Akaroa Harbour Swim with Dolphins

AK1-710 | Akaroa, New Zealand | See Special Notes

Min. age (years): 8 |

from $189.95*

*Price displayed in US Dollars unless otherwise noted; excursions priced in other currencies may be available on select voyages only. Prices are based on the amount Princess typically charges for each excursion, but your price may vary by voyage date and departure time.

Tour at a Glance

You will visit:

You will see:

  • Hector's dolphins Hector's dolphins


Excursion Length:
Approx. 3 hours

Max. Group Size: 12

Tour Overview

Akaroa Harbour, the flooded crater of an extinct volcano, is the ideal setting for an adventure that will have you swimming with some of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins. The Hector's or New Zealand Dolphin, recognized by its rounded dorsal fin, sloping forehead, and distinctive black, white and grey color, is the featured attraction on select tours sanctioned by the Department of Conservation and led by your professional and caring crew.

Step aboard your specially outfitted catamaran and skim along scenic Banks Peninsula. Formed millions of years ago by the Lyttelton and Akaroa volcanoes, this dramatic landform is dotted with 500-foot-high cliffs, plunging palm-fringed gullies, and ancient lava flows in pink, purple and red. It shelters an equally stunning marine mammal sanctuary and a rich population of Hector's dolphin, yellow-eyed penguin, white-flippered penguin and the New Zealand fur seal.

Learn all about the natural history of the region with narration from the bridge and enjoy up close views of abundant wildlife as your skipper guides his vessel to the best viewing areas. The tour includes approximately two hours of cruising and up to 45 minutes in the water with dolphins and all equipment is provided including wetsuits, mask & snorkel, a hot shower afterwards, steaming hot chocolate and a certificate of your swim.

If you are new to snorkelling and the use of a wetsuit your crew will be on hand to help you out. They will also give you safety instructions and other information to allow you to fully enjoy your experience.

Imagine getting in the water to swim with these friendly, inquisitive marine mammals. Glide along with your graceful companions as they slip through the waves. See their sleek multi-colored forms shimmer in the sun and listen to the distinctive clicks, whistles and clapping jaws.

Fascinating, intelligent creatures, they dine on flounder, red cod, mackerel, crabs and squid, finding them in shallow waters via echo-location. They emit a stream of high frequency clicking noises and when the sound strikes an object it bounces back and the dolphin can tell by listening what the object is: what kind of fish it is as well as how far away it is and how fast it is moving.
Dolphins, along with whales and porpoises, are descendants of terrestrial mammals which entered the water roughly 50 million years ago. New Zealand, the only home of the rare Hector's dolphin (cephalorhynchus hectori) designated Akaroa Harbour as its first marine mammal sanctuary in 1988.

The boundaries were extended in 2008 and the preserve now reaches beyond Banks Peninsula to include coasts to the north and south and 12 nautical miles off-shore. Thanks to both public and community conservation work, dolphin numbers continue to rise.

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Detailed itinerary

Tour timeline may vary to avoid overcrowding, etc.

Special Notes


Wild dolphin sightings cannot be guaranteed. A partial refund by the tour operator, in local currency, is made if no dolphin swim occurs.

Guests must be at least 8 years old to participate and children 12 years of age and under must be accompanied by an adult in the water.

The swim takes place in the open waters and not in an enclosed pool.

All participants receive a dolphin information book, commemorative post card and certificate of participation.

Bring your swimsuit, towel and a change of clothing - hot showers are available at the conclusion of your tour. Wetsuit, mask and snorkels are included.

Bring cash or credit card for lunch and additional purchases.

Child Price:

12 years & under only

Number of Steps/Walking Distance:

See detailed itinerary for information about walking distance

Wheelchair Accessibility:

See detailed itinerary for information about wheelchair accessibility

Camera/Video Restrictions:

See detailed itinerary for information about camera restrictions

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