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

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#AkaroaNZ A round up of Akaroa’s 1st ever InstaMeet

Last Saturday Black Cat Cruises in partnership with Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism and Kiwi Instagrammer Kyle Mulinder aka @barekiwi hosted Akaroa’s first ever instameet….and what a success it was!  We were overwhlemed with not only the wonderful mix of nationalites from Kiwi to Canadian that attended, but just how far some people had travelled! I mean seriously travelled…on planes, trains, automobiles and even a scooter all the way from Queenstown. All to visit our beauitful Akaroa, meet likeminded indiviudals whilst sailing out on the Black Cat to see and photograph the sunset over the pacific ocean. But before we go anyfurther i’m sure a few of you ( like we all did not too long ago) are asking the questions…..

What Exactly Is An InstaMeet?

”A group of instagrammers all meeting together to take photo’s, learn and network” – Plains Fm

In todays crowdsourced content culture Instagram has become one of the leading mediums driven by a passionate, dedicated and inspiring community. For us that means we not only get to share our beautiful slice of Akaroa Harbour and the surrounding wildlife, but allow our guests to create and curate their own content…..and we love it!

Plains Fm came along to report on the evening and created a fantastic podcast you can listen to here.

So what happens when you put an award winning eco-tourism operator, together with their regional tourism office, one of New Zealands most influential Instagrammers and over 70 inspirational and creative people on a boat….Take a look….

And The Result…

For us the Instameet has created a brand new tribe of inspirational advocates that have created stunning content that it still pouring through….

AkaroaNZ pics

To view all of the images use #AkaroaNZ on instagram

The Next Instameet

Visit www.christchurchnz.com/instameet to keep up to date with the future events

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…..

Location:

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.

History

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

10 Tips To Survive Your Family Camping Trip

What better way to spend your summer nights in New Zealand with the family than pitching a tent and sleeping under the stars?

Banks Peninsula is full of scenic spots that are perfect for such an endeavour, and many people take advantage of that fact during our warmer months.

If you’re thinking of roughing it for a few nights in Canterbury’s great outdoors, be it in iconic Banks Peninsula destinations such as Akaora, Okains Bay or Little River then here are ten things you should bring to ensure your family camping trip is a great success:

    1. Pack of Cards – Or any other board game really. Stock up on the kids’ favourites to wind down at the end of a day of running around in the sun, or for that unexpected stormy summer weather.
    2. Wet Weather Gear – Even if the forecast is telling you there will be nothing but sun, with New Zealand weather’s notoriously unpredictable reputation, it pays to be prepared. If you’re in a tent, make sure the rain cover is packed away, along with the parkas and some extra blankets.
    3. Sun Stuff – On the other hand, the ever so bright (and burning) Kiwi sun can be almost as much trouble as an unexpected storm. Like they say, be sure to slip, slop, slap, and wrap when enjoying the great outdoors.
    4. St John first aid kitFirst Aid Kit – Bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers; all essentials for the travelling family. Every kid is bound to graze a knee or get a splinter, and being able to fix up an ailment in a jiffy reduces the worry and hassle of having to ask around for a hand. St John do a great range of first aid kits from ambulance plasters to an ambulance shaped kit. Great for your trip or for a Christmas gift idea.
    5. kathmandu solar chargerMap – GPS, Google Maps, or whatever fancy technological equivalent you may have can do the job just fine, until it can’t. Have a back up old school hard copy of the way to your destination to avoid getting lost or stuck in the middle of nowhere. If you prefer plastic to paper why not invest in a solar charger. Kathmandu do a great solar charger kit so you can stay connected.kids camping torch
    6. Lights – Nobody likes having to get up in the middle of the night to find the loo, only to realise the lights are out and there’s nowhere to find them. Bring a torch or lamp, and some spare batteries, to avoid stumbling through the dark. They’re also great for a game of spotlight. We love this kids camping animal torch from Typo!
    7. Sleeping gear – Although sleeping bags and pillows are a given, it might pay to pack a few extra blankets for those colder nights. Don’t forget the air mattress or cot either – especially if you’re after a comfortable night’s sleep. Or simply bring the whole bed and call it glamping..glamping

 

8. Food glorious food – A local Four Square or dairy is usually pretty helpful for anything you’ve forgotten, but for those more remote locations, prepping meal plans before you go can make a load of difference. Snacks are an essential for the little ones too as all that running around is bound to work up an appetite long before dinner. Don’t forget the utensils either – those beans aren’t much good if you can’t get into them!

9. Toilet Paper – One can only truly appreciate the wonders of toiletries when one has accidently left them at home before a camping trip. Be sure to double check for loo paper, wet wipes, soap, and hand sanitizer in your bathroom bag before you head off into the wilderness.

10. Fun – Not everything will go to plan, and there will no doubt be a bit of stress in the atmosphere, but try your best to go with the flow and make the most of it. There’s nothing quite like a Kiwi summer in the great outdoors!

For more information on camping in Akaroa and the bays check out this fantastic guide cortesy of akaroa.comAkaroa and the bays camping guide 1Akaroa and the bays camping guide 2

5 Fab Stops On Your Drive From Christchurch To Akaroa

Although it’s not a particularly long and arduous journey, it’s always nice to have a place to stop on a drive through the countryside.

Take a look at a few of these places on your next trip to Akaroa for friendly faces, local attractions, or a delicious bite to eat:

1. Little River

Little River is a great halfway point for stretching those legs on the drive over to Akaroa. Hop out at the main stop through the town and have a look around. With the Little River Craft Station, Little River Gallery, and the Little River Café all in one easily accessible location, you can pass an hour or two browsing and brunching on your way to Banks Peninsula. If you’re a little more active and have some extra time, take a day to get out on the Little River Rail Trail – a great biking track that goes along the old railroad – before heading over the hills. There’s also a fantastic campsite here, which is reported to be the most searched for campsite in New Zealand on google!

2. Barry’s Bay

Stop for a seaside snack in Barry’s Bay. Famous for its award winning handmade cheese, a stop in Barry’s Bay means a visit to the factory. With taste tests for delicious cheddar, gouda, harvati and maasdam, you’ll be sure to take a bit of time to stock up. Bring a few crackers and chutney and make a meal of it while looking over the water not far from the shop. If you’re keen on staying for a bit longer, there’s also the cosy Halfmoon Cottage. Just 30 metres from the ocean, its wonderful service, homely atmosphere and beautiful gardens, make it the perfect retreat for backpackers passing through.

3. Wainui

If you’re up for a bit of a detour then Wainui is a great place to unwind after a day of driving. The rocky beach makes for a lovely afternoon stroll, exploring the rock pools and sea life that live in the corners of the shore. The place is also great for a getaway from city bustle, with plenty of baches nestled amongst the bush for the perfect family summer at a quiet beach. Bring the boat or the kayak for a bit of seafaring fun, or take a walk up the hills for a spectacular view of the water.

4. Hilltop Tavern

Open from Wednesday to Sunday, the Hilltop and the Tavern are a great place to soak in the view and have a bite and a beer before you head down the hills. Coin operated binoculars give you a fantastic up close look at the Peninsula and the road ahead, while the Tavern does great woodfire pizzas and Kiwi craft beer to tide you over until you make it to your destination. Spending an evening at the Hilltop Tavern is also an excellent experience, with local and national acts often playing live on the weekends.

5. DuVauchelle Bay

A stop in DuVauchelles will see you get your first taste of French history before heading to Akaroa. The town was named after two brothers who held the land there after the French Settlement arrived in the 1840s. There are several historic sites, such as the 1921 post office, that show an interesting window to the past as you’re passing through. Or, if you’re up for a relaxing afternoon, get lunch at the DuVauchelle Store and Café, and dine in front of the harbour. Then, head down to the 18-hole golf course for a game that has some of the best scenery in New Zealand.

Akaroa Museum

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

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

Akaroa Museum

Akaroa museum

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

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

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

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

1.)    Akaroa on Holiday

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

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

Visit Akaroa

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

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

2.)    Mystery and Delight at Every Turn

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

3.)    Obscure and Obsolete Objects

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

4.)    Harley Davidsons

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

5.)    Disasters, Mysteries and Sensations

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

For further information visit the Akaroa Museum website

5 PLACES FOR A BANKS PENINSULA CHRISTMAS PICNIC

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

Picnic the afternoon away in style…..

things to do in Christchurch picnic

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

Quail Island Picnic

Things to do in Christchurch

Akaroa Domain –

Akaroa

things to do in akaroa

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

Le Bons Bay Beach –

Le Bons Bay

things to do in christchurch

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

Cass Bay –

Cass Bay Lyttelton

things to do in christchurch

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

Orton Bradley Park –

Orton Bradley Park

things to do in chirstchurch

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

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

BANKS PENINSULA CRUISING

Cyclists high on the Summit Road above Akaroa Harbour during the iconic race, Le Race. Photo credit; Tailwind Events

Banks Peninsula offers a huge variety of options to cruise on the bike, both for road and mountain biking. The area starting life as a volcanic island and the Peninsula’s two major volcanos’ have now sunk 2500 meters over a very long period of time, providing the wonderful harbours of Akaroa and Lyttelton.

Over time alluvium from the Southern Alps extended from the mainland shoreline to link up with the once isolated volcanoes, providing the flat areas that surround the peninsula.

There are numerous ways of attacking climbs throughout Banks Peninsula, but we’d thought we look at a unique ride that starts in Christchurch and finishes in Akaroa with a boat trip thrown in along the way.

Heading along Colombo Street towards the Port Hills of Banks Peninsula you eventually arrive at the bottom of Dyers Pass, just under the first two kilometres of this portion of the road up Dyers Pass is filled with thousands of very keen cycling fans in early January each year for the Calder Stewart New Zealand elite cycling champs. In late March each year the climb all the way to the top sorts things out early for the iconic 100 kilometre Christchurch to Akaroa Le Race cycle race, being held this year on the 23rd of March.

The gradient is quite steep in places but after you past the Cup and Emperor’s New Clothes cafes and the iconic Sign of the Tahake it flattens out into a nice steady climb to about 300 metres above sea level at the Sign of the Kiwi which provides magnificent views across Christchurch, the Canterbury Plains towards the Southern Alps and to the south across Lyttelton Harbour.

From here it’s downhill towards Governors Bay and then a left turn towards Lyttelton. This is really nice rolling terrain which is quite quiet as the road beyond Lyttelton has been closed since the earthquakes so much of the traffic uses the Lyttelton tunnel rather than this piece of road.

Looking out across the harbour there are great views of Quail Island, named after the now extinct native Quail (koreke) by Captain William Mein Smith. The island has a fascinating history; it was originally used as a quarantine station and as a small leprosy colony by the early European settlers.

From 1934 till 1975 the Island was leased out for farming and was then converted to a recreational reserve. Today the focus is on restoring native vegetation and the island is home to loads of native birds and the rare white flippered little blue penguins.

Recently the Kiwi Ranger programme started up on the island, a fun and interactive programme initiated by the Department of Conservation (DOC) that incorporates various sites, such as national parks, ecosanctuaries, heritage centres and reserves across the country. Black Cat Cruises run trips to the island and it’s a good chance to take a lunch and swimming togs for a great family day out.

Once into Lyttelton it’s down to the harbour and jumping on board (with your bike) Black Cat Cruise’s Diamond Harbour Ferry. Legend has it that Diamond Harbour got its name because one of the early settlers observed the sun reflecting on the water and thought it looked like a thousand shining diamonds. There’s no doubt that Diamond Harbour remains one of the sunniest and unspoilt destinations on Banks Peninsula and the ferry ride only takes five minutes across the harbour.

From Diamond Harbour, you ride east along some lovely rolling terrain until you descend into Purau and its very nice bay. Then it’s all uphill for a while with a long climb up the Purau Port Levy Road. Once at the top it’s a fast descent down into Port Levy – watch for the tight hairpin halfway down – and onto a gravel section made ‘infamous’ in the 90s by legendary road cyclist Brian Fowler who used to come the other way on long training rides during his tour winning days in the Tour of Southland.

It’s mostly hard packed gravel and mud which is just as well as it’s a steep five kilometre climb up to over 600 metres up Wild Cattle Hill. After riding through the barren hills scattered with sheep and some trees there is another descent of five kilometres and it’s finally back onto sealed road again at Pigeon Bay.

Pigeon Bay is usually a magnificent turquoise colour and a good spot for stopping to take in the views and get some food and drinks on board before another tough climb up the Pigeon Bay Road for six kilometres to the rim of the Akaroa crater and the Summit Road again.

Once again there are magnificent views, again in most directions; down into Duvauchelle Bay, back into Pigeon Bay and up Akaroa Harbour. Turning left and heading south along the Summit Road you are once again on the final quarter of the route used for Le Race, including a climb up to 700 metres and a head rush of a downhill down Long Bay Road into Akaroa, the South Island’s oldest colonial town and New Zealand’s sole French Settlement.

First stop is a good local cafe for food and coffee, then a chance to kick back and reflect on an awesome day out on the bike. While in Akaroa it would be a shame not to stay and check out the harbour the following day. Black Cat have been cruising the waters of Banks Peninsula for more than 26 years and is a must see Akaroa activity so finding their office in the Main Street or on the wharf is a good idea.

They know all there is to know about Akaroa Harbour and the diversity of marine wildlife, birdlife and its volcanic origins. You can swim with hector’s dolphins year round, or do an Akaroa Harbour Nature cruise. Black Cat Cruises helps create some of the most memorable experiences to be had on the water anywhere on New Zealand’s Canterbury coastline, and great way to round off two fantastic days on Bank Peninsula. If you are super keen you can always ride back to Christchurch via Hill Top and Little River on the main Christchurch to Akaroa Highway – its only another 85 kilometres.

CRUISE SHIPS IN AKAROA 2012/13

Cruise ships in Akaroa

Just a few years ago it would be hard to imagine a summer where 86 cruise ships would visit Akaroa Harbour. Akaroa always had a handful of small ships anchor in the bay and shuttle customers into the township.

The big quake of February 2011 was centred not too far from Lyttelton port and it’s remarkable the port has stayed open for its core shipping business, but the Cruise ships have been forced elsewhere so step up Akaroa!

Lyttelton will probably again be Canterbury’s main port of call for Cruise ships one day, but the port has already announced they can’t welcome ships in 2013/14 and its hoped that even when the port reopens that some ships will retain Akaroa as a Canterbury stopover.

One major difference between the two ports is that in Akaroa there is no berthing facility and ships need to tender customers to shore 100 at a time so logistically it’s a bit harder for the ships themselves.

Its estimated Canterbury will receive $35M in direct spend and that it will support 655 jobs. Not bad when you consider the total population of Akaroa is only 800, however many of the cruise ship passengers will find their way to Christchurch and other parts of the region.

Depending on which cruise ship company you talk to Akaroa is either the most popular or 2nd most popular port of call in New Zealand according to passenger research. Customers rate the little town for its atmosphere and beauty and is quite different from the other city ports such as Dunedin, Wellington and Auckland.

Many of the cruise ship passengers are from Australia; in fact over half of the 200,000 passengers in 2012/13 are expected to be Australian, followed by Americans, British and Europeans.

So what is there to do in Akaroa? According to one of the big shore excursion companies this is what cruise ship customers are doing with their day in Akaroa.

 

    1. Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruises (Black Cat Cruises)

 

    1. Swimming with Dolphins (Black Cat Cruises)

 

    1. Tranz Alpine train journey

 

    1. Christchurch on your own

 

    1. Banks Peninsula and city drive

 

    1. Antarctic Centre and city drive

 

    1. Walking tour of Akaroa

 

    1. Jet Boat of Waimakariri River

 

    1. High country tours and Lord of the Rings

 

    1. Paua Bay Farm tour

 

And of course over and above the excursions bought on the ship many cruise ship passengers take the time to explore beautiful Akaroa including walking the township, discovering the many shops, cafes and signs of its fascinating past.

It is a huge benefit for Akaroa to have the cruise ships visit the town. Over half of the town’s population are employed in the tourism sector and it’s the lifeblood of the local economy. With the downstream impacts of the Feb 2011 quakes still being felt in Akaroa it’s provided a silver lining to a dark cloud. Previously many visitors to Akaroa would spend the night in Christchurch and with many hotels out of action for some years yet then that market base has reduced.

The other huge benefit is that many cruise ship customers are talking about Akaroa with their friends, they blog, take photos and provide massive profile for the township which otherwise would not be gained. And finally many cruise ship passengers will come back again as self-drive tourists and we hope will once again visit Akaroa on a land based tour around the South Island probably staying longer and fully immersing themselves in the Akaroa experience.

Akaroa was and always will be a great place for visitors. The community has been hard hit by the loss of tourism business from Christchurch because of the quakes. However it has geared itself up to welcome cruise ship passengers.

CHRISTMAS PARTY VENUES & IDEAS IN CHRISTCHURCH

Here is a list of interesting things to do in Christchurch if you are planning and organising a staff or office Christmas Party this year.  If you think you have an idea to add to this list please add them in the comments below.

PARTY BOAT CRUISE

Canterbury Cat

Just 15 minutes from Christchurch lies Lyttelton harbour.  Brush away those cobwebs, get outdoors in the fresh sea breeze, watch the sun set while sipping a glass of your favourite brew.  Dinner cruises are very popular for groups of over 30 people and need to be booked in early to early ensure your favourite date. The perfect solution for that end of year office party.

Lyttelton Harbour at sunset

The Black Cat Cruises catamaran comfortably holds up to 80 people.  Lyttelton Harbour provides many sheltered bays and inlets to ensure a smooth calm environment and the natural beauty of Banks Peninsula guarantees an unforgetable event. A 2 course spit roast dinner on board is the most popular choice for groups and we are fully licenced.

A PRIVATE CHOCOLATE EVENT!

Hot Chocolate

SHE CHOCOLAT is a restaurant and chocolatier situated in Governors Bay with fabulous views of the harbour. private chocolate event customised just for you and the team – yum!

Combines chocolate, food, wine, chocolate play and other surprises into one event.  Fun informative and definitely memorable, be entertained by Irishman-Declan, a qualified corporate trainer as well as being  passionate about chocolate of course! They can cater for groups of between 8-50 people.  Early bookings are essential especially if you have a large group.

Adrenalin Forest

THE ADRENALIN FOREST

How far will you go?! Located near Spencer Park the Adrenalin Forest offers the most amazing team building “out of your comfort zone” activity available.  The activity is a series of obstacles, flying foxes and tarzan jumps set in the forest.  Test your balance, agility and fight gravity as you make your way around the course.  Fun and challenging at the same time.  They can cater for groups up to 100 people at a time.  A BBQ is available on site and flag races can be arranged to add to the competition!! Night time options are available with head lamps, adds to the excitement and adrenalin!

Other options include:-

Enthuse is a media and events business and can help you create a memorable Christmas Party or event from planning to theming and providing the actual entertainment.

Mobile laser Skirmish A new leisure and recreational activity that comes to your venue

feel free to add more information in the comments section.

13 THINGS TO DO IN AKAROA – ACTIVITIES

If you’re looking for somewhere to holiday in the South Island, Akaroa is a great place to spend a few days. In a post-earthquake Canterbury, Akaroa is unharmed and is a great place to go to get away from it all. Come try out the many Akaroa activities.

Banks Peninsula Walking Track

These walks are a great way to explore the Banks Peninsula area and there are different options for walkers of all levels. All tracks start and finish in Akaroa and trampers can choose a two or four day walk, staying in huts along the way. This sort of walking holiday is an ideal way to experience the remote sights of the Banks Peninsula.

banks-peninsula-track

Akaroa Harbour Cruise

Cruising the harbour is an ideal option if you want to see some beautiful scenery and experience some of the wildlife that Akaroa has to offer. Black Cat does daily cruises which give you a chance to see dolphins, seals and penguins among other things. They can also show you a bit of the area’s history by touring the volcanic cliffs and seeing some ancient lava flows.

03 304 7641
www.blackcat.co.nz

black-cat-cruises-akaroa

Kayak, Canoe and Boat Hire

If you want to have a bit of unscheduled fun, you can hire a range of water vessels and explore the Harbour in your own time. Kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, row boats and water bikes are all available and can be a fun and relaxing way to spend a day on the water.

kayaking-akaroa

Swimming with Dolphins

There is a lot of amazing marine wildlife in Akaroa and there are options to see some of it close you if you want to. Black Cat Cruises offer the incredible experience of swimming with Hector’s Dolphins. These dolphins are some of the world’s smallest and friendliest and will be an experience you won’t ever forget.

03 304 7641
www.blackcat.co.nz

swimming-with-dolphins-in-akaroa

Penguin Tours

Another option for those wanting to check out some wildlife is Pohatu Penguins. They offer unique sea kayak tours or scenic 4 wheel drive nature tours which visit a marine reserve in a coastal bay. This reserve is home to the largest Little Penguin colony on mainland New Zealand.

03 304 8552
www.pohatu.co.nz

akaroa-penguin

Pampering

There are a couple of options for spa’s in Akaroa which make it the perfect destination for relaxation and pampering. Akaroa Body Care or The Shunyata Retreat offer a range of services from day spas to retreats and are an ideal option if you’re looking for rejuvination and relaxation.

pamper-retreat

Wining and Dining

Akaroa is full of great little cafés and restaurants which are great experiences as well as serving a delicious range of food and wine. Whatever you feel like, there will be somewhere to suit your needs with each place offering something different to the next.

A Few Options:

 

    • L’Escargot Rouge-Deli to Go

 

    • La Thai

 

    • The Trading Rooms Restaurant and Pantry

 

    • The Little Bistro

 

akaroa-wine

Cheese Making

For a unique and delicious experience, Barrys Bay Cheese on the beautiful Banks Peninsula has something for everyone. Visitors can view traditional cheese making and watch a movie on the history if they want to. On top of this there are cheese tastings available and wines and condiments to complement the cheese available.

03 304 5809
www.barrysbaycheese.co.nz

barrys-bay-cheese

Farm Tours

For something a bit different, farm tours operate from the unique Paua Bay Farm. This is great if you’re looking for somewhere to stay or if you just want to spend they day. There are spectacular views and it is a unique experience of rural life on a traditional New Zealand farm.

03 304 7170
www.akaroafarmtours.com

paua-bay-farm

Shopping

You may not expect there to be much in the way of shopping in Akaroa but the area has a brilliant range of shops. Whether you’re looking for high fashion of something craftier, there are shops to suit. There are also jade, gemstone and crystal shops that are great places to look, and even better places to buy.

gemstone-shopping

Lighthouse

As the oldest town in the South Island, Akaroa has some amazing history and the buildings to go with it. One of these is the lighthouse which was relocated over twenty years ago and can now be seen in the Akaroa township. The lighthouse still has its original lighting equipment and is still lit on special occasions.

akaroa-lighthouse

Cooking School

A great place to go if you’re looking for something indoors is the Akaroa Cooking School. You can go in for private classes or hire it out for an event. This is a great idea for groups of all sizes and can be a fun activity if you’re looking to do something with a group.

021 166 3737
www.akaroacooking.co.nz

cooking-school-group

Treat Yourself to an Ice Cream

It’s the simple pleasures in life and what is summer without ice cream. Enjoying a couple of scoops of ice cream on the beautiful beaches of Akaroa will let you know that you’re really on holiday – no matter what age you are!

ice-cream

Image Credits

http:/www.flickr.com/photos/ajft/2217117159;
http:/www.flickr.com/photos/dipfan/617108181;
http:/www.flickr.com/photos/activesteve/5061201543;
http:/www.flickr.com/photos/nlcnet/4401722056;
http:/www.flickr.com/photos/chiotsrun/3715386044;
http:/www.flickr.com/photos/o5com/5824425017;
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceosanna/3016737203/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/purecaffeine/6156284209/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/stijnnieuwendijk/5927337531/