Entries open June 8th only. Winner selected June 9th.
WORLD OCEAN DAY PANEL DISCUSSION
Our friends at Blue Cradle invite you to join them for an exciting World Ocean Day panel discussion this evening at the University of Canterbury from 5.30-8.00pm.
The event is free of charge and will also be live streamed so you can join in person or from the comfort of your own home.
Aimed for students, professionals and the general public, they will engage with experts and leaders in the marine stewardship space.
From climate change impacts to ocean finance, Indigenous knowledge, ocean literacy education, conservation, regeneration, the upcoming UN Ocean Conference and the Blue Economy, they will explore how to grow awareness and revitalization for the 71%.
LOCATION: University of Canterbury, James Logie building, 6th floor, room 613.
(limited numbers apply for in-person, otherwise select “live stream” and a link will be sent to you 24 hours before the event)
Organized by Blue Cradle in collaboration with the National Centre for Research on Europe (NCRE), this event is supported by the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO. Speakers will include representatives from nonprofit organizations, the scientific community, mana whenua, multilateral organisations and local government.
Event moderated by Steven Moe, Partner, Parry Field Lawyers and Founder of Seeds Podcast
Welcome address – Martin Holland, Director, NCRE/UC
James Nikitine, Founder/Director, Blue Cradle Foundation, Co-Chair, EU4Ocean Platform, EU4Ocean Coalition, European Commission
Dr. Carol Mutch, NZ National Commission for UNESCO, Education Commissioner
Professor Steven Ratuva, Director, Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, University of Canterbury
The top free things to do in Banks Peninsula are listed right here.
No one gets through a holiday richer than they were before. Here’s the dilemma; you have time off work and want some quality time with your family. Well, look no further than Banks Peninsula.
The place is brimming with things to do, and many of them are free activities. All you’re going to need is to pack some snacks for the roadie and you’re set to go….
Honestly, there must be a thousand places to walk on Banks Peninsula. It doesn’t matter what level of fitness or experience you’re at, there’s a walk for you!
The Children’s Bay Rhino Walk is a fun one in Akaroa. It’s perfect for families, with a few special surprises along the way (look out for the giraffes and giant rhino).
Walking up Stanley park can be steep, but it’s nice and short with a stunning view over Akaroa’s township and beyond. Plus you’ll pass some grazing sheep, and who doesn’t want to see that! Bring some food up here and have a picnic.
If Akaroa is too far, walk up to the PackHorse Hut from Gebbies Pass and have some lunch there.
The quaint hut sits in a small valley with absolutely stunning views all around. This one is a little bit steeper but still achievable within a couple of hours, and a great daywalk. Book the hut on the doc site here.
There’s also the Godley Head walk in Christchurch with the old gun emplacements at the end.
On a good day, the walk will give you sparkling oceans, classic NZ bush, and views over both Lyttleton and Sumner along the way.
Iconic Landmarks and historic sites
Last I checked, looking at beautiful cultural landmarks and sites was a completely free but rewarding way to spend part of your day. Banks Peninsula is full of great sites. Maybe you’ll see a good photo opportunity and finally be able to change your Facebook profile picture from six years ago.
Check out the iconic Akaroa lighthouse. From there, it’s not far to the Catholic and Anglican Cemeteries on the hill above. They are full of beautiful headstones of marble, and many are still endowed with new flowers.
Visit the Onuku Marae. The local Iwi does a fantastic job with the maintenance of the building and surrounding area. They invite all to share in their heritage and experience their culture.
In the small, hidden town of Birdlings Flat, there’s a really cool gemstone and fossil museum that’s totally free! Located next to Canterbury’s largest lake, the small town is known for gemstone hunting and they’ve built a really impressive collection over the years.
There are also plenty of beautiful natural landmarks in Banks Peninsula, like Newton’s Waterfall. It’s just 7 minutes away from Akaroa centre. I find the waterfall provides the perfect snapshot of New Zealand before humans arrived; it’s honestly very refreshing.
Experience the local food
I know what you’re thinking, “food costs money, what kind of blog is this?” Well, there are few ways to taste amazing food whilst maintaining the option of walking away as rich as before. It’ll be a challenge, but you might be able to pull it off…..
Pot Pourri is a general store nestled in the heart of Akaroa’s township. They also happen to have an amazing selection of homemade fudge. They’re always willing to part with two or three free samples, but I have yet to walk out of the store without a slice of fudge in tow.
On the way to Akaroa, in Barry’s Bay, is a cheese factory aptly called ‘Barry’s Bay Cheese’. They make a huge variety of top-quality cheese. They ship to cheese-lovers all over Canterbury and beyond. Anyone can pop into the shop in the front and try a few cubes of cheese, and learn more about the rich history of local cheese-making.
Lyttelton also has plenty for you, if you’re looking for something closer to home. Every Saturday from 10-1, the main street comes alive with stalls of fresh fruit and vegetables, free-range eggs, bread, meat, fish, cheese, juices, herbs, and plants to name a few. This is one of the best farmers’ markets around, set in the backdrop of the surrounding mountains and harbour. I’m sure you can find a free sample or two along the way.
Adventures with nature!
The final idea we have for you is to use the forces of nature to your advantage.
For as long as humans have lived in New Zealand, we’ve used the ocean and gravity in a variety of ways to create thrills.
Here are some ways you can do this for free:
Go surfing or boogie boarding in one of the many beaches or bays of Banks Peninsula. Taylor’s mistake near Sumner, or Hickory Bay an hour out of Christchurch are standout spots. Don’t own a board? Go body surfing instead. It’s a lot of fun in its own right, simply swim with a wave and let the energy carry you to the shore.
If you own a mountain bike, explore one of the many tracks at a level suited to you and your family. Haven Mountain bike park is just 30 minutes from Christchurch in the beautiful Banks Peninsula. These guys are passionate about pest control and restoration and it shows in the park’s stunning views. In the hills above Akaroa are the trails of Akatrax park. Their website has a detailed map with trails ranging from a wee beginner to an advanced veteran.
By the beach
Ever jumped off a wharf before? Either you have and need no more convincing, or you haven’t and this is the sign to do it this summer! Akaroa has a couple of wharves that are perfect. I’d recommend the one right by the beach, as it’s not too high and you can chill on the sand after your adventures. If you’re feeling brave though, there’s always the much higher main wharf you can send it from. Just take care where you jump, and assess the conditions first.
A personal favorite thing to do in Akaroa though is crab spotting! Along Akaroa, where the water meets rocks a little bigger than your fist, are thousands of little crabs. Walk along, lift the rocks, and watch the crabs scuttle away. I’ve been crab spotting in Akaroa for as long as I can remember. The trick to picking them up is to avoid the claws by picking them up from behind! Be sure to be gentle with the crabs and put them down in the water after a few seconds.
Kids Cruise Free In Akaroa
And this school holiday 2 kids cruise free (valued at $40 each) with 1 full price adult ($95). This saves at least $80 per family. Simply enter the code ‘FREEKIDS’ at the checkout between now and the end of the April school holiday (Sunday May1st), and your children’s rate will be $0!
We still offer free spaces to under 5’s and our Hector’s dolphin guarantee, so there’s no better time to get out and Do Something Autumn! Find out more here.
We know how much Kiwis love playing in and around the water in the summertime.
We flock to our favorite beaches to swim, surf, paddle board, kayak, sail, water ski and more so it’s safe to say we are a nation of water lovers.…we may even do a once-in-a-lifetime swim with a certain marine mammal found here on Banks Peninsula. But whatever it is we like or want to do……..
Nothing is more important than safety when it comes to our oceans in Aotearoa.
So we have filled this blog with heaps of helpful tips. Water safety comes in two forms that we’ll cover: safety for you and safety for our ocean environment.
Safety for you on the water
When you’re on your vessel, you have sole responsibility for yourself and others’ marine safety. If your vessel is smaller than 4.8 metres, everybody on board must wear a lifejacket at all times. Make sure everyone’s life jacket fits using the graphic pictured here. Even on bigger vessels, make sure you have plenty of life jackets for every size to hand. Lifebuoys are also great when someone goes overboard, as pictured below.
Another extremely important aspect of boat safety is obeying speed limits. You must only go 5 knots when:
within 200m of the shore
within 200m of any structure
within 200m of a boat displaying a diver’s flag
within 50m of any other boat
within 50m of a person swimming
on a powerboat, if any person has any part of their body outside the rails or edge of the deck.
It’s good to know that when you’re aboard a Black Cat vessel, you’re in the safe hands of a MTOC accredited operator. What does that mean? We’ve been through the rigorous process of gaining certificates of approval from Maritime NZ. That means they’ve agreed we have a capable and well-trained crew, we have managed risk hazards, our boats are running smoothly, and we know what we’d do in an emergency.
It’s a very good idea to keep clear of large vessels. They aren’t any good at quickly moving out of your way.
The Maritime website has everything you need to know about boat safety if you want to know more and here is a great visual guide on how to fit a life jacket safely.
General water safety rules you should always follow
Whatever you’re doing on the water, there are some universal tips to keeping safe.
Assess the conditions before heading out there.
Plan ahead and check the weather and wind forecast. It’s usually the WIND AND SWELL that can cause the biggest problems. A great free website or app for this is Windy. If it’s stormy or super windy, and the water is really choppy, don’t go out. If it’s getting dark, don’t go out there.
A great option is to GO WITH A FRIEND and have some way of communicating some-one on land. If you are going out alone tell someone responsible where you are going and what time you expect to be back.
You should also DRESS APPROPRIATELY, WEAR AN OCEAN FRIENDLY SUNSCREEN….and when taking part in any water sports ALWAYS WEAR A LIFEJACKET. Even in summer, hypothermia can still happen. New Zealand’s water isn’t tropical and the water gets colder the further out you go, or when you’re in the water for long enough.
If you ever get caught in a strong current or ‘rip’ DO NOT PANIC. Let yourself be carried by the rip as it won’t go forever. This way, you won’t exhaust yourself fighting against it. Once you stop getting carried, you can swim or paddle around the tip and safely get to shore. If you are swimming on a beach that is patrolled by lifeguards try to raise your arm if you can so you can hopefully get spotted and have one of the amazing New Zealand Surf Life Savers come to your rescue.
To upskill yourself in and around the water you could always join one of your local Surf Life Saving clubs. They have regular training sessions and best of all children can enroll from the age of 7 so they can help educate the next generation of young Kiwi’s on water safety. They even have a great page on how to stay safe at the beach any time of year which you can find here.
Safety for the environment
New Zealand is a beautiful country, and we’re pretty good at keeping it that way. But we all need a reminder every now and then, and we have to keep at it every time we’re outside. Black Cat Cruises is also a SMART operator, and that’s not just us tooting our own horns. It means we are part of a voluntary collaboration between DOC and commercial vessels that are involved with marine mammals. DOC gives us guidelines to make sure we minimize our impact on their natural processes. The principles are carried to all marine life in Akaroa, from the little blue penguin and the fur seal to our beloved Hector’s Dolphins (and any other visits we get from Orcas or Humpback whales!)
You can also follow these guidelines.
If you see another vessel near a marine animal, keep clear and wait for them to leave before approaching.
NEVER feed a marine animal.
Move very slowly and do not circle.
Don’t swim with dolphins that have juveniles (half the size of an adult or smaller).
Onshore, keep dogs on leashes near seals and give them space.
Don’t get between a seal and the sea.
Also, keep a lookout for any vessel (fishing, commercial or private) which looks like it’s breaking the rules. You can report anything suspicious to 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).
We are just a few weeks away from the start of the Bank Peninsula Walking festival. It kicks off on Saturday, November 6th and runs every weekend for the full month of November. Read on for full details, ticket info and how we support the festival each year.
This is an annual walking festival that offers a wonderful variety of guided trails, from small hikes to day long expeditions.
WHAT TO EXPECT
This year’s programme is expected to be as popular as ever with a great variety of walks to enjoy on Banks Peninsula. Join the continuing multi-year Kaitorete Spit challenge, take the family on a Kid’s Adventure at Sugarloaf, or visit the new Te Ahu Pātiki conservation park in Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour! Try out a digital ‘Our Stories’ walk in Lyttelton, follow in the footsteps of Akaroa’s Antarctic hero Frank Worsley, or join some ‘rock-hopping’ at Kaioruru/Church Bay with a well-known Canterbury volcanologist.
The great variety of walks offers something for people of all ages, abilities and interests. Whether it be history and heritage, botany or geology there is something for everyone with a guarantee of beautiful views and scenery along the way.
Each walk includes some fantastic insight from your local guide and are great value for money.
GUIDE AND TICKETS
Click the link below to access the full line up of walks available.
A lot of walks have already sold out! The Banks Peninsula Walking Festival are expecting all tickets across the festival to sell out, so jump in quick to secure your space.
Tickets are being booked via Eventfinder which you can access here
BLACK CAT CRUISES SUPPORTS THE BANKS PENINSULA WALKING FESTIVAL
Each year we are really pleased to support the festival .We have given the festival access to discounted tickets to Quail Island. Details as listed on the festivals website are as below for this experience.
WALK 15 – DISCOVER ŌTAMAHUA QUAIL ISLAND WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION AND TE HAPŪ O NGĀTI WHEKE
WALK – Wear sturdy walking shoes or boots. Bring lunch, snacks, water bottle, sunhat, sunscreen, weatherproof gear and hand sanitiser.
Start time: 9:00am – 1:45pm
Duration: 5 hour event. 2-3 hour walk for complete Island circuit (4.5kms)
Cost: Adult $25, Child $10
Hop on the Black Cat Ferry to enjoy a family day out on Ōtamahua / Quail Island, taking advantage of these discounted Ferry tickets!
The main track circumnavigates Ōtamahua / Quail Island and can be walked in either direction. The loop track passes historic sites and offers beautiful views of Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour. Discover the Island’s unique past as a quarantine station. See its historic stables and the ship’s graveyard. Try some bird watching, observe the Islands native biodiversity restoration project and ‘get back to nature’ in this beautiful setting. Te Hapū o Ngāti Wheke will be sharing interpretation of the island history and the pou whenua. Visit the barracks to view the interpretative displays illustrating the rich history of the island.
During your visit check out Ōtamahua Hut – the family friendly island accommodation, and get inspired to plan a future visit with family and friends to create your own overnight adventure!
It’s all go these school holidays in Christchurch and Akaroa with Black Cat Cruises.
The school holidays kick off this Saturday, October 2nd and run until Sunday October 17th in Christchurch and we know just how important it is to find a fun and engaging activity that the whole family can enjoy. Choose from our daring pirate and treasure hunt happening daily on Quail Island, or jump in the car and head over the hill to Akaroa for a two hour nature cruise as kids cruise free during the holidays….and if that wasn’t enough we have also put on 3 limited space trips to Ripapa Island happening every Saturday.
Come and find the hidden pirates on Quail Island and we’ll reward you with treasure. Limited time only for the October school holidays. Choose from a morning, afternoon or full day trip when booking Quail Island.
Adults cost just $15 return – the same price as a child.
Did you know 2 kids cruise for free (saving $80) in Akaroa in the October school holidays. Explore Akaroa harbour and discover majestic volcanic cliffs along with native wildlife such as the Hector’s dolphins and New Zealand fur seal. The cruise lasts for two hours and includes complimentary tea and coffee for mum, dad and the grandparents…along with a kids activity book on request for the little ones. There are two viewing platforms and a large inside cabin with a bar, seating and bathroom. We also offer a Hector’s dolphin guarantee. Did you know Hector’s dolphins are the worlds rarest and smallest dolphin…and only found here in New Zealand. The lucky thing for us is that Banks Peninsula is the home of the Hector’s and we get to see them every single day on 98% of our cruises which allows us to take you out again for free if you don’t see them 🙂
BOOK USING CODE: OCTHOLS21
Valid on our Akaroa Nature Cruise when accompanied by 1 adult paying full price of $95.
The little island with the big history is back for a limited time. Over the next 3 Saturdays once you’ve booked online you can jump on our boat in Lyttelton and cruise over to Ripapa Island for a fascinating morning of discovery. Check out the video below and if you haven’t yet been we highly recommend you take the opportunity to cruise over.
Please note that these experiences will only go ahead in Covid alert level 1 or 2. At the time of posting we are currently in Level 2 which means our Quail Island and Akaroa experiences are limited to 50 pax per trip.
Kids cruise free in Akaroa these April school holidays with us at Black Cat Cruises*.
We are setting sail every day, twice and day and you and the whole whanau are invited!
Join us in Akaroa for our multi-award winning Akaroa Nature Cruise. Cruise through a majestic extinct volcanic crater on board our large double decker catamaran.
As we cruise through this geological wonderland we’ll go in search of native wildlife such as the worlds rarest and smallest dolphin, the Hector’s dolphin, along with New Zealand Fur Seals, Little Blue Penguins, and many types of coastal birds. With unimpeded 360 degree viewing platform, a large inside cabin complete with free tea and coffee for mum and dad and coloring activities for kids, this is a wonderful way to spend a few hours of your holiday.
Each cruise lasts two hours, and we even offer a Hector’s dolphin guarantee. If you don’t see a dolphin you can cruise again for free!
If you are looking for a school holiday activity in Christchurch then look no further….
Best of all adults cruise at kids prices throughout the April school holidays ($15 return per person).
So what’s it all about?
Well, six native New Zealand birds are hiding around Quail Island.
These Big Beautiful Birds have been painted in watercolour by a local Lyttelton artist. Each piece of art has been blown up and printed on very large boards, so they look amazing and will be hard to miss. You will also be given a map to help you locate all of the birds. Each bird is accompanied by some facts to help teach our younger generation about our native wildlife.
So we invite you to come and explore Quail island and find them all, whilst learning about each bird.
Complete our fun fact sheet and we’ll reward you with surprise treats on your boat ride back to Lyttelton.
A boat ride, fresh air, education, exercise, nature and fun all rolled into one!
The April school holiday starts on Saturday April 17th and goes through to Sunday May 2nd, 2021
Boat departs twice daily from B Jetty in Lyttleton harbour.
10.15am and 12.15pm
12.30pm and 3.30pm
Online booking is recommended which you can do right here
Well i think it’s safe to safe we are all looking forward to a three day weekend where we can get out and #exploreyourplace in our beautiful backyard!
So we are pleased to let you know that we will be operating our Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise giving you the perfect excuse to take a day trip or long weekend in Akaroa. And for those staying closer to Christchurch we will be operating the Quail Island Ferry from Lyttelton on Saturday, Sunday and Monday #discoversomethingnewnz
We are offering a 25% on our Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise over the long weekend when you book online and use the code ‘UNITE’. As we are still operating with restricted numbers to give you extra space and peace of mind we highly recommend booking in advance #supportlocal
Under 5’s Travel Free
A reminder that under 5’s travel for free on our Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise and Quail Island ferry all year round regardless #familyfirst
Escape, relax and spend some time discovering a #purenz experience…..
The Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise will be operating at 11am and 1.30pm over these three days. Sat & Sun are fully booked at 1.30pm.
The Quail Island Ferry will depart Lyttelton at 10.20 am & 12.20pm, returning at 12.30pm & 3.30pm
We highly recommend booking in advance online as numbers are limited to ensure you have maximum space and peace of mind. Our 1.30pm Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise on the Saturday and Sunday are already fully booked Thank you to all of our customers helping to #backyourbackyard
You can view our booking calendar here. Simply select the product and date you wish you travel to check availability. From all of us at #blackcatcruises we hope to see you out there!
Well the Tiaki promise is a shared kaupapa (set of values, principles and plans which people have agreed on as a foundation for their actions) founded by New Zealand’s leading Tourism bodies and experts.
The Tiaki Promise is a commitment that both New Zealanders and visitors alike should follow. Most importantly this is in order to protect the country for our generation, and for the generations that are yet to come. What a beautiful concept we can all help bring to life…..
Tiaki In Action
The Tiaki Promise indicates how we can care for New Zealand, with five clear pillars for guidance as shown in this poster.
Such simple changes and small deeds can have a big impact. Therefore this might be as simple as…
Driving carefully on the roads
Being prepared for bad weather or a disaster
Showing respect to your peers and people you meet along the way
Protecting nature and your environment
Picking up litter
That great old saying of take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints is a great way to describe an example of that!
Count Us In
We at Black Cat Cruises have proudly made the commitment to be a part of the Tiaki Promise. As a Kiwi eco-tourism operator since day one we will continue to search for ways in which we can better our environment and experience whilst respecting our surroundings and the wildlife within it.
The coolest part is that the Tiaki promise is a call out for all Kiwi’s to become guardians of their home. By following this link https://tiakinewzealand.com/ you can find out a little more and show your support towards the Tiaki Promise and YOU can help by becoming a guardian of New Zealand starting today.
We’d love to hear what actions you already take and now plan to take to show your support. Leave a comment below and inspire us….
Seaweek is New Zealand’s annual national week about the sea. Hosted by the NZ Association for Environmental Education (NZAEE), Seaweek focuses on learning from the sea. It’s about exciting and inspiring all New Zealanders to renew their connections with the sea! Not just for children or those involved with formal education – it’s a time for all of us to get to know our ocean, its habitats, characteristics and inhabitants better.
25 February to 5 March 2017, daily at 3.40pm
Every day during Seaweek take up the offer of a discounted wildlife cruise on our large, spacious and modern catamaran. On the cruise you can view the natural wonders of Akaroa Harbour such as volcanic outcrops & caves, as well as White Flippered Blue Penguin, shags and the worlds rarest and smallest oceanic dolphin, the Hector’s Dolphin.
There’s lots of room on the two decks for unimpeded viewing and plenty of covered seating, for shade and shelter. Inside there’s a drink and snack bar as well as toilets. Our Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise is fully narrated by the skipper who has extensive knowledge of the nature, wildlife and history of the harbour.
50% off the normal Akaroa Nature Cruise price i.e down to Adult $37.50 & Child $15.00 – must book directly by phone 0800 4 DOLPHINS or in store.
Saturday 25 February and Saturday 4- Sunday 5 March 2017 from1.30-3pm departing from B Jetty Lyttelton
Enjoy a relaxing and informative 90 minute cruise of Lyttelton Harbour – this Lyttelton special harbour cruise is only available over both weekends of Seaweek.
A fantastic way to explore your back yard with friends or family for a very special one off price.