About Black Cat Cruises

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. Proudly family-owned to this day, Black Cat Cruises has maintained its deep-rooted legacy.

From humble beginnings carrying a few hundred people per year in small canoes and dinghies, founders Ron and Durelle Bingham recognised the untapped potential of Akaroa and its wildlife as a tourist destination. They had two goals which we still follow closely: One was a 365 days-a-year commitment to getting out on the water. Such dedication means it takes a mighty southerly wind to stop our skippers from operating. The other is to raise the profile of New Zealand’s endangered wildlife including the Hector’s Dolphins, Fur Seals and Little Blue penguins.

Black Cat has weathered many storms through the years including many engine breakdowns, devastating earthquakes, painful personal losses, and a global pandemic to grow into one of the top cruise operations in New Zealand. 

The one thing that stands true for Black Cat is the importance of its people. Our vision has always been to deliver the highest quality of experiences, characterised by excellence in education, entertainment, and safety. We owe our success to our extremely passionate and dedicated team.

Handy man

Chris has lived on the peninsula for most of his life and has a fantastic knowledge of the area. He has been with us for several years now as swim boat skipper. Chris is also our handyman and can fix almost anything, boats, shelves, stairs. A “handy man” to have around!

paul bingham
Chairman of the board

I am lucky enough to be one of the shareholders and Chairman of the Board for Black Cat Cruises. I have been on board since 1999.

When I’m not working I’m either playing golf or spending time with my young family.


As the Chief Executive my life at Black Cat is a very busy one. I started out as a skipper for the Diamond Harbour Ferry and worked my way up the ranks. 10 year’s on and I’m now steering the company, along with the occasional boat.

marketing manager

Natasha joined our team as Sales and Marketing Manager in May 2013. I can’t think of anywhere more beautiful in the world to work than Akaroa. The team, cruises and environment are second to none!


Akaroa Manager

Pip is our General Manager here in Akaroa and has her finger on the pulse of everything on the wharf and the water. Pip has a long history with Blackcat and Akaroa.

Customer Service / photographer

Sonya is bit of a legend to us and has been with Blackcat in Akaroa more years than she can count. Sonya also helps out with customer service and always has a joke or two to make people smile. A local resident for most of her life, she is more than happy to answer questions about the town and its history.


Dan, a voice made for the radio is the voice of our Akaroa Nature Cruise. Dan started off as a crew member, photographer and is now our skipper of the big beautiful Black Cat catamaran in Akaroa.  

Finance Administrator

Kate keeps our boats afloat with her diligent finance and accounts. She’s a mean baker. Ask her about her lemon slice.

Health & Safety Manager

Ferg has been with us on and off for 15 years now. He’s been a Skipper, crew and now our super-efficient Health and Safety Manager, and all round great guy.


As an ex-fisherman, John loves early mornings. So much so, he has been getting up at 5am 5 mornings a week since 2005 to operate the Diamond Harbour Ferry!

He even got to meet Princess Anne to receive a Local Hero award after saving a fisherman who fell overboard in Lyttelton a few years ago – Go John!!

Deck Hand

Helen has been with us working on Blackcat for several years now. Helen makes a mean cup of coffee and is always ready to answer any questions on the boat. She is pretty handy with the ropes and a boat hook.


Hamish worked for Blackcat for eight years before he joined the New Zealand Fire Service. He missed us so much that he comes back to skipper the Blackcat and swim boats every now and then.


A long time employee at Black Cat Cruises, the thing I love about my job is that no 2 days are the same, you never know what sort of day you are going to get and variety is the spice of life!!


A key part of the team is our dolphin mascot seen on special occasions like the odd cruise ship welcome or santa parade!