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

Category Archives: Wildlife Spotting

This Must Be Underwater Love

Black Cat Cruises is the only company in the world that I have taken a day off as holiday to spend….at work!

Well I mean when your company is an eco-toursim operator that offers world class dolphin cruise’s and swimming in the wild with the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin’s set in an extinct volcainc crater…wouldn’t you?

I’ve told friends and colleagues this before much to their amusement and understanding…and it seems it’s not just me at Black Cat that does this.

Last week our dolphin swim skipper Julian arrived at work extra early to join our early morning Swimming WIth Dolphins trip as a guest.

He bought along his GoPro to snap some pictures as he knows first hand how many awesome pictures our photographers and guests can get when out on the water with us.

Julian managed to snap a lot of his pictures underwater and they are pretty darn good…so good we thought we’d give you a little sneak peak at them…..we hope you enjoy them and if you do leave Julian a little comment below 🙂

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The Hector’s dolphins are one of the most playful and enquisitive oceanic species of dolphin

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Here’s looking at you…

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Bathing in sunlight just below the surface as a swimmer looks on from the right hand corner.

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Typically Hector’s swim in pods of between 2 – 12 however can come together to group in 100 at any one time

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The have distinct white bellies (similar to that of an orca)….

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and black rounded dorsal fins that remind us of a Mickey Mouse ear. Can you spot the second dolphin in this image?

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Julian making the most of his day before heading to work…on the boat in the background 🙂

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You can see just how close a Hector’s Dolphin can swim up to you in this picture as it cruises past a swimmer who is treading water. As one of New Zealand’s first ever eco-tourism operators and a certified SMART and DOC approved operator we ensure that our staff educate our guests on how to behave when encountering the dolphins in the wild. We do not track, feed, chase and touch them. We allow them to come to us on their terms and in their time. Its part of the magic of being allowed into their world and experiencing something extremeley special and unique.

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Dolphins, just like us humans, need air to breathe, The biggest threat to their species population is getting caught in fishing nets. We donate a portion from every dolphin swim and nature cruise towards the education and research of Hector’s dolphins to help save them from extinction.

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The image below is possibly one of our favourite shots. Taken just below the surface of the ocean you can see by the bend in the Hector’s dolphins tail that it’s about to take a dive…

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FIRST ENDANGERED HECTOR’S DOLPHIN CALF OF THE SEASON SPOTTED IN AKAROA HARBOUR, BANKS PENINSULA

he next generation of the world’s rarest dolphin species has been captured in photos and on video!

See our exclusive images and video content below….

International passengers from the cruise ship Dawn Princess who were on a Black Cat Cruises, Akaroa Harbour cruise or Swimming with Dolphins cruise were delighted to spot the first Hector’s Dolphin calf of the season yesterday (Sunday 29 November).Baby Hectors dolphin calf and mother by Krystal

Black Cat Cruises Sales & Marketing Manager Natasha Lombart says the crew spotted four adults and a baby calf in the upper harbour near Wainui.

Image by Crew member Krystal“Seeing dolphin calves is brilliant, as Hector’s Dolphins are endangered so it is a real thrill for both our crew and passengers to spot the first baby this season.

“We are always so excited when calves are spotted as Hector’s Dolphins are classified as endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Because of their coastal habitat and slow reproductive rate they are particularly vulnerable to entanglement in fishing gear, especially gill nets, so spotting the first calf today is a real milestone.”

Black Cat Cruises skipper Julian Yates said four adult Hector Dolphins were spotted in lovely clean water at Wainui and as they moved around they realised that a baby calf was with them.

“ The calf looked around just four weeks old, you can tell their age by the folds in their skin which help indicate how young the calf is, ” says Yates.Hectors dolphin with folds on skin by Helen

“Most of our passengers on both of our cruises today were international guests from the Cruise Ship so they were really excited to see such a rare species of new born baby. It was a real treat and so delightful. The dolphins were really friendly and kept coming up to the boat.”

Females usually have one calf every two to three years. The calves are 50 to 60 centimetres long at birth and stay close to their mothers who provide them with milk and protection for about a year until they are old enough to fend for themselves. Hector’s Dolphins are among the most endangered dolphins in the world.

 

Akaroa rare wildlife encounter by TimmyThe company has just celebrated 30 years in business and huge growth in passenger numbers over that time. In its first year in 1985 Black Cat carried less than 3,000 passengers but that annual number is now over the 3.5 million mark.

The operator is adding extra services for the summer months at a time when Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism (CCT) chief executive Tim Hunter predicts tourism numbers into Canterbury could hit record levels.

“Canterbury, particularly in terms of international visitors, will probably have a record number this year,” Hunter says.

“With the increase in the number of visitor arrivals growing at 7-8 per cent a year at the moment, and more international air services into New Zealand, it is certainly likely to be the best outcome we’ve seen for some time,” Hunter says.

This visitor growth bodes well for Black Cat Cruises.

Click below to play the exclusive video footage the team captured on Akaroa Harbour

Play dolphin video

#Akaroa…Top Tips for Instagram

Here’s our quick run down of what it is, why we love it and how to make the most of it…….

So what is Instagram?

Instagram is the leading social media platform for sharing images. When it launched back in 2010 it had 1 million followers in its first month alone, so it’s no surprise that it’s become so very, very popular. Anyone can set up an account. Simply download the @instagram app onto your phone, register with your user name (for example we are @blackcatcruises) and voila…you are ready to go.

bingsamo photograph of hectors dolphins pod in Akaroablackcatcruises hectors dolphin imagedoggovtnz rangers at work within the marine reserveFrancis akaroa snaphylahyla akaroa montagewill herbie in Akaroa

Why use it?

We love using it to showcase our akaroa wildlife, peninsula scenery and behind the scene pics, however it’s also a great platform to view amazing photography and images. Whatever your interest, hobby or passion Instagram most likely has a # for it!

Tips and Tricks?

Recently the team at Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism  (@christchurchnz) held a networking event where they invited expert instagrammer Lauren Bath (@laurenpbath) to share her Instagram tips and tricks. With 443,000 followers Lauren sure knows a thing or two about taking great pics and making instagram work for you….here are her top tips…

1) Content

The quality of your content will directly affect the traffic to your Instagram

page. Attempt to post only the highest quality photo or video that you are

capable of producing and use editing tools to polish them, even if they’re just mobile applications like “Snapseed”. At the very least most images should be cropped square, straightened and colour adjustments made.

2) Consistency

Be very consistent with your Instagram habits. Be consistent with the quality

of your posts. Main points to consider regarding consistency

* How many times you post per day (I recommend 2-4 but separate each post by at least 3 hours)

* How much you engage when you are on the platform, give back!

* Keep the quality and style of your content consistent

3) Personality

Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Write interesting captions that share a little of your personality and story.

4) Use Hashtags

Use a relevant group of hashtags and I recommend using between 20-30 per post. Very important : Don’t use these hashtags in your caption. Create a note of hashtags and paste these into a comment box BELOW your caption. Keep on top of the hashtags that are relevant to you and popular, resist using hashtags like #follow4follow. I use a combination of popular travel tags, feature account tags and image specific tags.

5) Engage!

Engagement is right up there with content. The more you engage with other

Instagram users the more you will see engagement come back to you. Be social, social media is a two way street! Network, like, comment,fFollow relevant accounts.

6) Bio

Make sure you have a strong profile photo and some relevant information in your bio along with a contact if you want to be easily contactable.

7) Have fun

Try to enjoy the platform and the experience. If you only use Instagram to gain followers the interactions you have aren’t organic and genuine. Share your story, share a bit of yourself and enjoy.

Black Cat Recommends

One of the most followed accounts on instagram is National Geographic with 34.9 million followers. Find them via thier hashtage @natgeo.(first image by @arni_coraldo via @natgeo)….and a few of their photgraphers @cristinamittermeier (second image below) and @paulnicklen (bottom image)

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Follow us @blackcatcruises and #blackcatcruises to share your Akaroa  and Banks Peninsula adventures with us!

Akaroa business a SMART operator

We are over the moon to be awarded the SMART operator certificate from the Department of Conservation!

Akaroa business Black Cat Cruises have become the first business in Banks Peninsula, and the second in the country, to sign up to the SMART Operator programme in an initiative developed by the Department of Conservation (DOC) to increase the protection of marine mammals.

 

SMART Operators, an acronym for “Sustainable Marine Mammal Actions in Recreation and Tourism”, lead by example by committing to activities that have minimal disturbance on whales, dolphins and seals. Commercial operators are able to achieve this by undertaking staff training around the Marine Mammals Protection Regulations, guarantee responsible advertising and help educate the public about best practice boating around marine mammals.

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DOC Ranger Derek Cox was pleased to have Black Cat Cruises as the first SMART Operator in Banks Peninsula. “Black Cat Cruises approached DOC earlier in the year requesting that we hosted the SMART training course in Akaroa, and they have now become the first SMART Operator – this really demonstrates to us that they are the right operators to be leaders in this community”.

 

“As more people want to have that special encounter with marine mammals, they are putting increasing pressure on them, potentially to the detriment of the very thing they love. DOC is looking for new ways of reducing this pressure and Black Cat Cruises will be able to assist with that”.

 

Black Cat Cruises Chief Executive Paul Milligan thought becoming a SMART Operator was a “no brainer”.  “We have been operating on Akaroa Harbour for 30 years now and as the largest operator on the harbour, it’s important for us to work with DOC to ensure that we minimise any impacts on our environment and the Marine Mammals we interact with, such as the endangered Hector’s Dolphin.”

 

“The SMART Operator initiative reassures DOC that we are operating responsibly and gives our customers the confidence that we take what we do seriously and strive to be a leader in the eco-tourism space.”

Hector's dolphin akaroa harbour

 

DOC intends the SMART Operator programme to be extended around the country in the future.

Akaroa makes it on TV with two rare wildlife sightings during Seaweek

Bottlenose dolphins and a ginger seal make rare ‘once in a lifetime’ Akaroa visit

Akaroa was treated to a rare ‘once in a lifetime’ sight of a pod of Bottlenose dolphins close to the town’s main wharf yesterday, well within sight of the town’s locals and visitors sitting in cafes on the waterfront.bottlenose dolphin in Akaroa

“It’s a fantastic sighting,” Black Cat Cruises Sales & Marketing Manager Natasha Lombart said. “We’ve never had them (Bottlenose dolphins) visit the main wharf before, or seen so many around the harbour; it just doesn’t happen”  The rarity of the sightings made it onto TV One Breakfast news. Local Christchurch reporter Holly Carran helped to share the story with thousands of viewers…..Tv one Breakfast news features Akaroa

The area is well known for the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin the Hector’s dolphin, but sighting of large numbers of Bottlenose dolphins is rare for the area.

“Our job is to show people the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin every day, something uniquely special in itself, however this season we have had such a treat with rare wildlife as well as Orca, Hector calves and even a ginger seal pup that was seen happily playing with its sleek fur seal playmates last week.”BCAK BCAK 2015 03 03 C1640 1945

Lombart said it had really been a ‘special summer’ with so many rare and unique sightings. “In a very rare sight, a female Orca and her two calves were seen playing with a pod of Hector’s dolphins late last year, last week was the first time anyone has ever seen a ginger seal and there’s been a few dolphin calves in the harbour which always great news for the endangered species.”

The pod of between 20 and 30 Bottlenose dolphins included several calves and have been sighted at various spots in the harbour this week.DSC 0008

“Customers and staff on our Akaroa Harbour Cruise were very excited,” Lombart said. “They said you could even hear their sounds. It really is a very rare opportunity as we never get Bottlenose dolphins inside the harbour and they’ve certainly never been right up against the wharf in town.”DSC 0067

She said it literally was ‘a once in a life time opportunity’ as Black Cat staff thought it had never happened before.

Lombart said the sightings were timely as New Zealand is celebrating Seaweek, New Zealand’s national celebration of our marine environment.

“The timing couldn’t be better,” she said. “It’s almost as if they (The Bottlenose dolphins) know its Seaweek.”

To watch the brekfast news report click here and scroll to 1hr17mins

THERE ARE ONLY 5 DAYS LEFT FOR YOU TO WATCH THE EPISODE

 

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Survival of the species – Rare dolphin calves sighted in Akaroa Harbour

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This morning we made TV1 Breakfast News with our rare sighting of dolphin calves in Akaroa Harbour. Each year we eagerly wait to spot the first calf of the season. To see a mother and it’s calf is always great news for the endangered species.

Hectors dolphin calves

Early summer has seen Hector’s dolphin calves spotted swimming with their mothers in the harbour, which is always exciting, Black Cat Cruises Sales & Marketing Manager Natasha Lombart said.

“Hector’s Dolphins are classified as endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Because of their coastal habitat and slow reproductive rate they are particularly vulnerable to entanglement in fishing gear, especially gill nets, so we never fail to get enthusiastic when calves are spotted.”

Black Cat Cruises skipper Julian Yates said two Hector dolphin mothers and their calves were seen between Bush Bay and the salmon farm, half way across the bay in Akaroa Harbour.

“That there were two babies’ with two mums was just fantastic,” he said. “They were just cruising and the guest reactions on board were great – they were so excited to see such a rare species of new born babies, it was wonder, a real treat and so delightful.”

Yates said guests on the harbour cruise could clearly see the calves’ stripes from being folded up inside mother’s tummy as they able to swim as soon as they are born.hectors dolphin calf folded skin

Females usually have one calf every two to three years. The calves are 50 to 60 centimetres long at birth and stay close to their mothers who provide them with milk and protection for about a year until they are old enough to fend for themselves.

Hector’s dolphins are among the most endangered in the world.

It has been an eventful week for Black Cat Cruises as a female Orca and her two claves were seen playing with a pod of Hector’s dolphins near the entrance to Akaroa Harbour last week.

Yates said it was extremely rare to see Orca’s interacting with Hector’s as Orcas are known for preying on dolphins.

To watch the TV1 breakfast news clip follow this link http://tvnz.co.nz/breakfast/2014-12-18-video-6208476 and scroll to 1.08:25

tv1 akaroa harbour news

20 BIRDS YOU SHOULD EXPECT TO SEE IN AKAROA

Banks Peninsula is well known for its gorgeous scenery and breath taking views. But amongst the vast beauty found in the area, there lives a wide array of wildlife. Akaroa’s birds are just a few of many creatures you’ll find, but if you’re around in the warmer months, keep an eye out and there’s a good chance you’ll spot quite a few of them:

1. Little Blue Penguin: The blue penguin is the smallest penguin in the world, standing at only 25cm tall and weighing in at under a kilogram.

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Little Blue Penguin

2. Yellow-eyed Penguin: Another rare New Zealand penguin, the Māori name for this bird is ‘hoiho,’ which means ‘noise shouter.’

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Yellow Eyed Penguin

3. Black Shag: The Black Shag can often be seen feeding on fish in the harbour. This used to cause a stir amongst fishing enthusiasts who thought they were eating sport fish. However, the Black Shag does not have a significant impact on the fishing population, despite still being persecuted by some.

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Black Shag

4. Mollymawk: Part of the Albatross family and only found in the southern hempisphere these large birds are very vocal and can often be seen swooping around at the heads of Akaroa bay.

Mollymawk
Mollymawk

5. Spotted Shag: Ledges of cliffs, overhanging the water of the sea below, are popular breeding and nesting areas for Spotted Shags. This makes Banks Peninsula an ideal area to spot one.

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Spotted Shags in Akaroa

6.White-faced Heron: The White-faced Heron is originally an Australian species, but introduced itself here in the 1940s and as a result is classified as a native bird of New Zealand.

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White Faced Heron in Akaroa

7. Pukeko: Known for running out in front of oncoming vehicles, although the Pukeko may appear to have mild suicidal tendencies, they are often seen there because the habitat is ideal for hunting and gathering food.

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Pukeko

8. Australasian Bittern: Shy and secretive birds during the day, the Australasian Bittern usually come out at night to mate and hunt for food.

Australasian Bittern can be found in akaroa
Australasian Bittern

9.New Zealand Falcon: Fearless, the New Zealand Falcon has a reputation for swooping down, finding its prey, and not letting go until it gets what it wants. You wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of these beautiful creatures.

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New Zealand Falcon

10. South Island Pied Oystercatcher: There are many species of Oystercatchers, so many that experts find it difficult to agree on a number. The South Island Pied species is a wary and restless creature with a shrill cry.

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Oystercatcher Akaroa

11. Caspian Tern: Another international bird, the Caspian Tern is also known as the ‘King of Sea-Swallows’ on account of it’s very large size.

Terns in Akaroa

Terns in akaroa black cat cruises

12.  Shining Cuckoo: This pretty little bird is about the size of a sparrow and gets its name from having an iridescent coat that shines greenish blue in the light.

Cuckoo

cuckoo akaroa

13.  Morepork: You wouldn’t expect it, but these small owls that lurk in the trees are carnivorous creatures, sometimes feeding on animals larger than themselves.

Morepork

Morepork found in Akaroa

14.  Kingfisher: The collective noun for a group of Kingfisher birds is a “concentration,” perhaps referring to its broad and steady build, strong enough to take down small mammals.

Kingfisher

Kingfisher you can find in Akaroa

15.  New Zealand Pipit: The pipit has quite drab colouring, but this is to provide camouflage, allowing them to blend in against the forest floor.

Pipit

Pipit you can find in Akaroa

16.  Fantail: Although the Fantail can suffer greatly through a harsh winter, they’ve developed strategies to survive, like having more than one brood in the right conditions, sleeping in late to avoid the cold morning frosts, and tucking away in bushes and haystacks to keep themselves warm.

Fantail

Fantail found in Akaroa

17.  Song Thrush: You can distinguish the Song Thrush from other birds by listening out for its cheerful and uplifting tunes. Some say their musical ability in terms of rhythm, tone, harmony, and melody can compete with that of humans.

Song Thrush

Song Thrush Akaroa new zealand

18.  Bellbird: Another song bird, this little critter makes the sound of a single bell-like note, perfect to break a morning slumber.

Bellbird

The Bellbird found in akaroa

19.  Starling: The starling gets its name from the markings on its feathers that gleam like tiny white stars. However, this only happens in the summer months, glistening in the sun.

Starling

Starling bird found in akaroa

20.Silvereye: Like the Tui and the Bellbird, the Silvereye has a brush-tipped tongue for drinking nectar.

Silvereye

sILVER EYE AKAROA BIRD

THE BREEZE 61

Thanks for taking some time to scan our latest news and events. Below you will find some information on the biggest dolphins on them all – the mighty Orca through to the smallest – hectors dolphins calves. There are also details of local events in Diamond Harbour and Akaroa along with confirmation of our top rating as voted by members of the AA.

Cheers Paul


 

Orca visits much more frequent

We started cruising Banks Peninsula in 1985 and over the next 21 years we reckon we had only 5 visits in total from Orca. So why have we had 5 visits in the last 12 months? More than likely it’s related to Orca chasing food in Akaroa and Lyttelton harbours. They sure do scare our local population of Hectors dolphins though and that’s not surprising! Click here for a blog including views from marine scientist Liz Slooten.


 

Up close with Hector

Check out this nice video from a swimming with dolphins cruise in January showing some of our customers out having the time of their lives. There’s a great example of one little dolphin swimming rings around one of our customers. Nice….


 

Cruise ship update

We have now welcomed 60 of the 80 cruise ships set to visit Akaroa this season. February is set to be another busy month with just a handful of visits scheduled for March and April. We don’t know whether the cruise ships will be back again next season but Akaroa has sure welcomed them with open arms and hope they will be back in later in the year.


 

Dolphin calves

Over the past few months Hector’s dolphin calves have been spotted swimming with their mothers in the harbour. Our Akaroa manager Pip Journeaux said the calves were first seen in November. ”They are divine. We swim with the adults, but we can’t swim when there are calves in the pod,” she said. ”We wouldn’t swim with calves until they’d be well over 12 months”. Read article from Stuff here


 

Black cat number 1 voted by AA

We’ve been voted the number one activity in NZ for wildlife spotting. Thanks a lot AA members from all over NZL. We’re also the number 2 activity (after Hanmer Springs) and in the top 10 of all activities for all of New Zealand.

Read about us on the AA website


 

Swim the harbour

The big La Grande Swim was held on the 19th February, featuring the world’s largest tic tacs as marker buoys for the swimmers. La Grande Swim is the fourth race in the hugely successful State New Zealand Ocean Swim Series.  Previously held in Corsair Bay in Lyttelton Harbour this is the first big harbour swim in many years.


 

Diamond Harbour day out

There are some great bands set to rock out Diamond Harbour every Sunday during February 12.00pm to 3.00pm. Take the ferry over and make a day of it. For details of who is playing click here http://www.sprig.org.nz/sprig/Home.html


 

Blogging favourites

Check out this great blog from on swimming with dolphins in Akaroa.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/travel/2011/12/18/akaroa-new-zealand-swimming-with-world-smallest-dolphins/KB3YYVmN6n7mc4Rr1IRW0L/story.html


 

Great Feedback

Hi to blackcat crew, particularly Julian & Laura,

Thanks to everyone at Blackcat who made our dolphin experience so special.
I have popped in to work today & boasted of our trip. One colleague is going to NZ in Feb and is keen to do the swim with dolphins. You people are so fortunate to have these wonderful creatures in your backyard. It is heart-warming to see you engaging with them whilst respecting and nurturing your relationship with them. I wish you continued success. I will certainly be endorsing your attraction as one of the “not to be missed”. We are so pleased we had the opportunity to do the swim; it was worth every freezing moment.

Merry Christmas to all. Kind regards Kathy

Orca Visits to Banks Peninsula

Why have pods of Orca been seen more often in Akaroa and Lyttelton Harbours lately?

orca-pod

Black Cat have been cruising around Akaroa Harbour since 1985 and the original skipper, Ron Bingham, recalls seeing Orca only 5 times from 1985 to 2006, a period of 21 years cruising. In the last 12 months alone we’ve seen pods on no fewer than 5 occasions in Akaroa or Lyttelton.

Orca are sometimes known as Killer whales but that’s only because they were sometimes known to actually hunt and kill large baleen whales, i.e. killer of whales. They are actually the classified as a dolphin! There are no known reports of Orca attacking humans in the wild. Though there have been some instances where Orca in captivity have killed or injured their trainers.

orca

Ingrid Visser has been studying Orca in New Zealand for many years and has helped with stranding’s and her body of research has helped us to understand our Orca population. Ingrid has also swum with Orca in the wild; which must have been pretty exhilarating.

Orca are found in most of the world’s oceans. New Zealand Orca will eat most anything and we think that’s a clue as to why they are coming into the Banks Peninsula bays more often. It’s thought the preferred food for them are rays. Though of course Orca will attack dolphins, seals and penguins.

hectors-dolphins-orca

Local marine biologist Liz Slooten believes that the Orca may be attracted to the local Seal population in Akaroa especially to the seal pups. The population in Akaroa harbour has increased substantially in the last 10 years, and Orca may help to keep the population in check.

Liz also has a photo of a Hector’s dolphin which may have been attacked by an Orca, though it’s hard to tell and if anything it must have been a calf because of the smallish bite size and tooth marks.

Black Cat Cruises crew have also noticed Hector’s dolphins tend to get very nervous when Orca are in the area. They tend not to be relaxed enough to play with swimmers and boats and may stick close to the shoreline.

There are no seals in Lyttelton Harbour so they are definitely chasing something else. Co-incidentally there are lots of dolphins in the harbour but no one has seen the Orca going after them so it’s more likely they are chasing rays, squid or fish.

It sure is a great sight to see pods of Orca in the Banks Peninsula bays but for the sake of the local Hectors dolphins it’s also great to see them pass through.

THE BREEZE 58

Spring is here and its time to look forward to summer. Over the winter months we’ve been planning and preparing to welcome visitors this season. Around 80 cruise ships have selected Akaroa as their Canterbury base this season which should really add some buzz to the town. Of course the buzz right now is about the world cup so we are wishing our boys all the best and of course the profile the event will create around the world will be huge. Also in this Breeze are details of our new treasure hunt, Lyttelton to France cruise and our latest promotions. Thanks for reading in advance.

Cheers Paul

Dolphins up close

If you have ever wondered how close we get to the rare Hector’s dolphins then this picture sums it up! So close in fact that not all of the dolphin fitted into the frame with its leap almost knocking the camera out of the guide’s hands. In truth this is a little unusual. Like us, teenage dolphins can get a bit excited sometimes and this one may have slightly misjudged his jump. An incredible sight for all on board though.


 

Akaroa chosen for Cruise liners

Lyttelton’s loss is Akaroa’s gain with the recent announcement that cruise ships will be visiting Akaroa on 72 days between October 2011 and April 2012. Here is the Press article on it. On 7 days there will be two cruise ships in the harbour at once. Cruise ships are an incredible sight in Akaroa dwarfing Black Cat which is normally the largest vessel around. If you fancy the buzz and excitement of cruise ship days then akaroa will be going off. If on the other hand you like to have the place to yourself you may want avoid those days. We have posted a schedule of cruise ship days on our web site.


 

The big Snow

Not once but twice Banks Peninsula and Christchurch got a huge dump of snow this winter. This did disrupt our cruises a few times with public transport shutting down the ferry and the road to Akaroa needing to be cleared to allow customers to get through. These images show how beautiful it was though and quite different to the normal scenes.


 

All Black Cat

The world’s eyes are focused on NZ for the 2011 Rugby World Cup and Black Cat are getting in behind the All Blacks. Not many people know in 1987 just days before winning the first world cup the All Blacks came for a cruise with us out on Akaroa Harbour. Maybe it was something in the air in Akaroa that made them kick on to win the world cup that year. Go the Blacks!


 

Akaroa triple treat

We’ve teamed up with the Akaroa Salmon and Akaroa Cooking School to create a great new cruise product this year. Aimed at groups of 15 or more the day starts with a two hour nature cruise of the harbour including a stop at the Salmon Farm to catch a fish. Then it’s on to the cooking school to turn the Salmon into a delicious feast. For more details contact alison@blackcat.co.nz


 

Treasure Hunt is back

We’re launching The Great Quail Island treasure hunt on 1st October. All you need to do is pick up a treasure map on the ferry on the way over, find the ‘x’ markers and solve a secret word. All correct entries win a $5 prize for the kids with 2 for 1 coffee for the hard working adults at coffee culture. Adults $25, Children $10. Departs daily at 10.20am and also 12.30pm during school holidays. Phone 03 328 9078.


 

Quail Tree Trail

We are proud to be helping with the planting of native trees on Quail Island. Its part of our commitment to give back as much as we can, and of course to help transform the island into a native paradise for wildlife. Black Cat will spend $50,000 via its Community and Environment fund on local projects in the next year.


 

Lyttelton to France

We have our once a year cruise from Lyttelton to Akaroa coming up on the 25th September with the following two Sundays as reserve days. It’s a unique way to see a part of Canterbury’s coastline few have seen, and of course to spend a peaceful day in Akaroa too. $99 for Adult, $49 for children. Includes cruise over and coach back. Tel 03 304 7641 to reserve your space.


 

Intercity to Akaroa

You might be interested to know that Intercity now have daily bus services to Akaroa. You can book this through your normal Intercity system or phone them direct (03) 365 1113 .http://www.intercity.co.nz/timetable/lookup/8615


 

Book a Christmas charter before end of Oct and get a free wine.

Have you organised your Xmas function yet? No? Forget the earth, head for the water for a great night out on the Canterbury Cat in Lyttelton harbour. Prices including food start at $55 per person with a free glass of wine to kick you off. Email alison@blackcat.co.nz for details.


 

Promotions and marketing

As spring is here, you may notice us increase our marketing efforts. Here are a few of the highlights:

We commence a TV1 advertising campaign 6th to 23rd October. TVC here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gz5PQ_YSpUk

Press Competition. Keep an eye out for full page ads early October with the chance to win one of 25 family passes on Akaroa Harbour Cruises).

Mastercard promotion featuring free fish n chips on: http://www.mastercard.com/nz/rwc/offers/details/#!/866256


 

Viator rates us tops

We’ve received a special commendation from Viator, one of the large on line travel companies. In recognition of our consistently high rankings we have earned ‘’top rated on Viator’’ status. See http://www.viator.com/search/akaroa


 

Blogging favourites

Check out this great blog on Akaroa
http://www.smh.com.au/travel/add-blue-water-stir-20110708-1h5m4.html