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

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