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.


EXPERIENCE – We were the first dolphin swimming operator in New Zealand and have operated thousands of trips since 1988. 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.

QUALITY – We are winners of the Supreme Tourism Award, and the only dolphin swim operator to be listed in Lonely Planet’s ‘Best Marine Encounters’ guide. Rest assured you’ll be cruising with one of the best operators in NZ and we’ve got the silverware to prove it. We’re also Qualmark rated, a quality assurance programme to recognise those operators who are prepared to go the extra mile.

ENVIRONMENT – 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.

COMFORT – 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.

FUN AND SAFE – 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. Akaroa Harbour is very sheltered. Your swim is not in the open sea, its inside a sheltered harbour.

What’s Included

GEAR – All equipment is supplied, including wet suit and mask. Gloves and hoods are provided when required. Just bring a towel and your swimsuit. You will also receive a free hot chocolate and biscuits are on board, and a hot shower is available on your return to shore. We have Dolphin Swim certificates, and info sheets on request. Optional photo packs are also available to purchase.

AN AWESOME ADVENTURE! – This 3 hour adventure comprises of ½ hour before for a full briefing, about 2 hours on the water (of which up to 45min is spent with the dolphins) and ½ hour afterwards for a hot shower. 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.


Swimmers must have a basic skill level of swimming. Obviously the water is over your head and a degree of confidence in swimming is required. Swimmers must declare any pre-existing medical conditions which may limit their participation. A basic level of fitness is required. Swimmers 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. Swimming is not available for under 8’s.
A fit and confident child aged 8 and above is able to swim with dolphins. Swimmers should have some knowledge of English, so they can understand safety instructions and emergency procedures.Swimmers must not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Get to know the Hector dolphins

There can be few experiences as rewarding as an encounter with wild dolphins in their natural habitat. Especially when they are amongst the smallest and rarest of the entire world’s dolphin species. We believe that our relationship with the dolphins should be a good partnership; the best partnerships are where the benefits flow both ways and educating people about the dolphins is just one way that we can return the favour to them. We operate under a strict internal ‘dolphin code of conduct’ which is a series of guidelines that we have devised to let the dolphins carry out their daily activities in as normal a way as possible. The important – and perhaps most rewarding thing is that the interaction between humans and dolphins is on their terms and they can always disappear whenever they want.



The dolphins were named in honour of Sir James Hector. Born in Scotland, he was the first director of what is now the Museum of New Zealand and without a doubt the most influential scientist in NZ at the time. In 1875, during a geographical survey of NZ he became the first person to examine a Hector’s dolphin specimen. They are alsoknown as the ‘New Zealand dolphins’, or as ‘Tutumairekurai’, which means ‘special ocean dweller’.

Dolphin Fin-01


The Hector dolphin is the smallest dolphin species in the world. Adult dolphins reach a maximum size of about 1.4m and 48kg. A newborn dolphin is just 76cm/2’ 4” (8kg/17lb), which is incredibly small for a marine mammal. Shape and colour – of all the dolphins in New Zealand waters the Hector’s dolphin is the only one with a rounded dorsal fin. They alsohave distinct 3-colour markings earning them the nickname of ‘the panda of the seas’.



The Hector dolphin is amongst the world’s rarest dolphins with a total population of 7000. Only the very rare freshwater dolphins of China and India, and the Gulf of California porpoise are known to number fewer. Hector’s dolphin is listed as “endangered” by the IUCN. (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources),

Schedule and price

Dolphin Swim

$ 199.00
16 years and up
$ 169.00
8-15 years

Dolphin Watch

$ 99.00
16 years and up
$ 69.00
8-15 years

Duration: Two hours on the water (plus half an hour before and after).
Times may vary according to the season. Select the book now button to check times for your chosen date.

Prices are in New Zealand dollars and include GST. Prices valid until 30 September 2023.