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

Category Archives: Lyttelton New Zealand

Teddy Bear’s Picnic on Quail Island

plunket picnic quail island

plunket picnic quail island

Quail Island Fun

Bring your very best teds and join us at the inaugural Plunket Teddy Bear’s Picnic on Quail Island!

We are proud to support Plunket and the amazing work and services they provide for mum’s, babies and families in New Zealand.


quail island ferryBlack Cat Cruises have donated a special charter departing from Lyttelton Harbour to Quail Island on the 9th of February (rain day 10 February) at 11:15am and returning 2:30pm.

All proceeds from this event go back to Plunket to support the free services they provide to the Christchurch community such as Parenting Education, Coffee Groups, Playgroups and Music and Movement Groups.

What’s Included?

These discounted ticket prices includes return boat ride and sausage, and a goody bag for each child (0 – 12 years).

Adults are normally $30 each and children $15 each.


Family Pass (2 adults, 2 children) $75 + eventbrite fees
Adult and Child Pass (1 Adult and 1 child) $40 + eventbrite fees
Adult Pass (1 Adult) $25 + eventbrite fees
Child Pass (1 Child) $12.50 + eventbrite fees

The fine print: For safety reasons, there must be at least one adult available for every 3 children. There are only 80 seats on the charter. Under 2’s will be counted as 1 Child for the purposes of this trip.

Purchase Tickets Here



Quail Island Information

Quail Island in one of the best Christchurch day trips out there. Just a short 10 / 15 minute ferry ride from Lyttelton wharf, Quail Island is a wonderful destination for a family day out. There’s a walking track, old shipwrecks, and a lovely swimming beach close to the jetty so pack some drinks and snacks and of course your swimming costumes for a great family day out.

For more information about Quail Island and Black Cat Cruises please visit: https://blackcat.co.nz/quail-island-adventures

We hope to see you over there!

Mena The Penguin Dog

penguin dog lyttleton

Penguins in Christchurch?

Yep, we have penguins in Christchurch peeps.

Whilst you are probably aware that we have an abundance of wildlife around Banks Peninsula…did you know White-Flippered Little Blue penguins inhabit Otamahua / Quail Island….

A sub-species of the Little Blue penguin, the White-Flippered Little Blues are only found around Canterbury. How special is that!

A Penguin Dog?

That’s right a penguin dog! Well that is what we have lovingly named her. And just what is a penguin dog, you ask?

Well let us explain…but first we’ll fill you in on why we came to meet her.

The White-Flippered Little Blue penguins are ‘acutely-threatened’ and as such Black Cat Cruises sponsored Mena The Penguin Dog to make a visit over to Quail Island to locate and record the penguins.

penguin dog lyttleton
Mena and her handler waiting to catch the ferry to Quail Island

Meet Mena…

Mena is a trained penguin detection dog! Mena was accompanied by her handler Alistair Judkins of the Kaikoura Ocean Research Institute.

They arrived in Lyttelton harbour and took the 10 minute boat ride over on the Quail Island ferry to start their detective work.

quail island
On the look out for penguins on Quail Island

She visited Quail Island for two days on the 23rd and the 24th of October.

Mena covered lots of ground in order to try and locate the penguins’ nests.

Once a nest was located Mena would also locate the route the penguins would take from the sea to their nests.

quail island penguin nest
Bingo! One of the penguin nests Mena located

Mena managed to locate 6 active nests and was able to find the routes that the penguins traveled from sea.

This now means that they can keep an eye out for the penguins and help to assist their progression.

penguin nest
Mena doing her job well!

Far From Where We Need To Be…

The finding of six nests was an improvement on 2017 with 2 more nests then last years result when only 4 were found.

Whilst its a small improvement we are still well below the peak of 41 nests just in 2007.

Do Not Disturb

It is imperative that if you visit Quail Island and notice or discover a penguin nest..or even a penguin itself that you respect their space and do not come into contact with them or their home.

Enjoy the natural interaction of simply seeing a rare species in it’s natural habitat. Remember our latest post of the #tiakipromise? Lets help to protect the environment we all live in.

little blue penguins
A pair of White-flippered little blue penguins

A Rare Species…

 IUCN (The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) and Birdlife International classified White-flippered penguin as “Endangered”, and D.O.C. (Department of Conservation, New Zealand) as “Acutely-Threatened”. There are only approximately 4,000 pairs with around 2,200 of those found around Banks Peninsula…the rest on Motunau Island.

We were so pleased to be able to sponsor Mena’s visit and we will continue to make efforts to protect our surroundings and it’s inhabitants.

Find Out More And Visit Quail Island

If you would like to learn more about the White-Flippered penguin click here

If you would like to find our more about Otamahua / Quail Island click here .

Did you know you can now book your ferry tickets online with us…and you can spend the night on the Island in Otamahua hut!

Quail Island Christchurch


The bi-annual Akaroa event and three day celebration is back with a bang!

Here’s a sneak peak that Black Cat Cruises filmed from the last French Fest held in October 2015 whilst we celebrated 30 years of cruising on Akaroa Harbour….and be sure to read on for all the information for the forthcoming Akaroa event.

The official Akaroa French Fest poster as shown below is available to buy from the Akaroa i-site for $10 each.
Akaroa French Fest information below courtesy of Akaroa.com

Event date:
Friday, October 6, 2017 to Sunday, October 8, 2017
Brief Description
To be held on the middle weekend of the school holidays. Escape to picturesque Akaroa and immerse yourself in French culture, entertainment and romance as you celebrate Akaroa’s unique history (French, German & Maori) at the Akaroa Frenchfest. Settle in on Friday evening and relax with sea side dining. Watch the street come alive with entertainment, music and roving entertainment. On Saturday enjoy the living history reenactment on the main beach, the parade and official flag raising and the market stalls and activities all day. Saturday evening we have a ticketed cabaret. On the Sunday there will be events at Onuku this year. Like on FACEBOOK.

Event date:
Friday, October 6, 2017 to Sunday, October 8, 2017
Details and Contact

Join in the festivities of the Frenchfest street party, festival market, family fun day, Saturday evening cabaret and Sunday Family day at Onuku. An exciting three days.

Frenchfest 2017

Friday Night Street Party
Friday 6 October 6-10pm.
Children friendly street party with band Rhythm Method (local covers band) playing in the truck on Beach Road from 6pm-10pm.
That is the area outside La Thai Restaurant.
Lizzie Cook roving entertainment in the cafes which open onto the street.
Fire performer.
Children friendly event with things to do for the kids.

The Landing
Saturday 7 October 8.45am-10.30am.
A theatrical living history drama will enfold on the main beach in Akaroa.
Not to be missed and never seen like this before.

The Landing Details:
Akaroa Community Arts Council is proud to present ‘The Landing’ in partnership with Akaroa Heritage Festival Society at French Fest 2017.
This year’s Landing will be a living history re-enactment – we plan to create an 1840’s trading post on our beach – such as would have been there at the time of the arrival of Comte de Paris – local iwi trading with weathered whalers and salty sailors. How might our beach have looked on 19 August 1840? Who was there to welcome our French and German newcomers?
We are thrilled to welcome three very special performers to our stage; Jennifer Ward-Lealand, Michael Hurst and Nathan Bonner will join our community players to enthral, inform, entertain and guide us through Akaroa’s unique journey with the very first European settlers to the South Island.
Tents, crafts, costumes! We want our audience to come early, interact with the set and our players prior to the landing – kids will love it, play some historic games, tie nautical knots with sailors, join in with a weaving group from Onuku or listen in with an iwi story teller.
Wear 1840’s costume, grow a beard, enter into our costume parade and be in to win our Best Costumed competition.
We want visitors to get a real sense of the everyday life that these people might have lived, as well as what challenges faced the French settlers when they first arrived.
An opening waiata will ring out over the bay as birds fly. Come and join us as French Fest comes back to the Akaroa community.

This event is supported by all involved groups – Onuku Runanga, the Comte de Paris Descendants Group, Akaroa Area School, AHFSI (Akaroa Historical French Society Inc), Akaroa businesses and community.

The Parade
The landing re-enactment will be followed by the parade from the beach to the Recreation Ground.
The Canterbury Brass Band will lead the parade from the beach to the Recreation Ground.
Please note there is a traffic management plan in place during this time.

Official Speeches & Flag Raising
Official speeches and flag raising on the Recreation Ground.

Market Day
Saturday 7 October 11am-5pm.
Le Jour du Marché (Market Day) on the Akaroa Recreation Ground
Enjoy French inspired markets, games, food and
entertainment from 10.30am-to 5pm.

Market Day Entertainment
• The Akaroa Silver Band
• The Drew Peacocks Band
• Lizzie Cook & Band
• The Great Depression Band
• Canterbury Brass Band
• Lucky Lost Band

Plus roving entertainment.

Market stalls from 10.30am-5pm.
Bar available and wineries selling excellent local wine.

Activities on the Green:
• 12-12.45pm. Geology Walk to Childrens Bay with Dr Sam Hampton
• 2pm. Waiter’s Races
• 3pm. Cock Crowing Competition
• French Games all day
• Petanque Competition.

Geology Walk to Childrens Bay with Dr Sam Hampton
12pm-12.45pm. As part of the Akaroa Geopark stand at Frenchfest, Dr Sam Hampton is offering a guided walk / exploration session to Childrens Bay. The low tide is at 11.38am on Saturday 7th October. Join Geology expert Sam talk about the geology of the area; the explosives, intrusives and lavas. This is a free event to promote the Banks Peninsula Walking Festival in November. Engage and learn about the geology right next door. Meet at the Geopark Stand at 11.50am for a 12pm departure. Return at 12.45pm.

Heritage Area
In the main marquee during the day will be a heritage area with lots of activities, stalls and information.
• 12-12.30pm. Akaroa Cooking School cooking demonstration.
• 2.30pm. Ca Bouge Fashion Parade.

Le Cabaret Renault
Saturday 7 October 7-10.30pm.
As part of Akaroa French Fest 2017 we announce Le Cabaret Renault.
Don’t miss this fabulous evening of music, dancing and fun.
Joie de vivre!

Doors open at 6.30pm. Fun starts at 7pm.
Adults ticketed event with various bands and entertainers.
$25 per ticket.
Tickets available from Eventfinda, Akaroa Information Centre and the INFO Tent on site during the day.

Chant et Danse, Linn Lorkin and French Toast, Lizzie Cook & band, Bonita, Corner Sounds band and more! Surprises!
Get ready to dance!

Bar available. No BYO please.

While we cannot stop you bringing your children to this evening event, please note there will be some burlesque!

Whanau Day at Onuku Marae
Sunday 8 October. 11am-3pm.
French Festival 2017 Sunday Whanau Day will be held at Onuku Marae.
There is no parking for private cars sorry at Onuku so you will need to take one of the 2 buses that are leaving from Akaroa Area School starting at 9am. This is free. You can park your car on the Akaroa Area school grounds or on the street near the school. The buses will be going backwards and forwards to the school all day.
The POWHIRI at Onuku is at 11am.
Guides will be waiting to show you the way and answer questions.
The day will begin with an explosive powhiri hosted by Onuku.
(A $10 koha per head for the powhiri, a traditional tikanga).
If you don’t make the powhiri there is plenty more to enjoy. Interactive spaces are created to experience the world of Te Ao Maori hosted by whanau. Other activities will include creation stories, local history, local Maori artwork, historical tours by our tamariki and food preparation at the whata (food preparation area). Hear about how the french learnt to play an old traditional Maori game called Ki-o-Rahi.
An opportunity to experience the world of Te Ao Maori, swing a poi and eat hangi while you embrace the tranquil environment of Onuku.
There will be a hangi for $12 a head served at approx 12.30pm.

Nau mau, Tauti mai koutou ma. Nau te rourou, naku te rourou ka ora ai te iwi.

Other events throughout the town:

Akaroa Orion Powerhouse Gallery
Friday 6 October- Sunday 8 October 2017.
French Festival Gallic Offerings Exhibition
Francophile paintings, bric-à- brac, brocante etc…

Friday Day:
On Friday day we will be judging the Best Dressed Competition. The businesses will compete in this to show us their best blue, red and white colours!

French Flavour Storytimes & Craft
Akaroa Library
Friday 6th October, 11:00-12.00
Stories & Rhyme (in French & English)
Followed by French craft activity
Suitable for ages 3-7
Presented by Rémy Barbier.
Link HERE.

Britomart Reserve
• The Canterbury Brass Band play from 12.15-1pm on the Britomart Reserve.

• Lucky Lost band play on the Britomart Reserve from 1.30-2.15pm.

Red Bus Ride to French Fest:
1. French Fest Shuttle
Departs Christchurch – 9.00am
Returns from Akaroa – 5.30pm
$40 Adult, $30 child, return
Departs from Rolleston Avenue outside Canterbury Museum

2. French Fest Shuttle – Early Bird Special
Departs Christchurch – 6.30am
Returns from Akaroa – 5.00pm
$30 per person, return
Departs from Rolleston Avenue outside Canterbury Museum

Why not plan ahead and book yourself onto an Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise or Swimming With Dolphins experience to make the most of your Akaroa weekend!

See you there!


Clear your diaries folks!

It’s that time of year again when we gather in the streets of beautiful Lyttelton, wrapped up in our warmest of winter wear, to celebrate, be entertained, eat delicious street food, drink warm mulled wine or cider, listen to awesome live music and wait to then watch the winter night sky light up in splendour with an array of streaming colour!

Yes this Friday the Lyttelton Harbour Festival of Lights kicks off at 6pm prompt and we can’t wait to be there!

You may have already noticed some light installations popping up around Lyttelton. These will all be shining bright this Friday….

We have the full programme listed below with some highlights being a Kapa Haka performance by the Rapaki Whanau, live music from The Eastern, the annual harbour fireworks display and to top it off Lyttelton’s first ever silent disco!

Bring your dancing shoes and your best moves!

fireworks in lyttelton harbourFireworks kick off at 8pm prompt (new time this year) so we highly recommend getting there early.

Parking can be a real struggle so we also recommend catching the bus over and back if you can. Use Metro’s journey planner to plan your journey.

For complete information on all festivities check out http://www.lyttelton.net.nz/festivals/festival-of-lights or follow their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LytteltonHarbourFestivalOfLights/

Our Diamond Harbour Ferry service will be running as usual throughout the night. This will not stop at any point so we ensure all departures times are met.


quail island ferry

This sunday, May 14th is Mother’s Day in New Zealand!

We love our mums and to celebrate these wonderful women we are hosting two cruises on Mother’s Day in Lyttelton. Tickets are set at a very special rate, are limited and can only be purchased exclusively on Treat Me. So far the weather for Sunday is looking bright and sunny so here’s what you’ll get…..

  • Treat Mum to a 1.5 hour Lyttelton Harbour Nature Cruise on the Canterbury Cat, including a delicious She Universe hot chocolate!
  • Special Mother’s Day rates: $19 for a child pass (15 and under). $39 for an adult pass. $116 for a family pass (2 adults & 2 children)
  • Experience local marine life including the rare Hector’s dolphin, as well as stunning local scenery as you calmly cruise across Lyttelton harbour. Enjoy fresh open air views from the top deck or cosy yourself inside the main cabin complete with comfy seating and a fully stocked bar serving soft drinks, New Zealand wines and beer.
  • Choose from two departures available on Sunday May 14. The first departs at 10:30am returning at 12pm. The second departure is at 1pm returning at 2.30pm.
  • Departs from B-Jetty in Lyttelton – and remember tickets must be pre-purchased from Treat Me
  • Snap up some vouchers today for a memorable experience Mum will love!


Did you know?

We also offer private charters around Lyttelton Harbour all year round. We have plenty of options to suit all manner of events and budgets. To find out more click here


If you live in Christchurch and have always wanted to come on our Easter Egg Hunt…we have great news for you!

Our annual Easter Egg Hunt hosted on beautiful Quail Island is back….hoorah!

Join us on Quail Island over the Easter weekend for a wonderful family fun Easter Egg Hunt. The Easter Bunny is getting prepared to leave thousands, yes thousands (!), of delicious chocolate eggs with us. Tickets are limted making it the hottest and tastiest easter activity in town.

How Can I Go?

Firstly you must book your tickets with us. This can be done by calling 0800 436 574. We highly reccomend booking in advance as we sell out on every day, every year!

Who can go?

Our Quail Island Easter Egg Hunt is designed for absolutley any age. Quail Island is a wonderful place for familes and friends of all ages.

How does it work?

Come down to B Jetty in Lyttelton at least 15 minutes before your departure time. Our skipper will be there to welcome you on board the Canterbury Cat as you then cruise across Lyttelton harbour to disembark at the wharf on Quail Island. Our Black Cat Cruises crew (along with the Easter Bunny of course) will have hidden coloured popsicle sticks around the island. Every guest on our Easter Egg Hunt is encouraged to collect a maximum of three popsicle sticks which we then swap for your chocolate eggs on your ferry ride back.

Don’t Forget….

Find the golden egg to win a GIANT CHOCOLATE BUNNY. There will be one golden egg hidden every day over the long weekend.

The Quail Island Ferry operates between October to April each year.

Read our latest guest blog from Backpackerguide.nz for some inspiration

5 Quail Island Facts…oh and HALF PRICE TICKETS….

Don’t miss today’s Treat Me deal offering half price adult and child tickets to Quail Island.

We only offer these once a year and when they have sold out, they’ve sold out. Whilst we usually start our Quail Island trips in October we will be kicking off early with these vouchers in time for the Christchurch and Canterbury school holidays next week! Hurrah!!

Whilst today Quail Island is a wonderful place for people of all ages, offering long coastal view walks, a fantastic family friendly swimming beach, cool old shipwrecks and an information hut the island itself has a very interesting past…..

Here are historic 5 facts from our friends at the Department of Conservation

  1. Captain Mein Smith named the island ‘Quail’ after seeing native quail here in 1842; they were extinct by 1875.
  2. The island was farmed briefly in 1851 by the Ward brothers – until two of the brothers drowned in the harbour – and then it passed through several hands until it was used as a Quarantine Station in 1875 for new immigrants.
  3. In 1907 a small leprosy colony was established on the island and housed several patients until 1925, when the remaining lepers were sent to Fiji.
  4. After the turn of the century, when Antarctic exploration was at its peak, the island was used to quarantine and train dogs and ponies for Scott and Shackleton’s expeditions.
  5. The island was declared a recreation reserve in 1975.

A little fact of our own….In the year 2000 Black Cat started cruising passengers from Lyttelton to Quail Island for fantastic Christchurch day trips! We think its a New Zealand must do if you’ve never been.


For more information on Quail Island click here

For our departure schedule information click here

If you grab and ticket and head over this summer we would love to see your pictures. Remember to tag them #blackcatcruises. Happy cruising 🙂

Live Sunday Sessions at Diamond Harbour this Summer…..

Wondering what to do in Christchurch this summer? Well we have the answer….grab some friends or the family and jump on the Diamond Harbour Ferry to cruise across Lyttleton Harbour and enjoy one of the many ‘Sunday Sessions’ planned this summer….

Live at the point

The annual summer series of Live at the Point kicked off with a mixture of gospel, country and generally sweet music from The Eastern on the 3rd January 2016. They then follow with the dates below…

  • January 2016:
  • 17th – Phoebe Leyten and Nomad
  • 24th – Fiona Pears
  • 31st – the Brooms
  • February 2016:
  • 7th – Lindon Puffin
  • 14th – Los Farsantes

It’s the perfect afternoon escape for local Christchurch folk or for people with friends and family visiting Christchurch…and best of all it’s completey free

For up to date info, pics and more check them out on Facebook

The series was started a few years back after a group of local folk came together (any locals are welcome!) who have an interest in supporting the post-earthquake recovery of our community. The group has been established as a sub-committee of the Diamond Harbour Community Association and is known as SPRIG (Stoddart Point Regeneration Ideas Group). SPRIG includes representatives from all the local residents associations, and seeks to work with all local groups. Thier membership is fluid and if you have an idea or wish to support a project then you are welcome to join for them as long as suits you, or just tell them what you think

Sign up for newsletters info@sprig.org.nz

Phoebe Leyten and Nomad

17 January 2016

Phoebe Leyten

Soul singer-songwriter and recording artist Phoebe Leyten also goes under the name Lelijveld to showcase her magical mix of funk, blues and soul music.” https://www.facebook.com/Lelijveld-1431283623785233/


Christchurch teens, Nomad, have been winning over unsuspecting audiences, show by show. They opened for Fly My Pretties, Marlon Williams and Benny Tipene, and have played Lazy Sundays, Music in Parks Auckland, Festival of Lights New Plymouth and Queenstown Winterfestival. Aasha Mallard, Will McGillivray and Cullen Kiesanowski formed a band at school in Christchurch as 15-year olds and their differing musical tastes collide to shape their alt-pop/folk sound. They have just released the undeniably-catchy ‘Love Will Call’, written with Benny Tipene. Their debut, ‘I Will Find You’, was produced by Dave Dobbyn (who also features on guitar) and went to No 8 in the NZ singles chart.

Fiona Pears

24 January 2016

‘Electrifying’ – ‘extraordinarily animated’-‘featuring rare and natural charisma’.. These are words used to describe Fiona Pears, the highly talented violinist and composer from Christchurch. Together with her talented band, featuring Ian Tilley on piano, Pete Fleming on double bass and Mike Ferrar on guitar, Fiona will perform music from her own exciting compositions as well as some well known favorites. Expect a fiery melting pot of flavours! New Zealand born and now based in Christchurch after spending the last 10 years performing internationally, Fiona’s personal highlights include appearing at Ronnie Scott’s world famous jazz club in London and performing her own compositions and arrangements with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. Fiona has released six CDs and two DVDs to date. Her latest CD Swing Driven Thing was released in 2014 and is a mixture of her own compositions alongside passionate gypsy jazz. Fiona has also performed as a soloist with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and the Trust Waikato Symphony Orchestra. She is also a guest performer on the Cunard Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary cruises. http://www.fionapears.com

The Brooms

31 January 2016

Formed early 2013, the Brooms offer an eclectic repertoire of song covers ranging from country folk to pop and blues. Having a concealed number of years between them, their acoustic sound is diverse and infectious. Not 4, not 10, but up to as many as 14 strings plucked in poetic unison on bass, guitars and violin – yes – all this combined with lush vocal harmonies!

Lindon puffin

7 February 2016

Born in Christchurch and raised in Picton, Puffin first rose to national prominence as frontman of glam rock group The Puffins in the mid nineties. His music has been described as ‘a blend of heartfelt acoustic, country, rock and folk music’ and with a sound that compares to Chris Knox, Elvis Costello, and Morrissey.

Los Farsantes

14 February 2016

Los Farsantes (translated The Impostors) has become one of the most popular Latin bands to hail from “The Garden City” Christchurch, New Zealand, with their sonic melting pot of classic rock mixed with contagious latin rhythms and percussion. https://www.facebook.com/losfarsanteschch/

Island paradise (Just 20 mins from Christchurch!)

Have you heard about this little Island close to Lyttelton? No?! It is such an interesting place, rich in history and scenic landscapes all easily explored in one day. Perfect for a day out in Christchurch!camping on quail island

Let me show you where it is and what you can do there…..


Quail Island Ferry

Quail Island is a small island but Canterbury’s largest one, located within Lyttelton Harbour in the South Island of New Zealand.(Retrieved from: DOC, http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/canterbury/places/otamahua-quail-island-recreation-reserve/things-to-do/otamahua-quail-island-tracks/).

It is only 20 minutes from Christchurch city centre (by car) and easily accessible by the Quail Island Ferry from Lyttelton. Black Cat Cruises operate a regular 7 day ferry service to the island from October to April. In winter, from May to October, there is no regular ferry service as the island is looked after by the Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust.


Uninhabited by the New Zealand native peoples, it was often visited to collect shellfish, flax, bird’s eggs as well as stone for tools which explain better its Maori name “Otamahua”  which means “place where children collect sea eggs”.

Regarding its English Name, it was Captain Mein Smith who named the island ‘Quail’ after seeing native quail here in 1842; they were extinct by 1875. The island is 81 hectares in area, with a high point of 86 metres. It lies in the flooded crater of an extinct volcano so promises wonderful views of the surrounding Banks Peninsula.

While today, New-Zealanders and travelers enjoy Quail Island for its beaches, walks and peaceful environment. In the past, it had complete different purposes. Used as a Farm base from Europeans in 1851, it then became a quarantine station in 1875 and a small leper colony from 1907–1925. It was also a place to train dogs used in Antarctic expeditions of the early 20th century. To this day you can still see the remains of the kennels of where Scott and Shackleton kept their dogs. The island was declared a recreation reserve in 1975.

Things to do

quail island shipwreckIt is a small Island but you have got plenty of things to do: walking, swimming, picnics as well as a bird-watching barricade. It is a great spot to spend some time with family and friends and have a great barbecue. You can also see and explore the incredible ships’ graveyard along the Quail Island track.

Tracks that you can do on Quail Island:

–          Whakamaru Beach (Swimmers beach) – 10 min

–          Discovery trail – 1 hr

–          Ōtamahua/Quail Island Walkway (full island circuit)- 2 hr 30 min

Quail Island mapMap of Ōtamahau / Quail Island (Retrieved from: http://www.quailisland.org.nz/)

Kiwi Ranger programme- how does it work?

Really easy! You just need to pick up your free booklet from the Quail Island ferry, or the Lyttelton i-SITE (65 London Street, Lyttelton).

Then, enjoy your day discovering this amazing island through the activities in your KIWI RANGER booklet.

“You’ll be challenged to imagine living a lonely island life with no TV or Xbox, and competing in a race to the Pole. Explore the traditional values and uses of plants, and become a ‘word witch’ in a place that inspired Margaret Mahy to write. Bring to life a derelict vessel at the ship’s graveyard, and imagine the dangerous journey to collect bird’s eggs from high cliffs.”

At the end of your experience, do not forget to return your completed booklet either on the ferry or Lyttelton i-SITE and earn your Kiwi Ranger badge!

Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust

The Ōtamahua/Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust and the Department of Conservation are currently working to remove pests and re-vegetate the island, with the aim of eventually re-introducing native wildlife. Banks Peninsula tree weta have recently been transferred to the island – you may see custom-built weta homes attached to the trunks of manuka trees.

“Since 1997 dedicated volunteers have worked to restore the native ecology of Otamahua or Quail Island. Volunteer groups contribute more than 5,600 hours annually, weeding, planting and monitoring mice traps. As the plantings mature, the island is slowly being transformed. Native bird numbers have increased as trees mature and provide more nesting sites and a more varied food source” (Retrieved from http://www.quailisland.org.nz).

If you are planning on coming over to Quail Island we ask that you read our Environmental Checklist to help us maintain a pest free environment and protect our native plants and animals.Quail Island Pest Control

Trust Aims

  1. To facilitate the restoration of indigenous vegetation and fauna on Otamahua / Quail Island and provide refuge for locally extinct, or rare and endangered species of the Banks Peninsula region;
  2. to recognise, protect and enhance the natural values and the landscape character of the island;
  3. to recognise historical sites and respect historic values of relevance both to the tangata whenua of Whakaraupo and to non-Maori;
  4. to encourage public understanding, awareness and care of the island and its historic, cultural and natural values, and to foster interest in the restoration project through publicity and education;
  5. to recognise and accommodate public use of the island;
  6. to encourage relevant research on the natural features and cultural history of the island;
  7. through a partnership between the tangata whenua, Department of Conservation and the Trust to achieve each of the above and assist in the management of the island.

who help to maintain, re-store and preserve the natural habitat.

The Black Cat team recently visited Quail Island with the trust to spend the day planting trees. You can watch the video here….

Click http://www.quailisland.org.nz/index.php/support to find out how you can support the Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust.

For more details, please see the link: http://blackcat.co.nz/quail-island-adventures

anks Peninsula Tourism Operator celebrates 30 years in Business

It’s been a fantastic start to the new summer season for New Zealand eco-tourism operator Black Cat Cruises as they celebrate 30 years in business.

Labour weekend 1985 Ron Bingham and his wife Durelle officially started Black Cat Cruises with a single boat called the Charmaine over in Akaroa. Skip forward to today and they have grown to become the largest tourism operator on the peninsula operating 7 vessels across both Akaroa and Lyttelton Harbour.

This labour weekend if your birthday falls on Monday October 26th (of any year) you can cruise with them for free! 

‘’It’s been a great start to season’’ Paul Milligan, Chief Executive of Black Cat Cruises said.

‘’Over the last couple of weeks we have celebrated 175 years of Akaroa at the bi-annual French Festival, hosted our 30th birthday party with the family and friends of Black Cat, welcomed the first of this season’s cruise ships and to top it off received a new accreditation from DOC as the Peninsula’s first (and the country’s second) ‘SMART’ operator.’’  Milligan said

The 30th birthday party was hosted locally at Mt Vernon lodge in Akaroa where 100 guests including the Bingham family and Real Journey board members, who purchased a 50% share in the business back in 2007, were entertained by the 17 piece Garden City Big Band.

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Garden City Big band in Akaroa

‘’You usually receive gifts on your birthday however as an eco-tourism operator we thought it only appropriate to give back something on our birthday, so we gifted Professor’s Steve Dawson and Liz Slooten from the University of Otago with a brand new boat engine. ‘’ Milligan said

Professor Steve Dawson and Professor Liz Slooten, both of the NZ Whale and Dolphin Trust, were delighted to receive the keys to a brand new Suzuki 90 hp outboard for their research boat. “The new engine is a perfect match for our research boat and will be a tremendous asset to our work. The old engine was 11 years old, so it was high time for an upgrade. It is terrific to see a nature tourism company giving something back – we really appreciate Black Cat’s commitment to the dolphins that support their business” Prof Dawson said.’’

Liz Slooten and Steve Dawson in Akaroa

Over the last 30 years the company has become the leading tourism provider on Banks Peninsula. Re-cognised as New Zealand’s first ever eco-tourism operator they have won numerous accolades and awards including the New Zealand Supreme Tourism Award, Qualmark Enviro-Gold award, the Green Globe award, listed as one of the top 10 marine mammal experiences in the world by Lonely Planet, voted the Number 1 wildlife experience in New Zealand, made it into Trip Advisors Hall of Fame and earned the Moss certification (Maritime Operator Safety System) along with the newly appointed ‘SMART’ operator certificate from DOC.

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‘’Ron and his family had a passion for the peninsula and its marine inhabitants. To this day a portion of all of Black Cat’s ticket sales goes towards the education and conservation of Hector’s dolphins; the world’s rarest and smallest dolphin. We felt it was the right time to throw a party with Black Cat’s friends and family from across our region to celebrate success and look forward to a prosperous and sustainable future.’’ Milligan said

For the month of October you can also purchase an Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise ticket for just $30 when a full price ticket is purchased. Use 30birthday as an online code or call and book on 0800 436 574.