01 December 2019

Department of Conservation Approved

Here at Akaroa Dolphins, our mission is to give an authentic, personal and luxurious harbour nature cruise, with a focus on enriching the environment and community. 


As a holder of a New Zealand Department of Conservation Marine Mammal Viewing Permit, we are legally authorized to take guests on dolphin and seal viewing tours. We are proud to be one of only two year-round operators in Akaroa Harbour with this permit, so we encourage you to choose responsibly.

In Akaroa Harbour, a moratorium is in place, preventing the issuance of new permits for viewing or swimming with marine mammals. Nevertheless, there exist a few unlawful operators operating without permits. This moratorium is primarily aimed at safeguarding Hector's dolphins, backed by scientific research. Unfortunately, the Department of Conservation (DOC) lacks the resources required to effectively enforce its licensing regulations. When you purchase a ticket for Akaroa Dolphins, a portion of the proceeds is dedicated to supporting research and educational efforts concerning the endangered Hector's dolphins and other marine mammals that inhabit Akaroa Harbour and New Zealand. These unlicensed operators often charge the same or even higher prices per ticket, exerting unnecessary pressure on our cherished taonga (treasures) and, in the process, violating the law.


Who is the Department of Conservation (DOC)

The Department of Conservation is the government agency in New Zealand charged with conserving New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage. Ensuring that New Zealanders and tourists gain a wide range of benefits from healthy functioning ecosystems, recreation opportunities, and through living our history.


What is their role within Akaroa harbour?

One of the Department of Conservations roles is to ensure the implementation of the Marine Reserve rules, in both Akaroa Habour Reserve and Pohatu Marine Reserve. Rules to protect marine life habitats, population, breeding and conservation status.  Rules such as; no taking, killing or removing any marine life, no feeding of fish and taking care when anchoring to not disturb the ocean floor. They have done this by patrolling the harbour, displaying signage and providing us and our community with information on why marine conservation is necessary. For example, this 2020 summer DOC have launched a nationwide campaign called ‘Love this place’, with an aim to educate all people in New Zealand on how to behave in the outdoors. They also work closely with New Zealand Whale & Dolphin Trust on marine research and Marine PhD students.


How do we work with the Department of Conservation?

Under the Department of Conservation, we are a permitted operator meaning we are allowed to take guests out to view the Hector's dolphins and other marine mammals, abiding by strict rules and regulations. We also pay an annual fee to support the Department of Conservation (DOC) in New Zealand, with a percentage of each and every one of our passenger’s fare going towards scientific research and welfare of our Hector's dolphins. 


For more information please visit:

Moratorium on marine mammal permits in Akaroa

Interacting with marine mammals

Sharing our coasts with marine mammals






Written by Sophie Wadley

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