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 about the best time to go whale watching in Auckland, you will know that there are resident species of both whales and dolphins living in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park all 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.

The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is known for its high levels of productivity which means there is plenty of food to sustain marine mammals year-round. In the winter, they need to feed for a large majority of their time to maintain their blubber (fat) layer in order to keep warm and stay alive.

The Hauraki Gulf in Summer

In the warmer months, when you are planning to visit, the local sea temperatures start to warm, meaning the marine mammals can spend more time doing other things like socialising and playing.

It is also during this time that we see the majority of newborn common dolphin babies. Sometimes there are so many in one pod it’s hard to count them! 

You could also see orca or bottlenose dolphins during the warmer months, as we are lucky enough to see both these species year-round as well. There is even the rare chance of seeing a humpback whale in November or December, if any are lagging behind on their southbound migration back to Antarctica. 

In summer we often see other marine mammal species like oceanic pilot whales, false killer whales and pelagic bottlenose dolphins. These three species are often seen together and move very fast, so we have to be in the right place at the right time to see them. 

Warmer Waters

As well as the local waters warming up, a warmer water current called the East Auckland Current also moves closer to the coastline. You might have heard of the East Australian Current in the film Finding Nemo – well, this is the same current! It is renamed to the East Auckland Current as it starts to pass down the north-eastern North Island. This current has tropical origins so it brings 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!). These can all be seen in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park during the summer months. 

Every whale watching 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!