A Dolphin Spotting Cruise with Akaroa Dolphins

One of the main reasons to visit Akaroa is the chance to get face to face (from the comfort of a boat) with tiny hectors dolphins. We were lucky to see around a dozen of the cute little creatures on our voyage, as well as some great scenery and even a dolphin-sensing dog! Keep reading for everything you need to know about seeing dolphins in Akaroa, including how much it’ll cost and how to organise your trip.

Akaroa Dolphins Cruise

A cruise with Akaroa Dolphins (we were hosted) takes around two hours and starts from the main pier close to town. At the time of writing, a trip will set you back $92 and in summer / spring / autumn there a numerous sailings a day (check the website for more information). The cruise first takes you through the harbour, passing by some interesting scenery. We saw some seals as well, but the real highlight was still to come.

Akaroa Harbour scenery, New ZealandA seal in Banks Peninsula, New ZealandBanks Peninsula scenery, New Zealand


As we drew closer to the harbour entrance the boat swayed in the roughening waters. Everyone on board was excitedly waiting for the first dolphin sighting, and the boat’s resident dolphin-spotting dog was working overtime running from one side of the boat to the other trying to see one. We didn’t have to wait long – a dozen or so tiny hectors dolphins came right up to the boat and swam alongside it for a good 10 – 15 minutes. I’ve never been so close to dolphins before – such a fun experience.

Hectors dolphins in Akaroa, New Zealand

At that range you can really get a good look at them – it’s almost like you’re communicating in some way. All good things come to end though, and eventually the dolphins swam off to some other adventure while our boat turned around and headed back to Akaroa. We had a coffee and a snack onboard and enjoyed the relaxing cruise, still buzzing about our dolphin encounter.

Akaroa dolphins boat trip, New Zealand

Dolphin Spotting in Akaroa: The Details

There are a few different companies doing dolphin spotting trips in Akaroa. We opted for Akaroa Dolphins and it was an awesome experience. The guides were informative and interesting, and the dog stole the hearts of everyone onboard. It’ll set you back around $90 per person (kids are $50) but it really is a once in a lifetime experience – definitely do it if you’ve never seen dolphins in the wild before (or even if you have – dolphin watching never gets old). Akaroa Dolphins has a 98% success rate when it comes to seeing dolphins, and if you don’t see one you’ll get another trip for free!

Are you planning a trip to Akaroa? Check out some of our other posts!

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who has just returned home after 6 years abroad. Join me as I see as much of the South Island as I can.
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