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Swimming with Dolphins Akaroa Banks Peninsula
New Zealand Dolphin watching
  • Overview
  • Map
  • Booking

Just 80 minutes from Christchurch is the scenic Akaroa Harbour. It's the home of one of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins - the Hector's or New Zealand Dolphin.

Join the Black Cat Group's "Dolphins Up Close" Catamaran, which has been especially designed for viewing, and it's twin jets provide maximum safety- for you and the dolphins. The cat seats up to 20 people and has a covered cabin which can be heated for extra comfort.

  • All gear including wet suit, boots, snorkel and mask are provided
  • Hot drinks are served on board
  • A hot shower is available on your return to shore

For every customer that swims with the dolphins a contribution is made to the Department of Conservation to help protect the dolphins' future.

Swimming with Dolphins Akaroa is a two hour cruise, ½ hour before for a full briefing, about two hours on the water (of which up to 1 hour is spent with the dolphins) and ½ hour afterwards for shower and a hot drink.

The Hector’s Dolphin is a native species and is one of the smallest dolphins in the world. They grow to about 1.2m (4 feet) roughly the size of a 5-year-old child, less than half the size of the more common bottle nosed dolphin. They are located all around the South Island but the harbours of Lyttelton and Akaroa are where they are seen most often. This is one of the world’s rarest dolphins with its total population being around 7,000. This is fewer than any other marine dolphin, and marks the species as endangered. A marine mammal sanctuary exists right around Banks Peninsula.

Akaroa Harbour is actually the flooded crater of an extinct volcano. Apart from the huge and awe-inspiring volcanic cliffs, this also means that the harbour is very sheltered. Your swim is not in the open sea, its inside a sheltered harbour.

There are only 10 swimmers allowed per vessel, so this means that when you get into the water there is more chance for you to come face to face with the dolphins as there are less humans for them to choose from. Wetsuit masks and snorkel are provided. You only have to bring your swimming costume and a towel.

All the crew are highly trained. This means that you’ll get a great briefing on how to interact with the hectors dolphins and what to expect prior to your journey. They’ll also give you safety instructions and other information to allow you to enjoy your experience. If you are new to snorkelling and use of a wetsuit your crew will be on hand to help you out.

The office is the only one to be based on Akaroa's main wharf. This means that once you have got into your wetsuit you can get straight into your boat. We know that not everyone is comfortable walking around in a tight wetsuit in public.

The main boat is a modern, heated, covered, jet powered catamaran. It’s safer for you and the dolphins because there are no propellers. It’s also heated so after your swim you can warm up quickly in the cabin. The 2nd vessel is not covered however is used during the warmer months (November to April) only.

Receive a gift pack as a great souvenir of your swim. The pack includes a black and silver swim certificate, a dolphin information sheet and a free postcard, perfect for sending to a friend or relative. And all children get a free kids dolphin fun book packed with activities designed to educate and entertain.

Black Cat are now also able to offer photographs of your swimming with dolphins experience.

Black Cat is the first cruise boat company in the world to get the coveted Green Globe 21, an international programme to ensure best environmental practices.
We operate up to 8 cruises per day from November to March and up to 4 in April and October and 1 per day from May to September.

Of course with only 10 swimmers allowed per vessel, it does mean that trips are frequently sold out in advance, which makes it essential for you to book in advance.

If you see dolphins but for some reason do not get to swim with them then there is a partial refund. This might happen if the dolphins have calves with them, or are feeding or mating.

Please click here for a location map or for a full screen map click here

GPS: -43.809152,172.960639

This activity is available as part of one of our Custom Itineraries or holidays, please visit our home page to learn more about how we can help you with your holiday.

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