Where to See Dolphins in New Zealand
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Here are Some of The Best Places to See Dolphins in New Zealand
Numerous species of dolphins can be found in New Zealand waters. Up to 13 species have been recorded: they include very rare species found only in New Zealand (Hector's dolphins and their subspecies, the Maui dolphin), as well as creatures that many people don't realize are actually dolphins, such as killer whales. and pilot whales. Other species of dolphins found here include common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, and dusky dolphins.
It's not uncommon to see dolphins on New Zealand beaches - look out to sea and you might see a pod. To get a better view of these graceful creatures, small boat dolphin-watching cruises are available throughout the country. On other tours, you can see them alongside other sea animals and birds, as well as on the way to other attractions.
While many travelers prefer to come to New Zealand in the warmer months (October to March), you are more likely to see dolphins from late fall to late winter (May to July). At this time, some migratory whales and killer whales are present.
Bay of Islands, Northland
The Bay of Islands region on the northeast coast is one of the most popular tourist destinations in northern New Zealand, and a dolphin-watching cruise is a great addition to beach time. As Northland is a subtropical region, the waters here are sheltered, calm, and quite warm. Bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins call this place home, as do one or two orca whales. A cruise to Hole in the Rock, near Cape Brett, is a great way to spot dolphins and take in the view of the Bay of Islands.
Hauraki Gulf, Auckland
In the Hauraki Gulf, near Auckland, you can see dolphins (common, bottlenose, and killer whales) and whales (sei, minke, and Byrde). In addition to dolphin-watching cruises in the gulf, ferries connect several offshore islands, including Waiheke Island and Rangioto, to central Auckland.
Tauranga, Bay of Plenty
Tauranga, in the Bay of Plenty region on the North Island, is protected by a protected harbor that is also occupied. If you travel to the open sea further afield, there is a good chance of seeing common dolphins and killer whales, as well as humpback whales (during migration season), pilot whales, blue penguins, seals, and a variety of birds.
Orcas, as well as the common, shadowy, and rare Hector's dolphins, live in sounds. While you can certainly see them chasing the Interislander ferry that travels between Wellington and Picton, a cruise dedicated to wildlife viewing is well worth it. Small cruise ships leaving from Picton generally stop at Motuara Island, a bird sanctuary near the entrance to Queen Charlotte Sound. Alternatively, you can see wonderful creatures on the Pelorus Mail Boat, which leaves the small town of Havelock and travels through Pelorus Sound.
Kaikoura, North Canterbury
The small town of Kaikoura, north of Canterbury at the top of the South Island, is best known as a whale-watching destination, but you can also see dolphins here. Between the snow-capped mountains of Kaikoura and the Pacific Ocean, a deep trench offshore and the meeting of hot and cold ocean currents attract marine life throughout the year. The most common are the dusky dolphins; Blue-black in color, they are generally smaller than common dolphins or bottlenose dolphins.
Banks Peninsula, Canterbury
The Banks Peninsula is the bulbous peninsula that stretches from the mainland to the east of Christchurch. The waters here are one of the few places in the world where Hector's dolphins can be seen. They are the smallest and rarest dolphins in the world. Hector's dolphins, which grow to a meter and a half in length, have black and white spots and a rounded dorsal fin. Sea kayaking is a good way to see them and potentially less intrusive to small creatures than a ride on a larger boat.
Otago Peninsula, Dunedin
Just a short drive from Dunedin City, at the bottom of the South Island, the Otago Peninsula is a bird and wildlife lover's paradise. Like penguins, albatrosses, and seals, dolphins (especially bottlenose and dusky dolphins) can be found in the cold waters of the peninsula. Sometimes pods can also be seen on Dunedin's St Clair Beach.
New Zealand's "third" main island, Rakiura / Stewart Island, is located at the bottom of the South Island and is a good place to see bottlenose dolphins. Relatively few international travelers make it this far south (in fact, not many domestic visitors to New Zealand do), but those who do are drawn to nature. About 85 percent of Rakiura is national parkland. Dolphins can sometimes be seen on the hour-long ferry crossing between Bluff on the South Island and Oban on Rakiura.
We hope you enjoy watching this video about the Most Incredible Places to watch Dolphins in New Zealand
Source: Daneger and Stacey
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