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Akaroa Shore Excursion: Dolphin Experience in Akaroa Harbour

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2 travellers
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    What to Expect
    When your cruise ship docks in Akaroa, catch the tender to the main wharf, arriving at least 30 minutes before departure. Hop aboard a heated and covered jet-powered boat for your dolphin cruise. 

    You’ll learn from the trained crew what to expect during your Akaroa Harbour dolphin swim and discover how to safely interact with New Zealand’s rare Hector’s dolphins while respecting that these are wild animals.

    If you’ve opted to swim, slip on the provided wetsuit, mask, and snorkel, then jump into the tranquil waters of the sheltered bay to frolic with these sea mammals, whose calves can be seen between October and March. Then, enjoy a warm beverage and hot shower, available after your swim. 

    If you’d prefer to stay dry on board, select the dolphin watch experience and snap photos of friends or family interacting with the dolphins in the water. (The dolphin swim option is not recommended for children under eight years of age.)

    This shore excursion is located within a 5-minute walk to the cruise port, so you determine the time you return to your ship in Akaroa. Please allow yourself ample time to ensure your timely return to the port. This excursion is not covered by our worry-free policy.
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    Important Information
    Departure Point
    Akaroa's main wharf
    Return Details
    Returns to original departure point
    • Wetsuit, mask, and fins provided (for those swimming)
    • Hot beverage after swim
    • Full on-board commentary
    • Hot showers
    • Photo pack available to be purchased on the day
    • Food and drinks, unless specified
    • Gratuities
    • This excursion is not covered by our worry-free policy
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    Additional Info
    • Confirmation will be received within 48 hours of booking, subject to availability
    • All swimmers must be physically fit and able to swim 50 meters unaided and be confident in open sea conditions
    • Minimum age to enter the water is 8 years
    • Children 8-12 years must be accompanied by an adult swimmer
    • Children 13-16 years must be accompanied by an adult spectator
    • Please bring sun protection, swim suit, towels and a light jacket
    • You will be guaranteed a safe and memorable dolphin encounter. Receive a 50% refund if no dolphins are found and a 25% refund if dolphins are found but you are unable to enter the water. In the last 12 months dolphins, were spotted on 98% of cruises, with successful water entry on 81% of cruises.
    • Not wheelchair accessible
    • Travelers should have a moderate physical fitness level
    • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund
    • This is a private tour/activity. Only your group will participate
    Cancellation Policy
    For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.
    Traveller rating
    • 28
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    • 1
    • 1
    • 3
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    • English
    Popular mentions
    It was our first day in NZ and we already managed to see few pods of Hector dolphins and NZ fur seals. Swim itself was quite exciting, being dropped off in the Pacific in 3m heigh waves (not breaking so easy) was a little daunting at first but with wetsuit providing warmth an
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    We saw lots and lots of dolphins playing around the boat. The boat captain was very informative and entertaining. A bit of a comedian. The tour takes you out of the harbour, through the marine park and along the coast to see caves and coastal features.
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    I call it a great experience because one could never see dolphins, seals, otters and seagulls in a single expedition. The boat was comfortable, the commentary was excellent and atmosphere was great. A must do for every visitor.
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    An incredible experience meeting wild dolphins in the Banks Peninsula. the team is nice and the idyllic setting. After the disaster of the Kaikoura tourist trap, we could not find better.
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    Response from BlackCat_NZ, Manager at Akaroa Shore Excursion: Dolphin Experience in Akaroa Harbour
    Responded 18 Sep 2019
    Hi meloman22b, thanks for taking the time to provide your feedback on TripAdvisor. We are thrilled you had an incredible day out with us and the Hector's dolphins - aren't they magical creatures! We hope to see you back in Akaroa again soon. Kind regards, the Black Cat Cruises team.
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    It's nature right. So relying on the dolphins to play ball and congregate around the boat for the swimming with them portion always a bit chancy. Still had a great cruise. 2 great guides for the day and lots of photo ops. And got half of the 175 back as Dolphins recalcitrant
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    Response from BlackCat_NZ, Manager at Akaroa Shore Excursion: Dolphin Experience in Akaroa Harbour
    Responded 25 May 2019
    Hi MrPiquet, thanks very much for reviewing Black Cat Cruises on TripAdvisor. Thank you for being so understanding about not being able to swim with dolphins. We always respect what the dolphins are doing as like you said they are in the wild. Sounds like you still had a great time with our guides and we hope you can come back and try again soon!
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    About the operator
    By: Black Cat Cruises
    1,347 reviews
    Certificate of Excellence
    Good experience ind the Akaroa bay
    We saw dolphins, seals, penguin and other birds. The captain explained very nicely during the whole cruise.
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    Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
    This is a must do adventure when visiting Akaroa. Emmy & Chris took us out and were both fabulous. We quickly
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    Calum M
    Amazing experience swimming with wild Hector's Dolphins with great guides!
    From the outset it is made clear that the staff at Black Cat really care for the dolphins and their future. No
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    Newport, United Kingdom
    Wish we had more time to do it again.
    It was our first day in NZ and we already managed to see few pods of Hector dolphins and NZ fur seals. Swim itself
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    Excellent way to experience the harbor with a knowledgeable guide
    The cruise was the highlight of our holiday in Akaroa. Kate's knowledge and witty commentary added to the
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    Not what is advertised
    We unfortunately did not get to swim with any dolphins, which is not the fault of the company, as the dolphins are
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    Dunedin, New Zealand
    Well worth it!
    Good value for money, great staff - knowledgeable and super friendly. Clean, tidy modern boat, well presented and
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    Wanaka, New Zealand
    Good but didn’t swim with dolphins
    Good experience, staff were lovely & very accommodating... unfortunately didn’t really go swimming with the
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    Sarah W
    Los Alamos, New Mexico
    Easy Way to See Akaroa’s Marine Treasures
    Black Cat was a great way to experience the marine life and coastal beauty around Akaroa. We had two kids with us
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    Fantastic experience
    It was a quite outstanding experience to be in the water with the wild dolphines playing around us. Supporting and
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    Grumpy G
    Great trip
    We booked this independently as it was something we really wanted to do and we had a great time. There is no
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    Imogen W
    Wellington, New Zealand
    Amazing views and wonderful guide
    We had a fantastic cruise. Julian was knowledgeable, funny and warm. His commentary was spot on. The animals we
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    Canvey Island, United Kingdom
    Awesome afternoon
    Didn’t expect much ! But it was awesome we saw lots and lots of dolphins, penguins and seals ! We could not have
    Read more
    Adelaide, Australia
    Relaxing cruise
    They said we would see dolphins and that we did, hundreds of them, they were so beautiful and a privilege to see
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    Royal Tunbridge Wells, United Kingdom
    Fantastic experience
    We booked the swim with dolphins tour and from the moment we arrived we were greeted with a warm welcome from the
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