Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari

Experiencing the Hauraki Gulf’s abundant marine life up close is an unforgettable Auckland attraction and something not to be missed while staying or travelling through the area. The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is an unrivalled place for dolphin and whale watching in Auckland and a tour with the Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari will give you the chance to get up close to these wonderful creatures. This is not only of the most fun things to do in Auckland, it also gives you the chance to learn about the very important conservation work that goes on in the Gulf and to become part of the research team yourself for a few hours.

 auckland dolphin safari

Experience some of Auckland’s most incredible wildlife up close on a Whale and Dolphin Safari (Photo credit: Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari)

The daily 4½-hour Eco-cruise starts out from the New Zealand Maritime Museum at Viaduct Harbour right downtown in the city of Auckland. Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari’s purpose-built ‘Dolphin Explorer’ is a 20-metre luxury PowerCat capable of accommodating up to 100-people and has a cafe and fully licensed bar on-board. This impressive vessel quickly whisks you away from the city and within minutes you are into the marvellous waters of the Hauraki Gulf where you will be thrilled by the sight of diverse marine mammals, fishes and birds.

The 1.2-million hectares of protected area in the Hauraki Gulf provides the opportunity for some spectacular dolphin watching in Auckland, with dolphins seen on over 90% of Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari trips. What’s more, if you don’t see any marine mammals during the trip you can go out again for free!  That’s not likely, though, because Andy, the experienced captain knows the best places to experience some incredible Auckland whale watching. There are over 22-species of dolphins and whales within the park and one of the most common sightings is of the Bryde’s whale which is in Nationally Critical status in New Zealand. These gentle giants feed on the surface and so are often spotted enjoying a feast of plankton, krill or small fish.

 auckland whale safari

Meeting a Hauraki Gulf local – the amazing Bryde's whale (Photo credit: Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari)

The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park contains over 30 major island groups and the area is visited by one-third of all species of marine mammals found on the planet. You might spot a New Zealand fur seal who often sit up in the water with their fore flippers above the surface and love to roll about and play in the water. Or maybe you will get to see sharks, stingrays, seals, sea turtles, and certainly many kinds of fish. The gulf is home to or is visited by a huge diversity of life and it is a very important place for learning how to preserve endangered species.

During the entire trip, there is an expert commentary which is both interesting and educational, and you can ask questions and interact with the marine research scientists on board. This is the only Auckland dolphin cruise which takes place on a working research ship and it gives you a fantastic opportunity to learn all about the marine-biology research that happens on board ship and the importance that this has for conservation projects. The scientists on the Dolphin Explorer have been working closely with the Department of Conservation for over 16-years in preserving and protecting marine life and promoting healthy oceans.

To enjoy an unforgettable dolphin cruise in Auckland head in to the city after picking up your Auckland Airport rental car from Omega. Remember to bring a jacket along as the weather can change quickly and it can get nippy out on the water. Also, wear flat-soled shoes and bring a hat (with a tie) sunglasses, sunscreen, and don't forget your camera and binoculars. Then just sit back and enjoy one of the top attractions in Auckland.