- Your Black Cat dolphin swim experience
- Ensuring an Unforgettable Dolphin Swim
- Schedule and Prices
- How to Get to Akaroa & how to find us in Akaroa
- My Trip Photos
Your Black Cat dolphin swim experience
With Black Cat Cruises you will enjoy an incredible experience, swimming with some of the world’s smallest, friendliest and rarest dolphins. Hector’s Dolphins are protected in Akaroa Harbour by a marine mammal sanctuary and our cruise gives you the chance to see these beautiful marine mammals close up.
- Black Cat’s Dolphin Swimming adventure allows only 12 swimmers per vessel, so you’ll have more chances to come face to face with the dolphins
- We operate up to 16 cruises per day November – March (Summer), up to 8 per day in April and October and 1 per day May – September (Winter)
- With only 12 swimmers allowed per vessel, cruises are frequently sold out, which makes it essential for you to book in advance
- Black Cat’s dolphin swimming cruises cost $145 per adult and $115 per child. If you don’t want to swim, you can watch from the swim boats for $75 per adult and $35 per child. All prices are quoted in New Zealand dollars and include GST (goods and service tax).
- Akaroa Harbour is the flooded crater of an extinct volcano. Apart from the huge and awe-inspiring volcanic cliffs, this also means that the harbour is very sheltered. A lot of the time, especially in summer, your dolphin swim will be inside the sheltered harbour.
- Black Cat was the first cruise boat company in the world to get the coveted Green Globe 21, an international programme to ensure best environmental practices.
Our Dolphin Swimming Guarantee
The great thing about viewing or swimming with dolphins is that you are doing it in their natural habitat completely on their terms, and so of course we cannot absolutely ‘guarantee’ dolphins on every single trip, and nor can any other operator.
Sometimes dolphins may have calves with them, or are feeding, mating or just resting. It’s important for us not to interact with dolphins when they don’t want to.
But you may be interested to know that in the last 12 months we saw dolphins on 98% of our cruises and had successful swims on 81% of our swim trips. So you have to be a bit unlucky to miss out!
We understand that a dolphin experience is important to our customers so we have devised a guarantee of sorts which is as follows:
Swimming with dolphins: if you don’t see any dolphins (average 2% of cruises) then we give you a cash refund of $80 or a ticket to come back another day. If the dolphins just don’t want to interact with swimmers (average 17% of cruises) then we give you a $50 cash refund or an $80 shop voucher.
Remember this is not a guarantee to see dolphins on our trips but it is a guarantee that you get to see them another day or get a partial refund (refunds for swimmers only).
Pre-Booking EssentialBooking your dolphin swim is easy. Just fill out the online booking form at the bottom of the screen, or call our 24 hour phone line (64) 3 304 7641. You can also fax us your booking on (64) 3 304 7643.
Remember we only carry 12 swimmers per trip so book now to avoid disappointment.
Ensuring an Unforgettable Dolphin SwimYou are booking a three hour experience. Please allow half an hour before departing for a full briefing, about two hours on the water (of which up to an hour is spent with the dolphins) and half an hour afterwards for showering and receiving your gift pack.
All our crew are highly trained on safety and how to maximise your dolphin swimming experience. This means that you’ll get a great briefing on how to interact with the dolphins and what to expect prior to your journey. They’ll also give you safety instructions and other information to allow you to enjoy your experience. If you are new to snorkeling and using a wetsuit, your crew will be on hand to help you out.
We provide wetsuits, masks and snorkel. You only have to bring you swimming costume and a towel. We’ll provide you with a hot shower afterwards and there’s a hot drink after your swim.
Our office is based on Akaroa's main wharf, so when you are in your wetsuit you can get straight into your boat ready for departure.
We have modern vessels. Our main boat is a heated, covered, jet powered catamaran. It’s safer for you and the dolphins because there are no propellers. It’s also heated so after your swim you can warm up quickly in the cabin. Our second vessel is not covered however we use it only during the summer months. You can specify the covered vessel when you are booking online.
Quality assured - You’ll be cruising with an award winning company that is also Qualmark rated, a quality assurance programme to recognise those tourism operators who are prepared to go the extra mile.
Souvenir gift pack. We’re the only operator in Akaroa to provide a gift pack as a souvenir of your swim. The pack includes your black and silver swim certificate, dolphin information sheet and a free postcard, perfect for sending to a friend or relative.
Photographs of you in the water. We are the only dolphin swimming operator in New Zealand to offer photographs of your experience. This is a great memento that includes images of you in the water with the dolphins. The pack also includes a CD with video and lots of pictures and further information about dolphins.
Help protect the Dolphins. Every booking with us makes a donation to ongoing research and education on Hector’s dolphins. Our company was also the first cruise boat company in the world to get the coveted Green Globe 21, an international programme to ensure best environmental practices.
Refund Policy. Our refund policy details are as follows –
- Cancellation of swim based on weather conditions. Full refund is applicable.
- No dolphins. Refund of $80 of the value of your ticket.
- No Swim. Dolphins are seen but swim not judged good enough. Flat rate of $50 back for swimmers only.
Booking your dolphin swim is easy. Just fill out the online booking form, or call our 24 hour phone line (64) 3 304 7641. You can also fax us your booking on (64) 3 304 7643.
Schedule and Prices
Report time at 8.30am, 11.30am, 1.30pm, 3.30pm on demand (11.30am only from May to Sep)
Two hours on the water(plus half an hour before and after)
$145 ($75 to watch)
$115 [8 to 15 years] (watching $35) [5-15 years]
children under the age of 12 need to have an adult swimming with them
Prices are in New Zealand dollars and include GST.
How to get to AkaroaAkaroa is located around 80 to 90 minutes drive from Christchurch city and Christchurch International Airport. It is an easy drive in a car through New Zealand farmland and then over the hills to Akaroa. See http://maps.google.com/ for detailed directions of how to get from Christchurch to Akaroa.
Once in Akaroa, continue along Rue Lavaud which turns into Beach Rd, look for the long wharf in the centre of the town. You’ll see our large blue building on the wharf with a dolphin mural painted on the roof. You can also find us at 61 Beach Road. Print this map out to help you navigate.
For tours to Akaroa including transport from Christchurch you can choose one of these options. All of these operators link with Black Cat Cruises.
Tel 0800 847 455
Akaroa French Connection
Tel 0800 800 575
Tel 0800 500 929
Canterbury Leisure Tours
Tel 0800 484 485
Tel 03 337 1185
Tel + 64-3-3578262
Phone 0800 08 07 06 (NZ only))
OR contact a reservations centre such as
Christchurch information centre (i-site)
Tel 03 379 9629
What to BringBring your swimming costume and a towel. Everything else is provided for you including wetsuit, mask, snorkel, booties, gloves and a hood if necessary. During the low season months of May to September we provide dry suits. With a dry suit you can wear normal clothes underneath and remain 100% dry. Note you should wear warm clothes suitable for a cool day, so a polar fleece, polypropylene underwear, woollen socks and trousers are recommended. Jeans are not suitable.
The water temperature in Akaroa Harbour ranges from 11C (52F) in the winter to 17C (67F) in the summer.
Information for ParentsLike a lot of adults, children love dolphins and swimming with them can be an unforgettable experience. The minimum age is 8 years old and children should be confident swimmers; they will be close to the boat but obviously will be in water over their heads. Children under the age of 12 need to have an adult swimming in the water with them.
Wetsuits help to keep them floating - without effort, and your guide will provide a floating noodle, if necessary, and keep a very close eye on them. If you have your own wetsuit please bring it along, we have some children’s wetsuits available too.
Preschool age children can come out in the boat to watch the dolphins if supervised. We suggest that while one person is swimming your partner is supervising the children, and then you swap over at half time. If you are travelling alone with your child, unfortunately we do not have child care facilities - we suggest a dolphin watching cruise as a safer option.
Essential Information to Swim with the DolphinsCustomers must have a basic skill level of swimming ability. Obviously the water is over your head and a degree of confidence in swimming is required.
Customers must declare any pre-existing medical conditions which may limit your participation.
A basic level of fitness is required. You will be floating in the water and will be required to swim to and from the boat - distances up to 50 metres (150 feet) at a time.
Minimum age for children. Swimming with dolphins is not available for children under 8 years old. A fit and confident child aged 8 and above is able to swim with dolphins. Please note children under the age of 12 need to have an adult swimming in the water with them.
Customers must bring with them a swimming costume and towel.
Customers should have some knowledge of English, so you can understand safety instructions and emergency procedures. If you do not speak English, you should be able to read and understand the foreign language safety instructions and be confident that you can communicate with crew using the pre-agreed hand signals in the event of an emergency.
Customers must not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.