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

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KIDSFEST FUN – TICKETS ON SALE

kidsfest akaroa

 

 

Make the most of the school holidays and some awesome family time with us in Akaroa.

2 Kids cruise for free in Akaroa, with one full price adult, this Kidsfest.

Pay $95 and save $80!

And don’t forget we offer a Hector’s Dolphin guarantee and under 5’s cruise for free all year round with us at Black Cat Cruises

*Please note that no special offer can be used in conjunction with any other offer

Specials

CELEBRATING SEAWEEK

seaweek akaroa

seaweek akaroa

What is Seaweek and why do we celebrate it?

How much do you know about the seas surrounding our little Island?

Are you aware of just how important the ocean is to us humans, no matter where you live?

Whether you know very little or a lot, you’ll learn something valuable through the NZ Association for Environmental Education’ Seaweek event. 

Every year, in the lead-up to Sea week, Black Cat Cruises pro-actively contribute to the cause in a variety of ways. Over the years we’ve hosted scientific nature cruises with leading marine mammal experts from the New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust, offered special discounts to encourage more people out on the water, and even had a kids song written about the Hector’s Dolphins. We aim to reach all ages and inspire a love and promote a connection to the oceans that surround us. If we can teach just one person something about our ocean and the life within it, and convince them to take action in some way, we’ve achieved something worthwhile. That’s what we aim to do every day with our nature cruises and swimming with dolphins experiences, and that’s what we hope to do with this blog. 

 

Ocean Birds

Aotearoa is the seabird capital of the world. Of the 360 seabird species found worldwide, 86 breed in New Zealand, including 38 which breed nowhere else. 

Akaroa is home to many, such as the: variable oystercatcher with their distinctive long orange beaks. We often encounter them on our cruises, looking rather mischievous!

white fronted tern akaroa birdlife

The white-fronted tern is noble and elegant, with a black cap and forked tail. These photogenic birds’ population has declined massively over the last 40 years and are now considered endangered!

The fluttering shearwater makes a distinctive noise with their wings; it’s just as likely you’ll hear them before you see them coming! Even more so because they often move in large flocks, ranging to over a thousand, feeding on fish or krill at the ocean’s surface. 

And who could forget the world’s rarest penguin, the Yellow-eyed penguin? Only found in New Zealand, there are only 4000 yellow-eyed penguins left in the wild! Reaching a weight of 8.5kgs and height of 79cms, they’re about the size of a one-year-old child!

 

Ocean fish 

There are tons of fish in Akaroa Harbour. Fish keep the ocean birds’ and mammals’ bellies full, making them an essential part of the ecosystem. Professional and recreational fishers need to know the areas where they can fish, how they can fish, and which should be kept or thrown back into the ocean.

The Ministry for Primary Industries provides useful guidelines like this, which need to be referred to. 

Spiny Dogfish are a type of small shark commonly found around New Zealand, including Akaroa Harbour. They also taste quite nice and are sold by fishers in Akaroa. The fillet is white with a mild, sweet flavour. The dogfish is a small but mighty predator, not afraid to take a jab at a passing fish. 

Ever heard of a Red Gurnard? No? I hadn’t either, but here it is. It’s unsurprisingly quite red. Their redness has a use, they can startle predators by flashing their fins at them. They are known to grunt when caught by fishers hence ‘Gurnard’ which is old French for ‘grunter’.

Native to New Zealand waters are the Blue Moki.  They can live for up to 30 years and grow up to 10 kg. Blue Moki are caught year-round off the east coast, by trawl and set nets. They feed on a variety of crabs, shellfish, and worms, which they suck from the sandy or muddy seafloor.

akaroa wildlife

There’s also the distinct looking barracouta. Not only do they attack fishers and break lines, but they also contain many small bones and are embedded with long white parasitic worms. 

If you’ve ever been to the Akaroa Fish n chip shop, you’ve surely heard of blue cod. Only found in New Zealand waters. Blue cod are easy to approach for divers, however, they are known to nip fingers and even ears. They can change sex from female to male and males are generally larger than females.

 

Ocean Mammals 

 Finally of course, we have the animals most closely related to us humans; the different mammals that call Akaroa their home.

These warm-blooded creatures are different from birds because they produce live-offspring, as opposed to laying eggs. 

 

The New Zealand fur seals are often found on our Black Cat nature cruise chilling on the rocks. They dive deeper and longer than any other fur seal. Female fur seals are known to (occasionally) dive deeper than 238 m, and for as long as 11 minutes. Males fight for territory and the ability to mate the females of the area. Their young are called “pups” which sounds an awful lot like “puppies” in case you needed any more proof that seals are the ‘dogs of the sea’. Check out this DOC article for more on fur seals, including a sound clip of fur seals during mating season. 

akaroa dolphin and seal wildlifeAnd of course, this wouldn’t be a Black Cat Cruises blog without talking about the number one natural attraction of Akaroa- The Hectors Dolphins. The world’s smallest and rarest dolphins, only found in New Zealand. Their calves are the size of a rugby ball, and we take care to leave these young families alone as they have lots of important work to do. The Hectors dolphins are iconic for their rounded “mickey mouse” fins. They are curious and playful creatures when they’re not busy hunting in pods for squid, fish, and crustaceans. The Hector’s Dolphin populations declined hugely following the human occupation of New Zealand. And though things are getting better, more needs to be done. 

 

Playing Our Part

Not only is it fascinating to learn about the ocean’s habitats, characteristics, and inhabitants, it is also extremely important. The vast majority of our oceans are open for exploitation by fishing, mining, oil, and gas companies. Seabird and marine mammal by-catch, habitat destruction, and overfishing are destroying our coasts. Notice I referred to the ocean and coasts of New Zealand as “ours”. It is part of humanity’s vanity to assume the environment we live in is owned by us. This thinking runs so deep it’s​​ become a natural part of our language.

It is time we switch courses and help repair the damage we’ve caused. Organisations like Forest and Bird dedicate themselves to improving the situation and have played a part in advocating for full camera surveillance of all fishing boats operating on our coasts. This has just recently been proposed by the MPI. Check out their website, scroll to the bottom, and see all the ways you can help (there’s plenty to choose from). 

 

Free Black Cat Cruises Seaweek Event

music with michal

Hector's dolphin book
Hector’s dolphin Kiwi of The Sea Songbook for Kids

Last Year for Sea Week, we worked with local children’s music legend Music With Michal to write a song about Hector’s dolphins. A way to inspire the future generation of kiwi’s, and teach them about how rare, special and important they are. We launched them over a series of sold out Seaweek themed ‘Music with Michal’ cruises on board the Canterbury Cat.

We planned to repeat the same again this year, however with the current rise in Omicron across New Zealand we’ve opted for the safety of the families wishing to attend and moved the our event to a one off free live streamed concert. We are also excited to announce we have turned the song into it’s very own book!

The book is available to purchase online now and we are donating $2 from every book sold to the New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust. BUT IT HERE

Wednesday 9th March. 9.30am – 10am 

It’s a great way to get kids talking, singing and excited about the environment. Register to attend via this link.

 

Seaweek Merchandise

seaweek t-shirtSeaweek is always a great event, and each year they explore a cool theme. Last year was “Connecting with our Seas; Toi Moana Toi Tangata – highlighting the diverse connections and interactions we have with the sea.” They sell some pretty cool merchandise, 100% of which will go to supporting their cause. It’s a great way to help, and raise further awareness which is what sea week is all about! Check it out on this link here. While you’re there, check out the cool events they’ve got lined up on the main page!

 

 

 

 

Lastly, we recommend following these awesome organisations to keep up-to-date with conservational efforts:

 

#seaweek #akaroa #akaroawildlife #hectorsdolphins #conservation #celebratingourseas #nzaeeseaweek

 

by Josh Bingham

From Farming to Ferries: the Black Cat Cruises Story

ron and durelle bingham

ron and durelle bingham

Black Cat is proud to release this personal recollection of the key events and people that built the business into what it is today.

The idea for the video came about when Black Cat tragically lost one of its finest in a car accident. This video is dedicated to the entire team; past and present.

The Black Cat Cruises story officially started in 1985, but the founding family traces its Banks Peninsula roots back to the 1920s with a close connection to the Diamond Harbour ferry.

akaroa wharf

This video documentary traces the story from the early days when founders Ron and Durelle Bingham started with just one boat, taking 8 customers out for an Akaroa Harbour cruise, and charts the key moments over the following four decades.

Black Cat weathered the storm of engine breakdowns, devastating earthquakes, painful personal losses, and global pandemics to grow into one of the top cruise operations in New Zealand.

We delve into what it was really like in Akaroa in the 1980s. A time when much was unknown about how a year-round tourism business would even survive, a time of very few international visitors and interest rates of over 20%!

ron and durelle bingham akaroa

The 80s were also important because it marked the start of a journey to increase awareness of Hector’s dolphins. Whilst everyone knows how precious they are today, back in 1985 no one cared. That changed thanks to the efforts of companies like Black Cat and marine pioneers like Professors Liz Slooten and Steve Dawson.

We also look at the expansion into Lyttelton in 1999, the heart-breaking marina storm and the early days of running the iconic Diamond Harbour ferry, and the unique challenges of the 2011 quakes and 2020 pandemic.

Today as we head towards 40 years in business the family and team reflect on the journey they’ve taken together. The one thing that stands true is the importance of the people. Our vision has always been to deliver the highest quality of experiences, a culture of excellence, education, entertainment, and safety……and we recognise that we do all this thanks to our extremely passionate and dedicated team.

We hope you enjoy learning about the good times and the bad, and the story that shaped the company.

Today

Today we continue to advocate for the Hector’s dolphins. They are the world’s rarest and smallest oceanic dolphin, and only found around the shores of New Zealand’s South Island. You can find out more about our work and how you can help on our dedicated Protect Hector’s page.

For our customers we now offer all of the following experiences; Akaroa Nature Cruise, Swimming With Dolphins, Quail Island Escape, Ripapa Island ferry, Diamond Harbour Ferry

We also provide a curriculum grade Schools Education Programme, downloadable Banks Peninsula Guide, Protect Hector’s Membership and our very own Kiwi of The Sea kids book.

This video documentary is our story, and we’re delighted to share it with you.

tiaki promise Hector's dolphins               qualmark gold akaroa              doc approved operator     akaroa activity

SEAWEEK LIVE IN LYTTELTON – FREE LIVE STREAMED EVENT FOR KIDS

Hector's dolphin book

Seaweek logo

SEAWEEK FUN….

Every year Black Cat Cruises join in with the national celebration of Seaweek.

Seaweek is an opportunity to celebrate connecting with our seas….and what better way than instilling that connection with our youngest generation from the very start? So read on and discover the link to our free live concert…and our brand new book dedicated to non other than the wee Hector’s Dolphins.

Seaweek performer Hectors dolphins
Music With Michal

ITS ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC…

You may or may not know that last year we worked with local legend Music With Michal – a fantastic performer who writes and sings fun and (very) catchy tunes for little kids. Michal not only performed some Seaweek themed concerts on our boat,  but we also asked her to write a wonderful song dedicated to the Hector’s Dolphins. It was soooo good we even made a wee music video.

 

 

THIS YEAR….

Thanks to Michal and her super talented friend illustrator Andy Knopp the song has been turned into a fantastic children’s book which is now available for pre-order. 

AND

we are hosting a Live from Lyttelton free & streamed concert with Music With Michal. 

 

JOIN THE SEAWEEK LIVE STREAM ON WEDNESDAY MARCH 9TH STARTING AT 9.30AM UNTIL 10AM WITH THIS LINK

https://fb.me/e/4fK6KPLt5

PRE-ORDER YOUR BOOK HERE

Hector's dolphin book
Hector’s Dolphin – Kiwi of The Sea Songbook for Kids written exclusively for Black Cat Cruises by Michal Bush

THE BOOK

This wonderful new book is available on the Black Cat website and priced at $22.

$2 from every book printed goes to the New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust. So in turn we are not only offering education but we are able to further support scientific research and protection for New Zealand’s native and endangered dolphin, the Hector’s Dolphin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KIWI OF THE SEA – HECTOR’S DOLPHIN

If you’d like to check out the Hector’s Dolphin song you can watch the video right here… Share this with your friends and family who have a little one  🙂

 

PROTECT HECTOR’S…..

Another great way for little ones to get involved is by becoming a Protect Hector’s member. Membership includes a personalised certificate, Hector’s fact sheet and a plush Hector’s dolphin toy. Memberships are just $30 and available to purchase directly from our website here

Find out more about Seaweek events visit the website www.seaweek.org.nz

To find out more about Music With Michal visit her website www.musicwithmichal.com

Book a cruise to see the Hector’s Dolphin visit here – use code SEAWEEK2022 to receive a 20% discount. Remember under 5’s travel for free, and we have a fantastic dolphin guarantee policy 🙂

Follow on Instagram @nzaeeseaweek @musicwithmichal

Follow Black Cat Cruises on Facebook and Instagram @blackcatcruises

Valentines Day in Akaroa

akaroa accomodation

How do you spend the ultimate Valetines day????

We all know Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to spoil your loved one and create great memories together. Whether you’re looking to impress a new date or do something different for your 10th Valentine’s Day together, look no further than this blog! We’ll give you the perfect plan to make your special day an unforgettable romantic trip.

 

akaroa dolphins

First: Swim with the Hector’s Dolphins 

Book a morning swim with Black Cat Cruises at our website. Get over to Akaroa nice and early, enjoying the scenic views of Banks Peninsula along the way.

Maybe even stop for a coffee at the Hilltop Tavern, which looks out over the harbour. Once you arrive at the main wharf, our friendly team will suit you both up and take you out for a magical encounter with the world’s smallest and rarest dolphins.

There’s a high chance you and your loved one will be within touching distance of these curious and intelligent marine mammals. At this point, you’ll both understand the hype- the early morning, the tight wetsuit, the jumping in the ocean- will all be worth it. Plus, you’ve now experienced something special alongside your partner, and we’re just getting started!

 

 

 

Second: Romantic lunch

akaroa wineryBy now it’s lunch-time, and we all know it’s essential to keep the belly full to avoid any unnecessary ‘hangriness’. We have a few ideas on how to spend the next couple of hours in Akaroa, the choice is yours: 

  • Wine tastings/tours
    • There are two stunning vineyards in Akaroa owned by lovely locals. Both ‘Meniscus Wines’ and ‘The Akaroa Winery’ are great choices. They’re always eager to host couples, just get in touch with them in advance as it’s sure to be busy on Valentine’s Day. 
  • Intimate Dining
    • The Little Bistro has a great romantic atmosphere and is suited to a dine-in experience for two.
    • Ma Maison Restaurant and Bar is located right on the beachfront. Seafood is their specialty and they’ve been described as Akaroa’s ‘Hidden Gem’.
    • The HarBar next door has an open view of the ocean complete with a fresh sea breeze. This is a really cool place for a drink. 
    • Try the Mandela Restaurant if you’re looking for some quality Indian Food which is sure to keep you both smiling. 
  • Go for a picnic 
    • Perhaps you’re after a quiet, secluded spot for some one-on-one with your partner. Pack a blanket, basket, and some glasses, dip into the Four Square in town for some food and try one of these places below:
      • 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! There are heaps of flat spots to set up too.
      • If you aren’t opposed to the hubbub of others and enjoy an energetic backdrop, take your picnic to Akaroa beach instead. 

 

skate parkThird: Do something fun on land 

Now is the time to do something spontaneous for an hour. Go for a walk along the water, check out the ‘Giants Garden’ or ‘Garden of Tane’, impress/scare your partner by flipping some rocks over and picking up a crab or two. If you want more excitement, play a friendly competition of mini-golf. Whoever wins gets a free backrub later that night!

Check out some of the local shops. There’s a couple of gemstone shops that are always worth checking out. Pot Pourri is a general store nestled in the heart of Akaroa’s township. They also happen to have the best selection of homemade fudge I’ve ever seen. Plenty of jewellery stores around too, and it’s the perfect day to convince your partner to buy you something special.

If you aren’t sick of the water yet, and you’re an adventurous couple, jump off the wharf! 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. 

 

Fourth: Akaroa Harbour and Nature Cruise

Book an afternoon cruise with us and we’ll show you the rest of the harbour you missed in the morning. You’ll realise there’s even more to this beautiful harbour than just dolphins (but you’re sure to see them again too). Relax with your partner with the gentle rocking of waves, or hunt for the picture-perfect background for Instagram.

Our experienced skippers know how to balance fascinating commentary with periods of silence to let you soak in the rocky cliffs and blue water. Along the way, you’ll encounter Little Blue Penguins, Fur Seals, and maybe something even bigger than a dolphin if you’re lucky!

Check out our Instagram to see photos of a Killer Whale sighted last month. 

 

akaroa accomodationFifth: Stay overnight 

Turn your romantic break into a romantic getaway by staying the night away from Christchurch. 

Tree Crop farm has a collection of ‘Lover’s retreat’ huts which are perfect if you’re looking for something rustic and private. 

Te Wepu stays have a collection of Luxury Pods, complete with a personal spa out the front. It’s a little more expensive but well worth the treat for Valentine’s Day. 

akaroa accomodation

Sum up

You and your partner will make unforgettable memories together if you choose Akaroa this Valentine’s Day. We’ve given you some ideas, but it’s only a template. Pick and choose what sounds good to you and what you can afford. Still, splashing out every once in a while with your partner is well worth it, and you can’t go wrong with Black Cat Cruises. Book with us now, on our website.

 

written by Josh Bingham

World Animal Day – Celebrating and Protecting Hector’s Dolphins

akaroa dolphin

Today, October 4th is World Animal Day. It has become an internationally celebrated day to support animal rights and welfare and we are celebrating the Hector’s dolphin.

How World Ocean Day Started

The very first World Animal Day took place nearly 100 years ago on March 24, 1925, in the Sport Palace in Berlin, Germany. More than 5,000 people attended the first event, however today the movement is now celebrated worldwide. It was originally founded by writer and animal activist Heinrich Zimmermann, author of Mensch und Hund (Man and Dog). In 1929 the date changed to October 4. The reason was quite simple and nothing fancy…the Sport Palace in Berlin simply wasn’t available that day. And since then October 4th has been known as World Ocean Day.

As champions of Hector’s dolphins here at Black Cat Cruises we’ve included some fun facts, industry info and an opportunity to encounter our very own ‘Kiwi Of The Sea’.

akaroa dolphin
Akaroa hector’s dolphin

Hector’s Dolphin Facts

Hector’s dolphins are the worlds rarest and smallest oceanic dolphin. They are only found around the shallow coastal waters of the South Island in New Zealand making them a very rare and special native marinemammal.

The world wildlife organisation continues to recognise Hector’s dolphins as being endangered. They are very unique in their appearance, making them very easy to identify in the ocean. Not only are they very small (reach up to just 1.4m long), they also have a rounded black dorsal fin – just like a Mickey Mouse ear, along with a grey body and white tummy, similar in style to an Orca.

There is a also subspecies of the Hector’s dolphin known as the Maui’s dolphin this is critically endangered and estimated to have a population of only 55. The Maui dolphin is only found along the western shores of the North Island of New Zealand.

Given how rare this endemic species is we coined the phrase ‘Kiwi of the Sea’ quite a few years back…and even worked with a local musician to create a song to celebrate this magnificent marine mammal. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the first video below here in this blog – we warn you though, it’s rather catchy!

Hector’s dolphin Image by Mark Kitchingham.

Hector’s Dolphin – Tiaki Promise

Check out this fantastic video that explains just why Hector’s dolphins are so important and as guardians of our environment we need to ensure we are doing our part as a tourism operator to take care of them, and the place we operate.

 

Hector’s Dolphin Research champions

A great source of information for Hector’s dolphins, latest research and how you can take action can be found from the New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust. Led by Professor’s Liz Slooten and Steve Dawson as featured in our short documentary above, they are the world’s leading researchers and have spent a lifetime studying and campaigning for the endangered Hector’s dolphin.

They are rarer than kiwi’s and continue to be threatened by commercial and recreational fishing

You can TAKE ACTION or find out how you DONATE via their website here.

Hector’s Dolphin Education

Did you know we run a Hector’s dolphin education programme?

This 9 week curriculum level 3 programme is completely free and available to all kiwi schools and students. Our aim is to raise awareness and inspire our next generation of young kiwi’s to care for their place and it’s precious ocean inhabitants. The more we can raise awareness of the Hector’s dolphins, and how important it is that our actions allow us to work and live respectfully and sustainably together, not just for our time but for future generations to come, the better the world will be for it.

Watch this video for more info….

Protect Hector’s Dolphins

akaroa hectors dolphins adopt a dolphinYou can join our Protect Hector’s Team! We set up a way to donate further funds back to the education and protection of the Hector’s dolphins.

Joining the Protect Hector’s team cost just $29 and in return, as well as helping to support the dolphins, you will receive a personalised certificate, plush Hector’s dolphin soft toy and a unique fact sheet. Read more about and join our team here

There are also some great ways to help support both Hector’s and Maui dolphins on the Department of Conservation’s website. You can read more about it here  

 

Encounter Hector’s Dolphins in Akaroa 

hectors dolphinsOne of the best ways to encounter Hector’s dolphins is on one of our Akaroa Nature Cruise. We have some great specials on our website, including a fab family pass saving over $90. You’ll spend two hours cruising with us through the volcanic cliffs of majestic Akaroa harbour. Take in the sights, sounds and fascinating facts from significant Maori history, awe-inspiring geology, and wonderous wildlife. We often see a range of Hector’s dolphins, New Zealand Fur seals, coastal birds and more. Free tea and coffee are served from our downstairs bar area, and under 5’s cruise for free. We also offer a Hector’s Dolphin viewing guarantee with every booking, all year round. If you don’t see a dolphin (just a 2% chance) you can come and cruise with us again for free! Akaroa is also a wonderful place to explore on the stunning Banks Peninsula. It’s just a 90 minute drive from Christchurch so makes for a great day trip, weekend escape or longer.

We are an officially permitted by the Department of Conservation. As a SMART operator we adhere to DOC’s guidelines to operate in a safe, responsible and sustainable way with our marine environment and marine inhabitants.

SMART operators are leaders in sustainable marine mammal viewing through intensive staff training, responsible advertising, and education.

We are also the only cruise operator in Akaroa to be rated as Qualmark Gold, in addition we also hold the Covid Clean Approved accreditation from Qualmark. This means that our operations, training, staff and overall experience is of the highest standard. In addition we are current winners of the Tourism New Zealand award for Conservation and previous winners for Business Excellence.

Hector’s Dolphin Threat Management Plan

In order to ensure the long-term survival of these undique marine mammals the Ministry for Primary Industries have an active threat management plan in place. Black Cat Cruises were actively involved in advocating for better protection and support for the dolphins in 2019. You can see some of our work here. In 2020 there was a revision of the plan.You can view a PDF copy of the latest plan here

 

#worldanimalday #hectorsdolphin #wildandfree #akaroa

 

 

School Holiday Fun! Quail Island Treasure Hunt, Kids Cruise Free in Akaroa and Ripapa Island

school holiday Christchurch activity

It’s all go these school holidays in Christchurch and Akaroa with Black Cat Cruises.

school holiday Christchurch activityThe 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.

Quail Island Treasure Hunt – Adults go at kids prices

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.

BOOK USING CODE: PIRATES21 

 

Kids Cruise Free in Akaroa

school holiday deal christchurch

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.

Ripapa Island

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.

Ripapa Island

And remember under 5’s cruise and travel for free with us all year round!

We do recommend advance booking as spaces have been reduced to just 50 passengers per trip for Quail Island and our Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise.

You can book any of these experiences directly on our booking page here

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

akaroa dolphins

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!

Simply book directly with us online.

When booking use code FREEKIDS to receive your discount

*1 free child per full paying adult

april school holiday activity

 

Protect Hector’s – The latest developments

On the 24th June, the Government released its long-awaited plan to help protect Hectors (and Maui) dolphins. This is the end of a process that began 2 years ago and is the result of many meetings, plans, submissions and feedback from all – including the fishing industry, conservationists, scientists, and us, the tourism industry who make a living from our interaction with this very special dolphin.

The reason this is so important is that it is a once in 20-year event to help secure the future for these rare native dolphins. 

So, what happened? We are going to focus on the area off Banks Peninsula, our home patch, and talk about the changes coming in from the 1st October 2020.

1.A nationwide ban on drift netting

This is a good move but in reality, this fishing method doesn’t exist in 2020, so whilst it does ‘plug a hole’ for the future it’s not that meaningful.

2. An extension of current set-net closures, and the creation of new areas closed to set-netting, around Banks Peninsula. (see map 1)

The decision is to create new ‘set net free’ areas both north and south of Banks Peninsula – good news for the local population of dolphins.

However, it creates a ‘death zone’ in the space between these two banned areas, ironically in the area outside Akaroa Harbour. We lobbied hard to close this area to set net fishing too. Not only do we know dolphins are present there, but also it creates a worse impact by forcing fishing activity from the banned area to the unbanned area outside of Akaroa.

The ministers have proposed to ‘consult on further extending the commercial and recreational set-net closures around Banks Peninsula’. They have said ‘consultation is required because this measure was not included in options discussed with the public previously.’ There is no information on how and when this discussion takes place.

In addition the proposal does not appear to plug the current issue which allows recreational flounder set nets inside the upper parts of Akaroa and Lyttelton Harbours,  Pigeon Bay and Port Levy from April to September which we know are a clear threat to dolphins. That is very disappointing.

3.Increasing marine mammal sanctuary area around Banks Peninsula. (see map 2)

The proposal is to extend the sanctuary up and down the coast and further out to sea, but to be clear this is not a fishing restriction.

The main benefit to this extension is it addresses the risks of future seismic surveying and seabed mining by prohibiting new permits in the expanded marine mammal protection areas. To our knowledge none are planned here but it does prevent a possible future issue.

You can submit your support for this here (deadline 21st July 2020) 

4.Roll out the toxoplasmosis action plan  

This is a disease probably contained in cat faeces washing into rivers with the dolphins somehow ingesting enough to kill them. There have been some dead dolphins examined on beaches with toxoplasmosis being the most likely final cause of death. This may be an issue for the dolphins or may not. We agree it needs further scientific research and planning

5.No restrictions on trawling 

There are NO new restrictions on trawling at this stage in or around Banks Peninsula. 

However, the minister (of fisheries) wants to look at the ways trawling is carried out, such as trawl speed and headline height of the net, in an effort to further reduce the risk to dolphins while still allowing use of the fishery.

It’s hard to know what this means but we suspect the status quo will be retained, a disappointing outcome.

Conclusion

We’re grateful for all the work that has been done by NZ government officials into coming up with the plan and for the ministers for their action to date. Further protections have been put in place to secure the future of these dolphins so we can’t be unhappy with that. 

But we’re very keen for the ‘death zone’ to be closed near Akaroa, and to hear more about the trawling study. And in due course hear more about the real threat from toxoplasmosis. 

Thank you for your interest and support of Black Cat Cruises as we continue to lobby hard for further protections for our Hector’s dolphins

Map 1
Map 2

Banks Peninsula Beaches – Our pick of beautiful beaches in and around the Peninsula

With the weather hotting up for the next week ahead we thought we’d share with you our pick of beautiful Banks Peninsula beaches.

We think of Banks Peninsula as one of New Zealand’s natural treasures. With it’s abundance of bays and beaches we are spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a place to swim, relax and have some summer fun.

On the doorstep of Christchurch yet remote enough to feel you’re a million miles away here’s our pick of some the best Banks Peninsula beaches to visit this summer….

 

Taylors Mistake Beach

Taylors Mistake is one of the coolest little beaches in Christchurch that arguably sits at the start of the peninsula. The story is told that it is named after Captain Taylor who ran his boat and crew aground during the night when he its believed he was passing over the Sumner bar.  Others argue that he thought he had found Lyttelton harbour and was most surprised when the boat became beached. Bizarrely just six years later another Captain Taylor also ran aground in the same bay. Originally it was called Vincent Bay

The beach is very popular with surfers as it usually gets a more powerful waved than neighboring Sumner and so it’s great beach to come to for a swim, surf, body board or to simply catch up with friends and get a nice tan.

Taylors Mistake has a great set of volunteer lifeguards that patrol the beach in the summer months over the weekend.

The beach itself is cradled between the port hills so a beautiful setting for a day out

There are some fantastic mountain bike tracks in these hills and you may even spot para-gliders floating down from above.

You can also do a couple of fantastic coastal cliff walks either the Godley Head track on the right-hand side (as pictured)  and the Taylors Mistake Track on the left-hand side where you can walk back to Sumner. Just remember to take a bottle of water and slap some sunscreen on!

 

Photo credit – @wanderlist_diary

 

Sumner Beach

Sumner Beach is another lovely beach in Christchurch….bordering that of the peninsula and Taylors Mistake it’s definitely worth adding to the list! A top tip is to head out for sunrise or sunset, and watch from above Cave Rock! Amazing views, and you can skip the busy traffic on hot summer days.

It’s a lovely long open beach affording views of the Southern Alps and sometimes even the Kaikoura peaks hiding in the distance. As Sumner is a good sized open beach it’s great for a game of cricket or volleyball with friends or family.

There are some fab cafes and bars in Sumner which make it a great place to visit during the day or later on as the sun sets. It does get quite busy in the summer holidays when the suns out, but being only approximately 20 minutes from the city centre it’s an easy place to get to.

You can even take your dog to Sumner, however they are only allowed off the leash under effective control in a a certain area so please read the signs carefully.

Sumner is also being patrolled by volunteer lifeguards during the summer months over the weekend.

Photo credit – @wanderlist_diary

 

Tumbledown Bay

Tumbledown Bay is a small little bay, 1 hour and 15-minutes out from Christchurch via Little River. It’s a steep drive down to the bay on a dirt road so a four wheel drive is recommend. The views however on the drive over are spectacular, possibly some of the best when discovering the Banks Peninsula beaches.

Tumbledown Bay is generally a quiet bay so a nice spot to relaxing and enjoy the beautiful scenery, the beautiful ocean and the nice walks around the bay. If you are lucky you might see some Hector’s Dolphins swim by. Tumbledown Bay has small sets waves so it’s good if you want to learn to surf or just a nice swim.

Photo credit – @wanderlist_diary

 

Akaroa Beach

Akaroa Beach is a nice small tidal beach that is in the centre of the Akaroa township.

Akaroa is a just 90-minute scenic drive from Christchurch. With many things to do in Akaroa it’s nice to end the day with a nice swim and a jump of the pontoon. Bring a bucket and spade for the kids and simply take a good book and relax.

You might even be in luck and see some friendly little Hector’s Dolphins come say, “hello”.

Check out our recent blog about Ten Free Things To Do In Akaroa for some further inspiration.

Photo credit @wanderlist_diary

 

 

Hickory Bay

Hickory Bay is a fantastic place to go surfing. Being one of the larger Banks Peninsula beaches a 4WD is recommended for the drive down into the bay where you can park your car at the bottom and then take a foot track to the beach itself.

A nice wide beach with waves ranging between 1 – 12 metres in height, it is the perfect spot.

Or if you are feeling adventurous you can hike over to the bay from Akaroa and then hike back again.

Hickory bay is approximately 1 hour and 46-minute drive from Christchurch.

Photo credit @wanderlist_diary

 

Corsair Bay

Corsair Bay is a small little sandy / pebbly bay just passed Lyttelton.

With its close proximity to the city, in the summer the bay can often be packed with kids and adults alike.

The kids have got places to jump off from into the water, including the pontoon that sits in the middle of the bay or you can go for nice short walks around either side of the bay.

Pack a picnic, paddle board or grab some fish and chips from Lyttelton on the way and enjoy just one of the little gems the peninsula offers.

Photo credit @wanderlist_diary

 

 

Le Bons Bay

Le Bons Bay is a bay approximately 1 hour and 38-minutes’ drive from Christchurch.

It’s a truly lovely bay on Banks Peninsula with lots of other bays surrounding it so you could visit a few in a day whilst you drive along the scenic summit road.

Le Bons Bay is a bay where you can play in the river that is connected to it and where you can bring your swim stuff to and go for a nice cool swim.

 

Okains Bay

Okains Bay is probably best known by the locals as a great camping spot. It also has a wonderful safe beach ideal for all sorts of family activities.

It’s well known for the Okains Bay Maori and Colonial Museum which contains over 3,000 Maori items.

There is also a general store which dates back to 1873 and is still in operation today. Be sure to grab an ice-cream before you head to the beach!

It’s only approx a one and a quarter hours drive from Christchurch and 22km from Akaroa.

Check out the Okains Bay campsite website for more details https://okainsbaycamp.co.nz/

 

Cass Bay

Cass Bay is another little bay just around the corner from Lyttelton, so pretty easy to access from Christchurch.

Residents of Cass Bay have the spectacular views out over Lyttelton Harbour and towards Quail Island.

Cass bay is another lovely bay to visit in the summer with the kids or with your family or friends.

Bring the kids down to the water or the playground or take them for a nice walk around the bays.

Photo credit @wanderlist_diary

 

 

Magnet Bay

Last on our list of beautiful Banks Peninsula beaches is Magnet Bay. Another surfer’s paradise where you can catch some great waves. A boulder beach so be prepared….the scenery is worth the trip though

Just under an hour and a half’s drive from Christchurch it’s a great spot to check out.

A neighbour to Tumbledown Bay you will pass through Little River along the way.

Not recommended for complete beginner surfers as you have to walk out over the boulders to reach the water and the surf can get quite big.

Photo credit @wanderlist_diary

 

 

We hope we’ve inspired you to visit one of these beautiful Banks Peninsula beaches…share your snaps with us if you do by tagging @blackcatcruises We’d love to see your adventures in our local back yard!