13
days

New Zealand Whale & Dolphin Tour

Come and experience the marine mammal watching hotspots on an inspiring New Zealand whale & dolphin tour. You have a chance of encountering ten species of cetaceans; humpback, Bryde's, Southern right, Minke, pilot and sperm whales, and bottlenose, common and Hector's dolphin as well as the world's largest dolphin (the orca) and two species of pinnipeds ( New Zealand fur seal ).

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Itinerary

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1
Head North to the Beautiful - Bay of Islands

The sub-tropical region of the Bay of Islands is a stunning Maritime Park with 144 islands, secluded bays, and an abundance of marine life including marlin, whales, penguins, dolphins, gannets and many other species. Being somewhat sheltered, the area is ideal for yachting, fishing, kayaking and diving. Rolling countryside, tidal estuaries, mangroves, sparkling and long silvery beaches abound. It is an area of considerable historical significance, and is the place where Maori and European signed the Treaty of Waitangi that joined them as one nation. Long considered the cradle of Polynesian and European settlement in New Zealand, the area is rich in history and natural beauty.

Approximate Distance: 232 kms | 145 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 30 mins

Accommodation Russell - 3 nights

2
Marine Mammal Discovery Cruise and Dolphin Swimming

This morning we board the Tutunui a stable, fast, 13 metre (42 foot) catamaran, designed for viewing marine mammals and swimming with wild dolphins in their natural habitat. 

In the Bay of Islands Maritime Park we usually encounter both bottlenose and common dolphins, and may also see a variety of whale species including orca (killer whales), Bryde’s, pilot, Minke, sei, humpback whales, and very rarely the Blue Whale. We might also encounter blue penguins, gannets, various sea birds and the New Zealand fur seal.  - On our way back to base you'll have the added bonus of stopping off on beautiful Urupukapuka Island. Enjoy the coastal walks and magnificent beaches. Browse through the Maori Arts and Crafts centre or relax in the cafe.
 
NB: Complimentary hot drink and freshwater are readily available and we also have hot showers at Otehei Bay. We have a selection of snorkels, goggles, fins and wetsuit when required.

3
Leisure Time in the Bay of Islands

The Bay with its pristine natural environment is the gathering place in the South Pacific for overseas sailing yachts on world cruises, international sport fishermen, golfers and marine enthusiasts. There are many opportunities to go or relax in the sun on one of the area's many beaches. 

Excursions available in the Bay of Islands:

Historical Island Cruise Diving Rainbow Warrior 4WD Adventure Cape Reinga
Sailing the Islands Dolphin Swimming Giant Kauri Forest Walk
Cultural Tour of Waitangi Golf at Kauri Cliffs Sea Kayaking the Bay

 

4
Auckland's Whale and Dolphin Cruise

The beautiful Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is visited by a staggering one third of all the types of marine mammals found on earth. 

The Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park is considered to be one of the most biologically and geographically diverse maritime parks in the world. Aboard the purpose built research and wildlife viewing vessel, the Explorer, our tour today departs Auckland and heads into the beautiful Hauraki Gulf. This tour revolves around University research projects of the dolphin, whales and sea birds of the region.  Wildlife species we may encounter include common and bottlenose dolphins, orca (killer whales), blue penguins, gannets, shearwaters, terns, cooks and pycrofts petrels.

Approximate Distance: 232 kms | 145 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 30 mins

Accommodation Auckland - 1 night

5
Picton (Gateway to the Marlborough Sounds)

A short flight has you to Blenhiem and a 30 minute drive has you in Picton, a waterfront village snuggled between the hills and the sea at the top of the South Island New Zealand's gateway to the glorious Marlborough Sounds Maritime Park. It is in the sunny Marlborough region, famous for its visits from Captain Cook in the 1700s, its fine wines, green-lipped mussels, sandy beaches, popular boating centre and the Queen Charlotte Sounds.

Accommodation Picton - 2 nights

6
Marlborough Sounds Marine mammal Experience

See the very best of the Marlborough Sounds and especially the beautiful Queen Charlotte on a very special dolphin swimming & viewing cruise. This interactive tour provides a wonderful opportunity to swim and view dolphins in calm and sheltered waters. You can expect to encounter dusky, bottlenose and you may also encounter rare Hector's dolphins. We also visit New Zealand fur seals and spot a variety of seabirds like blue Penguins, Gannets and Shags on the water. Our knowledgeable skipper and guide will provide you with an informed and interesting commentary on the wildlife encountered along with local history of the Marlborough Sounds. There is plenty of time allowed for photography, an all-important part of many people's experiences.

NB: The seasonal success rate - viewing dolphins is 98% and swimmers with Dolphins is 80%.

7
Humpback and Sperm Whales in Kaikoura

A spectacular marine playground exists off the coast of Kaikoura and living in this environment is the mighty Sperm Whale. It is here that resident bachelors dive to immense depths in search of Giant Squid, so accessible to Sperm whales but still elusive to mankind. Visitors are drawn to Kaikoura by the ability to view these magnificent mammals in their own environment 12 months of the year and Kaikoura The rich diversity of wildlife found means that every day is a chance to see something different and unique - and you will - from seabirds to cetaceans (whales and dolphins), seals, or even Orca.

Alternative Wildlife Encounters in Kaikoura

Whale Watching Cruise Swim with the Seals in Kaikoura
Whale Watching Flight Kaikoura Dusky Dolphin Viewing or Swimming
Kayaking with Fur Seals Albatross & Pelagic Bird Watching Kaikoura

 

Approximate Distance: 157 kms | 98 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours

Accommodation Kaikoura - 1 night

8
Little France - Akaroa

Banks Peninsula was formed following the violent eruptions of two volcanoes. A crater nurses the picturesque harbour of Akaroa with many smaller bays indenting the spectacular coastline. In 1840, French settlers arrived at Akaroa, To this day; Akaroa remains unique as the site of the only attempted settlement by the French in New Zealand. Many streets have French names, and there are descendants of the original French families still living in Akaroa. This Riviera-style village has some wonderful colonial architecture, creative craft shops, intriguing galleries, delightful gardens, and excellent cafés, bars and restaurants.

Approximate Distance: 266 kms | 165 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 40 mins

Accommodation Akaroa - 2 nights

9
Swim with Hector's dolphin - The smallest in the world.

The Hector's dolphin is the smallest oceanic dolphin in the world with the female adult only reaching about 1.2 metres (4 foot) long and weighing approximately 47 kilograms ( 103 pounds), while the males are slightly smaller and weigh about 10 kilograms (22 pounds) less. 

Take a scenic cruise exploring the beautiful, sheltered Akaroa harbour. You'll experience a rich variety of marine life including the unique and playful Hector's Dolphin and the rare Little Blue Penguin. The seascape is dominated by towering volcanic cliffs teeming with marine birdlife. If you wish, you have the opportunity to swim with these tiny rare dolphins - the only place you can swim with hectors in the world. 

10
Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook

At the centre of the South Island the expansive high ground from which the scenic peaks of Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park protrude is known as Mackenzie Country and within its boundary is Lake Tekapo, a highland lake and township sitting at 710 metres (2329 Feet) surrounded by a vast basin of golden tussock. The lake itself is known for its amazing turquoise colour - a truely fabulas to stop and take the family for a lake-side picnic.

Some reccommended excursions to consider while in the National Park

Star Gazing Evening Tour Glacier Scenic Flight and Landing Tasman Glacier Explorer

Approximate Distance: 385 kms | 239 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 45 mins

Accommodation Mt Cook - 1 night

11
Queenstown

A free afternoon to explore Queenstown. Enjoy a day relaxing in Queenstown, a pretty town nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. There's something for everyone here – from easy walks to fishing, gold panning, wine tasting or adrenaline activities; it’s impossible to run out of things to do. Today, make the most of Queenstown’s scenic beauty and endless opportunities to kick back and relax.

Recommended Excursions in Queenstown:

Routeburn Track Guided Day Walk Explore Historic Arrowtown Highest Bungy Jump
Wine Tasting Tour Central Otago Biking Skippers Canyon Round at Millbrook Golf Resort
TSS Earnslaw Steamboat Cruise Dart River Jetboat Safari Gibbston Valley Wine Trail
 

Approximate Distance: 255 kms | 159 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours

Accommodation Queenstown - 1 night

12
Milford Sounds Overnight Cruise

When the last day-boat ties up in early evening and the visitor’s leave a silence descends... An overnight cruise amidst the spectacular Milford Sound is a "once in a lifetime" experience and certainly one the most beautiful places in New Zealand. It's no wonder it was described by Rudyard Kipling as the 'eighth wonder of the world'.
 
Cruise the full length of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea before anchoring for the night in the sheltered Harrison Cove. Then it’s of exploring with the nature guide in the ships tender crafts and kayaks spotting the resident seals, dolphins and penguins, before enjoying a delicious evening buffet meal in the spacious dining saloon, before retiring to your cabin.

Approximate Distance: 289 kms | 180 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 

Accommodation Milford Sound - 1 night

13
Penguins, Seals & Dolphins

Dolphins such as Dusky, Bottlenose and Hectors are regularly seen swimming in Milford Sound, while lay about on the rocky shoreline enjoying the sun are the inquisitive New Zealand Fur Seals. Penguins are numerous throughout the fiords. Two species predominate, especially the rare yellow-eyebrowed Fiord-land crested penguin and the Little Blue Penguin.

Once back on land its time to return to Queenstown.

Accommodation Queenstown - 1 night

Ready to find out more? Talk to us here in New Zealand about the 'New Zealand Whale & Dolphin Tour'  - We Guarantee it will be the Holiday of a Lifetime!