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

Category Archives: Akaroa New Zealand

ROMANTIC AKAROA

Planning a romantic weekend in Akaroa?

Peaceful Akaroa

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

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

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

Akaroa Country House

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

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

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

Tree Crop Farm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See more Akaroa attractions and things to do.

THE BREEZE 58

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

Cheers Paul

Dolphins up close

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


 

Akaroa chosen for Cruise liners

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


 

The big Snow

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


 

All Black Cat

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


 

Akaroa triple treat

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


 

Treasure Hunt is back

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


 

Quail Tree Trail

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


 

Lyttelton to France

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


 

Intercity to Akaroa

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


 

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

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


 

Promotions and marketing

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

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

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

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


 

Viator rates us tops

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


 

Blogging favourites

Check out this great blog on Akaroa
http://www.smh.com.au/travel/add-blue-water-stir-20110708-1h5m4.html

WHAT IS SEASICKNESS, HOW CAN YOU AVOID IT, AND WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU GET IT?

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

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

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

What to do to try and avoid it: – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Remedies:-

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

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

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

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

5.       Try to eat something salty.

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

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

EAST COAST OF THE SOUTH ISLAND SIGHTSEEING GUIDE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moeraki Boulders

maoraki-boulders

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

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

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

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

The Caltins – Nugget Point Lighthouse

catlins-new-zealand

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

Brought to you by the travelsupermarket.com team who compare prices from leading travel sites to save you time and money.

WHALE WATCHING IN AKAROA

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

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

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

Whale Watching in Akaroa

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

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

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

THE BREEZE 57

The shortest day is nearly upon us and whilst many are hoping it’s about to snow the fine weather has been great for cruising. We’ve had some special sightings of whales recently and hosted some VIPs including the former mayor of San Francisco and a NZ sports legend. We’re also looking forward to next summer already with many cruise ships confirming Akaroa as their Canterbury stop and also plans for a huge French Fest. In the meantime thanks for your continued support. We are operating right through the winter season every day.

Cheers Paul

11 THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS IN AKAROA

I grew up in Akaroa so I’m really surprised when I hear people say there is not much for children to do in the town, and that the hot pools of Hamner are a better bet. Sure the pools are a must do but you can’t go there every weekend and Akaroa offers something different for families.

Now I have my own family, I can show them the hours of fun that can be had in and around Akaroa. Here are my top tips for entertaining the kids with Akaroa activities, many of these are free.

1. Cruise

Akaroa Harbour is just a fantastic place to explore, and on the daily Black Cat cruise around the harbour you will see dolphins, seals and penguins which are sure to delight kids of all ages; what kid doesn’t like dolphins?!

If you don’t own a boat, it’s the best way to explore the volcanic outer harbour. Black Cat has kid’s activity books and with kids under 5 free and 5-15 year olds at $25, its great value for money.

Children swimming with dolphins

Children swimming with dolphins

2. Walks

 

Walking

Walks to do with kids

There are lots of great places to walk and my favourite is a trek through the Garden of Tane. The ‘domain’ as it used to be known faces the harbour and you can find it easily by looking for Akaroa’s historic lighthouse on the waterfront and walking in land from there. The forest is teeming with native birds and trees and you will also discover the old cemeteries with some of the early settler’s graves. Bird spotting here is quite rewarding with fantails, tui, bellbirds and lots of others. There’s a huge birdsong each morning that’s sadly missing from many parts of New Zealand.

Garden of Tane

Garden of Tane, Akaroa

3. Go crabbing

About 800 people live in Akaroa but the beachfront is home to maybe millions of tiny crabs. All you need to do is go down onto the beaches at a mid to low tide and look under the rocks. Sure there is nothing much you can do with the crabs but its fun to look at the many sizes and shapes and the bravest will be able to pick them up by the tops of their shells.

Children crabbing

Crabbing with Children

4. Fishing

 

Fishing in Akaroa

Fishing in Akaroa

The days of pulling up ten cod off the end of the wharf are long gone but going fishing at the end of the wharf is still popular and you never know if you get the tide and conditions right you can still catch some fish.

Or for the older kids forget the fishing rods and try jumping off the wharf instead!

Jumping off the Akaroa Wharf

Jumping off the Akaroa Wharf

5. Take a rugby or soccer ball

..and have a kick about on the school grounds; they are about 2 minutes walk from the main wharf.

Akaroa Playground

Akaroa Playground

6. Adventure playground

OK it might not be the scale of the big playgrounds in Christchurch but there’s a neat little playground near Dalies wharf in town or try Le Mini golf. Again not the scale of the big city but a great way to burn up an hour and compete against each other.

7. Biking

The best place to go is probably from Akaroa out to the Onuku Marae which is somewhat flat compared to the rest of the peninsula. There is also a great walk from there through rolling farmland to Nikau Palm Gulley which as the world’s southernmost growing palm trees and a great little waterfall.

8. Beachcombing

You’ll have to go a little further afield to what is known as the outer bays. Jump in the car and go to Okains Bay or LeBons Bay. They boast enormous sand beaches. You may find you’ll be the only people there!

9. Hire a canoe or paddleboat

Don a lifejacket and get into one of the self propelled vessels. The boat hire jetty is just beside the main wharf.

10. Go to the Giants House

It’s a wacky playground of wild ideas all made from thousands of mosaics. Probably more akin to the sights of Vegas than Akaroa it shows what can be done with a little imagination and a dose of creativity. It’s a short walk from the Museum up Rue Balgarie.

Giants House

Giants House

11. Eat fish n chips!

Or dine at one of the many seaside cafes or restaurants. After all that exploring kids will be sure to have worked up an appetite and Akaroa is lucky to have lots of kids’ friendly menus and options.

Light house

Light house

SNOOZE AND CRUISE OPTION FOR AKAROA

Despite Akaroa’s close proximity to Christchurch, and our location on the other side of Banks Peninsula from Lyttelton, the resort township is unaffected by the Christchurch earthquake. All the cafes, restaurants, shops and accommodation businesses are operating as usual, with all the charm and atmosphere visitors have come to expect.

At Black Cat we are keen to see visitors who may have originally planned to spend time in the Garden City come directly to Akaroa to relax and enjoy what our beautiful location has to offer. Browse some reviews and comments about our lovely town.

Anyone arriving into Christchurch International Airport can find their way directly to Akaroa without going via the damaged central city – the routes for a one and a half hour drive can be found here:

Christchurch to Akaroa

Akaroa Harbour

Akaroa Harbour

We have put together an awesome deal for visitors or Christchurch locals who want to make the most of Akaroa. Our Snooze and Cruise deal is just $109 per person, providing accommodation at Tresori Motor Lodge or the Akaroa Criterion Motel and the Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise with Black Cat.

Simply book directly at either of these accommodation venues, and you will be issued with a voucher for your cruise.

As we head into Autumn, Akaroa is looking its most beautiful, so don’t hesitate to join us!

SWIMMING WITH WILD DOLPHINS

By Deneice Athurston

I admit it – I’m a dolphin swim junkie and probably nowhere on the planet can I indulge this passion as much as in New Zealand. What makes New Zealand so special with regards to swimming with wild dolphins is that there are so many companies to choose from and each offer something a little different depending on where they are located and the species of dolphin that hang around that area.

Luckily for me I discovered Black Cat Cruises fairly early on in my continuous quest and have since returned to them three times. Swimming with wild dolphins is always going to be magical but this company so enhance every experience with their fun attitude, knowledge and high ethics that in my mind no others come even close.

Black Cat Cruises, who operate from the wharf in Akaroa Harbour, are pretty special for lots of reasons and not least of all because here you get to swim with Hector’s dolphins – the smallest and rarest marine dolphin on the whole planet. What’s more Hector’s dolphins are 100% Kiwi as they are only found in the coastal waters of New Zealand.

In Akaroa the dolphins are never far away and in the past I’ve stood on the Akaroa shore itself and seen dolphins just metres away checking out a kayaker. Sometimes the swims take place in the calm waters of the harbour and at other times the dolphins will be hanging around outside the harbour mouth.

On the day of your swim you are asked to arrive in good time so you can be kitted out with thick wetsuits, boots, snorkels and masks and briefed on your swim. In winter, dry suits are provided as an extra defence against these chilly waters. Boats are only allowed a maximum of 10 people who want to swim with the dolphins and Black Cat observe this to the letter as much to protect the dolphins as to ensure a great experience for you. Often there will be less than 10 swimmers because the rest of the people on the boat have come to watch without getting wet.

The trip is about 2 hours and as you head out on the boat your guide will talk a bit about the dolphins and everyone gets involved in being on the look-out for the distinctive ‘Mickey Mouse ear’ shaped fin of the Hector’s dolphin. If you get lucky, half of the 2 hour tip will actually be spent in the water with the dolphins. If an hour seems like an infeasibly long time to be bobbing about in the chilly ocean then let me tell you that time takes on a whole different meaning when you are surrounded by dolphins. On one dolphin swim with this company I climbed back into the boat, having become an unfetching shade of blue and with arms and legs which had turned to jelly. As I lie panting on the boat’s deck and grinning an inane grin I discovered that an hour had passed. It had felt like minutes.

Black Cat really care about their customers; you are made to feel well looked after and valued but more importantly they care about the dolphins most of all and again and again this is borne out. A proportion of every single customer’s fee is donated to the conservation of the Hector’s dolphins and the research which ensures maximum protection is afforded. Black Cat Cruises are also holders of the Green Globe 21 Award, a prestigious international recognition given to companies who promote and deliver the highest environmental practices. Black Cat were the first ever cruise company worldwide who earned themselves this award.

And the merits of Black Cat Cruises don’t end there. They have a really excellent refund policy with regards to their dolphin swims. Although more than 80% of their cruises result in successful dolphin swims nothing is guaranteed. These creatures are wild and on rare occasions they just don’t want to play or even show themselves and at other times the weather and sea conditions are real spoil sports. ‘Successful’ swim is something which Black Cat interpret very differently to many other companies, some of whom just dump you in the ocean amidst the dolphins passing through and then haul you out again once they have passed. On one occasion with Black Cat Cruises, dolphins were present and twice we were put into the water. The dolphins had a quick look and disappeared. This is not deemed a successful swim in the eyes of Black Cat and the refund policy was implemented.

 

 

SHAKEN BUT NOT DISTIRBED

There are two things that struck me most when the devasting earthquake in Christchurch

The peaceful seaside village of Akaroa

struck on the 22nd of February.  The first was how powerful it is and how powerless you feel.  There is nothing to do but sit (or hide) and wait until it is over.  Then there’s the reality that hits almost immediately that you are still alive and panic sets in as you fumble with your cell phone and try to get hold of loved ones.  It took me what seemed like forever to get the presence of mind to remember how to work the phone, my fingers were trembling so much and I temporarily forgot how to send a txt!!

The second thing is the randomness of it.  There is no warning, and how bazaar is it that one building is completely destroyed while another standing right next to it is completely untouched.

While Akaroa’s neighbour Lyttelton was devastated with many buildings collapsing, Akaroa remains undisturbed, all roads open, businesses operating and motels ready for guests, a little oasis in the sea of chaos that is Central Christchurch.  Akaroa is just 90 minutes drive from Christchurch airport so an ideal place to retreat to on arrival or departure from the South Island.