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

Orca Visits to Banks Peninsula

Why have pods of Orca been seen more often in Akaroa and Lyttelton Harbours lately?


Black Cat have been cruising around Akaroa Harbour since 1985 and the original skipper, Ron Bingham, recalls seeing Orca only 5 times from 1985 to 2006, a period of 21 years cruising. In the last 12 months alone we’ve seen pods on no fewer than 5 occasions in Akaroa or Lyttelton.

Orca are sometimes known as Killer whales but that’s only because they were sometimes known to actually hunt and kill large baleen whales, i.e. killer of whales. They are actually the classified as a dolphin! There are no known reports of Orca attacking humans in the wild. Though there have been some instances where Orca in captivity have killed or injured their trainers.


Ingrid Visser has been studying Orca in New Zealand for many years and has helped with stranding’s and her body of research has helped us to understand our Orca population. Ingrid has also swum with Orca in the wild; which must have been pretty exhilarating.

Orca are found in most of the world’s oceans. New Zealand Orca will eat most anything and we think that’s a clue as to why they are coming into the Banks Peninsula bays more often. It’s thought the preferred food for them are rays. Though of course Orca will attack dolphins, seals and penguins.


Local marine biologist Liz Slooten believes that the Orca may be attracted to the local Seal population in Akaroa especially to the seal pups. The population in Akaroa harbour has increased substantially in the last 10 years, and Orca may help to keep the population in check.

Liz also has a photo of a Hector’s dolphin which may have been attacked by an Orca, though it’s hard to tell and if anything it must have been a calf because of the smallish bite size and tooth marks.

Black Cat Cruises crew have also noticed Hector’s dolphins tend to get very nervous when Orca are in the area. They tend not to be relaxed enough to play with swimmers and boats and may stick close to the shoreline.

There are no seals in Lyttelton Harbour so they are definitely chasing something else. Co-incidentally there are lots of dolphins in the harbour but no one has seen the Orca going after them so it’s more likely they are chasing rays, squid or fish.

It sure is a great sight to see pods of Orca in the Banks Peninsula bays but for the sake of the local Hectors dolphins it’s also great to see them pass through.


Akaroa Christmas Day 


The Akaroa Visitor Centre wharf cabin will be open from 8am until 3pm.



    • New Zealand Inspired (10.00am-5.00pm)


    • Fire & Ice


    • Pot Pourri (10.00am-5.00pm)


    • Mr Whippy Truck


    • Ma Cherie (9.00am-5.30pm)


    • Studio 67(9.00am-5.30pm)


    • Faultline Gallery (9.30am – 4.30pm)


    • The Akaroa Supply Store (10.00am-4.00pm)


    • The Koru Gallery (9.30am-5.00pm)


    • The Weighbridge (10.00am-4.00pm)


    • Woolshed Gallery


    • Woolworx


    • Beach Road (9.00-4.00pm)


    • Akaroa Chemist (10.00am-3.00pm)


    • The Akaroa Blue Pearl Gallery


    • Black Cat Beach Road Shop


    • Hetties




    • The Giants House (1.00pm-4.00pm)


    • Shamarra Alpacas-Tour leaving Akaroa at 12.30pm. 2 hour long trip. Can take 6 persons. Doing own pick up from wharf


    • Black Cat Cruises– Both the Akaroa Harbour Cruise and Swimming with Dolphins operatingCruise 9am (Charter), 11am, 1.30pm. Christmas day prices: $85 Adults and $30 Children.

      Swimming with Dolphins 9am, 12pm and 2pm. Christmas day prices apply.




    • Akaroa Jet-4 trips, at 11.30am, 1pm, 2.15pm, 3.30pm. 1 hour long trips. $64 for adults. $34 for children. Can take 18 persons per trip


    • A Class Sailing-2 tours. 2.5 hour tour. $75pp. No children under 12. 10.30am tour (10.15 boarding). 1.30pm tour (1.15 boarding). 20 spaces per trip


    • Fox 2 Sailing-10.30am & 1.30pm tour. $70 per adult, $30 per child. Can take 30 per trip.


    • Akaroa Shuttle-10.30 am bus service from Akaroa to Christchurch, return at 3 pm. Akaroa arrival; 4.30pm  37 seats available). 1 hour tours- 9.30 am, 11am, 12.30 pm & 2 pm. $25pp per tour. The tour goes up to the Summit Road, Robinsons Bay and then back to Akaroa


    • A Classic Ride– Honda Goldwing & Sidecar tours




    • The Trading Rooms


    • Trubys (10.00am-5.00pm)


    • Bully Hayes (9.00am-4.00pm)


    • La Thai (11.30am-3.00pm)


    • Akaroa Fish & Chips (11am-4.00pm)


    • Butchery BBQ


    • Grand Hotel (12pm-4.30pm)





    • L’Escargot Rouge


    • L’hotel


    • Hill Top Tavern


    • Vangionis


    • Akaroa Bakery


    • The Stables


    • The Little Bistro


    • Maderia


    • Nikau Café


    • Ma Maison Restaurant & Bar




    • 4 Square


    • BNZ Bank


    • Lava Gallery


    • Akaroa Butchery


    • Ca Bouge


    • The Peninsula General Store


    • Ula




    • Okains Bay Museum


    • Akaroa Fishing & Dive Charters


    • Akaroa Museum


    • Akaroa Cooking School




    • Selwyn Shuttle


    • Cityline


    • Discovery Travel


  • Hassle Free Tours Double Decker bus


Let me be one of the first to wish you a merry Christmas! We are gearing up for our busy season in what will truly go down as a year never to be forgotten. I’d like to thank you for supporting Black Cat over 2011. There has been a lot of TV coverage for Akaroa recently with whales, French rugby supporters, a world famous conservationist and an Aussie weather man all visiting our town. Along with the cruise ships it’s sure to create lots of buzz for our summer season. We are looking forward in a positive manner and proceeding with a staff head count at only marginally behind a normal year. More info here in this link.  We hope to see you out on the water this summer.

Cheers Paul


Whales Honeymoon in Akaroa

It was great to see two rare Southern Right whales hang out in Akaroa Harbour for a week. Whale sightings have become more common for us recently but these ones parked up for a 7 days on an apparent honeymoon. Our team thought the male was interested in mating and the female not so much. Her behaviour included tail slapping, and swimming upside down. This behaviour is like saying ‘no thanks’. The male response was lots of breaching (jumping out of the water) and hanging about. Does all this sound familiar?! The whales attracted national media interest and here is TV3’s news report.


Cruise ship update

Akaroa has already hosted 20 cruise ship visits out of 80 visits this season including two days where two ships visited on the same day. Customers have commented on how lovely the little township is and our feedback is extremely positive. The town has also done a great job of welcoming visitors and every day there are plenty of operators available to provide things to do. Black Cat has been busy on the water on dolphin watching and swimming cruises and has provided transport to and from the ships some days too.


The Small 5

You may have heard of the big 5 in Africa. Well New Zealand has its own version called the Small 5! They are small and endangered species which include Hector’s dolphins, Yellow eye penguins, Kiwi, Kea and Tuatara. Recently Mark Cawardine was in Akaroa as part of an effort to highlight the small 5. Mark is world famous conservationist, a TV and radio presenter and a wildlife photographer. He co-presented the BBC series Last Chance to See, with Stephen Fry. Here is a great picture Mark took while out on one of our cruises and read his positive feedback on his trip to Akaroa at the bottom of this article.


The Today Show in Akaroa

Question: what do you do when one of the biggest storms of the year hits the South Island just as you start a live TV broadcast on Australia’s biggest TV network?

Answer: call in the A Team at Black Cat. Last month the popular weather presenter Steve Jacobs from the Today Show was in Akaroa presenting live back to Australia’s channel 9. Here is an image of Steve presenting his weather from Akaroa wharf in one of our dry suits in a good old fashioned Southerly gale.

Tourism NZ said ‘In the toughest of weather conditions your team came to our rescue and I’m pleased to say the segments were fantastic.  Entertaining, engaging and best of all full of Black Cat cruise comments. It was very humbling how the people of Akaroa helped us out on a crazy, last-minute mission.


French is the flavour of the month

Vive la France. We’ve been making an increased effort recently to highlight the unique French flavour of Akaroa. Here’s our team uniform for French fest and also we are continuing with this there on every day we have a cruise ship in.


World Cup wrap up

The French rugby team certainly turned up for the final in what everyone thought would be a one-sided affair. Prior to the big game we welcomed a number of fans to Akaroa and with that came national media coverage. Here is just one TV piece on the divided loyalty from Akaroa fans.


Quail Hunt

The Great Quail Island treasure hunt is on. All you need to do is pick up a treasure map on the ferry on the way over, find the ‘x’ markers and solve a secret word. All correct entries win a $5 prize for the kids with 2 for 1 coffee for the hard working adults at coffee culture.

Departs daily at 10.20am and also 12.20pm during school holidays.

Phone 03 328 9078 for more details.


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Great Feedback.

Thanks so much for everything you did for me during my stay in Akaroa. It was all much appreciated. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you and all your staff, and spending time out on the boats with the dolphins. And, as I said this afternoon, I’m very impressed with your operation. I’ve been on many whale and dolphin watching trips in over 65 different countries – and yours are outstanding. With many thanks, once again, and all good wishes.
Mark Carwardine. www.markcarwardine.com

We went to Quail Island with 40 winners from the Natural Confectionery Company competition. The Black Cat Captain and staff were really friendly, and the trip over was fun. Once we got to the island, we split into two groups, those that wanted to while away the time playing games, swimming and picnic-ing at Swimmers’ Beach and those that wanted an Island walk. The walk around the island was really interesting as the island is steeped in fascinating history. Once back at Swimmers’ Beach we played games and swam and ate – the kids loved the tree swing there too. Everyone was amazed at how beautiful the place was, and Swimmers’ Beach, with its white sand and pretty moored boats, gently sloping grass with loads of shade and amazing views of Lyttelton, is the perfect place to spend a whole day. Everyone I spoke to said they were going back to tell family and friends how fantastic it was. Personally, I thought the place was pure magic. 
Kind regards Rachel


If you’re looking for somewhere to holiday in the South Island, Akaroa is a great place to spend a few days. In a post-earthquake Canterbury, Akaroa is unharmed and is a great place to go to get away from it all. Come try out the many Akaroa activities.

Banks Peninsula Walking Track

These walks are a great way to explore the Banks Peninsula area and there are different options for walkers of all levels. All tracks start and finish in Akaroa and trampers can choose a two or four day walk, staying in huts along the way. This sort of walking holiday is an ideal way to experience the remote sights of the Banks Peninsula.


Akaroa Harbour Cruise

Cruising the harbour is an ideal option if you want to see some beautiful scenery and experience some of the wildlife that Akaroa has to offer. Black Cat does daily cruises which give you a chance to see dolphins, seals and penguins among other things. They can also show you a bit of the area’s history by touring the volcanic cliffs and seeing some ancient lava flows.

03 304 7641


Kayak, Canoe and Boat Hire

If you want to have a bit of unscheduled fun, you can hire a range of water vessels and explore the Harbour in your own time. Kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, row boats and water bikes are all available and can be a fun and relaxing way to spend a day on the water.


Swimming with Dolphins

There is a lot of amazing marine wildlife in Akaroa and there are options to see some of it close you if you want to. Black Cat Cruises offer the incredible experience of swimming with Hector’s Dolphins. These dolphins are some of the world’s smallest and friendliest and will be an experience you won’t ever forget.

03 304 7641


Penguin Tours

Another option for those wanting to check out some wildlife is Pohatu Penguins. They offer unique sea kayak tours or scenic 4 wheel drive nature tours which visit a marine reserve in a coastal bay. This reserve is home to the largest Little Penguin colony on mainland New Zealand.

03 304 8552



There are a couple of options for spa’s in Akaroa which make it the perfect destination for relaxation and pampering. Akaroa Body Care or The Shunyata Retreat offer a range of services from day spas to retreats and are an ideal option if you’re looking for rejuvination and relaxation.


Wining and Dining

Akaroa is full of great little cafés and restaurants which are great experiences as well as serving a delicious range of food and wine. Whatever you feel like, there will be somewhere to suit your needs with each place offering something different to the next.

A Few Options:


    • L’Escargot Rouge-Deli to Go


    • La Thai


    • The Trading Rooms Restaurant and Pantry


    • The Little Bistro



Cheese Making

For a unique and delicious experience, Barrys Bay Cheese on the beautiful Banks Peninsula has something for everyone. Visitors can view traditional cheese making and watch a movie on the history if they want to. On top of this there are cheese tastings available and wines and condiments to complement the cheese available.

03 304 5809


Farm Tours

For something a bit different, farm tours operate from the unique Paua Bay Farm. This is great if you’re looking for somewhere to stay or if you just want to spend they day. There are spectacular views and it is a unique experience of rural life on a traditional New Zealand farm.

03 304 7170



You may not expect there to be much in the way of shopping in Akaroa but the area has a brilliant range of shops. Whether you’re looking for high fashion of something craftier, there are shops to suit. There are also jade, gemstone and crystal shops that are great places to look, and even better places to buy.



As the oldest town in the South Island, Akaroa has some amazing history and the buildings to go with it. One of these is the lighthouse which was relocated over twenty years ago and can now be seen in the Akaroa township. The lighthouse still has its original lighting equipment and is still lit on special occasions.


Cooking School

A great place to go if you’re looking for something indoors is the Akaroa Cooking School. You can go in for private classes or hire it out for an event. This is a great idea for groups of all sizes and can be a fun activity if you’re looking to do something with a group.

021 166 3737


Treat Yourself to an Ice Cream

It’s the simple pleasures in life and what is summer without ice cream. Enjoying a couple of scoops of ice cream on the beautiful beaches of Akaroa will let you know that you’re really on holiday – no matter what age you are!


Image Credits



Here’s an updated list of what’s open in Christchurch after the earthquake – and also in the surrounding area. If you know other things please add them into the comments below so everyone knows!

Pop Up Mall

A revamped version of the Cashel Street mall was reopened at the end of October 2011. Temporary shops made from shipping containers make a colourful addition to city’s centre as it gradually reopens. The mall is home to 27 shops and is worth going to look at even if shopping is not on your agenda.


Black Cat Cruises

Stationed out in Akaraoa Harbour, the daily Black Cat cruise is a fantastic way to explore the area. There are cruises which are the best way to see the volcanic outer harbor and there is also the chance to see dolphins, seals and penguins in their natural habitat. There are also tours where you can swim with the dolphins. Just over an hour’s drive from Christchurch, Black Cat cruises are a perfect activity for all ages, and if you want to bring the kids along there are great rates for children.


McLeans Island

This forest section of the Waimakariri River Regional Park almost does it all, just 10 kilometers from Christchurch. It’s a great location for activities such as picnicking, mountain biking, walking and running. On top of this, it is a great destination for recreation activities which includes golf, shooting, horse riding, vintage car steam and machinery club, paintball, tank rides and Orana Wildlife Park. Come and check out the giant playground for all ages.



The summer months offer a great opportunity for surfing some of Christchurch’s great beaches. Popular spots such as Taylor’s Mistake and Sumner Beach are great for surfing and offer the perfect way to spend the day.



Willowbank is the only place in New Zealand where you have access to such a wide range of wildlife. The reserve has natural bush surroundings and much of the wildlife is free to wander around so is able to be petted and fed. Willowbank also offers guided tours with knowledgable staff and a great cultural experience with their Ko Tane Maori Cultural Performances.


Ice Skating

Christchurch’s Alpine Ice Sports and Entertainment Centre is one of the best places to go ice skating in Christchurch. More than just ice skating, Alpine has light shows, music and games as well as a licensed bar and coffee lounge. Open all year round and offering group discounts and family passes, it’s a perfect way to spend the day.

03 3662213


Mountain Biking

If you’re looking for a great outdoor activity, Hanmer has some great tracks for mountain biking. These well maintained trails are a fun way to experience the Canterbury scenery.


Hanmer Springs

Less than 2 hours drive from Christchurch lies the idyllic town of Hanmer. The towns biggest attraction is their natural hot springs and mineral pools. With lots of pools and awesome rides, Hanmer Springs is a great way to relax and have fun.


Tour Canterbury’s High Country

For something a bit different, check out 4 wheel drive tours of Canterbury’s High Country. This magnificent landscape is home of Lord of the Rings Middle Earth and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’s Narnia. This unique part of New Zealand is well worth exploring at any age.


Antarctic Centre

For a family fun activity, visit Christchurch’s Antarctic Centre to experience a realistic glimpse of the Antarctic Region. As well as informative exhibits, visitors can ride in a hagglund and experience the snow and ice.

03 353 7798


What Else is Open in Christchurch After the Quake?

Here is a list which was updated on September 13th with other things that are open in Christchurch after the quakes. This has been provided by ChristchurchNZ.com.

03 314 2030

Akaroa Nature Cruises
03 328 9078

Action Karts Christchurch
03 377 3730

Adrenalin Forest
03 329 8717

Adventure Canterbury Ltd
0800 847 455

Air Force Museum
03 343 9508

Alpine Ice Sports & Entertainment Centre
03 3662213

Alpine Jet
03 318 4881

Beadz Unlimited
03 3795 126

Black Cat Cruises, Akaroa
03 304 7641

Canterbury Aviation
03 359 8006

Canterbury Leisure Tour
0800 484 485

Canterbury Museum
03 366 5000

CanNZ Tours
0800 866 539

Christchurch Botanic Gardens
03 941 8999

Canterbury Trails
03 384 6148

Christchurch Casino
03 365 9999

Christchurch Segway Tours
027 542 1887

City Cycle Hire
0800 343848

Court Jesters
03 963 0878

Discovery Travel
0800 372 879

Garden City Bowling
03 366 3323

Glacier Explorers
0800 68 68 00

Glacier Sea Kayaking – Tasman &Mueller Glacier Lakes
03 4351 890

GreatSights Sightseeing Tours
03 365 1113

03 3590470

Hassle Free 4WD/Jet Adventure Tour
03 385 5775

Hassle Free Alpine Safari Tour
03 385 5775

Hassle Free Lord of the Rings Tour
03 385 5775

Hiking New Zealand
03 384 3706

Horse Power
03 342-9246

Jet Thrills
0274 321 104

Ko Tane and Ko Tane free transport service
03 3596226

Kowhai Tours
03 388 7899

Linden Leaves
03 339 8314

Maui – The Art of Maori Haka
03 366 0324

Orana Wildlife Park and Shuttle Service
03 359 7109

Pegasus Golf & Sports Club
03 920 3300

Pirates Island Adventure Golf
03 358 9250

Punting on the Avon & Antigua Boatsheds
03 366 0337

Rangitata Rafts
03 6963 735

Rubicon Valley Horse Treks
03 318 8886

She Chocolat
03 329 9222

Swimming with Dolphins
03 328 9078

03 302 9143

South Pacific Motorcycle Tours Ltd
03 312 0066

Tanks For Everything
03 359 1007

Terrace Downs – Discovery Jet, Golf, The Spa
03 318 6943

The Inside Story Ltd (Tours)
379 8481

The International Antarctic Centre
Free transport on the Penguin Express
03 353 7798

Thrillseekers Adventures – Jet Boat, Rafting, Quad Bike, Bungy Jump
03 315 7046

Up Up & Away
03 381 4600

Waimak River Horse Treks Ltd
323 9064

Watford Grange Llama Park
03 347 4766

Wild West Mini Golf
03 343 2055

Willowbank Reserve
03 359 6226

Yaldhurst Museum
03 342 7914

If you know other things please add them into the comments below so everyone knows!

Also check out the What’s on Map http://www.whatsopen.co.nz/food-entertainment/1/recreational

Image Credits



Planning a romantic weekend in Akaroa?

Peaceful Akaroa

Akaroa is the perfect place to go to for a romantic escape from the stresses of city life. The town has retained its ‘French Village’ character with many colonial-style buildings and French street names and throw mix in the ambience of a small seaside settlement with lots of cafes, restaurants and galleries and it’s just made for a lovely night away.

Driving over from Christchurch its worth stopping at Little River and visiting the cafe and art gallery, then once up the top of the Hill Top Pass Akaroa is revealed in the distance with quite an amazing view.

There are many great Akaroa activities – The key is staying somewhere that fits the bill and the Akaroa Country House and Tree Crop Farm are two very special spots.

Akaroa Country House

Akaroa Country House is very private with the cottage two hundred metres away from the main house down a pathway. The cottage is beside a small stream and has an outside bath, perfect for candlelight stargazing and is situated up secluded Takamatua Valley, amongst the native forest.

If you want something a little different Tree Crop Farm is well worth a visit. Also set in amongst the lovely native forest, many of the individual cabins do not have power, but they do have loads of candles and big fireplaces.

A theme of ‘Bohemian Love Shacks’ prevails, with lots of rugs and very little to disturb you. The place is full of colonial antiques amongst loads of sheepskins and fur rugs, herbs and flowers.

Tree Crop Farm

The  cafe has loads of insightful quotes written all over the walls, and it does have power, as does at least one of the cabins, if you really do need to plug in.

It is fair to say the world disappears at Tree Crop Farm as you sit in the outdoor bathtub – with a fire you’ve built underneath – at night, under the stars.

After a bit of a sleep in; which is encouraged, head into Akaroa for brunch at one of the many cafes that look out over Akaroa Harbour. It makes for a great prelude before walking along to the main wharf to jump on a Swimming with Dolphins trip with Black Cat Cruises.

Akaroa Harbour offers so much, and the chance to swim with the rare Hector dolphins is just an amazing experience. The team at Black Cat are so helpful and knowledgeable about the marine environment and the dolphins.

Everyone plays ‘dolphin spotter’ and once they’re found it’s into the water in wetsuits and time to really swim with the dolphins. You get loads of playtime with these amazing creatures, and then sadly it’s time to head back to base.

Akaroa is the only place in the world where you get to swim with the Hector Dolphins, the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin.

sometimes the best thing to do in life is doing nothing!!

After the swim a visit to Lumiere Day Spa is a great way to relax and unwind before facing a trip back to Christchurch. Located in the centre of Akaroa, getting a massage at Lumiere wil pamper your body and mind.

After leaving Lumiere, a coffee stop to fuel you for the drive back over the hill isn’t a bad idea. Just make sure it’s in a takeaway cup or you’ll find more reason to stay.

See more Akaroa attractions and things to do.


Spring is here and its time to look forward to summer. Over the winter months we’ve been planning and preparing to welcome visitors this season. Around 80 cruise ships have selected Akaroa as their Canterbury base this season which should really add some buzz to the town. Of course the buzz right now is about the world cup so we are wishing our boys all the best and of course the profile the event will create around the world will be huge. Also in this Breeze are details of our new treasure hunt, Lyttelton to France cruise and our latest promotions. Thanks for reading in advance.

Cheers Paul

Dolphins up close

If you have ever wondered how close we get to the rare Hector’s dolphins then this picture sums it up! So close in fact that not all of the dolphin fitted into the frame with its leap almost knocking the camera out of the guide’s hands. In truth this is a little unusual. Like us, teenage dolphins can get a bit excited sometimes and this one may have slightly misjudged his jump. An incredible sight for all on board though.


Akaroa chosen for Cruise liners

Lyttelton’s loss is Akaroa’s gain with the recent announcement that cruise ships will be visiting Akaroa on 72 days between October 2011 and April 2012. Here is the Press article on it. On 7 days there will be two cruise ships in the harbour at once. Cruise ships are an incredible sight in Akaroa dwarfing Black Cat which is normally the largest vessel around. If you fancy the buzz and excitement of cruise ship days then akaroa will be going off. If on the other hand you like to have the place to yourself you may want avoid those days. We have posted a schedule of cruise ship days on our web site.


The big Snow

Not once but twice Banks Peninsula and Christchurch got a huge dump of snow this winter. This did disrupt our cruises a few times with public transport shutting down the ferry and the road to Akaroa needing to be cleared to allow customers to get through. These images show how beautiful it was though and quite different to the normal scenes.


All Black Cat

The world’s eyes are focused on NZ for the 2011 Rugby World Cup and Black Cat are getting in behind the All Blacks. Not many people know in 1987 just days before winning the first world cup the All Blacks came for a cruise with us out on Akaroa Harbour. Maybe it was something in the air in Akaroa that made them kick on to win the world cup that year. Go the Blacks!


Akaroa triple treat

We’ve teamed up with the Akaroa Salmon and Akaroa Cooking School to create a great new cruise product this year. Aimed at groups of 15 or more the day starts with a two hour nature cruise of the harbour including a stop at the Salmon Farm to catch a fish. Then it’s on to the cooking school to turn the Salmon into a delicious feast. For more details contact alison@blackcat.co.nz


Treasure Hunt is back

We’re launching The Great Quail Island treasure hunt on 1st October. All you need to do is pick up a treasure map on the ferry on the way over, find the ‘x’ markers and solve a secret word. All correct entries win a $5 prize for the kids with 2 for 1 coffee for the hard working adults at coffee culture. Adults $25, Children $10. Departs daily at 10.20am and also 12.30pm during school holidays. Phone 03 328 9078.


Quail Tree Trail

We are proud to be helping with the planting of native trees on Quail Island. Its part of our commitment to give back as much as we can, and of course to help transform the island into a native paradise for wildlife. Black Cat will spend $50,000 via its Community and Environment fund on local projects in the next year.


Lyttelton to France

We have our once a year cruise from Lyttelton to Akaroa coming up on the 25th September with the following two Sundays as reserve days. It’s a unique way to see a part of Canterbury’s coastline few have seen, and of course to spend a peaceful day in Akaroa too. $99 for Adult, $49 for children. Includes cruise over and coach back. Tel 03 304 7641 to reserve your space.


Intercity to Akaroa

You might be interested to know that Intercity now have daily bus services to Akaroa. You can book this through your normal Intercity system or phone them direct (03) 365 1113 .http://www.intercity.co.nz/timetable/lookup/8615


Book a Christmas charter before end of Oct and get a free wine.

Have you organised your Xmas function yet? No? Forget the earth, head for the water for a great night out on the Canterbury Cat in Lyttelton harbour. Prices including food start at $55 per person with a free glass of wine to kick you off. Email alison@blackcat.co.nz for details.


Promotions and marketing

As spring is here, you may notice us increase our marketing efforts. Here are a few of the highlights:

We commence a TV1 advertising campaign 6th to 23rd October. TVC here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gz5PQ_YSpUk

Press Competition. Keep an eye out for full page ads early October with the chance to win one of 25 family passes on Akaroa Harbour Cruises).

Mastercard promotion featuring free fish n chips on: http://www.mastercard.com/nz/rwc/offers/details/#!/866256


Viator rates us tops

We’ve received a special commendation from Viator, one of the large on line travel companies. In recognition of our consistently high rankings we have earned ‘’top rated on Viator’’ status. See http://www.viator.com/search/akaroa


Blogging favourites

Check out this great blog on Akaroa


One of the biggest and most annoying irritations when going on a cruise or swimming with dolphins is seasickness.  Fortunately Black Cat Cruisesoperate in the sheltered waters of Akaroa Harbour, but sometimes when the swell is particularly large, or the dolphins we are trying to locate are slightly out of the harbour, we encounter turbulence and the resulting seasickness for some of our clients.

As a sufferer myself, it is extremely annoying when you seem to be the only one on the boat going green!! .  So I decided to look into this phenomenon and see if I can pass on any words of wisdom to help prevent seasickness for my fellow sufferers.

Firstly, what is it? Motion sickness is a conflict between your senses.  The fluid filled canal in your inner ear tells your brain that you are moving while your eyes tell your brain that you are not!!  That conflict can cause your body to be out of balance.

What to do to try and avoid it: – 

1.       Stay at the stern (back) of the boat where there is less motion.  The bow of the boat pounds through the waves, up and down the stern drags through the water.

2.       Try and roll with the boat instead of fighting the motion. It’s called getting your sea legs.

3.       Fresh air is good but you want to stay low and to the stern of the boat. That is where you will encounter the least motion.

4.       If you are beginning to feel a bit queasy, stand up and look out over the horizon, fixing your eyes on something straight ahead.

5.       Get lots of rest before you go on a cruise and do not drink alcohol! Drink plenty of water instead.

6.       Do not skip eating before your cruise and avoid fatty acidic foods

Some Remedies:-

1.       Steering the boat or finding something to take your mind off it is an instant remedy.

2.       Ginger is a natural preventative. It soothes a queasy stomach and has no side effects.

3.       Eating peppermint in conjunction with ginger is reported by as being even more effective.

4.       Another treatment is an accupressure wrist band. It applies pressure to a particular point on your wrist which can prevent the feeling of nausea.  We have these for sale in our shop on the main wharf in Akaroa, or we have some you can borrow.

5.       Try to eat something salty.

6.       There are some prescription medicines out there for those who really need it.

I hope this article will help some of you, but make sure your fear of seasickness does not stop you from getting out there and enjoying some of the most amazing experiences you will ever have on the water.


The East Coast of New Zealand’s South Island is a place of contrast, beauty and history. Sightseeing options during your holidays here range from colonial towns and sleepy Maori fishing villages, to vibrant cities such as Dunedin and Christchurch. Things to do on the South Island East Coast include getting close to nature, wine tasting or getting a taste of history.

A journey down the East Coast of New Zealand’s South Island will probably start in the Marlborough region. Famous most notably for its Sauvignon Blanc, as well as a number of other grapes, this is a great place to choose for budding wine connoisseurs (or just budding wine tasters).

Within the Marlborough region are the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. The Sounds is an area of elaborate waterways and beautiful bays, all encompassed by lush green landscapes.

At the southern end of the Marlborough region is Kaikoura, which is known for its special blend of alpine and coastal scenery. Activities in Kaikoura include swimming with dolphins or whale watching tours.

The city of Christchurch is located about a third of the way along the East Coast heading south and has become known as the ‘garden city’, thanks to its dedication to beautiful gardens. The city is cosmopolitan and vibrant and things to do in Christchurch, apart from visiting award winning gardens, include attending one the city’s many festival and arts events.

Tourist attractions in Christchurch include the Neo Gothic Christchurch Cathedral, in the centre of the city. A climb up into its impressive spire offers a bird’s eye view of the city. Other places to visit in Christchurch include the Christchurch Gondola and the International Antarctic Centre.

If you are based in Christchurch but wish to explore the surrounding towns and villages, one great choice is the seaside town of Sumner. Sumner is actually a quiet coastal suburb of the city and is a popular with families, particularly those with an interest in surfing, boating and swimming.

Another place to see outside of Christchurch centre is the historic port of Lyttleton. Tourist attractions include Pilgrims Rock, where European settlers first entered the region.

Of all the places to visit along the East Coast, Akoara has become a must see town. This historic town has both British and French influence in both its architecture and its atmosphere. It is a great place to stroll around, filled with fine galleries and cafes, as well as offering swimming with dolphins, and nature cruises on the Akoara waters.

A small town rich in Maori heritage can be found further down the coast at Moeraki. Moeraki is a quiet fishing village known for the famous Moeraki Boulders. The boulders are one of the main tourist attractions in Moeraki, as these natural spherical formations are stunning and awe-inspiring.

Moeraki Boulders


Named after the Gaelic name for Edinburgh, the city of Dunedin is rich in both history and culture. A trip to Dunedin should include simply strolling around a city thought to be one of the most well preserved Edwardian/Victorian places south of the equator. There are many fascinating places to see in Dunedin, including Larnach Castle and the steepest address in the world on Baldwin Street.

The tourist attractions in Dunedin and its surroundings pay homage to the spectacular wildlife found in the area. The wildlife includes rare penguins, Royal albatross and rare sea lions.

Found in the south eastern tip of the island is The Catlins, a National Park and an area of natural beauty that has remained fairly untouched by human interference. The area offers a varied choice of landscape, including rugged coastline and fossilized forest.

Popular activities in The Catlins include wildlife watching and bird spotting. The acres and acres of wilderness are great for trekking, camping and cycling.

The Caltins – Nugget Point Lighthouse


The East Coast has a bit of everything. Folks can immerse themselves in natural untouched habitats, or enjoy the elegant food and wine of this culturally rich and diverse section of the southern hemisphere.

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With a coastline of approximately 15,000 kilometres New Zealanders have always had and continue to have a close affinity with the ocean. Working within a company whose occupation it is to take passengers out on harbour cruises and swimming with the dolphins we the staff at Black Cat Cruises are at the heart of it all and have been fortunate to have had special encounters with some of the less common, larger marine creatures.

The latest exciting visitors to the peninsula waters have been the migrating Humpback whales. During the summer months the Humpback whales are down in their feeding grounds in Antarctic waters but during the winter months they make their way to their tropical South Pacific breeding grounds. Passing by in New Zealand’s coastal waters provides opportunities for Kiwis and ocean-goers alike to have close encounters with these whales. Humpback whales are easily identified by their distinctive knobbly dorsal fin, large pectoral fins (their scientific name Megaptera novaeangliae means big wings of New England) and heads covered with bumps (tubercles). They can grow to lengths of 15 metres, weigh between 30 – 40 tonnes and are known for their ‘singing’ and playful acrobatics. They are a baleen whale feeding by surging through the water with an open mouth then filtering the krill and fish from the water through their baleen (long keratin plates hanging from the top of the mouth).

Humpbacks are a stocky whale, meaning they are generally slow moving which not only makes them perfect for whale watching but made them a popular target for whalers in New Zealand waters during the 1800 and 1900’s. The Humpbacks were such an easy target that the reduction in their population reached a point that there were no individuals seen passing through the Cook Strait; normally a regular path made annually on their way north. Whaling stopped in New Zealand in 1964 and since then their population has been increasing with as many as 43 individual Humpbacks seen during a four week survey in the Cook Strait in 2010 and a record number of 73 for the 2011 survey.

Whale Watching in Akaroa

Before the whalers and settlers came to New Zealand, Maori already had traditional, cultural and spiritual connections to whales of all kinds, including the Humpback. To some iwi or tribes whales were considered kaitiaki, guardians, guiding their ancestor’s canoes safely across the oceans to New Zealand. But they were also a source of food and materials used for creating jewellery or utensils, often making use of the resource when they became stranded on nearby beaches. Because of these connections the whales are often found in their myths, legends, carvings and songs.

These connections with the whales still hold true today and there are very few moments that can compare with being gently approached by a wild, 15 metre long whale and being so close that you feel the droplets of spray move across your skin and your hair being tussled by its breath as the whale exhales. There is nothing more pleasurable than introducing visitors to New Zealand and locals alike to our wildlife, each experience unique and special. So far this winter season we have been fortunate enough to have spent 5 days with different pods of whales varying from solitary individuals up to pods numbering 4. Behaviour differed amongst the pods with some of them steadily travelling north set on the warmer waters, while one curious individual spent it’s time visibly relaxed swimming on it’s back, waving it’s fins and even entering the harbour where it repeatedly approached our harbour cruise boat, Black Cat, in Akaroa, seemingly just as curious about the boat as the harbour cruise passengers were about it.

With the numbers of Humpback whales increasing in our waters we look forward to our future experiences with these seasonal visitors and are elated at the thought that this time next year, along with our passengers, we get to do it all again!