Tours and Tickets
Bay of Islands Discover the Bay cruise including Dolphins
4.5

Bay of Islands Discover the Bay cruise including Dolphins

By Explore Group
About
There are 144 islands in northern New Zealand's Bay of Islands, and on this cruise from Paihia you can discover the highlights of many of them. Be amazed as your captain navigates your vessel through the Hole in the Rock, and go in search of the dolphins that call the bay home. This is a fun tour that combines nature with Maori culture.
from
$150.00
per adult
Lowest price guaranteeReserve now & pay laterFree cancellation

Ages 0-99, max of 230 per group
Duration: 4h 30m
Start time: Check availability
Mobile ticket
Live guide: English
More

Highlights
  • Learn all about the Bay of Islands from live on-board commentary
  • In summer, choose to stay longer on the island and get a later boat back
  • See dolphins swimming and playing in their natural habitat

  • Cruising among the 144 islands with skipper's commentary
  • Nature Guide on board to answer your questions and provide commentary
  • 1.5 hour stop at Otehei Bay, Urupukapuka Island
  • When conditions permit, get up close to Cape Brett and travel through the Hole in the Rock
  • Entry/Admission - Rawhiti
What's not included
  • Transportation to/from attractions
  • Food and drinks are available to purchase at Otehei Bay Café during the island stop at own expense


Start:Multiple meeting point options.
  • Option 1
    Paihia Wharf, Bay Of Islands, Paihia 0200, New Zealand
  • Option 2
    Russell Wharf, Russell, Bay of Islands, 27 The Strand, Russell 0202, New Zealand
End:This activity ends back at the meeting point.

    • Not wheelchair accessible
    • Stroller accessible
    • Near public transportation
    If you have questions about accessibility, we’d be happy to help. Just call the number below and reference the product code: 3567P12

    • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
    • Most travellers can participate
    • A portion of your fare contributes to marine mammal research and conservation
    • This trip is suitable for children
    • Life jackets will be supplied in the event of an emergency
    • Please note - this service is a code share with Fullers GreatSights and may operate on their vessel
    • This experience requires good weather. If it’s cancelled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund
    • This experience requires a minimum number of travellers. If it’s cancelled because the minimum isn’t met, you’ll be offered a different date/experience or a full refund
    • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 230 travellers

    • For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.

    How much is Bay of Islands Discover the Bay cruise including Dolphins?
    Bay of Islands Discover the Bay cruise including Dolphins price starts from $149.01. Discover and book Bay of Islands Discover the Bay cruise including Dolphins on Tripadvisor
    What is the Bay of Islands Discover the Bay cruise including Dolphins cancellation policy?
    Bay of Islands Discover the Bay cruise including Dolphins cancellation policy: For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience. Discover and book Bay of Islands Discover the Bay cruise including Dolphins on Tripadvisor
    Which company provides Bay of Islands Discover the Bay cruise including Dolphins?
    Bay of Islands Discover the Bay cruise including Dolphins is hosted by Explore Group. Read reviews, discover additonal experiences or contact Explore Group on Tripadvisor. Discover and book Bay of Islands Discover the Bay cruise including Dolphins on Tripadvisor
    How much time do I need for Bay of Islands Discover the Bay cruise including Dolphins?
    On average, this experience will take approximately 4h 30m. Discover and book Bay of Islands Discover the Bay cruise including Dolphins on Tripadvisor

    If you have questions about this tour or need help making your booking, we’d be happy to help. Just call the number below and reference the product code: 3567P12

    Reserve your spot

    Similar experiences

    Itinerary
    • You’ll have 2 starting options
      See departure details
    • Pass by
      Paihia Harbour
    • 1
      Cape Brett Lighthouse
      Stop: 20 minutes
      See details
    • 2
      Otehei Bay Restaurant
      Stop: 90 minutes - Admission included
      See details
    • You'll return to the starting point
    About the operator
    Don’t take it from us – here’s what people have to say about this operator:
    • Explore Group
      1,260
      Paihia, New Zealand
      Joined in January 2009
    • GeorgeM926
      0 contributions
      Save Your Money
      Started at 7am got back at 7pm The coach is old and not comfortable We set of and the guide is also the driver - not good considering the roads and the hours he is driving must be 14 a day He gave scant information on the places we passed and spent most of the time talking about his kids his grandkids and dead relatives . We arrived at 90:mile beach only to find the tide was in - surely he knew this We then went off to a Lake for lunch pulled forward to 11.15 instead of 1pm beautiful place but we could only stay 45 minutes Then off to Lighthouse - great place great views but could only stay an hour . Then back to 90 mile beach - a drive on the beach then home . I know no more about the areas we traveled through than I did before I started .Oh and driver appeared pleased telling stories how he avoids safety inspections on the coach
      Written 13 February 2024
    • jevb2015
      0 contributions
      Awful journey
      It was hell not worth nearly 11 hours on a coach. There is nothing good to say about the trip don’t waste your money. We set off just after 7 am and did not arrive back until nearly 7 pm. Food awful and coach even worse
      Written 12 February 2024
    • Nicci M
      0 contributions
      Boat trip to hole in the rock
      Well organised and informative trip. Disappointed not to have seen dolphins but respect that we cannot determine nature
      Written 7 February 2024
    • Singletravellinggal3
      0 contributions
      Best views of The Bay of Islands
      Absolutely amazing day and would recommend it to everyone who’s visiting Paihia. After viewing the islands and home in the rock, the island stop over at Urupukapuka was such a great way to have a bevvy and meal, unwind and relax on the beach.
      Written 20 January 2024
    • Coulie
      0 contributions
      Stunning views to take your breath away
      The cruise commentary was excellent, loved the tour of the islands, the hole in the rock, and our stop-over at Urupukapuka where we enjoyed well-priced paninis, kumara fries and a beer before swimming at the beach. Loved seeing thousands of fish brimming at the surface of the water at hole in the rock.
      Written 9 January 2024
    • kanyanatp2024
      0 contributions
      Otehei Bay was amazing!!!
      Pros: The views on the ocean were great. My favourite part was the stopover at Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island. The sandy beach and the clear blue water were amazing. The view from the top of the hill there was absolutely breathtaking. Cons: The hole in the rock itself was uninteresting and everything else along the way was just alright. This is also a big tour with 200+ people so it can get quite crowded, especially at the front so you can't see much there. Recommendations: If I were to go to the Bay of Islands again, I would choose to get a ferry to Otehei Bay only and spend a whole day there. There are many walking tracks and sandy beaches for you to relax on. If you take the cruise, you might want to take the morning cruise, stay on the island for a whole day and come back on the later ferry. The skipper will inform you on board that this is possible.
      Written 5 January 2024
    • Chandana A
      0 contributions
      Amazing bus ride to Cape Reinga
      We found details about the bus via tripadvisor & booked through Viator. Fully satisfied with both companies. Very professional service by Viator. Special mention about the bus operator 'Fullers Great Sights". They were fantastic. We were lucky to get Tahi as our driver/guide who was full of energy. His sense of humor & knowledge was amazing. He is an asset to Fullers as well as New Zeland tourism. Highly recommend this operator & you will get Tahi if you are lucky.
      Written 30 December 2023
    • christiandE1574FW
      0 contributions
      Top Kiwi shows travellers his back yard!
      The bus driver was very knowledgeable and didn’t spare the dad jokes! Amazing opportunity to meet fellow travellers and enjoy the sights!
      Written 5 December 2023
    • Meander59583161467
      0 contributions
      Cruise
      It was an amazing experience with Explore Cruise with whom we did hole in the rock & visited other islands.Highway recommended.
      Written 4 December 2023
    • Murray2003
      0 contributions
      Highly Recommended - Great Cruise of the Bay of Island and Hole in the Rock
      Excellent tour! This tour was well worth it. We went past many of the Islands with god commentary as we did. We got through the Hole in the Rock and it was spectacular. We stopped in at Otahei Bay for lunch. We could order food and drinks from the cafe on the island and enjoyed a walk on the beach. This was a 90 minute stop off. Once back on the boat we took in more sights and commentary. We were able ot get off at Russell even though we boarded in Paihia We had a great time and I would recommend this half-day excursion to anybody.
      Written 2 December 2023
    • michaelgX8038XH
      0 contributions
      Great Scenic Cruising in the Bay of Islands
      Excellent tour! We made it through Hole in the Rock even though the captain told us in advance that, due to the condition of the water, it might be pretty "iffy" as to whether or not he would actually attempt to pass through. We made it with flying colors and the day was off to a great start. The Bay of Islands is awesome. We cruised around the area and received information regarding the islands and their history. We stopped for a while on an island and some folks ordered food but we just had a couple of beers and watched the birds and such. Back on the boat for more scenic cruising and commentary to finish out the morning. We had a great time and I would recommend this half-day excursion to anybody.
      Written 2 December 2023
    • lizbM5062GQ
      0 contributions
      Great time
      Amazing views and great weather Color of the water was spectacular. Nothing else to say but get to word count
      Written 7 November 2023
    • GoPlaces28511376929
      0 contributions
      A fantastic experience!
      It was really well organised; ticketing and pre-trip communication was great; the driver/guide (Liam) was a very good driver and a fund of knowledge as a guide. He really knew his stuff and the area. The variety of experiences we had was also great and the whole day was done in a way that kept us moving but wasn’t pressured. It was a long day but we all thoroughly enjoyed it.
      Written 5 November 2023
    • 771christan
      0 contributions
      Fantastic Cruise on a Fulles GreatSights Boat
      A perfect day in beautiful weather. Commentary on the boat was excellent. The excitement of the crew about the perfect conditions was palpable and made the cruise very special. Going through the Hole in the Rock and seeing the playful dolphins were definitely the highlights of the day. We also loved the option to get to Urupulpuka Island on the morning cruise and return to Pahia with the afternoon cruise. This gave us plenty of time for a great hike around this spectacular island.
      Written 30 October 2023
    • Daydream43052870570
      0 contributions
      Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach with and great guide
      Awesome trip. Our driver Wii was awesome. He provided the personal touch with his personality, great commentary, and waiata. The views at Cape Reinga were inspiring and the ride down Ninety Mile beach, and the sandboarding was great
      Written 20 October 2023
    See all 1 review
    These reviews are the subjective opinions of Tripadvisor members and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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    4.5
    113 reviews
    Excellent
    80
    Very good
    19
    Average
    6
    Poor
    5
    Terrible
    3

    p4sta
    London, UK169 contributions
    This review relates to the Otehei Bay restaurant only not the boat trip.. OMG considering the restaurant must know when the boats are coming in , they were not prepared. I waited in a huge queue for two coffees waited while the coffee station was set up, some rubbish was removed, a member of staff stood around not effective and the queue of people waited and waited and waited, receiving a really poor service. one coffee was made and kept behind the counter whilst milk was made for a host of other coffees and the milk preparation took somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes to be handed a hot coffee and one Luke warm coffee. With the queue waiting it wouldn’t have been fair one the others to complain or hey even get the server to give me the coffee that was getting colder. After one attempt I was told it’ll be ready in a few ticks which turned out to be 5/10 minutes. Hopeless. The boats only come in at certain times so the restaurant must be able to prepare better. As for food well this is hot meals mostly with chips, there are no sandwiches , cakes or cabinet food. Strange as the boat always arrives at 11.30 am - pre lunch - and leaves at 12.15 pm. I’ve been here twice so far and each time not impressed.
    Written 21 March 2020
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

    Cnd Grl
    8 contributions
    Jan 2020
    If it is a proper tour you are after I do not recommend this company. I find that when booking, it was very misleading. This is a ferry boat! Your "tour" is boating around the islands dropping off other passengers, except for when you get to the hole in the rock - but once you're at the main attraction, it is short lived. Every proper tour I have been on will at least provide complementary tea and coffee, This is NOT the case. It was also very difficult to hear what I am sure was interesting information about the area and the Maori history from the Skipper, however the sound system and/ or the size of the boat made it near impossible to hear anything. This includes instruction about when to be back on the ferry after you have been dropped off for your lunch. When we saw people making their way back to the dock, so did we;However we were last on and as we were coming down the dock only moments after the others the Skipper and deckhand were waving their arms at us to run, my friend has bad knees and that was not an option. They were impatient and rude regarding the additional 1 minute it took us to get down the dock. The lunch was nothing special, not good or bad. Parking is limited around the office and for the length of the tour you're looking at paying in a lot- I would walk from your accommodation if possible. Knowing what I know now, I wish we would have booked on a smaller boat, a proper tour and save on money.
    Written 8 February 2020
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
    Hi CndGrl7, Our sincere apologies - it doesn't sound like you experienced the kind of trip we aim to deliver. We will be taking all your feedback on board to avoid similar issues in future.
    Written 15 March 2020
    This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

    DRMB
    Bongaree, Australia2,011 contributions
    Mar 2020 • Couples
    The lunch included in the 8.30 am tour was seriously terrible and split the memories of an otherwise enjoyable trip. I wrote a separate review of that under the Otehei Bay restaurant listing. Nobody seemed to care when complained. Body language was ‘ho hum’

    The boat side of the trip was a 4/5 as a little expensive. The bbq lunch ranked 0/5. Altogether maybe search other company’s sites as these tours are run by several companies it seems
    Written 12 March 2020
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
    Hi DRMB, Our apologies for the less than excellent experience. As you can imagine this is not the kind of experience we want to deliver and will take your feedback on board to address these issues asap.
    Written 15 March 2020
    This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

    Carole G
    Dordogne, France529 contributions
    Jan 2020 • Couples
    The crew on board were fine and really cool to see the eye on the rock but we didn't need to waste 5 hours and pay so much it is way over priced.

    We didn't see any dolphins which is fine they are wild animals but there was no mention on board of their life time guarantee so they do not want to promote this!! Suggestion, mention it on board if no sighting and issue tickets as guests exit vessel, simple.
    Other feedback is really poor quality lunch. I would have rather had no lunch included than the rubbish served. Coleslaw with no mayo, hot food that was cold, when I mentioned it to one of the staff she said nothing and walked of. Advice, up your game or cancel the food option. I saw quite a few people who ordered their own food rather than eat the included food.
    I'm afraid to say during the 7 weeks in Nz this goes down as the trip that is way overpriced and disappointing
    Written 7 January 2020
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
    Kia Ora Carole G Really sorry to hear you found the tour you booked on overpriced, that's not what we like to hear! Perhaps you would have been suited on one of our other tours like Ocean Adventure, which is a shorter time frame and a lower price point. You get to see the Hole in the Rock, travel around the Bay of Islands at speed on our custom-built fast boat, and stop at Otehei Bay at the end if you wish. Again, apologies, the last thing we want are our customers to be left disappointed! Because you didn't spot any marine mammals on your tour, you will have been given a lifetime voucher to come on board again, should you ever be in the Bay of Islands again, please get in touch, we'd love to be able to make amends.
    Written 15 January 2020
    This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

    ash Gibson
    15 contributions
    Apr 2021 • Solo
    I really love the friendly and amazing staff on this cruise, I had to go 4 times to finally see dolphins, in saying that each time I went I got to see different things and different weather and swell patterns, by then I had become acquainted with the staff Brooklyn, Courtney and Andy the skipper. They are true to the word you don't just go again free once you go until you see dolphins. Was great to see both the Common and bottlenose dolphins on my 4th trip, but bittersweet to not be going on the boat again to hang with the crew, I almost got a job on there I think. Haha. I highly recommend this cruise to anyone planning on visiting the Bay of Islands or to anyone who lives here also.
    Thank you for taking care of me...
    Written 22 April 2021
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

    Bepsi
    Mumbai, India44 contributions
    Booked the 2pm tour on 3rd Jan from Paiha expecting all that was guaranteed in the brochure i.e definate viewing of dolpins, orca ,seals etc. Unlike the sea trips we did in Coral bay ,Australia where they showed us what was guaranteed (using a spotter plane), no effort was made during this trip. Also after the captain giving us lecture on how they would not wait for a single minute beyond 5.45pm for our pick up at Otehai Bay , (and we should queue up by 5.30pm) the ship didn't come till 6pm, making us wait on the jetty for half an hour.
    All in all definitely not worth the money we spent or the waste of 5 hours of our holiday.
    Written 3 January 2020
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
    Kia Ora Bepsi Sorry to read you were disappointed with your experience. Because the marine mammals are living in their natural habitat in the wild, it is always the luck of the draw for what we will see. We do however offer a Marine Mammal Viewing Lifetime Guarantee which allows you to come back on board again for free in the future until you do view marine mammals. Unfortunately, we do not have the resource of a spotter plane, nor do we advertise this. We apologize for the 15min delay of our ferry arriving at Otehei Bay, sometimes there are slight time differences for the arrival and departure of the ferry due to factors often out of our control. We do work hard to mitigate any delay, but unfortunately, this was not the case when you were on board, and again we apologise for the inconvenience.
    Written 6 January 2020
    This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

    Terri S
    1 contribution
    Jan 2023
    Can't fault the crew & skipper but due to bad weather we were unable to go to the hole in the rock. Instead had a tour of various islands, looking for dolphins, sadly none to be seen. But the annoying thing was that we stopped at Otehei Bay, Urupukapuka Island and were told we couldn't stay on the boat as they were doing some safety checks. We alighted but to use the facilities at the cafe we had to purchase drinks/food or go for a walk or shelter under a tree as it was raining etc.. Can't deny the beauty of the place but best experienced in fine weather. Also wish we were informed or the "alternate" cruise before we left the wharf and we would have chosen not to go on it and rebooked for another day/time.
    Written 8 January 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
    We are so sorry to hear about your experience. Otehei Bay is a beautiful spot and part of our standard trip itinerary - as you have suggested this is much easier to enjoy on a fine day - however, we certainly would not expect our guests to shelter under a tree in the rain. Our passengers are always welcome to use the facilities at the cafe onsite even if they are not purchasing anything - our sincere apologies if this is not your experience. With regards to alternate cruise routes - from time to time due to weather we do alter our cruise route for the comfort and safety of our passengers. This is noted in our booking confirmation and in the event that this occurs we do our best to communicate to all passengers prior to departure. Our apologies if you were not informed of this prior to your departure - we will make sure these procedures are reviewed so this does not happen to any guests in future. Thanks you for sharing your experience with us - we will take your comments into consideration to ensure we improve communication around these points.
    Written 11 January 2023
    This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

    Martina P
    Cambridge, New Zealand48 contributions
    Dec 2020
    Exactly as expected, the trip took past some of the islands and to the hole in the rock. the weather allowed for us to go through the hole, very cool. The skipper was very knowledgeable and told some interesting facts and stories. It's quite a long boat ride, the 90 minute stop at Otehei Bay was a nice change of pace and allowed for scenic walks and a nice picnic.
    Written 2 January 2021
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

    pamela1967
    Oxford, UK14 contributions
    From the start, being picked up from Russell, the whole experience achieved a very relaxed and enjoyable experience.
    The crew were great, polite, accommodating and the narration during the whole trip was very informative, relaxed and very witty.
    We managed to see penguins, seals, dolphins and even made it through the Hole in the rock and enjoyed an hour at Otehei Bay, for a well deserved glass of wine.
    Written 21 September 2021
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

    Mark O
    Paihia, New Zealand3 contributions
    Amazing tour in own backyard, be it the wind which you can’t control. Staff were friendly and helpful, Captain tour guide was insight full and gave context to local significance, lunch was adequate (a leafy salad wouldn’t go a miss), then cap it off for an afternoon stroll and pint in Russell. Done many of these tours overseas, who knew we had this in NZ, will be back with the whole family.
    Written 4 January 2020
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
    Kia Ora MarkO994 So glad you enjoyed your time on board with us and in the beautiful Bay of Islands! Thanks for taking the time to let us know. We look forward to welcoming you and the family back hopefully soon 😎
    Written 15 January 2020
    This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

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    Bay of Islands Discover the Bay cruise including Dolphins provided by Explore Group