Is whale watching or dolphin swimming on your bucket list? Lucky for you there are a couple of great spots to see whales and dolphins around New Zealand, the first of which might surprise you: Auckland (the Auckland whale watching boat has over a 90% success rate and they leave from right downtown in our biggest city!).
Kaikoura is the Whale Watching capital of New Zealand, home to the Giant Sperm Whale and on the migration path of the Humpback Whale, Blue Whale, Southern Right Whale, Minke Whale and others. All the marine life in Kaikoura is now fully protected, after the creation of New Zealand’s newest marine reserve in 2014.
Best place for Whale Watching in New Zealand - Well that has to go to Kaikoura, the 500m deep trench close to the shore makes it a year round home to Sperm Whale, Whale Watch Kaikoura is a Maori run business with a great story about how the whale watching helped turn the fortunes of the town.
Dolphins are also a common site around New Zealand, and just like many Kiwis on their summer holidays, that one moment that sums up your whole trip and brings a smile to your face for years to come may be something like sitting on the boy of a boat in somewhere like the Bay of Islands, watching the dolphins riding the bow wave in the sparkling sea - save that moment as a screen saver to keep you smiling for years!
Kaikoura is a popular spot for a dolphin swim or wildlife cruise, but our favourite place for swimming with dolphins in New Zealand (or just a dolphin cruise) is in the Bay of Islands from Paihia, the seas are a bit calmer and as it’s in the far north, it’s way warmer than down south!
In New Zealand waters you’ll see Dusky and Bottlenose Dolphins all over the country, you may have seen these back home but we’ve also got an entirely endemic species of dolphins here in New Zealand, called the Hector’s (and Maui) dolphins, the smallest and rarest of dolphins anywhere in the world.
Kiwis on holiday will tell you they’ve seen dolphins from the Cook Strait Ferry, on the water taxi at Abel Tasman National Park, on a cruise in Milford Sound, even from the beach at places like Ship Creek on the West Coast. Ask a local for the best spots.
Best place to Swim with Dolphins - We’ll go for the the Bay of Islands, because it’s so much warmer than anywhere else you can do this. Yes, it matters!
Kiwi Tip - For a heart warming New Zealand story, read The Whale Rider before your trip. The book has been a Kiwi favourite since the 80s and the 2002 movie was loved by people all over the world.