Boat and Crew

Welcome aboard the Dolphin Explorer

The ‘Dolphin Explorer’ is a luxury 20 metre (65ft) Powercat that was purpose built to maximise our passenger viewing experience and at the same time make the boat trip around the Hauraki Gulf as comfortable as possible for up to 100 passengers.

With large open decks on two levels and a range of indoor and outdoor seating, you’ll view Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf in comfort. There is a licensed café and bar on board with a range of refreshment options.

Connect with and learn from our highly experienced and knowledgeable crew

Our qualified crew and onboard research scientists provide a fun and educational experience, connecting you with this wonderful planet we all call home.


Skipper/First Mate

John has sailed all over the world on many types of vessels, from Bora Bora, Tahiti, through the Malacca Strait and the South China Sea, the Mediterranean, Australasia, and Britain! John is a keen spearfisherman, surfer, and an all-round ocean-lover and boatie! John loves having the Hauraki Gulf as his office and teaching the public about the importance of marine conservation. His favourite animals to see on Safari are Orca due to their ability to work in such co-ordinated and complex teams.

Jo L

Skipper/First Mate

Jo started working on Dolphin Explorer way back in 2002! During her career she’s also skippered superyachts, dodged pirates in the Melacca Straits, and is now also involved in scallop restoration projects throughout the Hauraki Gulf. Jo loves the Gulf and is committed to it’s protection and restoration. She spends her spare time on the water too, sailing around with her young family. Jo’s favourite animals are Orca and Manta Rays!


Skipper/First Mate

Patrick has plentiful experience driving many types of vessels in the Hauraki Gulf, the Pacific Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea. He is a lover of sailing adventures, exploring and is a fabulous storyteller. His favourite bird is the Australasian Gannet and he has a keen eye for spotting them on our Safari’s. Patrick enjoys the spectacle of gannet workups and the feeding frenzies of the dolphins in the Hauraki Gulf.


Skipper/First Mate

Rachael is a qualified Skipper and First Mate and has worked in marine tourism for over 10 years, across Australia and New Zealand, from tours in the remote Kimberley region, to the Great Barrier Reef liveaboards, to driving ferries in Northland. Rachael is passionate about Ecotourism and loves sharing the natural environment with people. She is also a certified SCUBA divemaster and enjoys diving to find her favourite animals – nudibranchs!



Graeme has over 50 years experience sailing, including an epic 193 day solo expedition circumnavigating the globe. He sailed from Auckland to Auckland, covering 28,000 miles – and he’s even written a book about it! Graeme loves seabirds of all types, so he’s very happy here in the Hauraki Gulf! He’s seen some incredible Marine Mammals on his travels including narwhals, blue whales, bottlenose whales and walruses.


First Mate/Guide

George has a Bachelor of Planning (Honours) and is a certified PADI Open Water SCUBA diver. He holds a Deck Crew/First Mate maritime qualification and currently works as both Mate and Guide on board Dolphin Explorer and is a great educator. George’s favourite animal is the mantis shrimp because of its bizarre morphology. He spends his spare time making art, playing football, reading, and spending time in or close to the water in whatever way possible.

Jo C

First Mate/Guide

Jo is a qualified PADI Dive Instructor and has spent many years working in the Marine environment. She has worked around the world, including Samoa, Borneo, Thailand, and NZ’s very own Poor Knight’s Islands and just loves being on and in the water. Jo is a recently qualified Skipper and loves getting on the helm of Dolphin Explorer.



Emily has a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology and Geospatial Science and is currently working on her own research as part of her Master’s degree in Marine Science. She has previously worked for the Department of Conservation as a Marine Ranger and helped breed native species for release including black mudfish and giant wētā. She is a certified PADI Open Water SCUBA diver and Marine Mammal Medic. Emily’s favourite animals are sharks, specifically the shortfin mako, and she aims to educate the world on their importance for ocean health.



Dani is a current University of Auckland Marine & Biological Science Student and a certified PADI Advanced Open Water and Open Water SCUBA diver. Her favourite marine animals include Australasian Gannets and Zooplankton! Danielle hopes to bring awareness and understanding of Mātauranga Māori of Tangaroa and the importance we play as kaitiakitanga (guardians) here in Tikapa Moana.



Sanaa has a Bachelor of Science majoring in Environmental Science and is a certified Divemaster. In her spare time, she volunteers for LegaSea, a non-profit organisation, dedicated to restoring the abundance, biodiversity, and health of New Zealand’s oceans – where she assists with research projects and community outreach. Sanaa is also part of the Auckland University of Technology Lab for Cephalopod Ecology and Systematics where she researches microplastics in squid.



Heather has a Diploma in Environmental Management (Marine Strand), is a PADI Divemaster, Marine Mammal Medic, and has completed the DOC SMART Operator Course. Her passion for the ocean and study in marine biology bought her to a job with AWADS, where she loves being out on the water and watching people’s faces as they see a dolphin or whale in the wild for the first time. Outside of work she loves diving, surfing, snorkelling or anything to do with the ocean!