Look for whales, dolphins and seabirds in the pristine waters of Hauraki Gulf just a short boat ride from Auckland city's Viaduct Harbour. Learn from experts on board working to protect these precious creatures and their fragile home. As an active marine-mammal research vessel every passenger contributes to important conservation efforts, just by coming on board.
Make your way to Viaduct Harbour in central Auckland where your captain welcomes you as you board the 65 -foot (20-meter) marine-mammal research vessel the 'Dolphin Explorer'. The large and comfortable catamaran ensures that you enjoy cruising the waters of Hauraki Gulf Marine Park as you look for whales and dolphins. Some 23 different species call the Hauraki Gulf home, including the native Bryde’s whale and Common dolphin. You'll never know what you're going to see around these waters, but it might be Bottlenose dolphins or Orca that are frequently spotted playing around the boats, or seabirds such as Australasian gannets, petrels, shearwaters, white-fronted terns, and penguins. Throughout your tour, your captain and the guides share informative and entertaining commentary about the amazing creatures of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, considered one of the world’s most biologically and geographically diverse marine parks. As an active research vessel passengers are also immersed in scientific experiments and citizen-science type sampling, conducted in tandem with local marine scientists. While wildlife viewings cannot be guaranteed, this trip does enjoy very high viewing rates of both whales and dolphins. In the event that you do not see any marine mammals during your trip, you can go again another day at no extra charge. Auckland weather is fickle, so dressing in warm layers and weatherproof gear is recommended. A sun hat (with chin strap to secure it), sunscreen, sunglasses, camera, binoculars and flat-soled shoes are also good essentials for your trip. After your 4.5-hour cruise, your boat returns to Auckland where your tour ends.