Book now for a wonderful dolphin watching boat tour in Akaroa Harbour
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Book now for a wonderful dolphin watching boat tour in Akaroa Harbour
Akaroa Dolphins - Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruises
Akaroa Dolphins - Akaroa Harbour Cruise Highlights
Akaroa Dolphins - Akaroa Harbour Cruise Highlights Let Akaroa Dolphins take you on a journey of discovery through millions of years of fascinating history and natural heritage on board one of our Akaroa Harbour cruises.

Akaroa Harbour is home to amazing bird life and sea mammals, including the world’s rarest and smallest dolphin, the friendly Hector’s dolphin. Our specially trained skippers and dolphin dogs are experts at finding these elusive but charming dolphins. You will also see fur seals sunbathing on the rocks, little blue penguins, marine salmon, mussel and paua pearl farms, along with a variety of captivating sea birds, all in one harbour cruise.

View wildlife in style on board our luxurious catamaran. Experience what makes our Akaroa Harbour cruise special from the moment you step effortlessly on board. Every cruise includes a complimentary beverage. Choose from our selection of award winning New Zealand wine, beer and soft drinks.

Our vessel ‘Into the Blue’ is fitted with hydrofoils which lift the boat, giving an extremely stable and comfortable journey, and making us the most luxurious cruise on the harbour. The manoeuvrability of our cruise boat allows us to show you all that Akaroa harbour has to offer. Our cruises visit the spectacular sea caves, volcanic formations, high cliffs and bird nesting sites, both within Akaroa Harbour, and beyond the entrance to the Pacific Ocean.

The size of our vessel allows us to offer a personalized experience that doesn’t compromise on space or comfort. Say goodbye to large crowds, and enjoy the freedom to move around our boat, taking in the unspoilt landscape and incredible wildlife of Akaroa Harbour.


For more beautiful imagery of the Hector’s dolphins and spectacular scenery from our Akaroa Harbour cruises click here.


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Akaroa Dolphins - Itinerary
Akaroa Dolphins - Itinerary Daily Cruises

Our stylish vessels offer guests an intimate and personal 2 hour Akaroa Harbour nature cruise experience at various times throughout the day.

Your Akaroa Harbour cruise begins from the main wharf in Akaroa. Depending on the weather and sea conditions, we may take different routes.


If there is something specific you would like to view, please inform the crew as they are happy to accommodate requests where possible.

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NZD pp
Adults $80
Child (5-15 yrs) $40
Child (under 5yrs) $20
A complimentary beverage, including award-winning wine, beer and soft drinks, along with home baking are included in your ticket price.
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Departure times
Departure times

Summer: 10.15am, 12.45pm & 3.15pm.

Winter: 12.45pm and other times by arrangement.

The duration of each cruise is 2 hours and boarding is 15 minutes prior to departure time. Departure is from the main Akaroa wharf.

Summer season is October to April. Winter season is May to September.

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Departure times
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Amazing Wildlife
Hector's Dolphin / Tutumairekurai

Where are they found?

The Hector’s dolphin is only found around the South Island of New Zealand. They have a territorial range of 52 kilometres. Akaroa Harbour and Banks Peninsula host roughly 1000 of these dolphins.

There is also a sub-species called the Maui dolphin which is found in the North Island.

What they look like?

The Hector’s dolphins are distinguishable from other dolphins by their rounded black dorsal fin which is shaped like a Mickey Mouse ear. Their bodies are a distinctive grey, with white and black markings. They also have a short snout.

How many are there?

There maybe as many as 8,000 Hector’s dolphins and as few as 55 Maui dolphins left.

How long do they live?

Hector’s dolphins live to around the age of 20-25 years old, which is similar to us living until we are 85-90 years old.

How big are they?

Adult Hector’s dolphins don’t often exceed 1.4 m in length and weigh between 40 and 60 kg. The males are slightly smaller and lighter than females. At birth, Hector’s dolphin calves have a total length of around 60-80 cm and weigh 8-10 kg.

What do Hector’s dolphins eat?

Hector’s are not too fussy about what they eat, and hunt more to the size of the prey rather than their actual species. They make frequent short dives to find food, such as flounder, red cod, crabs, kahawai, mackerel and squid.

How do they know where they are going and what is around?

The Hector’s eye sight is only slightly better than a humans, so they use echo-location to judge distances, locate their prey, and judge how fast it is moving – it’s like seeing with sound. They do this by sending out high frequency clicking noises and when the sound strikes an object it bounces back, and the dolphin can tell by listening what the object is. In familiar areas, their echo-location is often ‘turned off’, which means they cannot always detect dangers.

What do they do all day?

Hector’s Dolphins spend their day between feeding and play. They love to surf on waves; play with seaweed, and are incredibly friendly and inquisitive creatures, which explains why they like to get up close to boats, sometimes we wonder who is looking at who.

How did they get their name?

The Hector’s dolphin was named after Sir James Hector, who was the curator of the first Colonial Museum in Wellington (now named Te Papa).  Sir James Hector examined the first dolphin specimen that was found. Sir James lived from 1834 to 1907, and was the most influential New Zealand scientist of his time.


The Banks Peninsula marine mammal sanctuary in Canterbury was established in 1988 primarily to reduce set-net deaths of Hector’s dolphins in the area.

The Marine Mammals Protection Regulations were introduced in 1992 to control marine mammal tourism activities.

Set-net controls were introduced to Canterbury in 2002 and in the west coast North Island in 2003.

DOC, in a joint initiative with the Ministry of Fisheries developed a Draft Threat Management Plan released in 2007 which we here at Akaroa Dolphins was proud to be a part of.

Since then additional fisheries restrictions have been implemented along with four new marine mammal sanctuaries and alterations to the Banks Peninsula marine mammal sanctuary.

Research and scientific studies continue to increase our knowledge about each sub-species ecology, conservation status, life history and threats.

Improved management practices are continually being sought for these dolphins in an attempt to ensure their survival into the future.

New Zealand Fur Seals / Kekeno

Where are they found?

It’s not hard to spot a New Zealand fur seal sunbathing on the rocks around most of New Zealand’s coastline. They are also great travellers, and can be found as far as the Subantarctic Islands and around Australia.

What do they look like?

New Zealand fur seals are slightly different from other seals, as they have ears and hind flippers that rotate forward. Like other seals, they also have a pointy nose and long whiskers. Fur seals have two layers of fur, which is so dense that one small piece can cover a dog a similar size to a Labrador. The colour of their fur coats allows seals to camouflage themselves making them hard to spot.

How many are there?

Once on the brink of extension due to being hunted in the 1800s for their fur and blubber, the New Zealand fur seals are now protected, and their population has risen to around 100,000 in New Zealand and a similar number in Australia.

How long do they live?

Fur seals live for around 17 years.

How big are they?

Male fur seals have been known to grow as large as 250kgs but the average is around 120-150kgs, and females weigh in at around 30-50kgs. When a pup is born, it is around 3-3.5kgs

What do they eat?

Fur seals quickly plunge under the sea at a speed of 50 km / hour and up to 200 m deep. This enables them to hunt and feed on the likes of squid, octopus and fish like barracuda, flounder, hagfish, lamprey, red cod, school shark, and many other species. For the Banks Peninsula seals 90% of their diet is lantern fish.


Fur Seal Pups

Female fur seals generally get pregnant every year with just one pup, and it is very rare for a fur seal to have more than one pup at a time. Although fur seals conceive 12 months prior to giving birth, the gestational period is actually only 10 months, due to the seals having the ability to put their pregnancy on hold to coincide with giving birth in the summer months. Once born the pups will have a mix of milk from their mother and when slightly older also feed on small fish, then at around 10 months they are fully weaned and onto a solid fish diet. Pups spend a lot of time playing.

Birdlife / Manu

Banks Peninsula has a number of seabirds, including four species of cormorant, black-backed gulls, red-billed gulls, shearwaters, terns, prions, mollymawks, petrels, skuas, oystercatchers, albatross and more.

White Flippered Penguin / Kororā Puru

Where are they found?
Endemic to Canterbury, New Zealand, they breed only on Banks Peninsula and Motunau Island. It is considered to be the one and only indigenous creature unique to Canterbury, New Zealand.

What do they look like?

The White-flippered Penguin has an overall blue-grey appearance, which is very similar to the Little Blue Penguin. They are distinguished from the Blue Penguin by a broad white trailing and leading edges of the flipper.

These tiny penguins are thought to be the smallest in the world and were once numerous, however predators such as cats, dogs, stoats and ferrets have had a negative impact on populations.

How many are there?
The most recent estimate of the total population is only 4,000 pairs (1,800 on Motunau Island and 2,200 on Banks Peninsula). IUCN (The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) and Birdlife International classified White-flippered Penguin as “Endangered”, and D.O.C. (Department of Conservation, New Zealand) as “Acutely-Threatened”.

How long do they live?
White-flippered Penguins can mate for life and live up to 25 years.

How big are they?
The White-flippered Penguin is the smallest penguin in the world, standing just 25 cm tall and weighing a little over 1 kg.

What do they eat?
They eat a variety of food, shoaling fish, squid and less often crustaceans.

Hector's Dolphin / Tutumairekurai
New Zealand Fur Seals / Kekeno
Birdlife / Manu
White Flippered Penguin / Kororā Puru
Frequently Asked Questions

Adult NZD $80.00
Child NZD $40.00 (5-15yrs inclusive)
Children under 5 years NZD $20.00

Please note:

  • Tour costs can change without notice.
  • No charges apply to any booking changes made, as long as are made prior to your scheduled departure time.
  • No booking fees are charged
  • No credit card transaction fees are charged.
  • No refunds will be given in the event of your failure to notify us 24 hours before your departure time.

SUMMER: 10.15am, 12.45pm and 3.15pm
WINTER: 12.45pm and other times by arrangement.

Boarding is 15 minutes prior to departure.

To make a booking click here.




The length of our harbour cruise is 2 hours, with boarding 15 minutes prior to your scheduled departure time.

  • To make an immediate confirmed booking with payment by credit card  click here.
  • Call us FREEPHONE anywhere in New Zealand on 0800 990 102, or from overseas on +64 3 304 7866
  • Email us at

We accept all major credit cards with the exception of American Express


Yes, as there can be a high demand for our tours we advise you to book in advance.

To make a booking click here.


As we are dealing with wildlife, it is not always guaranteed that you will see dolphins.  However, the chance is very high and Akaroa Dolphins has a 98% success rate in finding dolphins year round.  If your tour does not see a dolphin you will be offered another trip free of charge.  No refunds will be given in the event of not seeing dolphins.


When joining us for a cruise you can expect to view the harbour in style on our luxurious catamaran vessel. From the moment you step effortlessly on board our boat Into the Blue or her sister ship Akaroa Dolphin, you will experience what makes our cruises just that little bit more special – starting with the offer of a complimentary beverage, including award-winning New Zealand wine, beer and soft drinks.

Our vessels are luxurious, very stable, fast, and manoeuvrable, allowing you to visit the spectacular sea caves, volcanic formations, high cliffs and bird nesting sites, both within Akaroa Harbour and beyond the entrance to the Pacific Ocean. The size of our vessels also give the perfect opportunity to get away from the large crowds, to enjoy a more personalised experience, without compromising on space to easily move around.  It also allows you to get extremely close to the wildlife, including the dolphins, seals, penguins and bird life – giving you the feeling that you could almost touch it!

We know that sometimes the temperatures out on the water can be cooler than expected, so we have plenty of warm jackets available, and we are sure our home baking which is served on your way home will warm you up a little.


Your harbour cruise with us starts from the main wharf in Akaroa.  Then depending on weather and wildlife conditions, we have a few different routes that we like to take, and your skipper will decide the best option for your cruise on the day.  If there is something specific you would like to see though, please make sure you let the crew know, as they are more than happy to accommodate requests where possible.


Our cruises are always dependent on the sea and weather conditions, and our staff constantly monitor the weather and respond professionally to any changes.  Passenger comfort and safety is always our utmost priority, this may mean a tour is cancelled at any stage if we feel it necessary.  If it is our decision to cancel a cruise, either a full refund or transfer to another cruise will be offered.


No. As we are not sure of any other plans you may have, we ask that you come and speak with us about rebooking you onto another cruise that best suits.


For more images of what you might see on our cruise click here.


We suggest bringing along warm clothing, as even on warmer days you just never know when there could be a sea breeze.  A hat and sunscreen is also suggested.  Don’t worry if you get caught out though, we have lovely warm jackets and sunscreen on board for our passengers to use.  Oh, and of course don’t forget your camera too!


If you are susceptible to motion-sickness, we suggest once on board asking your crew where the best place on the boat is to be, as certain spots do move less than others.  We also have a few tricks up our sleeves to help with motion sickness – so don’t be shy to mention to our crew if you do feel a little under the weather.


A complementary beverage, including wine, beer, soft drink or orange juice, along with some home baking, is included in your fare.  We also have further drinks on board for sale.


As our vessels are very stable, have secure railings, various indoor and outdoor areas to choose from, and space for pushchairs etc, we welcome passengers of all ages, from new-borns to the elderly.  If you are travelling with young children we do ask for their safety that they are supervised at all times.


We happily cater for passengers with disabilities, and welcome customers in wheelchairs with an able body companion.  As our vessel sits flush with the wharf when boarding, there are no steps which need to be negotiated.  Please note though that due to the width of the gate on the vessel, it may mean that wheelchairs need to be lifted onto the boat.  Due to this, wheelchair passengers may need to be briefly out of their wheelchair – please don’t feel discouraged by this though as our crew are there to help, and once on board there is room to move around in your wheelchair both inside and outside of the vessel.


Our address is 65 Beach Road, Akaroa, 7520, New Zealand. We are located on the waterfront near the main wharf in Akaroa.

For our location on Google Maps click here.