Dolphins are seen on an incredible 93% of our safaris

Dolphins love to tag along with us and ride our bow wave. The dolphins always keep us entertained and offer a spectacular show jumping in and out of the water. In the Hauraki Gulf, you’re most likely to spot either the common dolphin, the bottlenose dolphin or orca (which actually belong to the dolphin family). From time to time we may be honoured by the presence of oceanic species of dolphins such as pilot whales and false killer whales.

These are the dolphin species that you will generally encounter

Common dolphin
(Delphinus sp.)

IUCN Status: Least Concern

New Zealand Classification: Not Threatened


The common dolphin is easily recognised by its distinctive hourglass pattern of colours – it is one of the only tricolour dolphin species in the world, most other species are only one or two colours. These sleek, streamlined dolphins are capable of travelling at over 30km/ph and like to approach our vessel in large schools to ride in the bow wave – all of which makes for some great photos!

Bottlenose dolphin
​(Tursiops truncatus)

IUCN Status: Least Concern

New Zealand Classification: Nationally Endangered


The bottlenose dolphin earns its name from the shape of its short beak and lower jaw which looks like a permanent grin. These dolphins are gracefully athletic – swimming at speeds of up to 50km/ph and leaping up to an extraordinary 5 metres in the air. Bottlenose dolphins are also a chattering bunch. If you listen carefully, you can hear their squeaks, clicks and whistles from the boat.

Orca/Killer whale
(Orcinus orca)

IUCN Status: Data Deficient

New Zealand Classification: Nationally Critical


A small population of less than 200 animals, orca visit the Gulf in pods of 5 – 15 animals on average. These distinctive black and white-toothed mammals are – believe it or not – actually the largest member of the dolphin family! Indeed, they are a really, really big relative of those friendly creatures – they can grow up to 9m in length. They can sometimes be seen close to shore hunting tasty stingrays in the shallows.