Is Summer A Good Time To Go Whale Watching?
"Is Summer a good time to go whale watching?" is one of our most frequently asked questions.
If you've read our blog "When Is The Best Time To Go Whale Watching In Auckland?", you will know that there are resident species of both Bryde's whales and common dolphins living in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf Marine Park throughout the year. So, the short answer would be that any time of year is a good time to go whale watching with Summer being a beautiful time to be on the water.
Summer visitors to Auckland spending their afternoon whale watching
The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is known for its high levels of productivity which means there is plenty of food to sustain both whales and dolphins year-round here. In the winter, these marine mammals need to feed for a large majority of their time to maintain their blubber (fat) layer in order to keep warm and therefore stay alive. In the warmer months, when you are planning to visit, the local sea temperatures start to warm meaning that the marine mammals can spend more time doing other things like socialising and playing.
A common dolphin playing with some sea weed
It is also during this time that we see the majority of newborn common dolphin babies, sometimes there's so many that it's hard to count how many there are in one group!
Common dolphin calves are seen more often in the warmer Summer months
You could also see the famous New Zealand orca or bottlenose dolphins during the warmer months too as we are lucky enough to see both of theses species year-round aswell. There is even still the rare chance of seeing a humpback whale in November or December - possibly the ones lagging behind on their south-bound migration back to Antarctica.
It is during the Summer that other marine mammal species like the more oceanic pilot whales, false killer whales and offshore bottlenose could be spotted. These 3 species are often seen together and moving very fast so we have to be in the right place, at the right time to see them.
An adult male orca surfacing in front of the iconic Rangitoto Island
In addition to the warming of the local water, there is also a warmer water current, known as the East Auckland Current that moves closer to the coastline. This current is the same one as the one featured in the film 'Finding Nemo'! This current is renamed from the East Australian Current to the East Auckland Current as it starts to pass down the north-eastern region of the North Island. The current has tropical origins so brings with it the warmer, blue water and an abundance of wildlife.
Species generally associated with warmer sea temperatures include some fish species, manta rays, turtles and maybe even a whale shark (if you're lucky!) can all be seen in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park during this time.
A lion's mane jellyfish is just one of the diverse species of marine life you could see in Summer
Every safari is a new adventure and opportunity to explore the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. Departing from the Viaduct Harbour, Auckland City - it couldn't be easier! See you on board!