Where to find Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari
New Zealand Maritime Museum, 175 Quay Street, Viaduct Harbour
The Safari departs from the New Zealand Maritime Museum unless otherwise advised. All passengers are asked to check in no later than 15 minutes prior to departure time. Please be aware that your allocated seats may be released to stand-by passengers if you do not check-in at least 15minutes prior to departure.
Safari times (unless otherwise advised):
Viaduct Harbour is located at the western end (left as you are looking at the water) of Quay Street in down-town Auckland. Upon arrival by foot you will need to look for the New Zealand Maritime Museum entrance on your right immediately after the large ‘KZ1’ yacht.
We strongly encourage the use of public transport (bus, ferry, train) into Auckland city centre for your safari. We are committed to continually working to decrease our impact on the environment and would like to encourage our passengers to do the same. You can see the public transport options and a journey planner here (https://at.govt.nz/bus-train-ferry/).
Unfortunately we cannot provide parking for your vehicle whilst you are out on safari. If you do choose to use your own private transportation into Auckland city centre then there are plenty of car parks around the city which you can use. You can see the available car parks and their prices here (https://at.govt.nz/driving-parking/find-parking/parking-in-central-auckland/).
If you are driving a campervan you are best to use an open-air car park. You can see the available open-air car parks and their prices here (https://at.govt.nz/driving-parking/find-parking/parking-in-central-auckland/open-air-car-parks/).
Please note that the Eastern Viaduct car park (the one situated closest to us) has a maximum stay on weekdays which is less than our total trip time, so avoid parking there if you are travelling with us then.
The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park can at times become reasonably rough if the wind and sea conditions are not favourable. For this reason we unfortunately do sometimes have to cancel our trip due to adverse weather for the safety and comfort of the passengers. We make this call at approximately 9am every morning and endeavour to inform all customers by 10am via the contact details provided. We recommend all customers check the marine weather forecast prior to booking, if you are unsure please contact our friendly reservations team or check the website. Click here to check the Auckland Marine weather forecast
The trip generally takes about 4.5 hours, but this can change depending on conditions. It is the skipper’s call to return early, which they may make if the sea and wind conditions deteriorate. Our passenger's safety and comfort is always our first priority (and being sea sick is no fun). As per our guarantee below, no cash refunds will be given if the Dolphin Explorer has to return early.
Some trips may be slightly longer than the scheduled 4.5 hours (normally by 15—30 mins). This is usually because we have found something special on the way home. We need agreement from all of the passengers on board to spend additional time on the water, and there is no extra charge if we do. If you must be back in Auckland on time, then please inform the skipper on boarding and we will do our upmost to achieve that.
What to bring:
Auckland is a micro-climate that is notoriously changeable. One moment it’s hot and the next minute it’s, well…not! So it’s best to be prepared and bring layers, like a light wind jacket or vest and a warm top. It’s also useful to have a sun hat (with chin strap – you don’t want it blowing away), sunscreen, sunglasses, camera and binoculars. Lastly, please bring flat soled shoes. Anyone wearing heels will be asked to remove them.
There is a galley café on board which has a range of food and drink available for purchase. Please note that we are an on-licence and thus no alcohol can be brought on-board but can instead be purchased through the café (do make sure you bring a form of approved photographic identification). You are also welcome to bring your own snacks on-board.
We won’t refund money, but if you do not see any marine mammals, you can come again for free until you do. This complimentary voucher is valid regardless of how long it is until you visit us again and is not transferable. We see dolphins on over 90% of trips and whales on over 50% of trips, so your odds are really good!
If you are inclined to sea sickness then please check the weather and medicate yourself several hours before boarding. Sea sickness medication is available from most pharmacies and supermarkets. We do not carry any medication on-board but we do have Seabands available for purchase as well as ginger tablets and ginger beer. If you do begin to feel nauseous or seasick, please do notify a crew member and follow their instructions as they will endeavour to help you feel better.
Other medical conditions:
Please inform us upon booking if you have any pre-existing medical conditions that we should be made aware of or if you are pregnant. All members of the crew are fully trained in first aid response.
Cancellations by the customer:
You may cancel a booking up to 24 hours prior to departure without incurring a financial penalty. Cancellations within 24 hours of departure or ‘no show’s’ must pay a 100% cancellation fee. Under special circumstances we may renege on this policy if we feel that it is appropriate.
Cancellation by AWADS:
For the safety of the passengers, we reserve the right to cancel any trip due to wind, weather, or sea state. If there are less than our minimum passenger numbers or unexpected issues arise on the boat then we may also cancel the trip. We will inform you of any cancellations by the contact details you have provided before 10am on the day of departure. In the event of such a cancellation, we will refund passengers if they are unable to come on another day. Those passengers who have booked online or through third-party booking agents please refer to the booking confirmation documents they have provided for details on how to claim your refund. Please note that it is the responsibility of the customer to check that their Safari is running and AWADS will not be held liable for any costs incurred as a result of the customer not being aware of a cancelled Safari.
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