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Category Archives: Akaroa New Zealand

Akaroa Museum

This is a great Akaroa activity that won’t take up too much of your time, and will send you away with some great facts on this historic French village.

After having to close for repairs and restoration after the February 2011 earthquake, in July last year, the Akaroa Museum opened its doors to the public once again and as of July 1st it became FREE TO ENTER.

Akaroa Museum

Akaroa museum

Located at 71 Rue Lavaud, the museum provides a fascinating history of Akaroa and its surrounding areas, and is a great reason to get your inner historian out and about in the harbour.

At the moment, Akaroa Museum is hosting an exhibition about the Maori heritage of the bay with a display entitled “Horomaka,” as well as letting the public meander through the fully restored Court House with its new mini theatre – perfect for viewing the local documentary,  “Akaroa – The Long Harbour.”

In short, Akaroa Museum is once again fully equipped to satisfy your local historical needs, or occupy a rainy afternoon in the bay.

For a taste of what to expect from your visit to Akaroa Museum, here are five of the best exhibitions they have showcased over recent years:

1.)    Akaroa on Holiday

Featuring artefacts that document Akaroa’s history and development as Canterbury’s premier tourist destination, the ‘Akaroa on Holiday’ exhibition took a look at past promotional efforts to get the town to where it is today.

By the 1920’s Akaroa was well established as a holiday destination and was actively promoting itself to tourists

Visit Akaroa

With town now known for the campers, bach-owners, day-trippers, honeymooners and cruise ships that populate the harbour during summer months, it seems to have worked pretty well.

Did you know Black Cat Cruises were the first tourism operator in Akaroa to offer nature cruises out on the harbour?

2.)    Mystery and Delight at Every Turn

A series of black and white photographs taken by local Peter Beaven in the 1960s gave an incredible look at Akaroa frozen in time. With a focus on what the photographer saw as the things that gave Akaroa its charm and character, the snaps really highlight what is important about the architecture and feel of the seaside village.

3.)    Obscure and Obsolete Objects

Diving into the depths of the storeroom, the Akaroa Museum curators came up with a collection of weird and wacky objects, from curd-cutters to fly traps, to decorate the exhibition room in September 2003. Visitors had to guess what the objects were before finding out if their predictions were correct at the end of the exhibition.

4.)    Harley Davidsons

One for a bit of a tough guy crowd, back in February 2004 the Akaroa Museum put on an exhibition especially for the Harley Davidson enthusiasts making their way over the hill and into the harbour for a rally the town was hosting. The display included a 1928 Harley with a sidecar that had been used by the local butcher’s for deliveries back in the day.

5.)    Disasters, Mysteries and Sensations

As does every small town, Akaroa has had its fair share of trials and tribulations over the years. This exhibition paid homage to dramatic events such as raging epidemics, fatal fires, and mysterious disappearances that challenged the village and shaped its future.

For further information visit the Akaroa Museum website

72 hours in Canterbury

What would you do if you had just 72 hours in Canterbury ? Come to Akaroa of course………

Imagine you were told you could write a wishlist of the best New Zealand activities Canterbury has to offer….and it would come true!

Well Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism recently ran a” Win your dream 72 hours in Canterbury” campaign  over in Australia asking entrants to describe how they would spend their 72 hours.  The prize; your dream 72 hours will come true!

The competition came to a close and the lucky winner has just spent this past weekend having the time of his life with his wife visiting Christchurch, Akaroa, the Waipara Wine Region AND Hanmer……..His winning itinerary you ask?

DAY 1

Location: Christchurch

 

    • After flying into Christchurch it was a trip straight to the i-site to book all of their tickets.

 

    • Then it was a visit to the re-start mall to take in what’s happening within the Christchurch CBD
      Re:Start Mall in Christchurch

      things to do in christchurch or akaroa

 

 

 

    • For lunch it was off to Madras Street for Pizza followed by some fun wheel action on the Segway Urban Wheels.

 

    • A leisurely afternoon was then spent punting on the Avon. An iconic and classic Christchurch activity, before settling in for the night at a hotel in Christchurch.

 

DAY 2

Location: Akaroa

Day 2 is ”all things French” as they headed off to Akaroa. En-route from Christchurch they stopped off for an early morning Gondola ride to take in the majestic views down Banks Peninsula

After taking the 90 minute scenic drive to Akaroa there was time for a stroll in the streets to enjoy the shops, galleries and a french inspired lunch

Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise

Akaroa Harbour & wildlife cruise

Straight after lunch it was all aboard the Black Cat boat to enjoy an Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise. An opportunity to enjoy the marine and bird life whilst taking in the breathtaking views of the extinct volcanic harbour. The team at Black Cat were so pleased to host the winner and his guest. It’s wonderful to play a part in makeing a dream trip come true!

After two hours on the water with Black Cat it was back on land for a drive along the summit road. A spectacular peninsula drive with great New Zealand photography locations along the way!

All finished off with dinner at Vangionis

DAY 3

Location: Waipara Valley, Hamner Springs

Sad to leave Akaroa it was then on to a day of pure indulgence as they headed to the Waipara Valley and Hanmer Springs.

The 3 hour drive to Hanmer was broken up by visiting numerous wineries along the way in Waipara wine region and lunch at a local winery.

Waipara Wine Region in Canterbury, New Zealand

Waipara Wine region things to do canterbury

Arriving in Hanmer called for one thing only – a stop off at the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa followed by a body treatment for him and her – one word, Divine!

Late afternoon was then spent meandering through the shops and boutiques in Hanmer before choosing a spot for dinner and home to beautiful retreat for bed!

What a wonderful 3 days!!!

There is so much on offer in the Canterbury region we would find it hard to choose (apart from the Black Cat experience in Akaroa of course!) What would your dream itinerary be if you had just 72 hours in Canterbury? We recommend using the Christchurch and Canterbury Toursim website to help plan your trip!

Random Acts of Kindness

Four simple words that could change some-ones day, week or even life….

We at Black Cat HQ wanted to share a blog post covering this topic, as unbeknown to us, a member of our staff in Akaroa had quietly bestowed a random act of kindness onto a complete stranger (that is until the office received the most heart warming thank you email…which we will get to in a moment).

So what is a ‘Random Act of Kindness‘? Well according to that great source Wikipedia it is quite simply

‘A selfless act performed by a person or people wishing to either assist or cheer up an individual person or people.’

Our skipper Julian did exactly just that and here is the email that followed……

Hi there

I just wanted to write to say thank you to the lovely captain and crew member of the Black Cat for making my mothers birthday very special.

My mother and her husband have gone through a lot over the last few year. They lost a daughter, then lost all their possessions in the Christchurch earthquakes, had to give away their beloved dog so they could get accommodation, fight insurance companies and EQC but they have got by and they know they are better off than a lot of other people in Christchurch.

So for my mothers 80th birthday my brothers and I all put in and bought her a voucher for two nights accommodation and meals in Akaroa. At the time I looked at your website to see about getting them on a cruise too but we just couldn’t come up with enough money to do it. My mother and her husband went to Akaroa last week and decided to go for a walk on the pier. It was while they were watching the Black Cat getting ready to go out that the Captain came over and talked to them. The next thing my mother knew she was going on the cruise herself and she absolutely loved it. She has talked non stop about how great it was and how nice the crew was and she still cannot believe that she was invited on the cruise. You really made her day and I wanted to let you know that, as I feel that she has gone through so much in the last few years, that for a complete stranger to do such a lovely act of kindness was amazing. To see my mum so happy was really special for me as my father just passed away recently and my mum means the world to me. So once again thank you so much for your kindness and generosity.

So why offer a selfless act? If you’re getting nothing in return why bother, right? Wrong! Random acts of kindness not only reward the receiver, they reward the person giving. There is so much pleasure to be found in putting a smile upon some-ones face…and as the email above pointed out, you never quite know what some-one has been through or may be going through. So thank you Julian for making not only this lady’s day, but for reminding us of the simplicity and ability we all have to make a person smile!

Now you may wonder why we would want to publicise what is deemed to be a selfless act. Quite frankly we want to share the story to encourage YOU to perform your very own random act of kindness! Even businesses are getting behind the action of doing kind, random deeds. Check out this fun video from Coca Cola, who wanted to spread some free happiness…..Coca-Cola Happiness Machine

And lastly before we leave you…

Did you know New Zealand is the only country in he world to have a dedicated Random Acts of Kindness day? (September, 1st FYI )

 

There’s a whole website about it which contains some great ideas.

 

But why wait until then….it’s the weekend, go spread some kindness!

CHRISTCHURCH TO AKAROA A GREAT DAY OUT ON THE BIKE

The ride to Akaroa from Christchurch is my ‘go to’ ride when I’m in need of a great day out on the bike and some good quality miles, and it’s been even more valuable in recent times giving the fact we have two young daughters at home, aged 17 and three months, so it’s provided the opportunity to combine a great ride with some quality family time too.

The great thing about riding to Akaroa is that not only does it provide some great climbingfantastic views, fast descents and some good flat riding, meaning you get a range of cycling experiences, afterwards you get to hang out in Akaroa with the family and experience the charm of the historic village nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano.

There are loads a great accommodation options to stay overnight and Akaroa Harbour and the surrounding hills provides an enormous range of activities, including cruises on the harbour and the chance to swim with the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin, the Hector’s Dolphin.

Riding over and staying with the family who drive over combines training with valuable family time, and then there’s always the option of riding back the following day.

With the iconic Le Race cycle event looming it’s a great time to combine an awesome training ride over to Akaroa, an afternoon out on the Harbour and then an evening in Akaroa.

John competing in Le Race to Akaroa in 2006. 8 years on and he is still up for the challenge!

cycle to akaroa

The ride over includes 1800 metres of climbing so you really do get a good solid work out. The Le Race course heads up Colombo Street and then climbs up Dyers Pass, right past where we live, up into the Port Hills above Christchurch passing first the Sign of the Takahe, then the Sign of the Kiwi at over 300 metres above sea level – also the first spot for the King and Queen of the Mountains competition on race day – before turning right and heading along the Summit Road.

Le Race course

Le Race in action – captured by Bruce Wilson

Le Race Christchurch

From high up on the Summit Road there are magnificent views across the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps and eastwards to the sea up Lyttleton harbour.

The ride around the Summit Road really is quite special. With awesome views it never fails to impress me, and I know we can be guilty of taking it all for granted at times.

The road south along the Summit Road has a number of short power climbs and descents  before the first fast long downhill through to Gebbies Pass before turning right and heading towards Motukarara.

The downhill towards Gebbies Pass has several cattle stops, so taking it carefully is important, and after the recent heavy rain there is the odd section of debris on the road, but nothing too bad and you can be sure by race day on the 29th it will all be well tidied up.

Once on the flat you take the first left and head long Millers Road that takes you out to the main Christchurch to Akaroa Road. From here the road heads toward Little River and Cooptown, hugging first Lake Ellesmere and then the smaller Lake Forsyth. Little River is a great place to stop for a coffee and fuel up before tackling the six kilometre Hill Top climb.  There are a couple of nice cafes and an art gallery well worth a visit.

The climb up to Hill Top gives you a sense of the ‘Tour de France’ hence the Le Race being referred to as a ‘slice of the Tour de France.’

It’s a workout!

Although the uphill efforts are much shorter than the famous European climbs, there is a sense of real alpine efforts and once at the top of Hill Top there are magnificent views across the peninsula including spotting Akaroa in the distance.

That infamous view down to Akaroa and the bays

Akaroa images

The main road dips to the right but most cyclists follow the route for Le Race, turning to the left to follow the Summit Road as it loops high above Akaroa Harbour off to the right and Pigeon, Okains and Le Bons Bays to the left.

This section is where the business is really done on race day, but on a nice day on a ‘training’ ride its one of the most spectacular sections of road to ride anywhere, and well worth taking a moment to ‘small the roses’ and appreciate what a magnificent part of the world it is.

Eventually the road drops down into Long Bay Road and into Akaroa itself, where a well earned coffee and lunch with the family await.

After lunch there’s the opportunity to explore the town or head out on the harbour to get up close and personal with the marine life, including the playful Hector’s dolphins, and then stay the night, like the Tui adverts, ‘well earned.’

AKAROA AND HECTOR’S DOLPHINS IN THE PRESS

Akaroa has had a number of great features on TV this summer. From Campbell Live covering the cruise ships to 60 minutes covering the Maui and Hector’s dolphins, it’s been all go!

The recent 60 minute feature on Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins was a really interesting watch, so if you haven’t yet seen it please do take the time to watch the video. We have shared it on our Black Cat Cruises You Tube channel and placed a direct link for you here….New Zealand’s native dolphins in the press.

The feature highlights the plight and dangers of our native dolphins. There is no question about it – they need protecting. The NZ Whale and Dolphin Trust’s 100m Campaign is one of the latest initiatives that’s setting out to do just that.

Run by marine wildlife advocates Dr. Liz Slooten, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, and Prof. Steve Dawson, with the help and support of many other marine mammal enthusiasts, the NZ Whale and Dolphin Trust has been working to figure out how to make the ocean a safer place for our cetaceans for many years. Their latest venture sees them collaborating with the interesting and relatively new sport of free diving.

Free diving is an extreme sport where divers go as deep down into the ocean as they dare without any help from a breathing apparatus – so by simply holding their breath. In December 2010, Kiwi freediver William Trubridge was the first person to freedive to 100 metres – no small feat by any means.

But what does this have to do with the little ol’ Hectors Dolphins? At the moment, we have legislation in New Zealand that protects dolphins around our coast – but the sanctuaries only extend to a limited area, and a limited depth. After three summers of observing dolphins’ distributions off our shores, the NZ Whale and Dolphin Trust came to the conclusion that the current scope of our protected areas are nowhere near good enough to keep these creatures out of harm’s way.

Over their research, the trust found that dolphins are regularly sighted far from the protected waters – often in waters that go 100 metres deep. Because these areas are still open to gillnets, it puts dolphins at risk of being swept up in the bycatch of some fishing boat.

So when William Trubridge was training to go 100 metres below the surface, he called his mission “Project Hector”, so that he could bring about awareness around the issue. He, in conjunction with NZ Whale and Dolphin, are raising money for the cause. So far they have reached $2,300 out of a $10,000 target. NZ Whale and Dolphin thinks that if Trubridge can get to the bottom of a 100 metre deep part of ocean, gillnets should not be allowed there.

If we can extend marine wildlife sanctuaries to include all areas of sea that are 100 metres deep, then we could protect all of the foraging space where the dolphins source their food. This would be a huge help to restoring the still declining population of this rare animal.

For more information on this campaign, including maps of the area around Akaroa and Banks Peninsula that are affected, check out the link below:http://www.whaledolphintrust.org.nz/campaigns-100m.php 

You can also donate to the cause by visiting this page  http://www.williamtrubridge.com/trublue/

5 GREAT VALENTINE’S DAY RESTAURANTS IN AKAROA

Wondering what to do for Valentine’s Day? Looking for a romantic getaway? Well we are here to help! Whether you plan to come to Akaroa for Valentine’s Day or simply for a weekend escape with your loved one, no stay in Akaroa would be complete without a sampling of the delicious local cuisine on offer.  So we have listed 5 of the best places to dine in Akaroa. With its French origins lending a taste of Europe to the seaside fare, Akaroa makes the perfect destination for a romantic evening of tantalising the taste buds. Try these great eateries for an authentic Akaroa eating experience. Remember, if you want a table for the 14th…book in advance!

Ma Maison

”Overlooking Dailey’s wharf and the Akaroa Harbour, Ma Maison is one of Akaroa’s hidden gems. The view speaks for itself!” Set right by the waters edge with its panoramic views and complete with a romantic open fire and terrace perfect for sipping champagne Ma Maison ticks all the right boxes.

Ma Maison restaurant Akaroa

2 Rue Jolie, Akaroa  Tel: 03 304 7668

The Little Bistro

The Little Bistro serves hearty, locally sourced, seasonal meals in a fantastic atmosphere.

Little Bistro restaurant Akaroa

little bistro restaurant akaroa

A Canterbury focused wine list completes the picture to wash down what we’ve termed ‘rustic european’ inspired cuisine. If wine is not your thing, there are many craft beers, artisan sodas or even peninsula roasted coffee. With service that goes the extra mile, the best bentwood chair collection in town and an outlook over the green to the sea and volcanic hills of Akaroa,  join them for an unforgettable evening.

33 Rue Lavaud, Akaroa Tel: 03 304 7314

The Trading Rooms

With beautiful architecture and interior design inspired by the Kaikoura store from which it gets its name, the Trading Rooms Restaurant and Pantryis dedicated to providing a wonderful eating experience. Locally sourced and hand-picked ingredients comprise much of what you’ll find in the Trading Rooms’ pantry, much of which is turned into quaint jars of jams and preserves for you to take home. And as for the menu, the impressive array of local and international chefs have created a list of items to suit the season. Catering to the catch of the day from the harbour and coming up with exquisite dishes from seasonal fruits and vegetables, the Trading Rooms is definitely one to try for an authentic local dining adventure.

A snap shot of The Trading Room’s menu

akaroa valentines menu

1 Beach Road, Akaroa. Tel:(03) 304 7656

Bully Hayes

Easy going during the day and romantic at night, this fantastic seaside restaurant and bar gives you good reason to come back for breakfast, lunch and dinner right through the week. With several indoor and outdoor dining areas to choose from, as well as a play area for the kids, you can pick your setting to enjoy the range of delicious meals while knowing that the little ones are having a good time too.

Bully Hayes restaurant Akaroa

Bully Hayes restaurant Akaroa

Highlights from the breakfast menu include the Breakfast Omelette, with several variations to suit your taste, or if you’re feeling ravenous there’s Bully’s Fatty Boomba Breakfast, which could keep you going for days with its bacon, eggs, black pudding, hash browns and grilled tomatoes on toasted grain bread. Lunch and dinner offer an array of pasta, bread, salad, and soup dishes along with mains crafted from locally sourced ingredients and cooked to perfection.

57 Beach Rd, Akaroa Tel:03-304 7533

Akaroa Fish & Chips

It doesn’t get much more Kiwi than Fish & Chips, and Akaroa is famous for theirs. Akaroa Fish & Chips serves up good ol’ Kiwi tucker to Cantabrians and tourists who are after a taste of classic New Zealand cuisine. Fish of the day comes from the harbour itself, and a good giant burger will give you plenty of energy for exploring the bay. Although it may not be the healthiest or most fine dining-esque option along the water front, it’s definitely one that allows you to do your own thing and choose your own waterfront setting.

Akaroa, a romantic escape in New Zealand

Akaroa romantic escape new zealand

The Morning After…

If you are spending the night in Akaroa L’escargot Rouge Deli is the perfect place to start the day, the following morning! L’escargot Rouge Deli serves delicious French Style breakfasts. ‘Le Parisien’ breakfast is a popular choice, including a baguette, croissant, pain au chocolat and a side of fresh fruit for a classic sampling of a French morning’s cuisine. Other quintessentially French dishes on offer are the Croque Monsieur, which is Brioche served with Dijon, ham, Swiss cheese and Mornay sauce, and can be upgraded to a Croque Madame with the addition of a poached egg on top. L’escargot Rouge also offers an extensive range of sweet and savoury bakery items to snack on throughout the day. You’ll be ready for a day of exploring Akaroa.

67 Beach Road, Akaroa

We’d love to hear what your favourite romantic Akaroa spots are…leave us a comment below 🙂

BLACK CAT’S PICK OF WAYS TO CELEBRATE NEW YEARS IN BANKS PENINSULA

Although it may lack the glitz and the glamour of a big city celebration, there’s nothing quite like bringing in the new year in Canterbury’s own little piece of paradise. Whether you’re spending the night with family, friends, or that special someone, Banks Peninsula has got you covered for the perfect way to welcome in 2014.

Happy New Year

things to do in christchurch

1.)    Sea Shanties – On the 31st the Hilltop Tavern welcomes in the New Year by bringing lovers of oceanic folk not only the Wellington Sea Shanty Society, but also the much-loved French sea shanty band, Croche Dedans. Bust out the peg legs and eye patches for a night full of some of the finest seaside songs the world has to offer, and see in 2014 overlooking the best views of the bays with a cold beer in hand.

The Hill Top Tavern

The Hill Top Tavern Akaroa restaurant

2.)    Dinner and Bubbles – The French Farm on Winery Road in Akaroa is putting on quite the spread to send off the year. With your ticket you’ll receive a four-course meal, live music from XFilesDuo, and the obligatory glass of bubbly against this gorgeous backdrop.

The French Farm Winery

The French Farm Winery Akaroa

3.)    Golfing – Once you’ve recovered from the New Years night festivities, why not get out and about at Akaroa Golf Club? On the 2nd of January they hold their annual Men’s New Year Tournament, and on the 3rd it’s a ladies affair with the ‘Wine and Roses’ tournament out on the green.

4.)    Back to the Future – Just over the hill from Lyttelton, you can celebrate the New Year by pretending it’s an old one. The Watershed, situated next to the estuary, is putting on a 70s and 80s Retro Themed party. Grab a ticket, dig out that pantsuit or those bellbottoms, and party it up by the water.

5.)    Camping at Corsair – If you’re after a little getaway with some mates, book a spot and pitch a tent at Corsair bay. Perhaps the best place to watch the sunrise on a new year’s morning, the beautiful beach and gorgeous scenery are sure to make it a very happy new year indeed.

corsair bay

new years eve christchurch

5 PLACES FOR A BANKS PENINSULA CHRISTMAS PICNIC

If you’re keen to get out and about in Banks Peninsula with the family this Christmas there is plenty for you to do. Between chilling in Lyttelton or Akaroa, swimming in the gorgeous bays, or taking a ferry out to Quail Island, you’ll never be short of something fun to do. But every adventurer needs to break for food. Luckily for you, Banks Peninsula offers plenty of places to pull up a rug and relax in the sun with a picnic basket – here are just a few favourites to choose from.

Picnic the afternoon away in style…..

things to do in Christchurch picnic

Quail Island Beach – After a walk around the former farm and leper colony, head down to the beach to set up your banquet. A great place to have a pre-lunch swim, or just rest your feet with a good book in the sand.

Quail Island Picnic

Things to do in Christchurch

Akaroa Domain –

Akaroa

things to do in akaroa

If you’re out and about in the French seaside town, there’s plenty of room down at the Akaroa Domain to throw down a blanket and enjoy those sammies. Bring a ball or the cricket set and while away the afternoon with games on the grass.

Le Bons Bay Beach –

Le Bons Bay

things to do in christchurch

Another great location for a summer dip, Le Bons Bay Beach is a beautiful piece of kiwi paradise. Secluded from the hustle and bustle of the busier Banks Peninsula hangouts, a picnic here is perfect for those who are after a quiet getaway.

Cass Bay –

Cass Bay Lyttelton

things to do in christchurch

With walks, sand, and playgrounds galore, you’ll be sure to work up an appetite with a day at Cass. There are three beaches to choose from for splashing about for a bit, or get active and bring along the kayak for a scenic tour of the bay.

Orton Bradley Park –

Orton Bradley Park

things to do in chirstchurch

For a taste of Banks Peninsula’s history and quintessential Kiwi greenery, take the family over to Orton Bradley in Charteris bay for the day. Known for its beautiful tracks that lead to stunning views over the harbour, packing a picnic basket and heading for this destination is a winner for any summer afternoon.

We would love to hear where your favourite picnic spots in Banks Peninsula are….leave and comment and share it with us……

AKAROA BLOG PRESENTS PROFESSOR STEVE DAWSON’S ROUND UP OF THIS YEARS INTERNATIONAL MARINE MAMMAL CONFERENCE

Biology of Marine Mammals AkaroaIt’s over, and, according to everyone who spoke to us, the conference was a resounding success. The first day of “plenary talks” – held in the Dunedin town hall – was excellent. Nine outstanding speakers, mostly international but some local, gave us an overview of conservation successes & failures, distilling the key reasons why. The star of the day was New Zealand’s ex-minister of fisheries Pete Hodgson.

Pete Hodgson Dolphin Conservation Champion

Pete Hodgson Dolphin Conservation Akaroa

Deservedly hailed as a hero of NZ conservation for being the first minister of fisheries to take dolphin conservation seriously, Pete gave a funny and inspiring account of how he put into place the protected area for Maui’s dolphin. His account of what science made the difference, and how science and politics often collide, but need more to co-operate, made everyone think hard.

This year we celebrated as after years of campaigning the proposed marine reserve for Akaroa was finally approved.

Akaroa Harbour map

Akaroa marine reserve map swim with dolphins

The next four days of the conference were held on Otago University’s campus. With over 348 talks in four concurrent sessions, it was impossible to go to all the ones you wanted to. And there were some really fabulous presentations. So many that it’s hard to single out one or even just a few that were especially good. Terrific, innovative science presented really well by dedicated researchers. Hearing these, and talking to the presenters afterwards, asking questions and sharing ideas – perhaps over a glass of wine, is what conferences offer that is so different to reading each other’s scientific papers.

Two poster evenings, on Tuesday and Thursday, allowed conference goers to view 400 posters summarising research, mostly by students, from all over the globe. Many were excellent, showing that the future of marine mammal science is in good hands. The space available was too tight on the first evening, but a nimble reshuffle by the poster organisers made the second poster evening much more effective and enjoyable. Poster evenings are not passive – the poster author stays with their poster, so they can explain what they did and answer questions. It’s a great way to communicate science.

The last day’s presentations finished at 3pm, and everyone put on their glad rags for the conference dinner and dance. We’d hired Mojo, a band from Queenstown, to get everyone dancing. mojo queenstown akaroa blogThey did a great job. When the advertised end-time arrived, they were not allowed to stop. It’s great to see very well-known scientists letting down their hair (those that still have hair) prancing around among the students – without too much fear of embarrassment.

All in all, it was a great occasion. Many said it was the best conference they’d ever been to. Also, for many conference goers it put New Zealand on the map. Most were first time visitors. Many said they would be back.

For our team, it was a lot of work to organise, but deeply satisfying. We’re looking forward to some decompression, however!

____________

Websites
Marine Science Department
http://www.otago.ac.nz/marinescience/staff/stevedawson.html

NZ Whale and Dolphin Trust
www.whaledolphintrust.org.nz.

Steve Dawson PhD

Professor

Dept of Marine Science

University of Otago

310 Castle Street

(P.O. Box 56)

Dunedin 9016

New Zealand

Trustee, NZ Whale and Dolphin Trust

STEVE DAWSON KICKS OFF THE INTERNATIONAL MARINE MAMMAL CONFERENCE

Professor Steve Dawson

Steve Dawson dolphin science akaroa

This past Saturday was not quite the big day, but it was the first of the big days. Several hundred marine mammal scientists, from all over world, assembled on Otago University’s campus in Dunedin for a set of pre-conference workshops.

The workshops cover a wide range of topics, some predictable – gatherings of scientists who work on particular species (e.g. right whales) or in a particular region (e.g. Hawaii), and others not. Firmly in the “not” category is “What can the Cloud do to save whales”. This was a group concerned about vessel collisions with whales, hoping to develop ways that real-time monitoring and internet technology can be applied to reduce the likelihood of collisions. One development is to have folks in the shipping industry log their sightings with a mobile app called “spotter” which uploads those to a constantly changing map of where whales are – so that area can be avoided by ship captains.

Other workshops focussed on impacts of tourism, bycatch in fishing, and assessing effects of coastal development. And that’s just Saturday, a further set of workshops run tomorrow.

The really big day is today, Monday. About 1200 people will be gathering in the Dunedin Town Hall to listen to a set of  “Keynote” addresses by world experts. Today sets the theme of the conference “Marine Mammal Conservation, Science making a difference” by having talks on conservation successes, frustrations and failures, with local and international case studies presented by scientists who are true conservation heroes. The idea is to map out ways to more effectively turn science findings into conservation action – to bridge the gap between science and politics.

It’s an exciting time. The biggest scientific conference ever held in Dunedin. Many, very smart people, working on the most interesting animals on the planet, together in one place. Very cool!

For us on the organising team, there’s some relief. First hurdle cleared. So far, no problems.

Steve Dawson

____________

Steve Dawson PhD

Professor

Dept of Marine Science

Websites
Marine Science Department
http://www.otago.ac.nz/marinescience/staff/stevedawson.html
www.whaledolphintrust.org.nz.

NZ Whale and Dolphin Trust