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Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari

Join this unique whale & dolphin watching safari in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, with guaranteed sightings or you get to try again for free!

Auckland, New Zealand
DurationDuration4 hrs 30 min
Start & End TimeStart & End TimeVaries
Max Group SizeMax Group Size100
Pick-Up & Drop-OffPick-Up & Drop-OffNot included
Minimum AgeMinimum AgeAll ages
MealsMealsNot included

What's Included

  • 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

What's Excluded

  • 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’s whales and common dolphins, but you may also meet pygmy blue whales, New Zealand fur seals, sharks, manta rays, 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.


There are two unisex toilets on board the boat and there is a limited amount of seating available indoors.


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.



Terms & Conditions:
  • 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!
Cancellation Policy:
  • 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.

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