20 May 2023

Meet the Team

Akaroa Dolphins was founded in 2004 by Hugh and Pip Waghorn. With daughter Julia and son George joining the family business in 2015. The team today consists of 11 dolphin and boating enthusiasts, as well as four dolphin-spotting dogs, who cannot wait to meet you and show you the beauty of Akaroa harbour!


Pip Waghorn

Founding owner, and everybody’s “Mum” 

Pip Waghorn with 'Into the Blue' catamaran in the background.
Pip is a direct descendant from the first French ship that settled in Akaroa in 1838. She has lived her whole life on the peninsula and her French family name Le Lievre is a big part of the local history. In the early days, before Akaroa Dolphins was even a thought, husband Hugh was busy shearing sheep while Pip was busy being a school teacher. Today Hugh is busy watching cricket and rugby while Pip is busy doing everything that involves running the business. Look out for this caring woman, if you are lucky, she will hug you and tell you all about the town, the area, and their unique family history.


Hugh Waghorn

Founding owner, and almost retired skipper

Hugh looking very dapper at Akaroa Dolphins 2016 croquet themed Christmas party.

Hugh grew up in the small-town Darfield, a 45-minute drive from Christchurch. After travelling the world young Hugh found out that there is no better place to be than home, so he returned to the hills of Banks Peninsula where his family had been living for over a century. One day in a shearing shed he bumped into Pip and together they started life with family and farming – which many years later turned into a family and dolphin watching business.


Julia Waghorn

Part owner, head of sustainability & marketing

Julia and Pip Waghorn with baby Alice.

It was not on the cards that the son and daughter of Hugh and Pip Waghorn would join Akaroa Dolphins. Big sister Julia with a Bachelor of Design, majoring in visual communication, worked abroad for years in Sydney and London. From being very much a “big city girl” Julia is still some days surprised to find herself now enjoying the quiet family life in small-town Akaroa. While being the mother of two small girls, Julia has her skilled graphic design, marketing and social-media-understanding-fingers in everything that is going on behind the scenes in this family business. Maybe her quiet life in Akaroa is not so quiet after all…


George Waghorn

Part owner, skipper, and Mr Fix-It-All

George at the helm, in his happy place.

There is not a problem that George cannot fix. He is the mastermind behind Akaroa Dolphin’s brand-new vessel 'Akaroa Dolphin' and main skipper. George spent 12 years in the outback of Australia, working on cattle stations and in mines before returning home to Akaroa. George reads the sea like normal people drink tea, fluent, and easy. You are in for a treat if boating with George, he is not short of dad-jokes and he will proudly tell you everything about the town, his family, and the wildlife in his backyard - Akaroa harbour.




Skipper Stew on the left with Pip greeting passengers.

Stew was born on the peninsula and was a farmer for 35 years. He has been living in Akaroa for 11 years now. It is not only the curly hair that impresses, but Stew is also a man of many skills. He excels in fishing, hunting, and diving. Ask him anything about what beverage to enjoy with your seafood and you will not get a short answer. Not only a passionate hunter-gatherer but Stew and wife Joc run a cute wee Bed & Breakfast - Potter's Croft.



Guide & retail manager superstar

Nat one of our guides and superstar retail manager.

Nat is a local girl who left and came back, as many seem to do. Her 4th great grandad came from the Madeira Islands and founded 'The Madeira' - which is still a well-known hotel and pub in Akaroa. In school one of her favourite teachers was named Pip Waghorn. Her dad was a fisherman and his job took her around the seas of New Zealand. Today Nat is back with her roots, living in Le Bons Bay with her two daughters and husband who is also Portuguese descendant (FYI: different settler families). Life and people are connected in funny small ways.



Guide, illustrator, and part of our social media squad

Emma our amazing onsite illustrator

When Hugh was a kid, he had a best friend that he grew up with. Unfortunately, this guy left New Zealand (and Hugh) to travel the world. He never came back, he got stuck up north in a small country called Denmark. Now more than 40 years later this guy’s daughter is walking in the footsteps of her father. Emma is half Danish, half kiwi, with ancestors from Banks Peninsula. She recently joined the team at Akaroa Dolphins and has no intention of returning to Denmark anytime soon. Emma has a master’s degree in Visual Design and works also as an illustrator. You can see her work on the Akaroa Dolphins and www.emmaperrin.art.



Guide, sales, and executive assistant

Marie our fabulous guide and executive assistant.

Marie is from the countryside of Denmark and loves hiking and outdoor living. She travelled to New Zealand at the beginning of 2020 and happened to meet Skipper George along the way, and hasn't left since, becoming part of the family. Marie enjoys working on the water amongst the wildlife and beautiful hills of Banks Peninsula. We are lucky to have her smiling and caring presence as part of our team at Akaroa Dolphins.



Guide & customer experience specialist

 Sarah our superstar customer experience specialist

Coming from the UK, Sarah was born and bred in the English countryside but has a long-standing travel bug. Having been lucky enough to visit New Zealand a few times before and always wanting to return, she decided to call it home for a while. With a background in adventure tourism as well as mental health not-for-profit work, she has a passion for combining the two and loves nothing more than helping people experience meaningful travel experiences. Now working with Akaroa Dolphins both on and off the water she’ll always be happy to share in any enthusiasm for this beautiful area.


Written by Emma Perrin & Julia Waghorn

Photos by Chalita Aommy Klumjui & Julia Waghorn 

To learn more you can book on our cruise by CLICKING HERE! 


For any media enquiries, media familiarisations, or to request brand assets to help promote Akaroa Dolphins including high-resolution photography, please email us at cruise@akaroadolphins.co.nz