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

Category Archives: Hector’s Dolphins

Top 10 Things to do in New Zealand

CD Traveller.com based in the UK has also named swimming with dolphins in Akaroa as one of their top 10 things to do in New Zealand.


    1. Swimming with dolphins in Akaroa


    1. Whale watch tours in Kaikoura


    1. Tucking into a Maori meal and cultural tour


    1. Partying up a storm in Wellington


    1. Heading to Hanmer Springs


    1. Taking a trip to Taupo


    1. Exploring Auckland – aka the ‘City of Sails’


    1. Thrills and spills in Queenstown


    1. Chilling out in Christchurch


  1. Catching the All Blacks in action

One in a Million Experience Swimming with Dolphins

Black Cat Cruises guide Laura Hansen captured this amazing photo of a dolphin ‘spy-hopping’ in Akaroa Harbour.

Jason Hagedorn, from Chicago, was swimming with dolphins when the dolphin raised vertically out of the water for an eye to eye encounter.

Spy-hopping is the term given to a dolphin or whale raising its head vertically out of the water. The animal rotates slowly to view the surrounding area, before sinking quietly back below the surface.

“The dolphin did a couple of spy-hops and was really into this swimmer. The dolphin also did some ‘logging’ which is coming to a complete halt in the water and eyeballing the swimmer which is quite unusual behaviour.”

Christmas Cruising Schedule

Our Xmas day schedule is as follows:

Akaroa Harbour Cruises, 11.00am $85/$35 Dolphin swimming 0900, 1200 $174/$144 (watching $144/$44).

Christchurch Wildlife Cruise (Lyttelton) 130pm $85/$35 (includes free shuttle) and the Diamond Harbour Ferry is a normal Saturday timetable with nothing after 6pm.

Wonderful Trip Swimming with Dolphins

I just wanted to pass on a big thank you to Hamish and Julian for a wonderful trip swimming with the amazing Hector’s dolphins on Sunday. It was a truly incredible experience made even better by their shared knowledge and enthusiasm which was inspiring. I ended up with some pretty good pics so thought I would send them along just in case they can be put to any use which may benefit the dolphin conservation effort. Many thanks again, Al Sears PS. I will be back with the parents!

We wish to thank you for allowing us the opportunity to experience the Black Cat Lyttelton Harbour Cruise. We were well looked after by Fergus and Tash, and are happy to announce that a pod of Hector’s Dolphins was located which was wonderful. We certainly had a beautiful day for it. The level of area knowledge and commentary was impressive, delivered from both the cruise staff and coach driver. It was not only informative, but entertaining also. We appreciate that we are able to experience your product in order to better promote and sell to our clients and, in addition, look forward to introducing family and friends to a cruise in the future. Thank you again, Mel and Antin

Will I see dolphins?

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


Every year we take literally thousands of pictures of people swimming with dolphins. This year we held a competition for the best shot and here is the result. Competition winner was swim guide Georgie Shadbolt whose winning picture actually featured another team member, Charlotte White. Georgie won a digital camera for her winning photo. “It was great fun taking photos and looking for good opportunities,” Georgie said. “It got a bit competitive as we all looked for that money shot over the summer.”


Hi there,
Myself and my husband Mark came on the 12pm dolphin swim with Ian and Charlotte today and had a brilliant time, and just wanted to say another big thank you! Despite us arriving a bit late at the harbour (and the weather being a bit dodgy!), the lady checking us in was amazingly helpful and offered us all sorts of options in case we wanted to cancel because of the weather, but in the end we decided to go for it as it was actually my birthday so it seemed worth a go!

Ian and Charlotte were both fantastic, especially when it got to us being in the water. They were so enthusiastic and it spurred us all on in our singing and tapping to get the dolphins’ attention! They made sure we knew when there were any dolphins coming towards us, and kept us safe and entertained throughout the whole trip. I’ve been on dolphin swimming trips 5 times in NZ (the other 4 all in the Bay of Islands!) but this was by far the most memorable and best run trip I’ve ever been on, and a huge part of that was down to Ian and Charlotte and also the lady at the check-in (sorry I didn’t catch her name). So a big thank you to all of the team at Black Cat Cruises. Many thanks; we’ll be recommending you to all of our friends in Christchurch.


Hi Sonya,
Thanks. I have my photos. The swim with the Dolphins was very special. A highlight in my life. I wish you and your team continued success with the high standard of environmental awareness you create on these tours. I think you set a world standard and Have no doubt you keep it.

I look forward to being on one of these tours in the near future, again. Good luck to you and your team especially with the conservation effort. Kind regards,



You may also be interested to know the travel site “Travel Associates” based in Australia has just named Akaroa as one of the top 5 places in the world to swim with dolphins.

The top 5 spots were:

Akaroa, New Zealand

Oahu and Kona, Hawaii

Azores Archipelago

Bimini, Bahamas

The Red Sea

Check out their detailed list here



Early in March 15 year old Aescleah Hawkins, supported by the WWF and Black Cat, walked from Christchurch to Akaroa with 10 others including Black Cat MD Paul Bingham to raise money and awareness of the Hector’s dolphins. The walk raised $16,000 and attracted lots of media attention with articles in The Press, Sunday Times and Breakfast TV amongst others. Pictured here is Mayor Bob Parker farewelling the group and the walkers arriving in Akaroa Harbour.


The first Hector’s dolphin calves of the year have appeared with two seen in Lyttelton last week and one in Akaroa Harbour. The dolphins are quite dark when first born and some have stripes which fade quickly. A baby Hectors is only marginally larger than a rugby ball, so they are quite vulnerable when first born. It’s vital these dolphins survive because they are literally the future of the species.