Welcome to Banks Peninsula, home of The Hector’s dolphins and eco-tourism pioneers Black Cat Cruises



A public poll has revealed that Australians consider swimming with Hector’s dolphins in Akaroa Harbour as number one on their New Zealand bucket list of experiences.

More than 18,000 Australians voted in the online poll hosted by tour and attractions aggregator Experience OZ and NZ. Black Cat Cruise’s swimming with Hector’s dolphins in Banks Peninsula’s Akaroa Harbour came out on top of the 100 experiences listed.

The Black Cat team are “over the moon? with the result, Chief Executive Paul Milligan said.

“This special recognition follows on from a successful year at the tourism awards and just reinforces the uniqueness of what we do.

Black Cat won the Business Excellence Award (less than $6 million turnover) at the 2016 New Zealand Tourism Awards.

“Swimming with the Hector’s dolphins is an incredible experience and one that can only be done here in Akaroa, Milligan said.

Popularity of Black Cat’s dolphin swim has been increasing steadily, with over 10,000 people taking part in the experience annually, of which more than 10 per cent were Australians. Demand has sparked the need to extend tour times into the winter seson, allowing locals and visitors to swim with the Hector’s dolphins year round.

Big News – We’re Swimming All Year Round!

“Following last year’s upgrade to our facilities, for the first time since before the earthquakes we feel that we can offer a world-class experience all year round? Milligan said.

The results of the vote didn’t come as a surprise to the Chairman of Akaroa District Promotions (ADP) Andrew Dalglish.

“Where else can you swim with the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin in a drowned volcano? he said.

“The experience will only be enhanced, too, as the marine reserve develops and flourishes.

“Black Cat has a large presence in town, and the fact they will now run dolphin swim experiences during the winter months will continue their valuable contribution to the area throughout the year, Dalglish added.

Other popular New Zealand experiences, such as cruising Fiordland’s Sounds and the Lord of the Rings tours, were among the top ten. Experience Oz and NZ worked with local New Zealand tourism bodies and tour operators to create a comprehensive list of 100 must-do adventures, from which the public was asked to vote for their own essential New Zealand experience.

“We are delighted that we received a massive level of participation from Aussies sharing their thoughts on what would be their ideal dream New Zealand experience, and are happy for the team at Black Cat Cruises who offer what’s been called ‘one of the most magical wildlife encounters in the world’, Matt Hobbs, marketing manager of Experience OZ and NZ, said.

“Our goal for the campaign was to emphasise the extensive range of unique experiences New Zealand has to offer – many of which cannot be done in Australia – in order to inspire Aussie travellers to take their next holiday across the ditch rather than to more distant overseas travel destinations.

Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism has just finished two marketing campaigns in Australia in collaboration with Tourism New Zealand and the Christchurch International Airport.

Akaroa remains a popular destination for Australian visitors, Angela Gordon, General Manager Marketing at Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism, said.

“In Australia, you might have to travel a long way to do an activity like Black Cat’s dolphin experience, but once you’re in Christchurch, it’s just so close and accessible.

“Australians are Canterbury’s largest visitor market. It’s great news for the team at Black Cat – to be recognised as offering a unique attraction that people can share with family and friends.


Don’t forget that you can also win your very own private Swimming With Dolphins experience in Akaroa for you and up to 9 friends! Simply follow this link and upload a pic of you and your mates . Entries close March 31st, 2017.
About the poll
Experience Oz and NZ’s poll ran from 23 January 2017 until 20 February 2017 and received more than 18,000 votes in total. Voting was open to all Australians 18 years and over.
A random-draw prize offered to one poll participant includes a seven-day trip to New Zealand for two, with flights, accommodation and a handful of top experiences included in the voting options.