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


Real Journeys Ltd. has bought into Canterbury based Black Cat Cruises in a move both company’s say is a vote of confidence in the tourism industry in the Canterbury region.

The new joint venture company will be 50 percent owned by Real Journeys with Black Cat Cruises retaining half the business. Its present Managing Director Paul Bingham will stay on in that capacity with other Bingham family members exiting the business.

“This is a real vote of confidence in the future of Canterbury and Banks Peninsula tourism,” Managing Director Paul Bingham said. “It shows the real promise and appeal that our region holds.”

“The two companies – although operating in different areas – are quite similar. Both are family owned cruising businesses with award winning backgrounds that are widely recognised as industry leaders.”

Bingham said the company had been looking for a business partner who had the same values in terms of its staff, commitment to the environment and dedication to providing a world class experience.

“Real Journeys has a very similar view to us on what is important to its business. They are a leading tourism operation in New Zealand and will be a great partner for our business.”

The immediate future will be business as usual for the Black Cat Cruises operation as it looks forward to a busy summer season. The company says it will be looking at any revenue and cost synergies on an on going basis and Black Cat Cruises branding will be retained.

The deal is subject to conditions which include the relevant assignment of licenses, contracts and permits. The date the new joint venture officially starts is December 1.

Real Journeys operates cruises in Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, Lake Te Anau, Lake Manapouri, Stewart Island and Queenstown, and has 19 vessels including the iconic TSS Earnslaw. At the height of the season around 420 staff are employed. It also operates connecting coach and aircraft services to its different excursions.

This year Real Journeys won the Conservation in Action Award as well as the Qualmark Award at the New Zealand Tourism Industry Awards.

“This is a good fit for Real Journeys and we’re looking forward to working with Paul as we develop the business further” Real Journeys CEO, Dave Hawkey said.

Black Cat Cruises has nine vessels and 40 staff in Banks Peninsula, and has been operating for 22 years. It is a former winner of the Supreme tourism award and is the largest tourism operator on Banks Peninsula.