Whale & Dolphin Conservation Experience

Whale & Dolphin Conservation Experience

Conveniently departing from the Viaduct Basin in central Auckland, jump aboard our 65ft (20-mtr) catamaran the 'Dolphin Explorer' and take in the sights and sounds as you depart the city. Relax on the boat’s large open deck or comfortable lounges while you enjoy a tour past iconic Auckland landmarks (Auckland city, harbour bridge, North Head/Devonport and Rangitoto Island), all the while keeping a close eye out for Orca and Bottlenose dolphins which are known to regularly visit these waters.

The educational experience begins immediately with the crew providing expert commentary on the marine ecosystem seen in Auckland - from the purity of the water right up to the apex predators of whales and dolphins. This is a great opportunity to stop briefly and conduct our first research activities - an interactive secchi disc drop, plankton scoop and micro-plastic sampling, of which important scientific data will be taken and shared with our research partners.

After this it's out past the beautiful Hauraki Gulf Islands to where a plethora of wildlife awaits. A typical safari is likely to encounter our resident Bryde’s whales and Common dolphins along with an amazing variety of seabirds. There is also a chance to see many other species including Blue whales, Humpbacks, Minke, Sei or Southern Right whales, Bottlenose dolphins, New Zealand fur seals, sharks, manta ray and of course the amazing Orca (Killer whale). Once spotted enjoy up-close viewing of these fascinating (and in some cases critically endangered) ocean creatures. More than just simply watching them, our friendly crew also provide the opportunity to learn about what you are seeing via direct interaction and live commentary.

Being wild animals in their natural environment, every trip is different. However typically after three hours the boat will begin to head back towards Auckland. Sit back, take advantage of the on-board licensed bar/food offerings and enjoy the island and city views while sitting in quiet contemplation of the natural beauty you have just witnessed. There is also the opportunity to participate in an optional research presentation for those who are interested in learning even more.

Once back into the viaduct harbour it’s a quick disembark, thank you and the best wishes from the 'Dolphin Explorer' crew.

Tour Info

Tour Type: Cruises & Sailing Adventures
From: Auckland to Auckland
Price: From (NZD) $179 per person
Duration: 1/2 Day
Tour Code: WDS


4.5hr total time (minimum 4x hours on water)
Guaranteed marine-mammal viewing (or come back for free)
Commentary on the culture and history of Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf
Vessel is Dolphin Explorer
Fully licensed bar & snacks available for purchase

Whale & dolphin watching aboard New Zealand’s leading marine conservation experience.

Discover the diverse marine wildlife and stunning scenery of Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. Departing direct from the Viaduct harbour in central Auckland city, this 4hr cruise enjoys up-close viewing of wild marine mammals and rare seabirds living in their natural habitat in one of the most abundant and diverse marine parks on the planet.

Offering much more than just a wildlife watching trip, you’ll also get to learn from the marine-researchers on board working to protect the whales, dolphins and their fragile home. Be inspired by the research conducted alongside you on the comfortable 65ft (20m) vessel, get involved with some of the interactive research studies being conducted and enjoy an expert education from the crew about whales, dolphins and our other marine wildlife.

Providing a fantastic opportunity to get out on Auckland’s beautiful Waitematā harbour, the cruise also takes in views and commentary of numerous local landmarks including Auckland city, the Harbour Bridge, North Head/Devonport, Rangitoto and Tiritiri Matangi Island to name but a few.

Schedule & Duration

  • Frequency: Daily (weather permitting)
  • Departure Point: Voyager Maritime Museum Viaduct Harbour, Quay St, Downtown Auckland
  • Departure / Return Time:
    8.00am – 12.30pm (November – February, Summer Months)
    1.30pm – 6.00pm (Daily)
  • Duration: 4.5 hours
  • Closed: Christmas Day

Important Information

  • This tour must be booked at least 72 hours in advance of travel
  • Confirmation for this product will be received within 24 hours of booking, subject to availability
  • Tour is operated in English unless otherwise stated
  • Complete operator information, including opening times and local contact telephone numbers are included on your e-voucher

General Information

  • In winter months we advise dressing warmly – jackets and warm clothes recommended
  • No wheelchair access is available on the boat. Anyone with physical disabilities that require human intervention must be accompanied by their caregivers/support people.
  • There is a toilet located on board
  • A portion of your fare contributes to marine mammal research and conservation
  • Maximum passengers is 100
  • Experienced crew providing full commentary
  • A modern fleet of luxury craft specifically designed for cruising around New Zealand

Tourism Affiliations

Qualmark Endorsed Visitor ActivityQualmark Enviro Silver


There are 9 reviews of this tour from past clients of Relaxing Journeys, averaging 4.3 out of 5.

Tour Reviews

I had a fantastic time with the tour, the staff and the boat! Although it was cold and windy and rainy at times, we managed to find a few pods of very beautiful and playful dolphins and lots of seabirds diving for fish! The weather too offered beautiful photography opportunities. No whales but thanks to the free voucher I got, I sure will be back next time in town! Thanks :-)
Overall Tour Rating

The crew was highly knowledgeable on the relative habits of birds to locate the likely presence of whale and dolphins. As a result the whale watch was successful and very enjoyable.
Overall Tour Rating

Unfortunately we did not see one dolphin or whale on the trip. We did see a lot of birds. Apparently this is extremely unusual and it was the first time this year and also for some months. The crew were most professional and handled our disappointment as best as they could. We all got a voucher for a free tour (valid indefinitely) so if I ever come back I will try again.
Overall Tour Rating

Did not get to see the expected animals and was given a return voucher. Instead of giving out a return voucher, it should have been a refund as I would not know if I were to return back to Auckland again. More over, there is no guarantee that the company will run forever.
Overall Tour Rating

Absolutely amazing trip, would not hesitate in recommending to others. Really friendly and knowledgeable crew, and we saw hundreds (literally) of dolphins, plus a whale with her baby too. Lots of birds also spotted, and great to get out further from the Auckland base and see some of the smaller islands. I even got to drive the boat!
Overall Tour Rating

Fantastic Tour!!! We had good luck that day- saw both dophins and whalea. A lot of fun!
Overall Tour Rating

The Whale & Dolphin safari was great, even though the weather was quite breezy. Unfortunately, we couldn't hear the captain's explanations over the speaker system, but the whale and dolphin sightings made up for that.
Overall Tour Rating

The whale and dolphin tour was awesome. We got to see both whales and dolphins just like advertised. My pictures turned out amazing and my friends were all amazed at how my pictures turned out. Great crew and very knowledgeable! Would do this again and would recommend it to friends.
Overall Tour Rating

Excellent tour with nice people genuinely interested in what the are doing. We rarely do organised tours but not having a boat with us kinda meant we couldnt 'do it ourselves'! So well worth it and a very very nice experience.
Overall Tour Rating

Booking Form: Whale & Dolphin Conservation Experience

Whale & Dolphin Conservation Experience
Sightseeing Tours
Tour Code: WDS
From (NZD) $179 per person
Book Now
9 reviews (4.3/5)

Conveniently departing from the Viaduct Basin in central Auckland, jump aboard our 65ft (20-mtr) catamaran the 'Dolphin Explorer' and take in the sigh... Read More

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