Sports and the Outdoors in Akaroa and the Banks Peninsula

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Sports and the Outdoors

Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruises & Swimming With Dolphins. The Black Cat catamaran runs Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruises and Swimming with Dolphins, (two different trips). On the Nature Cruise, you'll pull in beside huge volcanic cliffs and caves and bob around in the harbor entrance while tiny Hector's dolphins—an endangered and adorable species of dolphin with rounded dorsal fins that look like Mickey Mouse ears stuck on their backs—play in the wake of the boat. Trips leave daily and cost $NZ72. Or take your swimsuit and get in the water for the Swimming with Dolphins cruise, the only place in the world you can do so. Dolphin swim trips cost $NZ145 ($NZ75 to watch). Wet suits are provided and advance reservations are essential. Main Wharf, Akaroa, 7520. 03/304–7641 or 0800/436–574. www.blackcat.co.nz. Swimming with Dolphins not available in winter.

Banks Peninsula Track. The 35-km (22-mi) Banks Peninsula Track crosses lovely coastal terrain. From Akaroa hike over headlands and past several bays, waterfalls, and seal and penguin colonies, and you might even see Hector's dolphins at sea. Two-day and four-day self-guided hikes are available from October to April. The tracks follow the same route, so if you're a novice hiker or have plenty of time, take the four-day option. You will stay overnight in shared cabins with fully equipped kitchens. Rates include lodging, transport from Akaroa to the first hut, landowners' fees, and a booklet describing the features of the trail. No fear of overcrowding here—the track is limited to 16 people at a time. Banks Peninsula Track, Akaroa. 03/304–7612. www.bankstrack.co.nz. From $NZ160. Closed May–Sept.

Pohatu Penguins Nature & Sea Kayaking Safaris. Pohatu Marine Reserve is a key breeding area for the Little Penguin (korora), which are endemic to the Canterbury region. Best time for viewing is during the breeding season, September to January. You may also see the yellow-eyed penguin (hoiho), which also breed in the bay. Options range from day and evening penguin or nature tours (from $NZ75 per person) and sea-kayaking trips (from $NZ90). Price includes a scenic drive to Pohatu with photo stops along the way and there are several other tour options as well. An accommodation package is also available in a self-catering cottage inside the penguin colony—a rare opportunity—(from $NZ125 per person for 24-hour stay). All trips leave from Akaroa. Unit 2, 8 Rue Balguerie, Akaroa, 7520. 03/304–8542 or 021/246–9556. www.pohatu.co.nz. Subject to penguin breeding season.

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