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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

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

KEEP YOURSELF AND THE OCEAN SAFE THIS SUMMER

We know how much Kiwis love playing in and around the water in the summertime.

We flock to our favorite beaches to swim, surf, paddle board, kayak, sail, water ski and more so it’s safe to say we are a nation of water lovers.…we may even do a once-in-a-lifetime swim with a certain marine mammal found here on Banks Peninsula. But whatever it is we like or want to do……..

Nothing is more important than safety when it comes to our oceans in Aotearoa.

So we have filled this blog with heaps of helpful tips. Water safety comes in two forms that we’ll cover: safety for you and safety for our ocean environment.

 

Safety for you on the water

When you’re on your vessel, you have sole responsibility for yourself and others’ marine safety. If your vessel is smaller than 4.8 metres, everybody on board must wear a lifejacket at all times. Make sure everyone’s life jacket fits using the graphic pictured here. Even on bigger vessels, make sure you have plenty of life jackets for every size to hand. Lifebuoys are also great when someone goes overboard, as pictured below.

Another extremely important aspect of boat safety is obeying speed limits. You must only go 5 knots when:

  • within 200m of the shore
  • within 200m of any structure
  • within 200m of a boat displaying a diver’s flag
  • within 50m of any other boat
  • within 50m of a person swimming
  • on a powerboat, if any person has any part of their body outside the rails or edge of the deck.

It’s good to know that when you’re aboard a Black Cat vessel, you’re in the safe hands of a MTOC accredited operator. What does that mean? We’ve been through the rigorous process of gaining certificates of approval from Maritime NZ. That means they’ve agreed we have a capable and well-trained crew, we have managed risk hazards, our boats are running smoothly, and we know what we’d do in an emergency. 

It’s a very good idea to keep clear of large vessels. They aren’t any good at quickly moving out of your way.

The Maritime website has everything you need to know about boat safety if you want to know more and here is a great visual guide on how to fit a life jacket safely. 

fit a life jacket safely
Safety on the water – How to fit a life jacket safely

 

General water safety rules you should always follow

 

Whatever you’re doing on the water, there are some universal tips to keeping safe. 

Assess the conditions before heading out there.

Plan ahead and check the weather and wind forecast. It’s usually the WIND AND SWELL that can cause the biggest problems. A great free website or app for this is Windy.  If it’s stormy or super windy, and the water is really choppy, don’t go out. If it’s getting dark, don’t go out there.

A great option is to GO WITH A FRIEND and have some way of communicating some-one on land. If you are going out alone tell someone responsible where you are going and what time you expect to be back.

You should also DRESS APPROPRIATELY, WEAR AN OCEAN FRIENDLY SUNSCREEN….and when taking part in any water sports ALWAYS WEAR A LIFEJACKET. Even in summer, hypothermia can still happen. New Zealand’s water isn’t tropical and the water gets colder the further out you go, or when you’re in the water for long enough. 

water safety what to do in a ripIf you ever get caught in a strong current or ‘rip’ DO NOT PANIC. Let yourself be carried by the rip as it won’t go forever. This way, you won’t exhaust yourself fighting against it. Once you stop getting carried, you can swim or paddle around the tip and safely get to shore. If you are swimming on a beach that is patrolled by lifeguards try to raise your arm if you can so you can hopefully get spotted and have one of the amazing New Zealand Surf Life Savers come to your rescue.

To upskill yourself in and around the water you could always join one of your local Surf Life Saving clubs. They have regular training sessions and best of all children can enroll from the age of 7 so they can help educate the next generation of young Kiwi’s on water safety. They even have a great page on how to stay safe at the beach any time of year which you can find here.

Safety for the environment 

water safety near wildlife
follow these guidelines when near marine mammals for optimum safety

New Zealand is a beautiful country, and we’re pretty good at keeping it that way. But we all need a reminder every now and then, and we have to keep at it every time we’re outside. Black Cat Cruises is also a SMART operator, and that’s not just us tooting our own horns. It means we are part of a voluntary collaboration between DOC and commercial vessels that are involved with marine mammals. DOC gives us guidelines to make sure we minimize our impact on their natural processes. The principles are carried to all marine life in Akaroa, from the little blue penguin and the fur seal to our beloved Hector’s Dolphins (and any other visits we get from Orcas or Humpback whales!) 

 

You can also follow these guidelines.

  • If you see another vessel near a marine animal, keep clear and wait for them to leave before approaching.
  • NEVER feed a marine animal.
  • Move very slowly and do not circle.
  • Don’t swim with dolphins that have juveniles (half the size of an adult or smaller).
  • Onshore, keep dogs on leashes near seals and give them space.
  • Don’t get between a seal and the sea. 

 

Also, keep a lookout for any vessel (fishing, commercial or private) which looks like it’s breaking the rules. You can report anything suspicious to 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).

For more tips, have a look at DOC’s article here

 

Finally, as the good saying goes; take only photographs and leave only footprints. But if you’ve made it this far through reading our blog, we already know you will.

You can always take it that next step further and pick up any rubbish you see on the shores. 

 

Keeping all of this in mind, along with some common sense, will make sure you, and everybody else, has a safe and awesome summer.

Why not make it even more awesome with Black Cat Cruises. Visit our website to book from one of our wonderful award-winning water based experiences!

 

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 

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.