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

Category Archives: Akaroa New Zealand

Top Free Things To Do In Banks Peninsula – Spend $0 while having a great time

The top free things to do in Banks Peninsula are listed right here.

No one gets through a holiday richer than they were before. Here’s the dilemma; you have time off work and want some quality time with your family. Well, look no further than Banks Peninsula.

The place is brimming with things to do, and many of them are free activities. All you’re going to need is to pack some snacks for the roadie and you’re set to go….

 

Day Walks

Rhino walk akaroa
Image by Hollie Bradley
akaroa rhino walk
Image by Hollie Bradley

Honestly, there must be a thousand places to walk on Banks Peninsula. It doesn’t matter what level of fitness or experience you’re at, there’s a walk for you! 

The Children’s Bay Rhino Walk is a fun one in Akaroa. It’s perfect for families, with a few special surprises along the way (look out for the giraffes and giant rhino). 

Walking up Stanley park can be steep, but it’s nice and short with a stunning view over Akaroa’s township and beyond. ​​Plus you’ll pass some grazing sheep, and who doesn’t want to see that! Bring some food up here and have a picnic.

Packhorse Hut Banks Peninsula
Image by Andrew Lowton

 

If Akaroa is too far, walk up to the PackHorse Hut from Gebbies Pass and have some lunch there.

The quaint hut sits in a small valley with absolutely stunning views all around. This one is a little bit steeper but still achievable within a couple of hours, and a great daywalk. Book the hut on the doc site here.

godley heads banks peninsula
Godley Heads image by DOC

There’s also the Godley Head walk in Christchurch with the old gun emplacements at the end.

On a good day, the walk will give you sparkling oceans, classic NZ bush, and views over both Lyttleton and Sumner along the way. 

 

Iconic Landmarks and historic sites

Akaroa Lighthouse
Pikita Postcard available from the Black Cast Cruises store in Akaroa

Last I checked, looking at beautiful cultural landmarks and sites was a completely free but rewarding way to spend part of your day. Banks Peninsula is full of great sites. Maybe you’ll see a good photo opportunity and finally be able to change your Facebook profile picture from six years ago. 

Check out the iconic Akaroa lighthouse. From there, it’s not far to the Catholic and Anglican Cemeteries on the hill above. They are full of beautiful headstones of marble, and many are still endowed with new flowers. 

 

 

 

 

Onuku Marae
Onuku Marae

Visit the Onuku Marae. The local Iwi does a fantastic job with the maintenance of the building and surrounding area. They invite all to share in their heritage and experience their culture.  

In the small, hidden town of Birdlings Flat, there’s a really cool gemstone and fossil museum that’s totally free! Located next to Canterbury’s largest lake, the small town is known for gemstone hunting and they’ve built a really impressive collection over the years.

Newtons Waterfall Akaroa
Newtons Waterfall Akaroa

 

 

 

There are also plenty of beautiful natural landmarks in Banks Peninsula, like Newton’s Waterfall. It’s just 7 minutes away from Akaroa centre. I find the waterfall provides the perfect snapshot of New Zealand before humans arrived; it’s honestly very refreshing. 

 

Experience the local food 

akaroa fudge
Akaroa fudge from Pot Pourri

I know what you’re thinking, “food costs money, what kind of blog is this?” Well, there are few ways to taste amazing food whilst maintaining the option of walking away as rich as before. It’ll be a challenge, but you might be able to pull it off…..

Pot Pourri is a general store nestled in the heart of Akaroa’s township. They also happen to have an amazing selection of homemade fudge. They’re always willing to part with two or three free samples, but I have yet to walk out of the store without a slice of fudge in tow. 

On the way to Akaroa, in Barry’s Bay, is a cheese factory aptly called ‘Barry’s Bay Cheese’. They make a huge variety of top-quality cheese. They ship to cheese-lovers all over Canterbury and beyond. Anyone can pop into the shop in the front and try a few cubes of cheese, and learn more about the rich history of local cheese-making. 

akaroa cheese

Lyttelton also has plenty for you, if you’re looking for something closer to home. Every Saturday from 10-1, the main street comes alive with stalls of fresh fruit and vegetables, free-range eggs, bread, meat, fish, cheese, juices, herbs, and plants to name a few. This is one of the best farmers’ markets around, set in the backdrop of the surrounding mountains and harbour. I’m sure you can find a free sample or two along the way. 

Lyttelton Framers market
Lyttleton Farmers Market every Saturday morning

 

Adventures with nature!

The final idea we have for you is to use the forces of nature to your advantage.

For as long as humans have lived in New Zealand, we’ve used the ocean and gravity in a variety of ways to create thrills.

Here are some ways you can do this for free:

surfing new zealandGo surfing or boogie boarding in one of the many beaches or bays of Banks Peninsula. Taylor’s mistake near Sumner, or Hickory Bay an hour out of Christchurch are standout spots. Don’t own a board? Go body surfing instead. It’s a lot of fun in its own right, simply swim with a wave and let the energy carry you to the shore.

akaroa mountain bike park

 

If you own a mountain bike, explore one of the many tracks at a level suited to you and your family. Haven Mountain bike park is just 30 minutes from Christchurch in the beautiful Banks Peninsula. These guys are passionate about pest control and restoration and it shows in the park’s stunning views. In the hills above Akaroa are the trails of Akatrax park. Their website has a detailed map with trails ranging from a wee beginner to an advanced veteran. 

 

By the beach

Ever jumped off a wharf before? Either you have and need no more convincing, or you haven’t and this is the sign to do it this summer! dalys wharf akaroaAkaroa has a couple of wharves that are perfect. I’d recommend the one right by the beach, as it’s not too high and you can chill on the sand after your adventures. If you’re feeling brave though, there’s always the much higher main wharf you can send it from. Just take care where you jump, and assess the conditions first. 

akaroa crabbingA personal favorite thing to do in Akaroa though is crab spotting! Along Akaroa, where the water meets rocks a little bigger than your fist, are thousands of little crabs. Walk along, lift the rocks, and watch the crabs scuttle away. I’ve been crab spotting in Akaroa for as long as I can remember. The trick to picking them up is to avoid the claws by picking them up from behind! Be sure to be gentle with the crabs and put them down in the water after a few seconds. 

 

Kids Cruise Free In Akaroa

And this school holiday 2 kids cruise free (valued at $40 each)  with 1 full price adult ($95). This saves at least $80 per family. Simply enter the code ‘FREEKIDS’ at the checkout between now and the end of the April school holiday (Sunday May1st), and your children’s rate will be $0! 

We still offer free spaces to under 5’s and our Hector’s dolphin guarantee, so there’s no better time to get out and Do Something Autumn! Find out more here.

Akaroa kids cruise free  

See you guys somewhere on Banks Peninsula!

#AKAROA #DOSOMETHINGAUTUMN #BANKSPENINSULA #FREEACTIVITIES #FAMILYFUN #SCHOOLHOLIDAYS #SUSTAINABLETOURISM #TIAKIPROMISE #KIDSCRUISEFREE

words by Josh Bingham

Banks Peninsula Walking Festival

BANKS PENINSULA WALKING FESTIVAL

BANKS PENINSULA WALKING FESTIVAL

BANKS PENINSULA WALKING FESTIVAL

 

We are just a few weeks away from the start of the Bank Peninsula Walking festival. It kicks off on Saturday, November 6th and runs every weekend for the full month of November. Read on for full details, ticket info and how we support the festival each year. 

 

banks peninsula walking festival

This is an annual walking festival that offers a wonderful variety of guided trails, from small hikes to day long expeditions.

WHAT TO EXPECT

This year’s programme is expected to be as popular as ever with a great variety of walks to enjoy on Banks Peninsula. Join the continuing multi-year Kaitorete Spit challenge, take the family on a Kid’s Adventure at Sugarloaf, or visit the new Te Ahu Pātiki conservation park in Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour! Try out a digital ‘Our Stories’ walk in Lyttelton, follow in the footsteps of Akaroa’s Antarctic hero Frank Worsley, or join some ‘rock-hopping’ at Kaioruru/Church Bay with a well-known Canterbury volcanologist.

The great variety of walks offers something for people of all ages, abilities and interests. Whether it be history and heritage, botany or geology there is something for everyone with a guarantee of beautiful views and scenery along the way.

Each walk includes some fantastic insight from your local guide and are great value for money.

GUIDE AND TICKETS

Click the link below to access the full line up of walks available.

https://www.bankspeninsulawalks.co.nz/banks-peninsula-walking-festival/

A lot of walks have already sold out! The Banks Peninsula Walking Festival are expecting all tickets across the festival to sell out, so jump in quick to secure your space.

Tickets are being booked via Eventfinder which you can access here

 

BLACK CAT CRUISES SUPPORTS THE BANKS PENINSULA WALKING FESTIVAL

quail island banks peninsula walking festivalEach year we are really pleased to support the festival .We have given the festival access to discounted tickets to Quail Island. Details as listed on the festivals website are as below for this experience.

WALK 15 – DISCOVER ŌTAMAHUA QUAIL ISLAND WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION AND TE HAPŪ O NGĀTI WHEKE

WALK – Wear sturdy walking shoes or boots. Bring lunch, snacks, water bottle, sunhat, sunscreen, weatherproof gear and hand sanitiser.

Start time: 9:00am – 1:45pm

Duration: 5 hour event. 2-3 hour walk for complete Island circuit (4.5kms)

Cost: Adult $25, Child $10 

Hop on the Black Cat Ferry to enjoy a family day out on Ōtamahua / Quail Island, taking advantage of these discounted Ferry tickets!

The main track circumnavigates Ōtamahua / Quail Island and can be walked in either direction. The loop track passes historic sites and offers beautiful views of Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour. Discover the Island’s unique past as a quarantine station. See its historic stables and the ship’s graveyard. Try some bird watching, observe the Islands native biodiversity restoration project and ‘get back to nature’ in this beautiful setting. Te Hapū o Ngāti Wheke will be sharing interpretation of the island history and the pou whenua. Visit the barracks to view the interpretative displays illustrating the rich history of the island.

During your visit check out Ōtamahua Hut – the family friendly island accommodation, and get inspired to plan a future visit with family and friends to create your own overnight adventure!

 

This festival is brought to you by the Rod Donald Banks Peninusla Trust

The Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust has a bold vision to facilitate the restoration of Banks Peninsula to its traditional status as Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū – the storehouse that nourishes.

Proceeds from the festival support this fantastic Trust. If you’d like to make a donation towards the trust directly you can do so here. All donations over $5 are tax deductible.

Banner and map image are included courtesy of the Banks Peninsula Walking Festival website. Keep up the amazing work team!

Kids Cruise Free in Akaroa

akaroa dolphins

Kids cruise free in Akaroa these April school holidays with us at Black Cat Cruises*.

We are setting sail every day, twice and day and you and the whole whanau are invited!

Join us in Akaroa for our multi-award winning Akaroa Nature Cruise. Cruise through a majestic extinct volcanic crater on board our large double decker catamaran.

As we cruise through this geological wonderland we’ll go in search of native wildlife such as the worlds rarest and smallest dolphin, the Hector’s dolphin, along with New Zealand Fur Seals, Little Blue Penguins, and many types of coastal birds. With unimpeded 360 degree viewing platform, a large inside cabin complete with free tea and coffee for mum and dad and coloring activities for kids, this is a wonderful way to spend a few hours of your holiday.

Each cruise lasts two hours, and we even offer a Hector’s dolphin guarantee. If you don’t see a dolphin you can cruise again for free!

Simply book directly with us online.

When booking use code FREEKIDS to receive your discount

*1 free child per full paying adult

april school holiday activity

 

Booking Out Quick – Queens Birthday Special

akaroa harbour nature cruise hectors dolphins

Well i think it’s safe to safe we are all looking forward to a three day weekend where we can get out and #exploreyourplace in our beautiful backyard!

So we are pleased to let you know that we will be operating our Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise giving you the perfect excuse to take a day trip or long weekend in Akaroa. And for those staying closer to Christchurch we will be operating the Quail Island Ferry from Lyttelton on Saturday, Sunday and Monday #discoversomethingnewnz

25% Discount

We are offering a 25% on our Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise over the long weekend when you book online and use the code ‘UNITE’. As we are still operating with restricted numbers to give you extra space and peace of mind we highly recommend booking in advance #supportlocal

Under 5’s Travel Free

A reminder that under 5’s travel for free on our Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise and Quail Island ferry all year round regardless #familyfirst

Operating Times

Escape, relax and spend some time discovering a #purenz experience…..

The Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise will be operating at 11am and 1.30pm over these three days. Sat & Sun are fully booked at 1.30pm.

The Quail Island Ferry will depart Lyttelton at 10.20 am & 12.20pm, returning at 12.30pm & 3.30pm

Limited Capacity

We highly recommend booking in advance online as numbers are limited to ensure you have maximum space and peace of mind. Our 1.30pm Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise on the Saturday and Sunday are already fully booked Thank you to all of our customers helping to #backyourbackyard

You can view our booking calendar here. Simply select the product and date you wish you travel to check availability. From all of us at #blackcatcruises we hope to see you out there!

Celebrate Seaweek 2020

Celebrate Seaweek 2020 by cruising stunning Lyttelton Harbour with Black Cat Cruises and the NZ Whale and Dolphin Trust! Each cruise will also host a very special expert guest from the trust, so you can you learn directly from the scientists studying Hector’s dolphins.

What is Seaweek?

Seaweek – Kaupapa Moana is New Zealand’s annual national week celebrating the sea which takes place from Saturday 29 February to Sunday 8 March 2020.

Seaweek Lyttelton Harbour Cruise

Step aboard our spacious catamaran, Canterbury Cat and search for the endangered Hector’s dolphin as you’re taken on a guided cruise around Lyttelton Harbour along with a special scientific guest from the NZ Whale and Dolphin Trust.

The cruise will last for 1.5 hours and all profits will be donated to the NZ Whale and Dolphin Trust.

DATES:

29 February 2020
7 March 2020
8 March 2020

TIME:

1:30PM – 3:00PM

TICKETS:

Adults: $30.00
Children (5-15 years): $20.00
Children under 5: FREE

Conservation Week 2019

Starting tomorrow is Department of Conservation – Conservation Week 2019! This year proudly celebrates 50 years of Conservation Week here in NZ – an amazing feat! The week runs from the 14th of September through to the 22nd of September 2019 in locations all over New Zealand.

Why do we need a Conservation Week?

New Zealand’s wildlife is still in crisis with more than 4,000 of our native animals (including the Hector’s dolphin) and plants threatened or at risk. Conservation Week is a chance to bring everyone together to do something, big or small to create change.

Every year Conservation Week sees thousands of New Zealanders getting involved through doing conservation activities at home or attending one of many events hosted across the country. Creating change can be big or small, when we pull together, we can make a big difference.

Black Cat and Conservation

Black Cat may be well known as a tourism operator, but did you know that we’re also a leader in environmental management?  From reducing energy consumption to donating a portion of every passenger fare to dolphin conservation, Black Cat takes extra measures to ensure the preservation of our environment. We have recently also been nominated for the Conservation Awards at the 2019 NZ Tourism Awards.

Hector’s Dolphin

New Zealand’s first eco-tourism operator

Established in 1985 as Akaroa Harbour Cruises, we can claim to be New Zealand’s first eco-tourism enterprise.  We launched with the intention of showing off Hector’s dolphins as well as the other creatures and scenery of Banks Peninsula.  Naturally, such a reliance on the natural environment encouraged Black Cat to foster a keen interest in maintaining the health and beauty of Akaroa Harbour right from the start.

Actions to protect the environment

Black Cat works hard to protect the environment.  First, we reduce our energy consumption (we aim for an annual reduction of 1% per person) through actions such as:

  • Maintaining our vessels for maximum efficiency
  • Encouraging our staff to walk or bike to work
  • Monitoring fuel usage
  • Using energy saving light bulbs and efficient heating

We also take care to minimise the by-products from the energy we do use.  By recycling and using biodegradable cleaning products, Black Cat is able to reduce the amount of waste resulting from our operation.

Education and advocacy

Black Cat takes pride in giving back to the environment and the community through advocacy, education and sponsorship.  Each year we donate at least $70,000 to programmes that support causes like marine mammal research and education, Quail Island restoration and penguin predator trapping.

In February 2019, we launched the Protect Hector’s campaign to increase public awareness of the threat to Hector’s dolphins and the vital need for their protection. The campaign focussed on encouraging individuals to get involved in the 2019 Threat Management Plan consultation.  We created a landing page within the Black Cat Cruises website where people can fill in their details and a postcard will be sent on their behalf to Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, calling for better protection for Hector’s. Physical postcards were also placed on all Black Cat’s boats in both Lyttelton and Akaroa.

We also have a strong commitment to marine environment education and the plight of the Hector’s dolphin in schools.  In 2017, Black Cat developed a new marine based educational resource for schools and the pilot programme launched Nov 2017. The programme included resource books for teachers and corresponding workbook for the students aimed at Year 3 and 4 students.  

What is Black Cat Cruises doing for Conservation Week?

To celebrate 50 years of Conservation Week, Black Cat Cruises is letting kids cruise for free from the 14th-22nd of September! (T’s and C’s apply).

Come along with your family and discover the natural wonders of Akaroa Habour aboard our award-winning 2-hour Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise.

This fun 2 hour cruise suitable for all ages is packed with stunning highlights including the endemic (only found in NZ) and playful Hector’s dolphin, as well as White-flippered Little Blue penguins, NZ Fur seals and abundant birdlife. You’ll see giant volcanic sea cliffs, view dramatic scenery and hear about Akaroa’s fascinating past. Cruises depart every day, weather permitting.

Akaroa Harbour Nature Kids

Conservation Week Special!

? Kids Cruise Free during Conservation Week (14–22 Sept)
? One child free per paying adult
? Direct bookings only via phone, email or online at the Black Cat website using promocode NATURE
? Kids will also receive a free Hector’s dolphin fun activity book to learn all about the endangered Hector’s dolphin!

TO BOOK:

Online: www.blackcat.co.nz using promo code NATURE
Phone: 0800 436 574
Email: akaroa@blackcat.co.nz

Please quote promo code: NATURE

Finalists in the 2019 NZ Tourism Awards

We are so excited to share that we are finalists in the 2019 New Zealand Tourism Awards – (Department of Conservation Conservation Award).

Finalist’s in the 2019 NZ Tourism Awards

An amazing honour to be alongside the other fantastic finalists in our category – Auckland Whale & Dolphin SafariAuckland Zoo,Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony.

We are very proud of our incredible team and their commitment to protecting the Banks Peninsula marine environment and its inhabitants, especially the endangered Hector’s dolphin. 

This is a great honour that recognises not only the work put in to campaign for better protection of the Hector’s dolphins this year, but also the education and information we pass onto our customers each and every day.

Stay tuned for the results late October 2019! Yahhhooo.

Full press release CLICK HERE

Vote for Black Cat Cruises for the Peoples Choice Award!

As part of being a finalist, there is also a Peoples Choice Award up for grabs and this is YOUR chance to vote for your favourite NZ tourism experience.

We would love it if you chose us! Please click the link below and vote for Black Cat Cruises as your People’s Choice!

Plus, as a bonus for voting you’ll be in for a chance to WIN an Air New Zealand Mystery Break™ including:

✈️ Return airfares to a New Zealand mystery destination
? Two nights twin share accommodation
? Transfer to & from airport to destination

Voting closes 20 September!

Hector’s Dolphin Threat Management Plan – What You Need to Know

We’ve unlocked the mystery behind the recently released Threat Management Plan (from here in we’ll call it the TMP). It’s a very complex document which will bamboozle and confuse the average New Zealander. And even some of the best brains in this space took many hours to understand it!

The TMP outlines recommendations to the Ministers’ of Conservation and Fisheries for further protection of Hector’s and Māui dolphins. 


It’s a once in 20 year chance to make a positive impact on our precious native dolphins. Government is now calling for public submissions on the plan by 19th August 2019.

We’ve analysed the document from a Banks Peninsula perspective (sorry we did not look at proposed changes outside of Canterbury).

4 Things You Need to Know

  1. The TMP will allow up to 49 Hector’s dolphins to be caught in nets per year off the East Coast of the South Island of NZ. Apparently this is acceptable because we can let that many drown, and the population will recover to become thriving again! We don’t think that a plan that calls for one dead dolphin a week is acceptable.
  2. Option 3, the best scenario for the dolphins proposes protection north and south of Banks Peninsula but leaves a huge unprotected hole near Akaroa. We’ve called this the ‘death zone’. This will force fishermen currently operating in Pegasus Bay and Timaru to fish off Akaroa creating an even worse situation than today for the local dolphin population. 
  3. Given the above, it seems to ignore the vital economic value created by Hector’s dolphins off Akaroa. The total estimated economic value from set netting is $3.5M and trawl fishing is $8.7M per year in the South Island. (there is no information of how these numbers were derived). Eco-tourism drives $25M per year for Banks Peninsula alone. The proposed option 3 changes reduces fishing revenue by just $170,000 per year in Pegasus Bay and $870,000 in South Canterbury. A small amount compared to the tourism benefits. Further extension to close the ‘death zone’ will also have very minor economic impact.
  4. The TMP is silent on allowing flounder nets inside Akaroa and Lyttelton during the winter months. It’s therefore proposing for this to continue placing risks for the dolphins in the upper harbours. We know for sure dolphins have been caught in these nets recently. Here’s a press article discussing it. 

Where are the Dolphins?

The death zone has been justified in the TMP because sightings are seemingly lower off Akaroa. This is simply incorrect and goes against everything we know about the dolphins. 

There are many dolphin sightings in the death zone as mapped out below using data from many surveys since 2002. 

The TMP has tried to model the habitat of dolphins using a number of assumptions. One is related to public sightings; clearly there aren’t many recreational boats 10 miles off the Akaroa heads! The second is related to water clarity. They have assumed where the water is quite clear, there aren’t many dolphins. This is pretty bad science given the sighting data we have from Otago University. 

The Hector’s population around Banks Peninsula is the largest in NZ. The TMP says, therefore it’s OK for many to die in nets. A scenario that’s not acceptable and is completely at odds with our international brand position. 

The dolphins face many threats around our national coast lines. Some other sub populations may not survive meaning the Banks Peninsula population has to be strong and thriving. There is no room for set nets. The TMP calls for the BP population to recover to 80% of its carrying capacity (ie best case population) whereas the stakeholder working groups all agreed that 90-95% was more appropriate.

Toxo is a Red Herring

A brief note on Toxoplasmosis which features in the TMP. This is a disease probably contained in cat poo (yes) washing into rivers with the dolphins somehow ingesting enough to kill them. There have been some dead dolphins examined on beaches with toxoplasmosis being the most likely final cause of death. This may be an issue for the dolphins or may not. We simply don’t have enough reliable information. 

We know right now 100% that nets are killing dolphins and we have the chance to deal with it today. Toxo is forgive the pun a complete red herring. For this to be included as major threat (and greater than fishing) in the TMP is a significant issue and calls into question the whole integrity of the process.

When is a Sanctuary Not a Sanctuary?

The TMP proposes to expand the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary out to 20 miles and further up and down the coast, which at a quick read sounds like good news. However we need to be clear that the sanctuary only provides protection for non-fishing threats such as restrictions on seismic surveying and seabed mining. The TMP contradicts itself by calling for non-fishing protection out to 20 miles (ie accepting there are dolphins in this range to be protected), but then allowing fishing within the sanctuary by seemingly saying there are few dolphins in the range.

How Can You Help?

Please help the dolphins by emailing this address dolphintmp@doc.govt.nz. outlining your concerns about the situation above.

  1. A plan calling for one dead Hector’s dolphin a week is not acceptable. 
  2. The death zone off Banks Peninsula is not acceptable. We need net bans all around the peninsula where the dolphins range including in the area off Akaroa Heads.
  3. Expand the netting ban to include flounder nets in the upper harbours from April to Sept. 
  4. Support option 3 of the plan around Canterbury BUT with further extensions out to 100m in depth. 
  5. Support the TMP proposal for a larger marine mammal sanctuary to protect against mining and other non fishing threats in future. 

The best way to make an impact is by sending a personal email with your concerns to dolphintmp@doc.govt.nz or you can fill in one of the on-line surveys here or here or here

Submissions close Monday 19 August 2019.

At the end of the consultation period, DOC and Fisheries New Zealand will analyse your submissions and present them to the Ministers of Fisheries and Conservation for their decision. 

Swim for Hector’s

A team from Black Cat Cruises and the Department of Conservation recently swam across Akaroa Harbour from Tikao Bay to Akaroa Main Beach, to help raise awareness for the protection of the Hector’s dolphin. An amazing feat for an amazing cause!

Video captured by: Michael Roberts
The swim went from Tikao Bay accross to Akaroa Main Beach

The reason behind the swim

Swimming across Akaroa Harbour wasn’t an easy task, but the team had a very worthy reason as to why they wanted to complete this epic journey – the protection of the beloved Hector’s dolphin.

Hector’s dolphins are one of the world’s rarest dolphin species. It’s estimated there are somewhere between 8000 to 15000 Hectors left – fewer than 30% of their original population. And their close cousin, the North Island Maui dolphin has just 55 individuals.

Hector’s dolphins are one of the world’s rarest dolphin species

The greatest threat to the Hector’s is getting caught and drowned in set nets. As their name suggests, fishers drop the net to the ocean floor and come back later to pull it up. Unfortunately, the net is very difficult for a dolphin to detect and they drown if caught.

We’re seeking to ensure the Banks Peninsula Sanctuary is a safe place for dolphins. We want to see an an extension of the commercial set net ban out to 100m depth (around 20 miles). In addition an extension of the sanctuary up and down the South Island. 

Key Messages:

  • Ensure the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary is a safe place for dolphins.
  • Secure an extension of the commercial ban out to 100m depth (around 20 miles).
  • Secure an extension of the Marine Mammal Sanctuary up and down the South Island.

The Hector’s and Māui dolphins Threat Management Plan is coming up for review shortly and we have a small window of time to help. We are calling on our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to put much needed better protection in place for these endemic and endangered dolphins.

Send your postcard of support

Click the link and fill in your details and we will send a handwritten postcard on your behalf to the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.

Send a postcard to the Prime Minister

The Real Value of Hector’s

Putting the $ in Hector’$

Can you really put a dollar value on a species like Hector’s dolphins? Or should you?

Hector’s dolphin

Surely the conservation and sustainability of our only native dolphin is enough to drive the correct decisions by our government.

It turns out it’s a little more complex than that; the fishing industry has a powerful and well resourced voice that is very good at making itself heard. And they’ve come up with some very real arguments that are delaying further protection of Hector’s dolphins.

So at Black Cat Cruises, we decided to step it up see if we could provide some more information to balance the economic argument of fishing with the economic benefit derived through tourism activities. We did this for the hub of Hector’s activity which is Akaroa/Banks Peninsula because  it’s our home patch and an area we know best, but the results apply nationally.

What’s been done in the past?

There has been one attempt at putting a value on the species in 2014. An international NGO (Whale and Dolphin Conservation) commissioned a study of the preferences of New Zealanders via a survey. This was based on what is known as a ‘non-value’ use. Forgetting economic impact what would Kiwis be prepared to pay to keep the species around. How much do we care in $ terms?

This study determined values of between $355,000 and $440,000 per dolphin. This means that the estimated 130 dolphins killed every year in fishing nets represents an estimated $46 million NZD annual ‘welfare’ loss to the people of New Zealand.

Hector’s dolphins

There have been other studies globally which try and put a value on a single animal. For example in 2011, R. C. Anderson assessed the extent and economic value of manta ray watching in the Maldives. The study showed a manta ray might generate around US$100,000 in tourism dollars through a lifetime while only worth US$500 if caught and sold.

And elsewhere in NZ there have been numerous studies. Otago Peninsula has two rare marine species, the Royal Albatross and the Yellow-Eyed penguin, which attract tourists from around the world. Tisdell (2007) applied an Economic Impact Analysis (EIA) to establish the contribution of these two species to Dunedin’s regional economy.  The study found that the annual turnover of the tourism operators directly offering eco-tours was estimated to be of the order of $6.5 M and 70 full-time persons were employed in the industry. It was estimated that as a result of the eco-tourism associated with these species, approximately $100 million in GDP was generated in the Dunedin regional economy (directly or indirectly) and that 800-1000 full-time equivalent jobs were sustained.

What about Hector’s?

We appointed Market Economics to assess the economic impact of Hector’s dolphins at Banks Peninsula. You can download the 28 page report here. Importantly, we decided to measure the direct and indirect dollar impact from Hector’s dolphins tourism from international visitors only – rather than pushing it out further. This is quite a conservative approach, but accurate and dependable.

Akaroa Harbour

The report found Hector’s dolphin tourism is an important part of the Banks Peninsula economy and the wider Christchurch region.  The relatively high incidence of Hector’s means that eco-tours offer an almost guaranteed sighting on every trip. This high success is important in drawing many tourists to Akaroa, Christchurch, and to New Zealand.

In today’s terms, Hector’s eco-tourism, and the wider economic impact is estimated to range between $22M and $25M in value added which sustains the equivalent of between 473 to 530 jobs in the Canterbury economy.  The national value of Hector’s eco-tourism is estimated at between $28M and $31M in value added which sustains the equivalent of between 541 to 607 jobs in the national economy.

Black Cat Cruises at Akaroa Main Wharf

In addition, looking at regional disbursement which is very important to NZ and to Christchurch.

64% of people rated dolphins as either very important or important in their decision to visit Christchurch in the first place. This means that the dolphins were a key decision influencer on whether to come to Canterbury at all for around 48,000 people in 2018.

In addition 45% of people rated dolphins as either very important or important in their decision to visit NZ. Clearly the viewing of native wildlife in their natural habitat is important to our international visitors and specifically seeing dolphins was a key influencer in whether to come to NZ at all for around half of our visitors. At an average spend of $3,300 per person who visits NZ, the dolphins influenced around $111M in national spend. ($3300 x 75,000 people x 45%).

Taking this into account, and our marketing position of 100% Pure, it’s also fair to assume our potential visitors expect us to be actively protecting our native dolphins. How much damage is done to our brand with headlines like this? ‘Five Hector’s dolphins killed by commercial set net’ from an article in March 2018. Or this one ‘Three Hector’s dolphins killed in net off Canterbury coast’ from February 2019.

Not all about the numbers

Clearly the protection of a species like Hector’s dolphin is more important than dollars but it’s important to assess these numbers when looking at the economic impact on fisheries. The tourism industry has grown substantially in the 10 years since the Hector’s threat management plan was last assessed (and yes that also comes with its challenges).

We’re calling on the Ministers of Fisheries and Conservation to take the tourism economic impact of Hector’s into account when assessing further protection for our dolphins. If the above numbers balance off against those from fishing, then the argument becomes solely about conservation – and that’s an easy one to win!

How you can help!

The Hector’s and Māui dolphins Threat Management Plan is coming up for review and we have a small window of time to help. We are calling on our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to put much needed better protection in place for these endemic and endangered dolphins. We want to see protection for them out to 100 metres in depth to protect their habitat and the species from extinction.