5 star rating: Highly Recommended 14 Reviews

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  • Location: Akaroa, New Zealand
  • Duration:  2 hours (approx.)

Experience majestic scenery and stunning wildlife including dolphins, penguins and marine bird life on this Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise.

Highlights

  • 2-hour Akaroa Harbour cruise by luxury catamaran to see the worlds smallest and rarest dolphin, the Hector's dolphin
  • See fur seals as you cruise past Seal Bay
  • Stop at Lucas Bay to see a salmon farm
  • Stunning scenery and plenty of photo opportunities
  • Fully narrated by knowledgeable skipper

Recent Photos of This Tour

What You Can Expect

Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise

Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise

Cruise on a modern 60 feet catamaran, perfect for viewing the natural wonders of Akaroa Harbour. The vessel is the largest and most luxurious on the harbour. There's lots of space on the 2 decks for unenterrupted viewing and inside seating.

The 2-hour cruise is fully narrated by your skipper who has extensive knowledge of the nature, wildlife and history of Akaria Harbour.

On the two-hour cruise you will endeavor wildlife plus the many sea caves and volcanic cliffs. As Akaroa Harbour was a live volcano nine million years ago, there is many spectacular ancient lava flows to be seen. One cliff has a sheer 500-foot face and has a fascinating history plus you will also see the incredible Scenery Nook, an amazing pink, purple and red volcanic amphitheater that will take your breath away.

Catch glimpses of the White Flippered Blue Penguin, the smallest penguin in the world you'll also see the New Zealand Fur Seal sunning themselves on the harbors rocks near the entrance at Seal Bay.

You'll also stop at Lucas Bay to look at a salmon farm. This is where the world-famous "Akaroa Salmon" are raised.

The highlight of this trip is undoubtedly the sighting of one of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, the Hector Dolphin also known as the New Zealand Dolphin. These friendly and inquisitive mammals meet the boat most days throughout the year and their calves can be seen between October and March.

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Itinerary

On your cruise you will discover the highlights of the Harbour including:

1. Akaroa The French colonized this area after the English declared sovereignty over New Zealand in 1840. Today you can see the French influence everywhere, for example street names like "Rue Jolie", which means "Happy Street". Nowadays fishing, farming and tourism are the mainstays of the township.

2. Onuku Marae This is the location of the historical Maori village in which one of the oldest churches in New Zealand is located. In 1840 the chief Tekau signed the Treaty of Waitangi here. It is still used today for many gatherings.

3. Cathedral Cave Known to the Maori as Te Anau O Kokiro, the cave was named after the Chief Kokiro. This is an example of how the rough sea has created a volcanic cave over thousands of years, and clearly shows the layers of different volcanic eruptions. Numerous shags nest here on the cliffs.

4. Palm Gulley This is the southern most point at which New Zealand's only native palm tree grows.

5. Te Ruahine This is the northern most point of the Harbour. Translated from the Maori language this means "Old lady".

6. The Lighthouse For the last 150 years a lighthouse has been located at this point. The original historic Lighthouse is now located inside the Harbour, near the wharf and is only lit for special occasions and holidays.

7. Timu Timu This is the southern most point of the Harbour, translated from the Maori language this means, "Cut off short".

8. Salmon Farm Young salmon are being farmed in Lucas Bay and sold to the national and international market.

9. Paua (Abalone) Farm Caskets filled with Paua or Abalone is fixed to floaters. This shell is being used for jewelry as well as for farming pearls. The flesh of the Paua/Abalone is recognized world wide as a delicacy.

10. Wainui A small holiday village.

11. Dolphins The Hector's or New Zealand Dolphin is a native species and is one of the smallest dolphins in the world. Most are found in the South Island around Banks Peninsula. One of the rarest dolphins, its population is currently between 3000 and 4000. This is fewer than any other marine dolphin, and marks the species as endangered.

12. Little Blue Penguins This penguin is the smallest in the world and is now on the endangered species list. The penguins are distinguished by a white leading edge on their flippers and are only 30cm high. Ecologists are trying to establish a colony at Boulder Bay.

13. Spotted Shags Colony of Spotted Shags. The white rock is 'guana' or bird droppings, which show how old this colony is. Both the male and female birds change to a brilliant green around the neck and face during their mating season.

14. Sea Birds The following seabirds can be seen in and around the Harbour: 5 different types of Cormorant, Black Backed Seagulls, Red and Black Beaked Seagulls, White Necked Swallows, Canadian Geese, Paradise Ducks, Mollymauks, White Fronted Terns and occasionally Gannets, Petrels and Albatross.

Customer Reviews

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2015

This was an amazing trip. We saw heaps of sea life and the tour guide was full of local knowledge. I would highly recommend this trip for anyone visiting Akaroa

5 star rating: Highly Recommended February 2015

What a magic cruise. We arrived on our cruise ship and boarded our nature cruise - conveniently located on the same wharf as the tender boats. The harbour is a magic place and seeing it from the water was breathtaking. The fact that the weather was perfect - with little wind - sunny skies and aqua water helped. Our skipper - Julian - was exceptional!! Providing informative and interesting commentary and making sure people on both sides of the boat were able to see the little dolphins. This is another tour that I'd highly recommend - two hours just flew.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended January 2015

Loved this trip and we saw everything we wanted.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended March 2014

Definitely worth the price and offered a beautiful view of the Harbor. Captain was knowledgable and we were able to see dolphins as depicted in the photo. Suggest private walking tour of Akaroa using tourist info headphones and map as we'll. inexpensive

Joseph W
Australia

5 star rating: Highly Recommended January 2014

The wind was blowing a gale and the seas very rough but it was a good little cruise. Not many dolphins but we saw seals on the rocks and a pair of penguins

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2012

Unfortunately, our cruise was cancelled when we arrived on the dock on our day as the waters were considered too rough and high winds. I rate the cruise a 5 star anyway as I know it would have been great.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended January 2012

Black cat were brilliant due to traffic problems we arrived late and they put us on the swim with dolphin cruise instead. we had wonderful views of hectors dolphins and penguins swimming alongside boat for almost the entire trip.would recommend this company for both harbour cruise and swim with dolphins.

Chris Hord
Australia

5 star rating: Highly Recommended May 2011

Akaroa Harbour is a very nice place to visit if you are in Christchurch. We rented a car and drove 1 and 1/2 hours from Christchurch to Akaroa. The view along the journal was spectacular. The cruise was great and we did manage to see penguine and dolphins on that day. We were given a nice post card to remember after the cruise. We had a great trip.

Neville C
Australia

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2008

Akaroa is a very beautiful place. o go there and not do a cruise and see the hector dolphins would be a big miss.

Florence S
United Kingdom

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2008

The most amazing trip. Saw LOTS of Hector dolphins, seals and one penguin. Would recommend highly.
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Tour code: 3661AHC

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