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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

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!