-24 Days on the Road
There’s something about watching wild dolphins that remedies any problem. Honestly, doctors should prescribe a dolphin watching tour. Got a broken arm? Dolphins! Depressed? Dolphins! Have an infectious disease? Dolphins!
Ok, so our problem was far less serious than depression or infectious diseases, however our campervan had decided to be a pain in the ass with plumbing issues. We just couldn’t figure out why the tap water was spitting at us rather than smoothly running. Luckily, we have a month before we depart on the New Zealand’s Biggest Gap Year to fix it. Instead of sorting the problem out straight away, like smart people, we went to see some dolphins out in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. Erm? In our defense, dolphins know far more about manipulating water than we do, so we clearly went for research purposes only…
Where to See Dolphins in Auckland
The Hauraki Gulf, the body of ocean on the east side of Auckland, is home to quite a few dolphin and whale species. (Some of which you can check out in 7 Whale and Dolphin Species to See in the Hauraki Gulf). Although you might spot dolphins by chance while taking a ferry or kayaking, you are pretty much guaranteed to hang out with some marine mammals on a specialised whale and dolphin tour.
Let’s Go Find Us Some Dolphins!
After boarding Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari‘s boat, we received the grand tour of their huge boat with multiple levels for optimal wildlife viewing. The snap-happy experience began with the shags pictured above, which was just as we left the Viaduct Harbour! (And yes, they are really called shags).
You would have thought that a 4-hour trip was enough time to see plenty of whales and dolphins – something that happens on most trips, we were told. About 3 hours went by without a glimpse of our marine mates… Nevertheless, watching gannets dive at break-point speed and seabirds gliding in their hundreds across the ocean was pretty spectacular. Not to mention the island views.
Like any fishy encounter, it started with a glimpse of dorsal fins in the distance. A pod of bottlenose dolphins, the largest species in New Zealand, were casually emerging and descending to begin with, but the closer we approached the more lively they became. Excuse us for this bad but necessary joke, but they were having a “whale” of a time gliding along with the boat. It was impossible not to get a good view of them.
It seemed that the skipper knew exactly how to make these dolphins fly, literally! He manoeuvred the boat backwards and forwards to a point where the dolphins were using the wake from the boat to flip out of the water. This was the most amazing part for us. We’d seen dolphins in New Zealand before, but had never seen them doing acrobatics! It’s pretty special to see wildlife doing daft things for fun, just like us humans. We’re not so different from our finned friends.
Back to Reality
It has to be said, we were pretty pumped after an afternoon on the water. Speaking of pumped, the thought of the campervan’s plumbing issues crept back into our minds. It couldn’t be left any longer. Back at the van, we realised that it was the water pump that was completely broken. (See, we couldn’t have figured this out without the dolphins. Thank you, dolphins, thank you…) There was no option but to buy a new pump, setting us back another NZ$140. So annoying!
While we’re waiting for our new pump to arrive and bring water back into our lives again, why don’t you check out our epic 360 aerial view of the whale watching boat cruising by Rangitoto Island?
Best View in the Hauraki Gulf Theta 360 Loading...
More Auckland Adventures & Dolphin Safaris!
Whether you have just arrived in Auckland or are sticking around the city as part of a New Zealand working holiday, you can’t miss cruising on the Hauraki Gulf. Check out the many ways to make the most of the islands and water activities in Hauraki Gulf – Guide for Backpackers. Rangitoto Island, Auckland’s largest volcano is our personal favourite. Find out more in our next blog post, or get a sneak peak in Guide to Rangitoto Island and Motutapu Island.
Travelling the whole of New Zealand? There are some more great places to see dolphins in their natural environment (and swim with them), which we name in 5 Best Places to Swim with Dolphins in New Zealand.
To continue following our New Zealand adventures, follow us on Facebook with our blog highlights. Or ask us questions about backpacking in New Zealand on our Facebook Group and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you!
Until next time!