Akaroa 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 stunning Banks Peninsula 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. Print this map out to help you navigate. You can also find us at 61 Beach Road.
Cruise ship passengers will disembark directly onto the main wharf in Akaroa. This is where our main booking office and gift shop is located. Please allow enough time for you tender boat to reach the wharf in time for your activity check in
Need help getting to Akaroa? Click here for transport options.
Voted the number 1 wildlife activity in New Zealand, your award winning cruise is packed with highlights including the rare, NZ native dolphin – the Hector’s Dolphin, as well as penguins and other sea birds. And you’ll see giant volcanic sea cliffs and hear about Akaroa’s fascinating past. Cruises depart every day, weather permitting.
Travel In Style
Your modern catamaran, the 60 foot /20 metre Black Cat (previously the Canterbury Cat), is perfect for viewing the natural wonders of Akaroa Harbour. Our vessel is the largest and most luxurious on the harbour. There’s lots of room on the two decks for unimpeded viewing and plenty of covered seating, for shade and shelter. Inside there’s a bar and toilets. And the Black Cat is both stable and safe. Relax, stretch out and discover the harbour with our award winning Black Cat Cruise team. Each cruise is fully narrated by your skipper who has extensive knowledge of the nature, wildlife and history of the harbour.
Also on the trip you will catch glimpses of the White Flippered Blue Penguin, the smallest penguin in the world. There are many different bird species in the harbour, including five different cormorant (shag) species and the endangered yellow-eyed penguin. You’ll also see New Zealand Fur Seals sunning themselves on the rocks near Seal Bay.
On each two-hour cruise we will endeavour to show you wildlife plus the many sea caves and volcanic cliffs. As Akaroa Harbour was a live volcano millions of years ago, there are many spectacular ancient lava flows to be seen. One cliff has a sheer 500-foot face and a fascinating history, while Nikau Palm Gully is the southernmost limit for these tropical palm trees. There is also the incredible Scenery Nook, an amazing pink, purple and red volcanic amphitheatre that will take your breath away.
Our catamarans are suitable for families and for young children. The vessels have high rails, however we suggest that children are supervised at all times both for their own safety and for the enjoyment of the other people on board.
We also suggest warm clothes, a hat and sun screen lotion.
Under 5’s travel for free. Ask about our special family passes available on morning cruises only. Snacks including chips and soft drinks are available on board.
The following provides a guideline to those of our customers who have a physical disability. We can cater for customers who are blind or have a loss of a limb.
For those with a mental illness we have never had any issues in the past provided there is good support from friends and family.
Below are more details focused on those in wheelchairs.
Information for Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruises customers with a disability
We welcome customers in wheelchairs, with able body companions. We’ve invested in proper ramps to enable customers to get on and off the Black Cat with ease. Once on the Black Cat you will have access to a wide area of the bottom deck at the stern (rear) of the boat. The top deck is only accessible via a relatively steep set of steps. The bow area is not accessible because its quite a narrow walk up each side (too narrow for a wheelchair). You also have access to the main cabin of the vessel though this means you have to get over a 30cm lip from the back deck. In the back of the boat you will be able to see the harbour and the dolphins provided they circle the boat, which they normally do. It is however not the quietest part of the boat when she is travelling at speed because the engines are in the back. Sorry the toilets on board Black Cat are not wheelchair friendly.
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The award-winning Black Cat Cruises is not only an acclaimed success in New Zealand’s tourism industry but also internationally recognized as an eco-tourism pioneer. We hold the honour of being the first to introduce cruises in Akaroa, and we're proud to be acknowledged as New Zealand’s very first eco-tourism operator.
Our Nature Cruises and Dolphin Swimming experience depart from Akaroa which is only a 90 minute scenic drive from Christchurch. The Diamond Harbour and Quail Island ferry depart from Lyttelton in Christchurch.