Black Cat Cruises

From $7.50 for a Quail Island Return Trip from Black Cat Cruises (Value Up To $90)

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Today's treat gives you a chance to spend a half-day exploring the fascinating Quail Island. If you've been looking for a fun activity to spend with the kids, this treat is literally picture perfect.

From October through March, ferries will depart Lyttelton for Quail Island. Trips run every day of the week. No booking is required. Just come along on a day that suits you!

1 October - 30 November
Depart Lyttelton: 10:20am
Depart Quail Island: 3:30pm

1 December - 26 March
Depart Lyttelton: 10:20am & 12:20pm
Depart Quail Island: 12:30pm & 3:30pm

The Quail Island Walkway starting at the new wharf offers a circumference walk (2 hour round trip), and a shorter one-hour option. The easy walk takes in a view of the shipwrecks, leprosy graves and the kennels used for Scott's quarantined dogs.

Volcanic Cliffs
There are excellent examples of volcanic cliffs, which show how the island was formed 16 million years ago.

The Wards' Settlement
The Ward brothers bought part of Quail Island in 1851 and erected a small cottage. They farmed the island for just 2 months before tragedy struck; the 2 brothers where drowned taking firewood to the island.

Ballast Quarries
Early sailing ships arriving into Lyttelton often had to load up on return journeys with ballast rocks to keep their ships stable. Two sites on the island can be seen where tonnes of rock was taken from 1850 -1874.

Investigate 8 shipwrecks, which can be seen on the western side of the island.

Leprosy Colony
In 1907, the island was home to the first and only leprosy colony in New Zealand. One lonely soul died here and his grave can be viewed on the island. Up to 9 patients were housed here at its peak.

Antarctic Links
Robert Falcon Scott used Quail Island for quarantining and training dogs, ponies and mules for his Antarctic expeditions in 1901 and again prior to his ill-fated expedition to the South Pole in 1910. A replica kennel can be seen. Ernst Shackleton also used the island for this purpose in 1907.

Human and Animal Quarantines
In 1874 a quarantine station was built to isolate those immigrants who had spent 3 months at sea in cramped conditions with lack of fresh food and exercise. These conditions increased chances of disease and sickness. All imported stock from England had to be quarantined before arriving in Lyttelton.

Maori Use
The island was used for the collection of food - seabird eggs and fishing mostly by Maori children. The Maori name for the island is Otamahua, which means 'place to gather sea-bird eggs'.

The Quails
In 1842, the first European to set foot on the island, Captain Mein Smith, flushed a number of now-extinct native quail from the bush and named the island after the birds.

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