Auckland Dolphin and Whale Watching Eco-Safari Cruise

Badge of ExcellenceAuckland, New Zealand

From US$102.29

Select Date and Travelers

Free cancellation
Up to 24 hours in advance.
  • 4 hours 30 minutes (approx.)
  • Mobile ticket
  • Offered in: English


Cruise the waters of Hauraki Gulf Marine Park in search of whales, dolphins and penguins on a half-day tour from Auckland. You’ll board a spacious catamaran at Viaduct Harbour and hear expert guides share informative commentary about New Zealand’s natural wonders. During the whale and dolphin safari, keep an eye out for six types of whales that frequent these waters, as well as seabirds such as Australasian gannets, petrels and terns.
  • 4.5-hour whale and dolphin watching cruise, from Auckland
  • Ride aboard a custom-built luxury catamaran for a superb viewing experience
  • Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and as many as six types of whales
  • Observe gannets that hunt by plunging into the water at speeds of up to 87 mph (140 kmh)
  • Listen to entertaining and informative commentary provided by your captain and crew
  • Departs from the Viaduct Harbour, conveniently located in downtown Auckland

What's Included

  • Local guide
  • Every ticket purchased contributes directly to Marine Mammal Conservation
  • Expert commentary/Interaction with our onboard Marine Research Scientists
  • Food and drinks (available to purchase)
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off

Meeting And Pickup

Meeting point

  • New Zealand Maritime Museum
    Corner of Quay and Hobson Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1140, New Zealand

    Please arrive at least 15min prior to departure

Start time

10:30 AM

End point

This activity ends back at the meeting point.

What To Expect

Meet the boat crew at the New Zealand Maritime Museum at Viaduct Harbour, and depart aboard a custom-built 65-foot (20-meter) catamaran, comfortably appointed so you can best view up to six types of whales as well as dolphins and other marine life.

Throughout your 4.5-hour cruise, the captain and guides entertain you with fascinating facts about the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, home to five marine preserves and sprinkled with islands — it's considered one of the world’s most biologically diverse marine parks and home to some 23 different species.

Hear about research conducted in partnerships with local marine scientists and discover which whales the crew tracks. They’ll point out sea mammals such as frequently spotted pods of bottlenose dolphins and Bryde’s whales, native to New Zealand.

Be ready to snap photos of adorable blue penguins. Set your binoculars upon seabirds such as Australasian gannets, petrels, shearwaters and white-fronted terns soaring above or plunging into the sea.

Afterward, the boat returns to Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour, where your tour ends.

Please note: While wildlife viewings cannot be guaranteed, dolphins and whales are often swimming around these waters. In the event that you do not see any marine mammals during your trip, you can go again another day at no extra charge.

Additional Info

  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Advisable to dress in warm layers and weatherproof gear as weather can be unpredictable
  • Advisable to bring sun hat (with chin strap to secure it), sunscreen, sunglasses, camera, binoculars and flat-soled shoes
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Stroller accessible
  • Service animals allowed
  • Near public transportation
  • Transportation is wheelchair accessible
  • Not recommended for pregnant travelers
  • IMPORTANT: Check in closes 15 minutes prior to stated departure time. Those passengers who are late risk losing their allocated seats.
  • Most travelers can participate
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 99 travelers

Cancellation Policy

You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance of the experience for a full refund.

  • For a full refund, you must cancel at least 24 hours before the experience’s start time.
  • If you cancel less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time, the amount you paid will not be refunded.
  • Any changes made less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
  • Cut-off times are based on the experience’s local time.
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund.
  • This experience requires a minimum number of travelers. If it’s canceled because the minimum isn’t met, you’ll be offered a different date/experience or a full refund.

Traveler Photos

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Featured review
Amazing day out with friendly and informative staff. We had a quiet start to the day but about 2.3 hours out there was a couple of dolphins then a while later there were loads feeding with the gannets. It was all very exciting! Then to top it all a whale was sighted. A truly great day!


1,235 reviews
Total review count and overall rating based on Viator and Tripadvisor reviews
Reviews by Viator travelers.
Showing 1-10 of 1,235 reviews
The tour start was on...
Terri, Jun 2023
The tour start was on time. The weather was good. Happy to see baby and mom dolphins, disappointed not to see a whale. Everything else, we had a very good experience and would recommend the tour to friends.
Amazing experience!
Carmen_V, May 2023
Amazing from beginning to end! Tours are always great when they love what they’re doing. Learned a lot and was fortunate to see a ton of dolphins and a gorgeous whale!
Common Dolphins and Education
Emily_S, May 2023
Great tour! All of the people on the boat were very knowledgeable and helpful! I sat at the front of the boat to start and got absolutely soaked (all good fun) and the crew came up to help us to the back. We learned a lot about the water and the work that they do to help the ecosystem - very interesting. Then we spent about an hour with a huge group of common dolphins that swam right in front of our boat - so amazing!! Highly recommend! There were some choppy waters and a couple people were sea sick, but the crew were super helpful in making them feel comfortable.
There were no whales or...
Raja_K, Apr 2023
There were no whales or dolphins. They said that they will give a coupon for the next time. However since we are from Malaysia do not think the coupon would be of any use.
Response from Host, May 2023
Kia Ora Raja, thank you for your review. It's unfortunate that on the day you traveled, you didn't get to see whales or dolphins in the wild. I hope that you still had a great time on board with the crew cruising in the Hauraki Gulf and learning about the ecosystem and experiments conducted on board. We do have a go-again-for-free policy if you are unable to view marine mammals on your trip. Regards Mike
Worth considering
david_h, Apr 2023
Well organised and friendly crew. Sadly didn't spot anything other than sea birds. However it was a pleasant day and if we are here again wouldn't hesitate to rebook
Great time Whale Safari
Nigel_C, Apr 2023
Seeing the orca whales and dolphins, weather was fantastic, crew was very good and helpful, would recommend to anybody.
All we saw was the sea and the view
Les_T, Apr 2023
An amazing trip.....even when you don't see anything. From the beginning the staff were amazingly helpful and informative. The views were fantastic, so well worth the trip for that alone. At each step we were told what to look for and what we might see. Unfortunately nature wasn't on our side and we saw......nothing. Having said that we were given vouchers to try again on another fingers crossed
What a Fantastic!!!
Maria_H, Mar 2023
I was surprised to see many dolphins on a dolphin tour in Auckland. And the crew was so kind, they did their best to show us a lot of dolphins. I really appreciated that.
Response from Host, Mar 2023
Good morning Maria! Thank you for your feedback and time to write it. It will definitely help other people in deciding to go to the tour:)
Lovely trip, will go again
Louise_F, Mar 2023
Really lovely trip, amazing to see the dolphins and penguins but also coming from a UK winter, just sitting out in the sun, watching the water glistening, was perfect. The crew were all friendly and capable, which added a lot to the trip. The toasties were delicious. I went out with a good weather forecast of light winds, but as someone who's scared of boats, I was still nervous at the start, but I didn't feel worried at all, the boat felt secure and the excellent crew reassured about what to expect re brief movement from passing other boats etc. I can't wait to go again.
Response from Host, Mar 2023
Kia Ora Louise, thank you for coming out on the cruise with us on your holiday. So glad that you got some on our New Zealand summer. Look forward to having you on board with again soon.
Eco-safari cruise
Laurie_L, Mar 2023
The guides were great and very knowledgeable. It took some time to find the dolphins, but when we did, it was incredible. The dolphins are so beautiful. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see whales, but was still a wonderful tour and I would do it again if I make it back to New Zealand
Response from Host, Mar 2023
Kia Ora Laurie, Thank you for your 5-star view. Really happy to hear you had a great time with our guides on board and got to see dolphins in the wild. Look forward to having you back on board when you are back in NZ
Michael_T, Mar 2023
Fantastic trip! Everybody on board was knowledgable and very friendly! They searched until we hit the jackpot of a giant pod of dolphins which surrounded the boat giving us a spectacular show! Supporting them also supports the environment since this is a research vessel.
Response from Host, Mar 2023
Kia Ora Michael, thanks for your review. Great to hear you had a great time with the crew and dolphins. Thanks for your support. Mike
Cherry_S, Mar 2023
Amazing day out with friendly and informative staff. We had a quiet start to the day but about 2.3 hours out there was a couple of dolphins then a while later there were loads feeding with the gannets. It was all very exciting! Then to top it all a whale was sighted. A truly great day!
Response from Host, Mar 2023
Kia Ora Cherry, so great to hear you had an amazing day out with us. Glad to see you got to tick all the boxes on your trip.
Canceled for no reason with no notice
LISA_S, Feb 2023
I would give this a 0 if it were an option. We had been staying in Rotorua where we had nothing but rain for 5 days, yet all our scheduled activities -- cave tour, geothermal sites, luge ride, jet boat, Maori dinner show -- went off without a hitch. Then we got to Auckland. The next-day forecast for the day of the tour was cloudy but no rain until evening. The day dawned sunny, with blue skies and fluffy white clouds, again no rain predicted until late evening. My husband and I walked to the harbor only to find nothing happening at the boat (and no sign, and the people at the info booth next to it knew nothing). I called the number painted on the boat and was told the tour had been CANCELED DUE TO THE WEATHER. Excuse me?!? A beautiful, sunny day with no threatening storms, and they cancel because of the WEATHER?! And apparently they didn't bother to tell Viator, since I received no cancellation notice (and Viator still thinks we went on the excursion, because they asked me how it was). Since we were flying home that night, there was no way to reschedule, so we were totally screwed. I don't know if the operator was lazy or just uncaring. There was absolutely no need to cancel for the excuse I was given. Plus, I have knee and hip issues and I would not have made that ultimately unnecessary walk to the quay had someone had the courtesy to inform me of the cancelation. Viator is hereby informed of their thoughtless and specious behavior. I better get a full refund.
Response from Host, Mar 2023
Good morning, Lisa! We appreciate your time to write your feedback. Firstly, apologies for the delay in replying your review. We are sorry to hear that you did not have opportunity to do the tour. Please, contact our team through as we are happy to investigate what happened on that day and discuss your case:)
Seeing Dolphins and Whales is hit or miss
Karen_C, Jan 2023
4.5 hours is a long time to be out on the water, especially when the water is cold and choppy and you don't see even a gold fish. It's not the company's fault, but keep your money on this one, and if you do go, grab a seat on the back of the boat. Being soaked over and over at the bow gets old after about the first 30 mins.
Excellent experience
Raymond_M, Jan 2023
The crew were helpful and explained what was being done during the trip and what data was being collected for research. The Dolphins were a delight to see
Response from Host, Mar 2023
Kia Ora! Thank you for spending time to post your review. Happy you had fun out there with our crew:)
Ok, but no real whales and for that too expensive
Niels_S, Jan 2023
Quite expensive price. Only dolphins and a porpoise seen. Not enough seats for children inside. Crew was nice except some exceptions.
Awesome day..
Karen_C, Jan 2023
We saw heaps of dolphins and the crew was helpful and informative. Would recommend doing this to everyone.
Response from Host, Jan 2023
Kia Ora Karen, thank you for your review and recommendation. Glad you had a great cruise with us!
Fantastic safari
Jacqueline_S, Jan 2023
Excellent safari. All crew on board were friendly, knowledgable and passionate about what they do. Would definitely recommend if you are visiting Auckland
Response from Host, Jan 2023
Kia Ora, thank you for your review and feedback regarding our crew. Glad you had a great day out with us.
The crew was wonderful and the boat ride was fun.
john_W, Jan 2023
The weather was great, and the crew could not have been better. Although we did not see any whales or dolphins, we did get to see some little penguins. There’s never a guarantee when you do things like this, that you’ll see any whales and dolphins so I cannot fault the company or the crew and lower the rating. I felt it was very enjoyable and informative ride for the day. I would recommend it.
Response from Host, Jan 2023
Kia Ora, thanks for your review and recommendation. Sorry to hear we could find any whales or dolphins on the day but glad you still had a great cruise.
Fantastic day
Tami_C, Dec 2022
The crew were friendly and cheerful. What a great day !! Great day on the water. Would recommend to anyone
Response from Host, Jan 2023
Kia Ora Tami, thank you for your 5-star review and recommendation. Glad you had a great day out on the water.

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