Like one of the Japanese women on our boat, I squealed with excitement as we caught our first glimpse of the tiny dolphins ahead. They exclaimed, “sugoi” several times which meant “amazing” in Japanese – it was amazing, indeed. It started with two dolphins swimming alongside our catamaran, and soon there was 10-12 of them galloping through the water and swimming in groups, clearly enjoying the chase. I had seen dolphins before but Akaroa’s Hector’s dolphins were simply incredible. These are some of the world’s rarest and smallest dolphins. This was by far, the best dolphin watching tour I had ever done.

Discovering Akaroa’s Natural Landscapes

Volcanic activity millions of years ago created the unique landscape of Akaroa, one of the most scenic gems in New Zealand. Akaroa (and Banks Peninsula in general) is a magical place with out of this world rock formations and giant sea cliffs which cascade down to crystal clear blue waters. As our catamaran set sail from the town towards the sea, it was like escaping into an unknown world with contrasting colours and fascinating displays of  natural wonders. Make sure to spend some time on the front deck to immerse yourself into the whole experience.

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Getting Up Close with Hector’s Dolphins and Other Wildlife of Akaroa Harbour

Akaroa Harbour is home to incredible wildlife. During the Akaroa harbour nature cruise we saw a great number of bird species and wildlife including Hector’s dolphins (Tutumairekurai), and New Zealand fur seals (Kekeno). If you are lucky, you can even spot the white-flippered penguins (Korarā puru) during the tour. It’s incredible to see these animals in their natural habitat. This is definitely the best place to see them (instead of a water park).

Aboard the catamaran, it wasn’t just the tour guides that looked out for wildlife. We had the help of a little labradoodle called Sydney to spot animals ahead. She was adorable and definitely went all out with keeping us informed when dolphins and seals were nearby. She did have to share the attention with the other animals but I’m sure she didn’t mind.

Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise

The Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise is a 2 hour journey through Akaroa harbour’s unique scenery on a sturdy catamaran. The harbour nature cruise is done in small groups for a more intimate experience. Tickets are priced at NZD 80 for adults and includes a complimentary drink with delicious home baked cookies!

For more details on schedule of trips, you can visit their website https://www.akaroadolphins.co.nz/cruise/schedule-prices/.

If you suffer from motion sickness or sea sickness like me, I recommend to take some precautions as the tour goes out to the open sea and it can get a bit rough. It’s nothing to worry about though!


Disclaimer: We were hosted by Akaroa Dolphins during our Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise experience. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

Akaroa Dolphins

Website: https://www.akaroadolphins.co.nz

Address: 65 Beach Road (waterfront), Akaroa 7520, New Zealand
Telephone No.: +64 3 304 7866
Email Address: cruise@akaroadolphins.co.nz

Do you have plans to visit Akaroa? Have you done the Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise? Let us know in the comments below!

About the author

Gia Kristel De Guia

Gia, who currently lives in New Zealand, grew up in Manila, lived in Singapore for three years and travelled the world for nearly 2 years. From watching sunsets to hiking mountains, she loves the outdoors. She enjoys living in big cities but takes pleasure staying in quaint, small towns. An aspiring photographer and budding writer, she is the voice behind Mismatched Passports, a travel blog dedicated to the journey around the world with her New Zealander partner, Jon.

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