New Zealand’s most unique whale and dolphin watching safari departs direct from downtown Auckland. Enjoy a 4.5-hour cruise on board the luxurious ‘Dolphin Explorer’ as we explore the beautiful Hauraki Gulf Marine Park in search of encounters with its amazing and diverse marine wildlife.
Your safari departs from the Viaduct Basin, just a short walk from all the major hotels and hostels in Auckland Central. Jump on board our 65-foot (20-metre) catamaran and settle in as we head out to explore the beautiful Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, one of the most abundant and diverse marine parks in the world.
From our large open deck, enjoy views of famous Auckland landmarks like the Harbour Bridge, North Head and Devonport, and volcanic Rangitoto Island, as you watch out for orca and dolphins known to frequent the inner Waitematā Harbour.
As the crew provides knowledgeable commentary, our marine science experts conduct biological studies and invite you to join interactive research activities.
Because we’re venturing into a wild, natural environment, every trip is different and the marine wildlife we encounter varies from day to day. We typically encounter Bryde’s whales and common dolphins, but you may also meet pygmy blue whales, New Zealand fur seals, sharks, manta rays, turtles and up to 26 species of seabirds – including the little blue penguin.
As we return to Auckland, sit back, take advantage of our licensed café and bar (or pre-book our new picnic lunch option), and enjoy the island views. And if you’re ready to learn more, there’s an optional research presentation so you can learn more about the wildlife you’ve encountered during your safari.
- Year-round encounters with incredible wildlife
- Enjoy spectacular views of Auckland landmarks
- Interact with onboard marine science experts
- Learn from our expert and informative commentary
- See marine mammals, or cruise again for free
2021/22 Season Pricing
- Adult $129
- Child $89 (0 to 14 years)
- Family $325 (2 adults and up to 2 children; additional children $59 each)
- Senior $109 (65+ ID required)
Prices valid till 30 September 2022
2022/23 Season Pricing
- Adult $149
- Child $99 (0 to 14 years)
- Family $369 (2 adults and up to 2 children; additional children $69 each)
- Senior $129 (65+ ID required)
Availability and Timings
Safaris operates four days a week until 1 October 2022
- Check-in closes 10:15am
- Safari departs 10:30am
- Returns 3:00pm
Please check in for your cruise with our crew at the top of the boarding ramp by our boat in the Viaduct Harbour.
Directions: The Viaduct Harbour is located at the western end of Quay Street (left as you are looking at the water) in downtown Auckland. When arriving on foot, you will see our boat to your left, immediately opposite the New Zealand Maritime Museum.
All passengers must check in with our crew no later than 15 minutes before departure time.
Please be aware that your allocated seats may be released to stand-by passengers if you do not check in at least 15 minutes before departure.
Food and Drink
You can pre-book a picnic lunch to enjoy during your safari. These are supplied fresh daily, with meat and vegetarian options.
Adult Picnic Lunch ($20 per person):
- Turkish chicken pide OR Mediterranean pepper halloumi hummus wrap (vegetarian)
- Sweet muffin
- Fresh baked cookie
- Piece of seasonal fruit
Kids’ Picnic Lunch ($12 per person):
- Ham and cheese kids’ wrap OR Mediterranean pepper hummus kids’ wrap (vegetarian)
- Smiley face cookie
- Fruit yoghurt tube
- Piece of seasonal fruit
If you have special dietary requirements (eg vegan, gluten-free), there may be fresh offerings to suit available from the café/bar; however this cannot be guaranteed. You are most welcome to bring your own food on board.
What to Bring
- We recommend you wear a few layers of clothes, including something warm and wind/shower-proof, a sun hat or warm winter hat, and sunglasses. Please wear flat-soled shoes.
- Please bring any personal medication with you, including any seasickness medication you may need, as we are not able to sell medicine on board.
- Don’t forget to bring your camera and your sunscreen!
- You’re welcome to bring your own food and non-alcoholic drinks on board
- Help us keep the Hauraki Gulf islands pest-free by checking your bags and shoes carefully for pests, soil or plant matter before you come on board.
See our FAQs for more information on what to bring.
Marine Mammal Sighting Guarantee
We are very lucky to enjoy one of the highest marine-mammal viewing rates in New Zealand, and our expert crew work tirelessly to find whales and dolphins. However, we are working with wild animals in their natural environment, and unfortunately sometimes they just do not want to be found.
If you are one of the few (less than 5%) unlucky passengers who doesn’t get a chance to view dolphins or whales during your safari, we will issue you and your party a Complimentary Voucher to come out and try again absolutely free. This complimentary voucher is open-ended, no matter how long it is until you visit us again.
Check our FAQs for more info on our guarantee and how our vouchers work.
Counteract Your Carbon Emissions
Add a $10 donation to your booking to plant a native tree and restore our waterways through our partnership with Million Metres. Your donation will help counteract your carbon emissions, plus you’ll be helping fund local restoration projects.