General Whales

Where to see dolphins in New Zealand



Swimming with wild dolphins is a dream of numerous, and we can say from particular experience that there aren’t numerous effects in this World that can match its awesomeness. When you suppose about swimming with dolphins, New Zealand presumably is n’t the first country that comes to mind, but it’s actually one of the stylish countries in the world to see numerous different dolphin species.

Where to see dolphins in New Zealand

Dolphins can be set up in waters each around New Zealand, but there are some places that are better than others. Below we ’ve listed the areas in the country where dolphin population viscosity is the loftiest. You might notice that we do n’t mention the common dolphin and airman Goliath in them. That’s because these dolphin species do n’t inescapably stick to certain areas and can be set up each around New Zealand’s waters. Without farther ado, these are the stylish places to see dolphins in New Zealand

1. Bay of islets

We ’ll start up north, in the Bay of islets. The tropical climate then makes the water a bit warmer than in utmost places in New Zealand. That combined with the innumerous little kudos and graphic islet make it the ideal place for all feathers of water related conditioning, including dolphin watching. A cover of bottlenose dolphins is known to constantly visit the Bay of islets, but excursionists that went swimming with them were “ loving them too important ”, causing a massive decline in the quantum of bottlenose dolphins that visit. thus swimming with bottlenose dolphins is now banned in the Bay of islets. Dolphin watching is still still allowed.

2. Bay of plenitude

The Bay of plenitude is aptly named, because there really is aplenty to see then. This area is home to loads of common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, and indeed orcas show themselves then relatively regularly. But on top of the dolphin species that you can see then, there’s also loads of other marine wildlife like humpback jumbos, seals, and indeed turtles.


Another cool thing about the dolphin tenures then’s that they let you hold onto a bar on the reverse of the boat while it sluggishly pulls you along. This way you’re a lot more intriguing to the dolphins making it veritably probably for them to swim coming to you. That’s commodity everyone wants to do at least formerly in their life right?!

3. Marlborough Sounds

The Marlborough Sounds are the Mecca of marine wildlife in New Zealand. Marine creatures use the near Cook Strait to resettle from colder to warmer waters, and all the little kudos and coves in the Marlborough Sounds are give great feeding openings along the way. Five different dolphin species are generally spotted in the coves, including bottlenose dolphins, dim dolphins, sometimes Hector’s dolphins and indeed orcas. Orcas love eating stingrays, and Elaine Bay is one of the places where stingrays come to feed, so if you ’re lucky you might see orcas then as well. And indeed if you do n’t see any orcas, also Elaine Bay is still a beautiful place to be.

4. Kaikoura

Kaikoura is notorious for its dolphin- and Goliath watching. It’s largely regarded as one of the stylish locales in the world to spot humpback jumbos and dim dolphins because so numerous of them. Superpods of dim dolphins live then time round, with figures of several hundred to occasionally indeed over a thousand of them at a time. Imagine swimming in the middle of that!

For Goliath watching; the stylish time to see humpback jumbos is during downtime from June to August, although the occassional bone
can still be spotted in summer. Sperm jumbos live then time round, and in summer there’s a high chance of seeing orcas and airman jumbos pop up in between the jumbos. A many times a time blue jumbos are observed near Kaikoura too. You need to be really lucky in order to be there when that happens, but who knows.

5. Akaroa

Akaroa frequently gets overlooked by trippers
because it’s a bit out of the way, but it surely deserves a citation when it comes to dolphins. Just like the Marlborough Sounds, Akaroa is full of little coves and kudos are full of food for dolphins and other marine wildlife. The stylish thing to do then’s to take a kayak or paddleboard out on the water in summer, and you ’re nearly guaranteed that a cover of Hector’s dolphins will come to say hi. Orcas are also constantly seen in summer, as well as penguins and seals. plenitude of reasons to not skip Akaroa we ’d say!

6. Curio Bay

Curio Bay is substantially notorious for the extremely rare unheroic- eyed penguins that come to nest then each time, but Curio Bay and the conterminous Porpoise Bay are also excellent spots to see and swim with Hector’s dolphins. In summer, capsules of over to 30 Hector’s dolphins feed in Porpoise Bay nearly daily, and they love to play with browsers and insensibility in the water. Last time we took our paddleboards out into the bay, and within twinkles a cover of them was playing around us and doing all feathers of acrobatic numbers in the swells.

7. Fiordland

Fiordland formerly gets plenitude of attention with it being the area where the Milford Sound, the 8th wonder of the world is located, but it’s also the home of several capsules of bottlenose dolphins. There are about 50 of them in the area and if you take a boat stint in Doubtful Sound or Milford Sound, chances of seeing them swim in front of the boat are veritably high. As if these sounds were n’t stupendous enough formerly!

Dolphin species in New Zealand

How numerous dolphin species can be observed in New Zealand depends on the source. Croaker counts nine dolphin species and New Zealand’s own tourism point counts 13 dolphin species in New Zealand. Whichever number is true, only six of those are generally seen. The other species are so rare that seeing one of them is veritably doubtful.

Common dolphin

As their name suggests, common dolphins are the most generally set up dolphin species in the Atlantic and Pacific and they frequently swim in superpods of hundreds and occasionally indeed thousands of them. Common dolphins are set up in all waters girding New Zealand, but they generally tend to remain a many kilometers off the seacoast so for a better chance of seeing them you ’d have to take a boat out on the water.

Bottlenose dolphin

Bottlenose dolphins get their name from their short beak that sort of resembles the top of a soda pop bottle. They’re fairly common in New Zealand, and you ’re likely to see from the reinforcement as they prefer more shallow waters. Bottlenose dolphins are veritably “ garrulous ” and make al feathers of squicking and effervescing sounds to communicate. They can grow up to 4 measures long, so if you know what you ’re looking for spotting them should n’t be too hard. Bottlenose dolphins are veritably friendly to humans they ’ll frequently approach you if you ’re in the water close to them.

dim dolphin

dim dolphins have an indeed shorter beak than bottlenose dolphins and are about half their size. There are an estimated15.000 to20.000 dim dolphins in New Zealand’s waters, and utmost of them are set up around the South Island as they prefer colder waters. They generally travel in big capsules and like to stick to littoral waters. The stylish thing about dim dolphins is that they ’re the most acrobatic dolphin species out there and they love to put up a show.

Hector’s dolphin

Hector’s dolphin are the lowest dolphin species in the world and are only set up in New Zealand’s waters. They reach a maximum length of1.5 measures and are recognosable by their short beak and rounded rearward fin. Just like the bottlenose dolphin they stick to the shoal and they ’re also veritably sportful and friendly to humans. Hector’s dolphin are divided into two species. The first is the South Island’s Hector’s dolphin, which is only set up around the South Island and has a population of around15.000. The alternate is the Māui dolphin, which is only set up along the west seacoast of the North Island and has an estimated population of only 75, making it not only the lowest but also the most exposed dolphin species in the world.


The orca is the largest member of the dolphin family and can reach lengths up to 9 measures long. Orcas trip long distances and resettle all along New Zealand’s bank throughout the time, but they’re more generally observed in the South Island’s waters. There are between 150 and 200 orcas in New Zealand and capsules of them generally correspond of 6- 20 of them. They’re higly intelligent nimrods that are indeed able of killing big marine creatures like great white harpies. Although they might look a bit scary, there are no recorded fatal attacks by wild orcas on humans. The single occurance where a human was stunk by a wild orca is extensively regarded as the orca confusing the mortal for commodity differently, so as a mortal you have nothing to sweat from them.

Airman Goliath

Despite their name suggesting that they’re jumbos, airman jumbos are in fact the alternate- largest species of dolpin that can reach lenths up to 6 measures. There are knockouts of thousands of airman jumbos in New Zealand’s waters, but you ’re not likely to see them from the reinforcement as they prefer colder and deeper water, and can indeed sand in shallow waters. It’s allowed
that their echolocation( how dolphins detects objects in their terrain) does n’t work well in shallow water, causing them to get confused. There have been numerous mass strandings of airman jumbos in New Zealand. This frequently occurs on Farewell Spit, the Chatham islets, and most lately a mass stranding of 145 airman jumbos on Stewart Island. Tom saw their remains when he was hiking on Stewart Island three months after the stranding and it was a heart- breaking sight.

Stylish time to see dolphins in New Zealand

Because of New Zealand’s mild climate, you can see dolphins all time round. still, what’s considered a mild water temperature for a dolphin is generally considered veritably fricking cold wave for people. Especially in downtime the waters around New Zealand get veritably cold and you ’ll surely need a wetsuit to endure for further than a many twinkles. So if you want to get into the water with dolphins, we recommend going during summer and the morning of Afterlife, when the waters are warmer.

How to swim with dolphins

When you get in the water to swim with dolphins, it’s important to flash back that indeed though they’re super cute and playfull, they’re still wild creatures. You’re entering their natural niche, and you should try not to disturb that. Keep the following general rules in mind in order to admire them.

Don’t get into the water with dolphins when they’ve pins, they will do anything to cover them.

Don’t get into the water with dolphins when they’re feeding. This causes stress and can make them flee, forcing them to find a new food source.

Do n’t chase them. If they feel like playing they will come to you. Dolphins are veritably curious though so unless you ’re really disturbing them, they ’ll most likely come to day hi.

Do n’t touch them, this could make them feel hovered .


Wildlife preservation

To make sure that dolphins and other in inconceivable beast species in New Zealand stay in existance, it’s pivotal to keep wildlife ecosystems complete. Always be aware when you ’re out in nature and be regardful of the brutes living in it. And most importantly, when restictions have been put in place, please cleave to them or the creatures that you came to see will vanish. The restrictions on swimming with dolphins in Bay of islets are a high illustration of this. For the same reason pen diving with great white harpies came interdicted in New Zealand a many times agone
, and numerous further beast species are risked and at threat of going fully defunct.