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

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Qualmark Gold in Akaroa and Lyttelton

qualmark gold

qualmark gold

We are so so pleased to confirm that Black Cat Cruises has just had its Qualmark Gold award renewed. This award is reviewed annually, and is something we are proud to maintain as we continually strive to be a sustainable, world class operation.

” Your award can be proudly displayed as evidence that Black Cat Cruises is committed to protecting our beautiful natural environment, enhancing connections with our local communities, whilst also delivering a quality, safe experience for all visitors.”
Thank you to Qualmark for renewing our
QUALMARK GOLD AWARD 🏅
We are whole heartedly grateful for this continued recognition, and would like to shout out to our dedicated crew and team both in Akaroa and Lyttelton that all work so hard to deliver our experiences, whilst caring for both our environment and it’s inhabitants.

When and what is Gold awarded for?

Gold Sustainable Tourism Business Award

A Gold Award recognises the best sustainable tourism businesses in New Zealand, with the delivery of exceptional customer experiences an integral part of everything they do.  A Gold Sustainable Tourism Award identifies those businesses leading the way in making the New Zealand tourism industry a world class sustainable visitor destination.

The process to obtain an award be it bronze, silver or gold is extremely thorough and covers four key areas in depth, These are…
So the next time you are considering a tourism activity in New Zealand we recommend looking for the Qualmark seal.
If you’d like to understand more about who Qualmark are and how they work you can find out more information here.

Top Free Things To Do In Banks Peninsula – Spend $0 while having a great time

The top free things to do in Banks Peninsula are listed right here.

No one gets through a holiday richer than they were before. Here’s the dilemma; you have time off work and want some quality time with your family. Well, look no further than Banks Peninsula.

The place is brimming with things to do, and many of them are free activities. All you’re going to need is to pack some snacks for the roadie and you’re set to go….

 

Day Walks

Rhino walk akaroa
Image by Hollie Bradley
akaroa rhino walk
Image by Hollie Bradley

Honestly, there must be a thousand places to walk on Banks Peninsula. It doesn’t matter what level of fitness or experience you’re at, there’s a walk for you! 

The Children’s Bay Rhino Walk is a fun one in Akaroa. It’s perfect for families, with a few special surprises along the way (look out for the giraffes and giant rhino). 

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! Bring some food up here and have a picnic.

Packhorse Hut Banks Peninsula
Image by Andrew Lowton

 

If Akaroa is too far, walk up to the PackHorse Hut from Gebbies Pass and have some lunch there.

The quaint hut sits in a small valley with absolutely stunning views all around. This one is a little bit steeper but still achievable within a couple of hours, and a great daywalk. Book the hut on the doc site here.

godley heads banks peninsula
Godley Heads image by DOC

There’s also the Godley Head walk in Christchurch with the old gun emplacements at the end.

On a good day, the walk will give you sparkling oceans, classic NZ bush, and views over both Lyttleton and Sumner along the way. 

 

Iconic Landmarks and historic sites

Akaroa Lighthouse
Pikita Postcard available from the Black Cast Cruises store in Akaroa

Last I checked, looking at beautiful cultural landmarks and sites was a completely free but rewarding way to spend part of your day. Banks Peninsula is full of great sites. Maybe you’ll see a good photo opportunity and finally be able to change your Facebook profile picture from six years ago. 

Check out the iconic Akaroa lighthouse. From there, it’s not far to the Catholic and Anglican Cemeteries on the hill above. They are full of beautiful headstones of marble, and many are still endowed with new flowers. 

 

 

 

 

Onuku Marae
Onuku Marae

Visit the Onuku Marae. The local Iwi does a fantastic job with the maintenance of the building and surrounding area. They invite all to share in their heritage and experience their culture.  

In the small, hidden town of Birdlings Flat, there’s a really cool gemstone and fossil museum that’s totally free! Located next to Canterbury’s largest lake, the small town is known for gemstone hunting and they’ve built a really impressive collection over the years.

Newtons Waterfall Akaroa
Newtons Waterfall Akaroa

 

 

 

There are also plenty of beautiful natural landmarks in Banks Peninsula, like Newton’s Waterfall. It’s just 7 minutes away from Akaroa centre. I find the waterfall provides the perfect snapshot of New Zealand before humans arrived; it’s honestly very refreshing. 

 

Experience the local food 

akaroa fudge
Akaroa fudge from Pot Pourri

I know what you’re thinking, “food costs money, what kind of blog is this?” Well, there are few ways to taste amazing food whilst maintaining the option of walking away as rich as before. It’ll be a challenge, but you might be able to pull it off…..

Pot Pourri is a general store nestled in the heart of Akaroa’s township. They also happen to have an amazing selection of homemade fudge. They’re always willing to part with two or three free samples, but I have yet to walk out of the store without a slice of fudge in tow. 

On the way to Akaroa, in Barry’s Bay, is a cheese factory aptly called ‘Barry’s Bay Cheese’. They make a huge variety of top-quality cheese. They ship to cheese-lovers all over Canterbury and beyond. Anyone can pop into the shop in the front and try a few cubes of cheese, and learn more about the rich history of local cheese-making. 

akaroa cheese

Lyttelton also has plenty for you, if you’re looking for something closer to home. Every Saturday from 10-1, the main street comes alive with stalls of fresh fruit and vegetables, free-range eggs, bread, meat, fish, cheese, juices, herbs, and plants to name a few. This is one of the best farmers’ markets around, set in the backdrop of the surrounding mountains and harbour. I’m sure you can find a free sample or two along the way. 

Lyttelton Framers market
Lyttleton Farmers Market every Saturday morning

 

Adventures with nature!

The final idea we have for you is to use the forces of nature to your advantage.

For as long as humans have lived in New Zealand, we’ve used the ocean and gravity in a variety of ways to create thrills.

Here are some ways you can do this for free:

surfing new zealandGo surfing or boogie boarding in one of the many beaches or bays of Banks Peninsula. Taylor’s mistake near Sumner, or Hickory Bay an hour out of Christchurch are standout spots. Don’t own a board? Go body surfing instead. It’s a lot of fun in its own right, simply swim with a wave and let the energy carry you to the shore.

akaroa mountain bike park

 

If you own a mountain bike, explore one of the many tracks at a level suited to you and your family. Haven Mountain bike park is just 30 minutes from Christchurch in the beautiful Banks Peninsula. These guys are passionate about pest control and restoration and it shows in the park’s stunning views. In the hills above Akaroa are the trails of Akatrax park. Their website has a detailed map with trails ranging from a wee beginner to an advanced veteran. 

 

By the beach

Ever jumped off a wharf before? Either you have and need no more convincing, or you haven’t and this is the sign to do it this summer! dalys wharf akaroaAkaroa 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. 

akaroa crabbingA personal favorite thing to do in Akaroa though is crab spotting! Along Akaroa, where the water meets rocks a little bigger than your fist, are thousands of little crabs. Walk along, lift the rocks, and watch the crabs scuttle away. I’ve been crab spotting in Akaroa for as long as I can remember. The trick to picking them up is to avoid the claws by picking them up from behind! Be sure to be gentle with the crabs and put them down in the water after a few seconds. 

 

Kids Cruise Free In Akaroa

And this school holiday 2 kids cruise free (valued at $40 each)  with 1 full price adult ($95). This saves at least $80 per family. Simply enter the code ‘FREEKIDS’ at the checkout between now and the end of the April school holiday (Sunday May1st), and your children’s rate will be $0! 

We still offer free spaces to under 5’s and our Hector’s dolphin guarantee, so there’s no better time to get out and Do Something Autumn! Find out more here.

Akaroa kids cruise free  

See you guys somewhere on Banks Peninsula!

#AKAROA #DOSOMETHINGAUTUMN #BANKSPENINSULA #FREEACTIVITIES #FAMILYFUN #SCHOOLHOLIDAYS #SUSTAINABLETOURISM #TIAKIPROMISE #KIDSCRUISEFREE

words 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

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

Hector’s Dolphins – North and South

How much do you know about the different Hector’s Dolphin populations around the country? Where exactly do they live? As an ecotourism operator local to Canterbury, we are obviously guilty of focusing on the 1000 or so dolphins that live around our harbours. Banks Peninsula is of special importance to us, being our home for nearly 40 years. Fortunately, Hector’s Dolphins can be found all around the waters of New Zealand. Today’s blog aims to help you understand a little more about other populations of Hector’s Dolphins beyond the Banks Peninsula area.

NORTH ISLAND DOLPHINS

You may not be aware of an incredibly rare subspecies of the Hector’s Dolphin known as the ‘Maui Dolphins’. They are very similar, but are thought to have been isolated from each other for around 16000 years. Māui dolphins have very slightly larger skulls than Hector’s dolphins and a longer, wider rostrum or snout. With only 56 individuals alive today, they are the rarest marine mammal on the planet. They live in a very small area on the western side of the North Island. The entire species’ survivability rests on 9 female dolphins of calf-rearing age.

 

Hector’s Dolphins are rarely sighted in the North Island. This is why it’s so important we look after the Maui’s Dolphin subspecies. They are only found on the west coast of the North Island from the New Plymouth area to Maunganui Bluff. Despite their extreme rarity, Maui Dolphins are still in huge danger of being caught in nets from commercial fishers. Bans only exist a few kilometres off shore, but Maui Dolphins go far beyond this area. With the Maui dolphins being even rarer than the kākāpō, should we be risking the death of a single animal, when each one is essential to the overall survivability of the species?

WEST COAST DOLPHINS

As seen in the map on the right, Hector’s Dolphins can be found almost all around the coasts of the South Island.

Black Cat Cruises have always pushed for more protection in our local waters from fishing nets. But we’re still leagues ahead of the West Coast. Namely, nothing in the recently released TMP addresses the areas along the West Coast. Whilst this area has a lower concentration of Fishers, it is unacceptable that they can still operate here almost unhinged. Pictured below are the current areas which ban trawl netting on the West Coast. This will remain completely unchanged following the integration of any of the proposed Threat Management Plan’s options. This area is the least documented area when it comes to Hector’s Dolphins. However, it doesn’t take a marine biologist to see that there are massive areas where Hector’s Dolphins are threatened by trawl netting. Set net bans are only enforced a few kilometres offshore, and don’t go far enough to cover the dolphin’s habitat.

NORTH OF THE SOUTH ISLAND

The Northern tip of the South Island is also home to a large proportion of our remaining Hector’s Dolphins. Alongside Akaroa and Kaikoura, this area provides the best chance for one to encounter a Hector’s Dolphin. However, net-fishing is also common in this area. Pictured below are the current areas which ban trawl net fishing (blue is permanent and red is seasonal). The seasonal ban is an interesting compromise between fishers and conservationists; It protects Hector’s Dolphins in the times they are most likely to be in those areas, whilst still giving Fishers a chance to make a livelihood. The seasonal ban could be an immediate but temporary solution for waters which are currently open to fishers all-year round. This would reduce the chances of Hector’s dolphins being caught as New Zealand gradually transitions to complete bans in waters less than 100M deep. This is what the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has recommended, and we currently remain within the 8% of countries which have ignored their advice.

THE SOUTHERN TIP

The bottom of the South Island is home to the smallest population of Hector’s Dolphins, possibly in the low hundreds. However, fishing is a popular industry in Southern towns, and dolphins have certainly been caught in fishing nets in these areas. The Northern and Southern tips of the South Island have had some expansions to restrictions, similar to what will happen around Banks Peninsula. Further restrictions to Trawl-netting (such as smaller net openings and a slower speed) may be enforced in additional areas.

Globally, scientists are saying we need to put aside 30% of our oceans for biodiversity to remain. Only 0.4% of the ocean New Zealand control is protected, according to Livia Esterhazy (WWF NZ). Hector’s Dolphins are far more than a beautiful animal for humans to enjoy. They are an apex predator and without them, the entire ecosystem of New Zealand’s coasts would crumble. If states like California and countries like Finland can fully ban set-nets, what’s New Zealand’s excuse?

WHAT CAN YOU DO RIGHT NOW?

Did you know that there is less than a week left for public submissions to the Ministry for Primary Industries? Please click on this link, follow the instructions, and in less than 3 minutes, YOU can make a difference. If enough like-minded people email their opinions on their Threat Management Plan, (we have a template you can use) the MPI will have to listen and make positive changes.

Click Here to Help the hector's dolphins of new zealand

Help stop the world’s rarest dolphins from dying in fishing nets

hectors dolphin

Hector’s Dolphins SOS….

We can never know how many of the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin’s die in fishing nets every year. Many reports are under-estimated and require self reporting by fishermen.

Even so, some organisations claim up to 150 Hector’s dolphins are killed in nets each year.

Fair to say, the Hector’s and Maui dolphins are still in need of urgent help.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has recently asked the public to help them decide how Hector’s dolphins can be further protected from fishing nets around the South Island. They’ve outlined 4 options, and in this blog we will explain why option 4 is the best for saving lives, whilst also asking for additional measures to be added. 

 

Anyone, including you, can submit which option they support and why. It is due by 6 December 2021 and can be submitted via email dolphinTMP@mpi.govt.nz or by this survey.

 

If you want more information on the four options, you can read the Ministry for Primary Industries 50 page report, or watch this video (starts at 5.15) but we’ve summarised it below.

We’ve been advocating for additional protection for the dolphins for some time. Some new fishing restrictions were brought in last year, but they were far from perfect. You can read more about our take on the 2020 protections here. 

In particular, we were very concerned that the plan opened up a ‘death zone’ off Akaroa Harbour. As of now, fishers can use nets outside of Akaroa Harbour. And is some months inside the harbour too.

 

The Options from Ministry for Primary Industries

Option 1:

Do nothing. The Ministry themselves accept this is not an option.

Option 2:

A plan to ‘work together’. Fishers will try to stop catching dolphins, and when they do, they must report it. This involves the use of monitoring cameras on fishers’ boats. If they keep catching dolphins, the ministry will give advice and maybe suggest some extra preventative measures. The issue here is that there are no enforced obligations to change fishing habits. It might take years for real change to take place. In the meantime, dolphins will continue to die. It’s like choosing not to install fire alarms in your first home. Then, only after it burns down, do you decide it’s a good time to take some preventative measures. It’s too little, too late.

Option 3:

Will look at making some changes to trawl fishing in certain areas of the South Island. Namely, reducing the speed of boats with nets attached (to 4kph), and making the net opening smaller (1M height). These measures, as admitted by the report itself, may not even make a difference. The success of these supposed ‘preventive’ measures are all based on seven anecdotes from fishers. This is an extremely small sample of evidence, which also has no scientific backing. We’d rather not put our faith in a maybe. 

Not only this, but option 3 keeps the death zone right outside of Akaroa harbour open. Look at the maps below. The yellow areas on the left map show the current areas where trawl fishing is banned. The map on the right shows orange areas where extra restrictions will be imposed, but the gap between the orange creates another death zone. Given what we’ve said about the doubt we have of these restrictions, this option has few merits overall.

hectors dolphin

Option 4:

Increases the areas which ban set nets, as seen in the figure below. This means larger areas where dolphins are safe from set-nets, which can make an immediate difference to the number of dolphins caught. The extended areas can be seen in the dark blue areas highlighted in the map below. This is good news and one which Black Cat  Cruises and the Ministry for Primary Industries support. While it’s the best option of the four, it is still lacking. For a start, it makes no changes to trawl-net fishing, which is just as dangerous. Trawl-fishers will continue operating right outside of Akaroa harbour.

akaroa dolphin map

What we’re going to ask for on top of Option 4

All four options are written on the basis that a certain amount of ‘by catch’ is acceptable to New Zealanders. We don’t think that’s right. The plan calls for a goal to catch/kill around 33 dolphins a year on the East Coast of the South Island each year. It’s claimed that’s a sustainable goal and it will maintain the population of dolphins to 80% of historic levels. We want to stop the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of dolphins, and in doing so make the population soar back to 100% of historic levels.

akaroa hectors dolphins

If we’re serious about making a real positive impact on the dolphins, there should have been an additional option….

The International Union for conservation of nature (ICUN) made a clear recommendation years ago. They called for consistent protection throughout NZ waters less than 100 m deep; a ban to set and trawl net fishing in these areas. The map below shows what they have in mind, with red being areas that can be net-fished commercially, and green being areas where net fishing is banned.

At the IUCN World Conservation Congress in September 2021, the Director General said that the vast majority of IUCN Resolutions have been acted on. Only 8% of the Resolutions are being ignored by the relevant countries. Unfortunately, New Zealand is part of this group of 8%. This is an embarrassment.

We will ask for the ICUN’s option to be added to the proposed list, as the other options do not make enough of a difference. Also, the plan is completely silent on the ability to be able to set nets in 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, and we will ask for these areas to be specifically banned to all net-fishing.

 

Conclusion

Whilst we appreciate the ability to engage further on dolphin protection, the options (with the exception of closing the death zone) won’t have much impact on dolphin protection.

We have chosen to focus this blog post primarily on the areas surrounding Banks Peninsula. This is because it’s the area directly relevant to Black Cat Cruises, and where we have the most experience with the current issues of ‘bycatching’. Continue to follow our social media for a blog post in the future which addresses bycatching nation-wide.

We need a future-focused conservation option. We need more significant protection. We need the population of Hector’s Dolphins to soar above the endangered level. We need the option to implement full protection out to 100m in depth (where Hector’s Dolphins live).

 

What would we like you to do now?

If you’d like to consult on the plan, please go ahead. Add your voice to the conversation. Black Cat Cruises will be supporting option 4, and asking for additional protection in line with the IUCN option – limiting nets throughout NZ waters less than 100 m deep.

We understand that fishers need to catch fish. However, putting bans in these small areas, which are already so close to the shore, will keep our beautiful native dolphin species alive.

CLICK HERE TO HAVE YOUR SAY 

Banks Peninsula Walking Festival

BANKS PENINSULA WALKING FESTIVAL

BANKS PENINSULA WALKING FESTIVAL

BANKS PENINSULA WALKING FESTIVAL

 

We are just a few weeks away from the start of the Bank Peninsula Walking festival. It kicks off on Saturday, November 6th and runs every weekend for the full month of November. Read on for full details, ticket info and how we support the festival each year. 

 

banks peninsula walking festival

This is an annual walking festival that offers a wonderful variety of guided trails, from small hikes to day long expeditions.

WHAT TO EXPECT

This year’s programme is expected to be as popular as ever with a great variety of walks to enjoy on Banks Peninsula. Join the continuing multi-year Kaitorete Spit challenge, take the family on a Kid’s Adventure at Sugarloaf, or visit the new Te Ahu Pātiki conservation park in Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour! Try out a digital ‘Our Stories’ walk in Lyttelton, follow in the footsteps of Akaroa’s Antarctic hero Frank Worsley, or join some ‘rock-hopping’ at Kaioruru/Church Bay with a well-known Canterbury volcanologist.

The great variety of walks offers something for people of all ages, abilities and interests. Whether it be history and heritage, botany or geology there is something for everyone with a guarantee of beautiful views and scenery along the way.

Each walk includes some fantastic insight from your local guide and are great value for money.

GUIDE AND TICKETS

Click the link below to access the full line up of walks available.

https://www.bankspeninsulawalks.co.nz/banks-peninsula-walking-festival/

A lot of walks have already sold out! The Banks Peninsula Walking Festival are expecting all tickets across the festival to sell out, so jump in quick to secure your space.

Tickets are being booked via Eventfinder which you can access here

 

BLACK CAT CRUISES SUPPORTS THE BANKS PENINSULA WALKING FESTIVAL

quail island banks peninsula walking festivalEach year we are really pleased to support the festival .We have given the festival access to discounted tickets to Quail Island. Details as listed on the festivals website are as below for this experience.

WALK 15 – DISCOVER ŌTAMAHUA QUAIL ISLAND WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION AND TE HAPŪ O NGĀTI WHEKE

WALK – Wear sturdy walking shoes or boots. Bring lunch, snacks, water bottle, sunhat, sunscreen, weatherproof gear and hand sanitiser.

Start time: 9:00am – 1:45pm

Duration: 5 hour event. 2-3 hour walk for complete Island circuit (4.5kms)

Cost: Adult $25, Child $10 

Hop on the Black Cat Ferry to enjoy a family day out on Ōtamahua / Quail Island, taking advantage of these discounted Ferry tickets!

The main track circumnavigates Ōtamahua / Quail Island and can be walked in either direction. The loop track passes historic sites and offers beautiful views of Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour. Discover the Island’s unique past as a quarantine station. See its historic stables and the ship’s graveyard. Try some bird watching, observe the Islands native biodiversity restoration project and ‘get back to nature’ in this beautiful setting. Te Hapū o Ngāti Wheke will be sharing interpretation of the island history and the pou whenua. Visit the barracks to view the interpretative displays illustrating the rich history of the island.

During your visit check out Ōtamahua Hut – the family friendly island accommodation, and get inspired to plan a future visit with family and friends to create your own overnight adventure!

 

This festival is brought to you by the Rod Donald Banks Peninusla Trust

The Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust has a bold vision to facilitate the restoration of Banks Peninsula to its traditional status as Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū – the storehouse that nourishes.

Proceeds from the festival support this fantastic Trust. If you’d like to make a donation towards the trust directly you can do so here. All donations over $5 are tax deductible.

Banner and map image are included courtesy of the Banks Peninsula Walking Festival website. Keep up the amazing work team!

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

 

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!

Akaroa – 10 Free Things To Do!

akaroa beach

That’s right, a whole list of free awesome things to do in Akaroa!

akaroa waterfall
Newton’s waterfall in Akaroa
This summer there’s a whole heap of fun to be had on the peninsula. From family fun, scenic escapes or a road trip with your mates, Akaroa can cater to you all. Of course when you visit we recommend an Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise or a Swimming With Dolphins experience, but hey, Akaroa is full of fantastic gems and we want to share some of these with you.
So if you’re planning a trip to Akaroa soon and want some recommendations than read our pick of 10 free things to do in Akaroa while you’re there….

1. Newton’s Waterfall

Did you know that there is a waterfall in Akaroa? Enjoy walking, but short on time? Well this is the perfect de-tour for you. Try the Newton’s Waterfall walk, departing from Aylmer’s Valley Road. It’s a pretty easy 10-minute walk to the waterfall which flows all year round.
If you want to park the car near the waterfall what is at the end of Aylmers Valley Road, you have the option to (Please be aware that there is a limited of parking space).

akaroa lighthouse

2. The Akaroa Lighthouse

Did you know that the Lighthouse has been in Akaroa for over 40 years? It is now run by dedicated volunteers.  The best time to visit is on Sundays from 11am-2pm or on cruise ship days.
Have a look at this historic building, all it takes is a 10 – minute walk from Akaroa town along the water and through the beautiful nature. And make sure to take a picture in or around the lighthouse to remember the beautiful historic building.

3. The Ōnuku Marae. onuku marae

Picture perfect The Ōnuku Marae has been around for centuries and has been involved in some significant and historic events including the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Want to see the real culture of New Zealand ? Then take a visit to the Ōnuku Marae.
The Ōnuku Marae is located 5.2km away from the township and is a 9-10-minute walk along the coast and through the trees.
 For more information visit www.onuku.nz

4. The Rhino Walk, Akaroa

Yes we have Rhino and more in Akaroa….well it is wildlife albeit metal. This relaxing walk from the township to Childrens Bay will treat you to some fantastic wildlife sculptures along the way. Set against the backdrop of Akaroa harbour it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours. With a very short walk you can walk from the Akaroa town to the grass hill.
Go and explore the beautiful sculptures made from recycled metal that have been turned into something magical!

5. Jump into Summer! 

Want to go and have some water fun with your friends on a nice warm day? Come down to the beach and spend an afternoon jumping from the pontoon. You might even play a game of who can stay on the longest, or who can make the biggest splash! Remember to be safe when in and around the water…and slip, slop, slap that suncreen on!

6. Akaroa Skate Park

Good on wheels? Then take so time for the kids and adults to let off some energy down on the skate ramp.
Whether it’s with your BMX, your scooter, or skate board come down and enjoy the fun all year round.
Located at the very beginning on the right just before you hit the shops.
For a list of Skate parks in the region visit the councils web page here www.ccc.govt.nz/rec-and-sport/activities/skateparks/

7. Akaroa Beach

akaroa beachAfter all that exploring how about some time to lie down and relax. Kick back, work on that tan and just chill in the shade.
Whatever you fancy, simply grab your beach gear and come down.
If you’re feeling active you could play some beach or water games, bring down your kayak or paddle board and go explore the scenery or pack a good book and simply lay still and soak up some summer.
Listed as one of the best beaches in and around Christchurch! christchurchnz.com

8. Akaroa Museum

An absolute Akaroa treasure. If you want to find out more about the fascinating historical French township of Akaroa and the history of Banks Peninsula. Its varied collections include archives, art, photography, costume and textiles, taonga, and technology.You can also learn about what buildings are heritage buildings, and they provide a research service.
With it being open from 10:30am – 4:00pm during the winter and 10:30am – 4:30pm in the summer months you can come and visit 363 days a year for free.
Visit their website akaroamuseum.org.nz

9. Akaroa Playground

Akaroa is a great place to visit with children and the playground is a great spot for them to have a good run around.
Situated just behind the war memorial with views over the water front it’s a beautiful spot to have some fun. We suggest grabbing yourself a coffee and the kids some ice creams from the Sweet As Bakery on your way! Yum!

10. Delicious Akaroa

Speaking of ice cream did you know there’s a couple of cool spots to try some complimentary food tastings.

Interested in a little free fudge tasting or a delicious piece of cheese?
Come down to Pot Pourri to try some cream and butter fudge. Pot Pourri is located just as you come into Akaroa on the right-hand side after the playing field. They hand make a variety of fresh delicious fudge daily and offer a complimentary tasting before you buy.
Check out their Facebook page here .facebook.com
Or if you are more interested in the cheesy side of things then you must stop off at the Barrys Bay cheese factory to try some traditional handcrafted cheese.
Local New Zealand cheese, made by local people…they’ve been handcrafting cheese’s for over 120 years.
 Find out more here /www.barrysbaycheese.co.nz
We hope we’ve tempted you for a visit! Here’s to a great Kiwi summer of fun!