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

Category Archives: Akaroa and Lyttelton News

THE BREEZE 63

The weather may feel a bit wintery but we’ve taken the last few months to get ourselves ready for the upcoming season. After all, spring is just around the corner. Below are announcements of new projects coming this season and some of the highlights of the winter. Thanks for reading.

Cheers Paul


 

Major Akaroa renovations

Over the winter we have completely stripped and upgraded our two Akaroa shops. There is a whole new feel and look to both the ticketing and the retail presence. We’d love to hear your feedback next time you are in Akaroa. Amongst other things you will see a new layout, new colours, big TV screens, new retail displays and some new signage.

Free dolphins to customers

10,000 fridge magnets are to be given away this season! We have lots of these cute little guys to give away to our customers on Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruises. If you can’t wait to see them just reply to this email and we will give the first 50 customers a free one whether you are planning to cruise with us or not.


 

Jetpack flyer

Check out this amazing photo taken in Akaroa recently. Developed in the USA this jet pack involves strapping a giant water hose onto your back and flying around the harbour. Not for the faint hearted!


 

Photo sharing competition

We’ve got a great new promotion going which is aimed at getting our customers to share their top pictures on our website. Every month the photo with the most votes will win the money back they paid for their cruise. Check out the first months pictures here.


 

Top t shirts

Summer is not far away! And we have got some great t-shirt designs lined up for our new shops this year. These t-shirts were voted best by our Facebook fans. They will be selling for about $30. Grab yourself a great look this summer.

 


 

Massive cruise giveaway

We have a big giveaway planned for The Press for September 28 to October 8. We are giving away 20 family passes on both Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruises and Quail Island Adventures. The only catch is you have to be a Press subscriber!


 

Brochures relaunched

Keep an eye out for our brand new brochures. Yeah we know its not that exciting but it’s been about 6 years since we had a complete change of brochure and we know many people use them to decide what to do on holiday.


 

Dolphin protection

A review of the Hector’s Dolphin Threat Management Plan is underway a year earlier than planned. Thanks to Minister David Carter for changing this and we are hoping for more set net bans around Banks Peninsula as we move forward.


 

Mobile website

We’ve gone mobile! Now our website is easily accessed by any smartphone and bookings can also be made on smartphones with our new reservation system.


 

Lyttelton to Akaroa cruise

Father’s Day is set to be a cracker at Black Cat with a special Lyttelton to Akaroa cruise. We only do one of these each year where we cruise around the Peninsula and coach people back to Lyttelton at the end of the day.


 

Xmas time

If you want a unique and special venue for your end of year function then we have a great idea. Charter the Canterbury Cat on Lyttelton Harbour.

Dinner cruise functions are $75 per person including 3 hour cruise and 2 course meal and we will throw in a free drink if you talk to Ali in the next week.

Hurry because some of the best dates are already gone. Email Alison@blackcat.co.nz for more details.


 

Great Feedback

“Best dolphin watch trip in New Zealand”
If you are going to do a dolphin watching trip in New Zealand then this is the one to do. I have done different ones over the South Island including one other Hector’s dolphin watch trip (Akaroa is not the only place to find them at a 98% encounter rate). This trip stands out as the wildlife is exceptional but the history of the area; volcanic activity etc. makes the scenery and history much more interesting. The skipper and mate will cater for everyone’s needs and the boat is very modern and perfectly designed for the cruise. The dolphin guarantee makes it more worthwhile so will definitely be back.

CHRISTMAS PARTY VENUES & IDEAS IN CHRISTCHURCH

Here is a list of interesting things to do in Christchurch if you are planning and organising a staff or office Christmas Party this year.  If you think you have an idea to add to this list please add them in the comments below.

PARTY BOAT CRUISE

Canterbury Cat

Just 15 minutes from Christchurch lies Lyttelton harbour.  Brush away those cobwebs, get outdoors in the fresh sea breeze, watch the sun set while sipping a glass of your favourite brew.  Dinner cruises are very popular for groups of over 30 people and need to be booked in early to early ensure your favourite date. The perfect solution for that end of year office party.

Lyttelton Harbour at sunset

The Black Cat Cruises catamaran comfortably holds up to 80 people.  Lyttelton Harbour provides many sheltered bays and inlets to ensure a smooth calm environment and the natural beauty of Banks Peninsula guarantees an unforgetable event. A 2 course spit roast dinner on board is the most popular choice for groups and we are fully licenced.

A PRIVATE CHOCOLATE EVENT!

Hot Chocolate

SHE CHOCOLAT is a restaurant and chocolatier situated in Governors Bay with fabulous views of the harbour. private chocolate event customised just for you and the team – yum!

Combines chocolate, food, wine, chocolate play and other surprises into one event.  Fun informative and definitely memorable, be entertained by Irishman-Declan, a qualified corporate trainer as well as being  passionate about chocolate of course! They can cater for groups of between 8-50 people.  Early bookings are essential especially if you have a large group.

Adrenalin Forest

THE ADRENALIN FOREST

How far will you go?! Located near Spencer Park the Adrenalin Forest offers the most amazing team building “out of your comfort zone” activity available.  The activity is a series of obstacles, flying foxes and tarzan jumps set in the forest.  Test your balance, agility and fight gravity as you make your way around the course.  Fun and challenging at the same time.  They can cater for groups up to 100 people at a time.  A BBQ is available on site and flag races can be arranged to add to the competition!! Night time options are available with head lamps, adds to the excitement and adrenalin!

Other options include:-

Enthuse is a media and events business and can help you create a memorable Christmas Party or event from planning to theming and providing the actual entertainment.

Mobile laser Skirmish A new leisure and recreational activity that comes to your venue

feel free to add more information in the comments section.

THE BREEZE 62

We are starting to head into our traditional off season but we’ll be out on the harbours every day. Below are some highlights from the season just completed including some of our best photos, a unique marriage proposal and our on going efforts to protect Hector’s dolphins. Thanks for reading.

Cheers Paul


 

Photo of the season

Every day we have cameras out on our swim boats capturing a range of amazing photos and here is a great shot which may very well be the best photo of the season. We took this recently on a late autumn evening, glassy water, soft light and a perfect compilation of swimmer and dolphin….awesome!


 

Will you?

Sisi He from Auckland got a little more than she bargained for on a Swimming with the Dolphins trip with Black Cat Cruises in Akaroa this week. He, from the inbound travel agency General Travel, said yes to a wedding proposal from her partner while still in her wetsuit having just completed a memorable swim with the Hector’s dolphins. It was a special moment for the couple and the crew and a first for Black Cat Cruises.


 

Easter Egg Hunt

2000 Easter eggs were snapped up by over 600 passengers on Quail Island over Easter Weekend. Hunters were given a map and rough directions and the hunt was on. Next Easter we plan on offering even more trips and more options because this year was a sell-out. Some of the eggs not claimed were donated to local children’s home.


 

Cruise Ships will be back next season

The worlds cruise liners have once again decided Akaroa will be their port of call for Canterbury in the 2012/13 season. This was after an announcement that Lyttelton’s cruise ship berth won’t be fixed in time. Cruise ship passenger research from last season rated Akaroa as either the top or second most favourite port call in New Zealand which is high praise. Across the next 12 months we are expecting around 90 cruise ships to call into Akaroa.


 

MD lobbies DOC for protection

Black Cat Cruises Managing Director, Paul Bingham met with Conservation Minister, Kate Wilkinson, and DOC Director General, Al Morrison to ask for more protection for Hector’s dolphins around Banks Peninsula. I think National could gain an easy win by extending the set net bans in the sanctuary without impacting on any commercial fishermen. The government continues to take political heat on the Maui dolphin’s situation in the North Island we want to ensure that our Hector’s are not forgotten.


 

Customers rate us!

Every year we ask our customers to rate our performance across a number of areas and below are the results from this year. As well as this research we use direct feedback and from on-line review sites to evaluate where we can improve.

TOURISM OPERATOR TALKS TO DOLPHINS

Dolphi Chat BCC2 April 12 Amazing technology previously only available in the scientific community that allows humans to talk to dolphins is being launched by leading New Zealand tourism operator Black Cat Cruises.

New analysis of results from a 1970s experiment found that Dolphins ‘talk’ to each other using the same process to make their high-pitched sounds as humans. After more than a decade of experimentation and testing by marine scientists in the United States the technology is being launched commercially for the first time anywhere in the world by Black Cat Cruises in Akaroa.  watch the video

Black Cat Cruises Managing Director Paul Bingham said the findings in the 1970’s showed that dolphins don’t actually whistle as has been long thought, but instead rely on vibrations of tissues in their nasal cavities that are the same as our vocal cords.

“Once we got wind of the technology and looked at it in more detail we realised how exciting it was and how much it would add to our cruises,” he said.

“It took quite some time to get it to a stage where it was a viable tourism product for us, and now can’t wait to share it with our dolphin swimming and cruise passengers. It really is incredible and will set our cruises apart from any marine experience anywhere in the world.”

The technology is being called Dolphi Chat and will be available as part of Black Cat Cruise’s normal trips in Akaroa. Cruise prices remain the same and Bingham said Black Cat Cruises had strong expressions of interest from several overseas marine tourism operators to purchase Dolphi Chat.

“We will see how well it goes here first but there is the potential to sell the technology to other tourism operators overseas,” he said.

CHRISTCHURCH IS NOT BROKEN!

While many visitors to Akaroa are aware that things are still operational over the hills in Christchurch, it seems that some have interpreted the redirection of tours around the outskirts of the city to mean that the entire city has been flattened by last year’s earthquakes.

So we thought it was worthwhile to clear up any misunderstanding and remind people exactly what is still running in the garden city.

Christchurch International Airport

The largest airport in the South Island, centrally located and recently upgraded, is very much up and running. The airport remains a hub for international visitors to New Zealand, and provides a direct link to Asia via Air Asia, as well as direct flights to Australia, the Pacific and the United States.

Canterbury Museum and Botanic Gardens

In a city known for its beautiful gardens, the centrally located Botanic Gardens are the jewel in the crown. Still extremely popular with locals and visitors alike the Gardens neighbour Canterbury Museum, which is also operational with new exhibitions (including one around the earthquakes), and the Hagley Park Event Centre which has become the venue of choice for arts, music and other events. Coming very soon is the Ellerslie Flower Show, which is currently under construction.

Cafes, Restaurants and Bars Galore

Although the very popular bars and cafes along the Strip and SOL square are no longer, the city has benefited from new “pop-up” bars and food outlets including the Carlton Country Club on Bealey Ave, Revival Bar in Victoria Street, Cargo Bar and Dux Live in Addington and the Brewery in Woolston. For more information about what’s on offer where, visit the www.popupcity.co.nz blog.

Accommodation

Central city hotels are now mostly unavailable, but the majority of motels along Papanui and Riccarton Roads are fully functional, as well as hotels a little further out like The Chateau on the Park, the George Hotel, Pavilions, Heartland Hotel and many more.

Shopping

All the suburban shopping areas around the city are open for business, and the central city has come alive again with the addition of the Re:Start Popup Mall located in Cashel Mall. This has been a highly popular initiative with locals and visitors alike, featuring 30 retail outlets and several cafes. Two hours of free parking nearby makes this an easy location to explore – and of course shop!

CBD

Many will have heard about the CBD (central business district) “red zone” where demolitions are currently taking place. Focusing around Cathedral Square, the red zone now only involves a small number of city blocks. The majority of the rest of Christchurch continues to run very much as usual.

The map below shows how small the red zone currently is, with further reductions planned within the next two months.

More things to do in Christchurch

More Akaroa activities

THE BREEZE 61

Thanks for taking some time to scan our latest news and events. Below you will find some information on the biggest dolphins on them all – the mighty Orca through to the smallest – hectors dolphins calves. There are also details of local events in Diamond Harbour and Akaroa along with confirmation of our top rating as voted by members of the AA.

Cheers Paul


 

Orca visits much more frequent

We started cruising Banks Peninsula in 1985 and over the next 21 years we reckon we had only 5 visits in total from Orca. So why have we had 5 visits in the last 12 months? More than likely it’s related to Orca chasing food in Akaroa and Lyttelton harbours. They sure do scare our local population of Hectors dolphins though and that’s not surprising! Click here for a blog including views from marine scientist Liz Slooten.


 

Up close with Hector

Check out this nice video from a swimming with dolphins cruise in January showing some of our customers out having the time of their lives. There’s a great example of one little dolphin swimming rings around one of our customers. Nice….


 

Cruise ship update

We have now welcomed 60 of the 80 cruise ships set to visit Akaroa this season. February is set to be another busy month with just a handful of visits scheduled for March and April. We don’t know whether the cruise ships will be back again next season but Akaroa has sure welcomed them with open arms and hope they will be back in later in the year.


 

Dolphin calves

Over the past few months Hector’s dolphin calves have been spotted swimming with their mothers in the harbour. Our Akaroa manager Pip Journeaux said the calves were first seen in November. ”They are divine. We swim with the adults, but we can’t swim when there are calves in the pod,” she said. ”We wouldn’t swim with calves until they’d be well over 12 months”. Read article from Stuff here


 

Black cat number 1 voted by AA

We’ve been voted the number one activity in NZ for wildlife spotting. Thanks a lot AA members from all over NZL. We’re also the number 2 activity (after Hanmer Springs) and in the top 10 of all activities for all of New Zealand.

Read about us on the AA website


 

Swim the harbour

The big La Grande Swim was held on the 19th February, featuring the world’s largest tic tacs as marker buoys for the swimmers. La Grande Swim is the fourth race in the hugely successful State New Zealand Ocean Swim Series.  Previously held in Corsair Bay in Lyttelton Harbour this is the first big harbour swim in many years.


 

Diamond Harbour day out

There are some great bands set to rock out Diamond Harbour every Sunday during February 12.00pm to 3.00pm. Take the ferry over and make a day of it. For details of who is playing click here http://www.sprig.org.nz/sprig/Home.html


 

Blogging favourites

Check out this great blog from on swimming with dolphins in Akaroa.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/travel/2011/12/18/akaroa-new-zealand-swimming-with-world-smallest-dolphins/KB3YYVmN6n7mc4Rr1IRW0L/story.html


 

Great Feedback

Hi to blackcat crew, particularly Julian & Laura,

Thanks to everyone at Blackcat who made our dolphin experience so special.
I have popped in to work today & boasted of our trip. One colleague is going to NZ in Feb and is keen to do the swim with dolphins. You people are so fortunate to have these wonderful creatures in your backyard. It is heart-warming to see you engaging with them whilst respecting and nurturing your relationship with them. I wish you continued success. I will certainly be endorsing your attraction as one of the “not to be missed”. We are so pleased we had the opportunity to do the swim; it was worth every freezing moment.

Merry Christmas to all. Kind regards Kathy

LYTTELTON’S BEST ATTRACTIONS

Lyttelton is just 13km from Christchurch and is a fantastic place to visit especially on a weekend.  Take the number 28 bus from Christchurch or its an easy 15 minute drive from central Christchurch.  This quirky historical town has seen much damage since the earthquakes in Canterbury but is definitely on the mend.  The locals are vibrant, fiercly loyal and very proactive when it comes to keeping their community alive and consequently there is always something going on in and around the township.

Lyttelton Harbour

13km from Christchurch

The Farmers market every Saturday morning from 10am-1pm is a must do and has become extremely popular with people travelling from afar to buy and sample delicious local goodies.  When you are done with purchasing your produce and fresh food for the week you can amble along to Oxford Street where there is a large community garage sale which also runs from 10am-1pm.

From there you will most probably be in need of lunch and refreshments to replenish your energy for the afternoons attractions.  Head to the Fishermans Wharf on Norwich Quay which is open 7 days a week for the best fish & chips or seafood chowder.  Or walk to Corsair Bay to Freemans Restaurant.

The afternoons activities could include a visit to the Torpedo Boat Museum open Tuesday/thursday/Saturday & Sunday or play a game of petanque on London Street.

Quail Island lookout

15 minute ferry ride from Lyttelton

One of best things to do in Lyttelton in the summer is to take a ferry from B Jetty on the wharf to Quail Island.  Black Cat Cruises run this ferry dailyfrom October to the end of April.  For more on Quail Island click here

10 REASONS TO VISIT DIAMOND HARBOUR THIS SUMMER

Diamond Harbour is one of the sunniest and unspoilt destinations on Banks Peninsula and is great for a day trip. Getting there is easy, the best option is to take the Diamond Harbour Ferry from Lyttelton harbour (departs from B Jetty).  Black Cat Cruises run the ferry over there on a regular basis throughout the day.  check out the website for timetable information and more.

The Black Diamond boat

Diamond Harbour ferry video

Top things to do while there:-

Road and mountain biking has become one of the most popular activities for New Zealanders, mainly due to our fabulous scenery and relatively quiet roads and of course easy access to the countryside.  Take your bike on the ferry from Lyttelton (an extra $2 fee applies) and bike around Diamond Harbour and back to Lyttelton again.

Walking would be a close second to biking for most loved activities for locals and overseas visitors or maybe its the other way round! walk from the jetty to the fabulous new look Diamond Harbour Store, the food and coffee are quickly becoming legendary.  Once you have refreshed and re-energised there are plenty of wonderful walks to choose from including Mt Herbert (you will need all day for this one).  Ask the wonderful friendly staff at the store to point you in the right direction.

If excercising is not your thing, there are four wonderful beaches to choose from, Diamond Harbour beach, Paradise Bay, Purau and Camp Bay.  Pack a picnic, take the togs and relax!

There is a beautiful golf course at Charteris Bay with some wonderful views across the harbour and looking back at Lyttelton.

Orca Visits to Banks Peninsula

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

orca-pod

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.

orca

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.

hectors-dolphins-orca

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.

WHAT’S OPEN IN AKAROA THIS CHRISTMAS DAY

Akaroa Christmas Day 

Open:

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

Retail:

 

    • 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

 

Activities:

 

    • 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

 

Dining:

 

    • 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)

 

Closed:

Dining:

 

    • L’Escargot Rouge

 

    • L’hotel

 

    • Hill Top Tavern

 

    • Vangionis

 

    • Akaroa Bakery

 

    • The Stables

 

    • The Little Bistro

 

    • Maderia

 

    • Nikau Café

 

    • Ma Maison Restaurant & Bar

 

Retail:

 

    • 4 Square

 

    • BNZ Bank

 

    • Lava Gallery

 

    • Akaroa Butchery

 

    • Ca Bouge

 

    • The Peninsula General Store

 

    • Ula

 

Activities:

 

    • Okains Bay Museum

 

    • Akaroa Fishing & Dive Charters

 

    • Akaroa Museum

 

    • Akaroa Cooking School

 

Transport

 

    • Selwyn Shuttle

 

    • Cityline

 

    • Discovery Travel

 

  • Hassle Free Tours Double Decker bus