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

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.

Christchurch Earthquake Update

Good news: all of our cruises are operating as normal. Our 1860 building in Lyttelton has some earthquake issues so we are operating in temporary facilities until such time as the building is fixed or we move our check in at Lyttelton to something more permanent. More news on that as soon as we have it.

Will I see dolphins?

This is the question most on people’s lips when they come for a cruise. For the last 4 years every cruise we have taken out on Akaroa harbour has recorded how often we have seen dolphins and the results are as follows. We asked crew to rate the encounters on a scale of Very good to extra poor. The amount of trips rated at either very good, good or average were as follows: 2007 95.4%, 2008 95.4%, 2009 94.2% and 2010 (year to date) 93.6%. Across four years, those trips which did not see any dolphins at all were about 1.6%. So answer to question is “yes an excellent likelihood of seeing dolphins”

Black Cat helps What Now cast new presenter

Popular childrens’ television show What Now has enlisted the help of Black Cat Cruises to help with its hunt for a new presenter. Hundreds of people from around New Zealand applied for the role, and What Now are now down to three finalists. They were put through their paces in Akaroa on Sunday and the three contenders took the plunge off one of our vessels as part of the competition.