Get up to $15 cash back per person when you book with us
4 hrs 30 min eco wildlife cruise in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, onboard a purpose-built marine research catamaran
Wildlife sighting guarantee or you get to come back for free (conditions apply)
Commentary from the knowledgeable crew & the opportunity to join interactive research activities
Every ticket purchased contributes directly to Marine Mammal Conservation
Where we Visit:
Hauraki Gulf Marine Park
Drinks & snacks from the onboard cafe & bar
Why do we love this
"We love it because these guys work closely with New Zealand's Department of Conservation, they conduct marine-biology research on board and are New Zealand's only research based marine mammal experience!"
What to Expect
This incredible eco safari direct from downtown Auckland offers breathtaking encounters with marine wildlife, including whales and dolphins. Enjoy a 4hr 30 min cruise onboard the luxurious Dolphin Explorer as you explore the beautiful Hauraki Gulf Marine Park in search of encounters with its amazing and diverse wildlife.
Your safari departs from the Viaduct Basin, just a short walk from all the major hotels and hostels in Auckland Central. Jump onboard the 65-foot (20-metre) catamaran and settle in as you head out to explore the beautiful Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, one of the most abundant and diverse marine parks in the world.
From the large open deck, enjoy views of famous Auckland landmarks like the Harbour Bridge, North Head and Devonport, and volcanic Rangitoto Island, as you watch out for orca and dolphins known to frequent the inner Waitemata Harbour.
As the crew provides knowledgeable commentary, the marine science experts conduct biological studies and invite you to join interactive research activities.
Because this cruise ventures into a wild, natural environment, every trip is different and the marine wildlife you might encounter varies from day to day. The cruise will typically encounter Bryde’swhales and common dolphins, but you may also meet pygmy blue whales, New Zealand fur seals, sharks, mantarays, turtles and up to 26 species of seabirds – including the little blue penguin.
As you return to Auckland, sit back, take advantage of the licensed cafe and bar, and enjoy the island views. Then, if you’re ready to learn more, there’s an optional research presentation so you can learn more about the wildlife you’ve encountered during your safari.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park can at times become reasonably rough if the wind and sea conditions are not favourable. For this reason we unfortunately do sometimes have to cancel our trip due to adverse weather for the safety and comfort of the passengers. We make this call at approximately 9am every morning and endeavour to inform all customers by 10am via the contact details provided. We recommend all customers check the marine weather forecast prior to booking, if you are unsure please contact our friendly reservations team
The trip generally takes about 4.5 hours, but this can change depending on conditions. It is the skipper’s call to return early, which they may make if the sea and wind conditions deteriorate. Our passenger's safety and comfort is always our first priority (and being sea sick is no fun). As per our guarantee below, no cash refunds will be given if the Dolphin Explorer has to return early.
Some trips may be slightly longer than the scheduled 4.5 hours (normally by 15—30 mins). This is usually because we have found something special on the way home. We need agreement from all of the passengers on board to spend additional time on the water, and there is no extra charge if we do. If you must be back in Auckland by 5pm, then please inform the skipper on boarding and we will do our upmost to achieve that.
Auckland is a micro-climate that is notoriously changeable. One moment it’s hot and the next minute it’s, well…not! So it’s best to be prepared and bring layers, like a light wind jacket or vest and a warm top. It’s also useful to have a sun hat (with chin strap – you don’t want it blowing away), sunscreen, sunglasses, camera and binoculars. Lastly, please bring flat-soled shoes. Anyone wearing heels will be asked to remove them.
Please also bring any personal medication with you, including any seasickness medication you may need, as we are not able to sell medicine on board. Don’t forget to bring your camera! Finally, you’re welcome to bring your own food and non-alcoholic drinks on board, otherwise, bring money to purchase snacks and drinks onboard.
If you are inclined to seasickness then please check the weather and medicate yourself several hours before boarding. Seasickness medication is available from most pharmacies and supermarkets. Unfortunately, we do not carry any remedies or medical relief onboard. If someone is feeling sick they need to tell a crew member and follow their instructions. We do provide sick bags for people to use, and we encourage you to do so!
Other medical conditions:
Please inform us upon booking if you have any pre-existing medical conditions that we should be made aware of. All members of the crew are fully trained in first aid response.
Viaduct Harbour is located at the western end (left as you are looking at the water) of Quay Street in downtown Auckland. Upon arrival by foot, you will need to look for the Voyager Maritime Museum entrance on your right. There are a number of car park buildings close to Viaduct Harbour. The closest is Downtown Car Park, which is situated at 31 Customs St West, Auckland. Please allow a minimum of 20minutes to park and walk to the Maritime Museum as these can become busy at peak times.
Our vessel, the Dolphin Explorer, is a 20-metre (65-foot) Powercat. The boat was purpose-built to maximise our passenger viewing experience while making the trip as comfortable as possible. Dolphin Explorer can carry up to 100 passengers.
We are very fortunate that the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park has dolphins and whales resident year-round, so any time of year is a great time to join us on safari. We’re more likely to see very large pods of dolphins banding together in winter, which is a great reason to brave the cold instead of waiting for summer!
People in light wheelchairs with some mobility can generally be accommodated. Our vessel has two stairs in the boarding area that passengers must be able to navigate (with carer support if required). Not all areas and viewing decks are wheelchair accessible. Our main level indoor area has a 15cm door sill. The bathrooms have a 15cm door sill and limited space inside. Heavy or motorised wheelchairs are not suitable, as they are too large and heavy to be lifted onto the boat. The maximum width of a wheelchair able to be brought on board is 67cm.
This tour is not suitable for heavily pregnant women. Children under 5 years are suitable for the trip only if closely supervised by a parent or caregiver.
All passengers must check-in no later than 15 minutes before departure time.
Schedules may change without notice for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to, bad weather and technical disruptions.
The Operator reserves the right to cancel or change a tour at any time in the interests of passenger safety.
The Operator does not offer refunds if you do not see any marine animals. However, you attend the tour again free of charge until you do. This complimentary voucher is valid regardless of how long it is until you visit us again and is not transferable. We see dolphins on over 90% of trips and whales over 75% of trips, so your odds are really good!
You may cancel a booking up to 6:00 pm the day before travel without incurring a financial penalty.
Cancellations after 6:00 pm the day before travel will be considered ‘no shows’ and a 100% cancellation fee applies.
Terms and conditions
By purchasing a ticket, you confirm that you have read, understood and accept the following terms and conditions: ________________________________________ WEATHER/CANCELLATION We do not guarantee that your tour will take place at the scheduled time. Schedules may change without notice for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to, bad weather and technical disruptions. Scheduled times do not form part of your contract with us. In rough sea conditions, the boat captain may increase child age limits or place restrictions on or refuse to carry passengers with medical conditions and/or limited mobility and on passengers who are pregnant. We reserve the right to cancel or change a tour at any time in the interests of passenger safety. Weather and sea conditions can change quickly, and this may alter the status of your tour at any time. We will inform you of any cancellations by the contact details you have provided, before 10.00am on the day of departure. In the event of such a cancellation, we will refund passengers if they are unable to come on another day. Those passengers who have booked online or through third-party booking agents please refer to the booking confirmation documents they have provided for details on how to claim your refund. Please note that it is the responsibility of the customer to check that their Safari is running and The Operator will not be held liable for any costs incurred because of the customer not being aware of a cancelled Safari. ________________________________________ BOOKINGS, CHANGES AND CANCELLATIONS We do not charge a booking fee. We do not charge a fee for changing and/or updating your booking before 6pm the day before travel. Changes to bookings after 6pm the day before travel are not permitted. You may cancel a booking up to 6pm the day before travel without incurring a financial penalty. Cancellations after 6pm the day before travel will be considered ‘no shows’ and a 100% cancellation fee applies. CHILD FARES Children’s fares – under 15 years. Children must be accompanied by a paying adult. CREDIT CARDS We accept VISA, MASTERCARD and AMERICAN EXPRESS credit cards as well as Bank Debit Cards. We do not charge a credit card transaction fee. Unfortunately, due to the number of fraudulent credit card transactions, we now require all passengers who purchased their tickets online to produce at check-in, the credit card that was used plus suitable photo identification. We reserve the right to refuse boarding to anyone who cannot comply with this policy. If you have booked a discount rate through a travel agent on WeChat or Weibo, the booking may have been made with a stolen credit card. ________________________________________ CHECK-IN DEADLINE All passengers are required to check in no later than 15 minutes prior to departure time. Please be aware that your allocated seats may be released to stand-by passengers if you do not check-in by this time. There is no refund available for those passengers who arrive late, and additional fees may apply should you wish to reschedule. The boat will not be held for you if you arrive late at the departure point. We are not liable to you for any direct or indirect loss or damage you may suffer as a result of your late arrival at either check-in or the departure point. ________________________________________ HEALTH AND SAFETY We may refuse to carry you if we, acting reasonably, are not completely satisfied that it is practicable and safe for you to participate in the tour. Before you make any booking, you must tell us if you (including all participants in your booking) suffer from any illness, disease or other mobility or medical condition which may make it impracticable or unsafe for you or other passengers to participate in the tour, or if you think you could be affected by adverse sea and weather conditions. All tours carry a degree of risk and by participating in the tour provided by us you are expressly assuming those risks personally and are, to the maximum extent permitted by law, releasing us and our officers and employees from any liability, claims, losses, damages or expenses caused by any event, including, but not limited to: personal injury or death, property loss or damage, acts which may be construed as negligent or accidental, any other loss, damage, suffering, emotional or nervous disorder. To ensure maximum safety and enjoyment of the tour by yourself and other passengers you must follow all reasonable instructions given by our staff before, during and after the tour and you agree that you will ensure that any children in your care do the same. You are responsible for the safety and protection of your own personal possessions at all times. Even if you have a booking, we may refuse to carry you if we reasonably believe that carrying you may put the safety of the boat or the safety or health of any person in the boat in danger or at risk, or if you have not obeyed the instructions of our staff or a member of the crew of the boat relating to safety or security, or if you require special assistance and you have not previously made arrangements for such assistance, or if you are drunk or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or we reasonably believe you are in unlawful possession of drugs.
MEDICAL CONDITIONS Please read carefully the first paragraph of ‘Health and Safety’. ________________________________________ SIGHTING GUARANTEE Rather than issuing you with a refund, if you do not see any Whales or Dolphins during your tour, we will issue you and your party a Complimentary Voucher. This complimentary voucher is valid regardless of how long it is until you visit us again. This Voucher is not transferable to another party and it cannot be redeemed for cash. Please note that travel on this Complimentary Voucher is on a standby basis. ________________________________________ IMAGE USE/PRIVACY The passenger acknowledges and gives consent for The Operator by itself or through an agent to take photographs, audio or video recordings, or other forms of recordings that capture the passenger’s image, likeness, voice, performance or all of these (“Images”) during the course of this activity / tour. The passenger acknowledges and gives consent for The Operator to receive and use Images of the passenger from other. The Operator may use Images for marketing and promoting its services. The ways in which the Images will be used for marketing purposes include, but are not limited to, incorporating the Images in print, broadcast, internet media, direct marketing channels, downloadable content and applications, and all other media, platform or technology now known or to be developed for distribution around the world. The Images may be altered, modified, changed, combined or incorporated into other works. The passenger has a right to request access to the passenger’s Images and to correction of those Images to ensure they are complete and not misleading. However, the passenger acknowledges that if the Images have been incorporated into marketing materials, it may not be reasonably practicable for The Operator to make any changes to the Images. The passenger authorises The Operator to refuse the request to correction in such circumstances. ________________________________________ AGREEMENT By purchasing a tour ticket, you are saying that you understand and accept the above terms and conditions and that you: (1) agree that your successors, executors, administrators and next of kin are bound by the terms and conditions; (2) agree, to the maximum extent permitted by law, not to commence any litigation or proceedings in any country in relation to the risks and perils of the tour and to indemnify us against any such claims; (3) consent to receive medical treatment in the case of injury, accident or illness during the tour and to indemnify us against any claims in respect of this treatment; (4) agree that any photographs, films, sound, video or other recordings taken of events or people by anyone during the tour will not be used in any promotion or advertising without our consent, however, we may use such images or recordings at our complete discretion without any prior approval; (5) confirm that the email address you have provided belongs to you or is authorised for your use and that you consent to us sending to you, from time to time and until you unsubscribe, marketing information (including surveys) in relation to our business and your experience with us; (6) agree that this Agreement is governed by New Zealand law and the exclusive jurisdiction of the New Zealand courts.