When Is The Best Time To Go Whale Watching in Auckland?

In Auckland, any time of year is a good time to go whale and dolphin watching! We see whales all through the year, so the best time to go whale watching is whenever you’re ready to join our New Zealand whale watching tour.

Are the whales really here year-round?

Yes, there is no defined whale watching season here in Auckland.

In many areas of the world, whale watching trips depend on migratory whales being in the area. This means that these species are only present at certain times of the year. For example, the humpback whale travels from the polar seas towards the equator at the start of winter, to give birth and reproduce. Then it travels back to the cooler seas to feed as winter comes to an end.

Here in Auckland, we are fortunate to be home to a Nationally Endangered species of whale – the Bryde’s whale. The Bryde’s whale is non-migratory. In fact, we have a ‘resident’ population, so we can see them in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park year-round.

This makes Auckland one of the few places in New Zealand and the world where you can easily see a baleen whale at any time of year. Sometimes we find whales quite close to Auckland city, and at other times they are further out into the Hauraki Gulf. 

Other whale species visit the Hauraki Gulf from time to time, including sei whales and pygmy blue whales. During the migration season between June and August, we also see other species of whales. At this time of year humpback whales and southern right whales travel up New Zealand’s coast.

What about the dolphins?

In addition to our Bryde’s whales, there is also the bonus of a resident species of dolphin in the Hauraki Gulf – the common dolphin. Also here year-round, we usually see common dolphin in pods of a couple of hundred. However, their pod size can vary from smaller groups of around 50 through to ‘superpods’ of several thousand! 

Depending on the time of year, wee see common dolphins exhibiting different types of behaviour. In the warmer months, group sizes tend to be smaller and the animals spend more time resting, socialising and playing. In the colder months their focus is on feeding to maintain their fat layer.

We also see orca and bottlenose dolphins on our trips as they pass through the Hauraki Gulf throughout the year. These coastal species can often be seen socialising or foraging in small groups. 

What about the weather?

Depending on the time of year that you come out on safari with us, you should be prepared for the weather.

In the warmer months, the Hauraki Gulf experiences mostly calm and sunny days, so remember to bring your hat and sunglasses. We provide sun cream on board free of charge. 

In the cooler months we can experience some absolutely stunning crisp and sunny days, but remember to layer up and bring your hat, gloves and scarf. While it may be cold, the winter months have the advantage of watching the sunset with a cup of hot chocolate on the way home! 

Remember, no matter what time of year, we recommend bringing a rain jacket – after all, you are going out on the ocean!

If you would like to know more about what we see throughout the year, head on over and subscribe to our YouTube channel. Or better yet, come and see for yourself!