your best to go with the flow and make the most of it. There’s nothing quite like a Kiwi summer in the great outdoors!

For more information on camping in Akaroa and the bays check out this fantastic guide cortesy of akaroa.comAkaroa and the bays camping guide 1Akaroa and the bays camping guide 2

5 Fab Stops On Your Drive From Christchurch To Akaroa

Although it’s not a particularly long and arduous journey, it’s always nice to have a place to stop on a drive through the countryside.

Take a look at a few of these places on your next trip to Akaroa for friendly faces, local attractions, or a delicious bite to eat:

1. Little River

Little River is a great halfway point for stretching those legs on the drive over to Akaroa. Hop out at the main stop through the town and have a look around. With the Little River Craft Station, Little River Gallery, and the Little River Café all in one easily accessible location, you can pass an hour or two browsing and brunching on your way to Banks Peninsula. If you’re a little more active and have some extra time, take a day to get out on the Little River Rail Trail – a great biking track that goes along the old railroad – before heading over the hills. There’s also a fantastic campsite here, which is reported to be the most searched for campsite in New Zealand on google!

2. Barry’s Bay

Stop for a seaside snack in Barry’s Bay. Famous for its award winning handmade cheese, a stop in Barry’s Bay means a visit to the factory. With taste tests for delicious cheddar, gouda, harvati and maasdam, you’ll be sure to take a bit of time to stock up. Bring a few crackers and chutney and make a meal of it while looking over the water not far from the shop. If you’re keen on staying for a bit longer, there’s also the cosy Halfmoon Cottage. Just 30 metres from the ocean, its wonderful service, homely atmosphere and beautiful gardens, make it the perfect retreat for backpackers passing through.

3. Wainui

If you’re up for a bit of a detour then Wainui is a great place to unwind after a day of driving. The rocky beach makes for a lovely afternoon stroll, exploring the rock pools and sea life that live in the corners of the shore. The place is also great for a getaway from city bustle, with plenty of baches nestled amongst the bush for the perfect family summer at a quiet beach. Bring the boat or the kayak for a bit of seafaring fun, or take a walk up the hills for a spectacular view of the water.

4. Hilltop Tavern

Open from Wednesday to Sunday, the Hilltop and the Tavern are a great place to soak in the view and have a bite and a beer before you head down the hills. Coin operated binoculars give you a fantastic up close look at the Peninsula and the road ahead, while the Tavern does great woodfire pizzas and Kiwi craft beer to tide you over until you make it to your destination. Spending an evening at the Hilltop Tavern is also an excellent experience, with local and national acts often playing live on the weekends.

5. DuVauchelle Bay

A stop in DuVauchelles will see you get your first taste of French history before heading to Akaroa. The town was named after two brothers who held the land there after the French Settlement arrived in the 1840s. There are several historic sites, such as the 1921 post office, that show an interesting window to the past as you’re passing through. Or, if you’re up for a relaxing afternoon, get lunch at the DuVauchelle Store and Café, and dine in front of the harbour. Then, head down to the 18-hole golf course for a game that has some of the best scenery in New Zealand.

Say Cheese!

Alright, before you read this article, I have to emphasise that I am a cheese lover and furthermore, I am French. I know what you are going to say, but I can assure you, cheese is magical! 

Let’s now talk about cheese…

During my first trip to Akaroa in early 2014, I heard about a little cheese factory on the way to the Peninsula. I thought: “What an amazing idea to stop by!” I was not disappointed!

When you enter this little treasure, you are exposed to a lot of different kinds of cheese. From the Gouda to the Havarti passing by the Gruyere, Edam and Maasdam, you will find some very special taste’s and I am sure you will find one that you like. You will be exploring wonderful aromas, mulitple textures, delicious flavours and different colours.

You can purchase direct from the shop for your friends or yourself after having a degustation (it is the best part). But what made my cheese experience really enjoyable was the factory itself. This factory had been using the traditional method of fabrication since 1895. They also use fresh milk from Banks Peninsula Friesian cows. I think this is great! In addition, you can ask for an explanation about the process and you get to see the cheese making room (see picture).

If you are planning a holiday or daytrip to Akaroa, it is a great stop off along the way. If you need more information about Barrys’ Bay, please find the website below : http://www.barrysbaycheese.co.nz/

Barrys Bay Shop Akaroa

cHEESE FACTORY aKAROA