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Dolphin Experience


Dolphin Experience

At a Glance

Make a date with the worlds smallest, rarest and friendliest dolphins, the Hector's dolphin only on Akaroa Harbour. We can offer you an incredible safe experience with a great dolphin guarantee.

An Unforgettable Experience

Dolphin Experience

  • A two hour cruise, which includes ½ hour before for a full briefing, about 2 hours on the water (of which up to 1 hour is spent with the dolphins) and ½ hour afterwards for a shower.
  • All our crew are highly trained. This means that you’ll get a great briefing on how to interact with the hector's 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 snorkeling and use of a wetsuit your crew will be on hand to help you out.
  • We provide wetsuit and masks. You only have to bring you swimming costume and a towel. We’ll also provide you with a hot shower afterwards. And there’s a hot drink after your swim too.
  • Our 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.
  • We have modern vessels. Our main boat is a 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. Our 2nd vessel is not covered however is used during the warmer months (November to April) only. You can request the covered vessel only when booking on line.
  • What about all the tourism awards? It’s simple – its your assurance of quality, if you are visiting New Zealand you may not have heard of Black Cat Group. Rest assured you’ll be cruising with one of the best operators in New Zealand and we’ve got the silverware to prove it. We’re also Qualmark rated, a quality assurance programme to recognise those tourism operators who are prepared to go the extra mile.
  • And what about our environmental record? If you book with us then you’ll automatically be making a donation to research and education on hector's dolphins. Our company was also the first cruise boat company in the world to get the coveted Green Globe 21, an international programme to ensure best environmental practices.
  • 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.
  • With us there are only 12 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.
  • 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 12 swimmers allowed per vessel, it does mean that we are frequently sold out in advance, which makes it essential for you to book in advance.
  • Our dolphin swimming is priced at $185 for adults and $155 for children. You can also watch from the swim boats for $89 adults and $49 children. All prices are quoted in New Zealand dollars and includes GST (good and service tax).

If you see dolphins but for some reason do not get to swim with dolphins then we give part refund. This might happen if the dolphins have calves with them, or are feeding or mating. In the last 12 months we saw dolphins on 98% of our cruises and had successful swims on 81%.

There are three ways to make a booking with us. Firstly and most easily fill out the on line booking form at the bottom of this section and at the bottom of the page. Secondly we have a 24 hour phone line available (64) 3 304 7641, or finally you can fax us on (64) 3 304 7643.

Don't forget we only carry 12 swimmers per trip so book now to avoid disappointment.

Akaroa Township

Akaroa is around 80 minutes drive from Christchurch and has its own swimming beach with other beautiful, deserted beaches within thirty minutes at both Okains and Le Bons Bays.

How to Find Us

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Schedule and Prices


Times may vary according to the season. Select the book now button to check times for your chosen date

6.30am, 8.30am, 11.30am, 1.30pm.

Duration Two hours on the water (plus half an hour before and after)
Adult $185 (watching $95)
Child $155 [8 to 15 years] (watching $55) [5-15 years]

Prices are in New Zealand dollars and include GST.

Prices valid until 30 September 2019.

Dolphin Experience

Guarantee: If you cannot swim with the dolphins you will receive a part refund.

What to Bring

All necessary gear is supplied including wet suits and masks. Just bring a towel and your swimming costume. We also suggest sunscreen and a camera! For your information the water temperature in Akaroa Harbour ranges from 11C (52F) in the winter to 17C (67F) in the summer. Air temperatures vary throughout the year.

Information for Parents

Like a lot of adults, children love dolphins and swimming with them can be an unforgettable experience. The minimum age is 8 years old and children should be confident swimmers; they will be close to the boat but obviously will be in water over their heads! Wetsuits help to keep them floating - without effort, and your guide will provide a surfboard, if necessary, and keep a very close eye on them. If you have your own wetsuit please bring it along, we have some childrens wetsuits available too. All children get a free Dolphin Fun and Activity Book.

If you have young preschool age children, they can come out in the boat too. We suggest that while one person is swimming your partner is looking after the children, and then swap over at half time. If you are travelling alone, sorry we do not have child care facilities - we suggest a dolphin watching cruise.

Criteria required to swim with dolphins

Customers must have a basic skill level of swimming. Obviously the water is over your head and a degree of confidence in swimming is required.

Customers must declare any pre-existing medical conditions which may limit their participation.

A basic level of fitness is required. Customers will be floating in the water and will be required to swim to and from the boat - distances up to 50 meters (150 feet) at a time.

Children. Swimming is not available for under 8’s. However with correct parental supervision and good sea conditions staff may reconsider this if space is available. A fit and confident child aged 8 and above is able to swim with dolphins.

Customers must bring with them a swimming costume and towel.

Customers should have some knowledge of English, so they can understand safety instructions and emergency procedures. If none exists customers should read and understand the foreign language safety instructions and be confident that they can communicate with crew using the pre-agreed hand signals in the event of an emergency.

Customers must not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Make a Booking

If you wish to make a booking, please click here.

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