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Akaroa Shore Excursion: Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise

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Akaroa, New Zealand
Akaroa Shore Excursion: Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise

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icon2 hours  (Approx.)
Pickup offered
Mobile ticket
iconOffered in: English


Spend your shore excursion in Akaroa on a 2-hour nature cruise around Akaroa Harbour. Your professional skipper points out abundant wildlife that may include Hector’s dolphins — the world’s rarest and smallest dolphins — New Zealand fur seals, blue penguins and yellow-eyed penguins. You’ll motor past volcanic cliffs and remote sea caves by luxury catamaran en route to Seal Bay and a salmon farm in Lucas Bay.
  • Nature cruise in Akaroa Harbour shore excursion
  • 2-hour Akaroa Harbour cruise by luxury boat to see the worlds smallest and rarest dolphin, the Hector's dolphin
  • See fur seals as you cruise past Seal Bay
  • Stop at Lucas Bay to see a salmon farm
  • Stunning scenery and plenty of photo opportunities
  • Fully narrated by knowledgeable skipper
  • Not covered by Viator’s worry-free policy: guaranteed on-time return to your ship
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Full on-board commentary
Tea and coffee
Pickup and drop-off from designated meeting points
Food and drinks, unless specified
Worry-free Shore Excursion Guarantee

Departure Point

83 Beach Road, Akaroa 7520, New Zealand

Departure Point: Akaroa's main wharf Directions: Your cruise ship will provide a tender to the main wharf. You must check in with Black Cat Cruises located on Akaroa's main wharf at least 30 minutes prior to your selected departure time. Dates: Daily Return point: Returns to original departure point

Departure Time

1:30 PM

Return Details

Returns to original departure point
After your cruise ship docks the Akaroa terminal, catch the tender to the main wharf, making sure to arrive a minimum of 30 minutes before your 2-hour nature cruise departs for Akaroa Harbour.

Find yourself a perfect spot on the 60-foot (18-meter) luxury catamaran, which offers a choice of two observation decks that provide plenty of unobstructed views of Akaroa’s wildlife. Sip complimentary coffee and tea while the skipper shares information about the harbor’s natural history and geographical features — such as Cathedral Cave and the volcanic amphitheater of Scenery Nook — and brings your attention to any marine life.

Motor past Akaroa Lighthouse and keep an eye out for petite Hector’s dolphins, whose calves often swim alongside the boat between October and March. You may also encounter white-flippered penguins — the world’s smallest penguin — or the endangered yellow-eyed penguin.

Snap photos of New Zealand fur seals basking on the rocks at Seal Bay, and make a stop at a salmon farm in Lucas Bay to learn how Akaroa salmon are raised, before your boat returns to the dock.

This 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 enjoy the excursion and ensure your timely return to the port. This excursion is not covered by our worry-free policy.
Stop At:  
Black Cat Cruises
Catch the tender to the main wharf when your cruise ship docks in Akaroa, making sure to arrive at least 30 minutes before your nature cruise departs. Relax on your two-hour cruise across Akaroa Harbour and listen to the commentary about the harbor’s geography, wildlife and history provided by your knowledgeable skipper. Your luxurious cruise boat has two decks, providing shade, shelter and plenty of observation areas for uninterrupted wildlife and scenery viewing. As you cruise past volcanic cliffs and sea caves, keep a lookout for the world’s smallest, rarest and friendliest dolphins, the New Zealand Hector’s dolphin. These friendly and inquisitive mammals meet the boat most days throughout the year and their calves can be seen between October and March. You might also see the world’s smallest penguin, the white-flippered blue penguin, or the endangered yellow-eyed penguin. See New Zealand fur seals sunbathing on the rocks at Seal Bay, and make a stop at Lucas Bay to see a salmon farm in operation. Hear how fingerlings to adult salmon are raised in cages here, the source of New Zealand’s world-famous Akaroa salmon. Your cruise also takes you past the sublime beauty of Scenery Nook, an amazing pink, purple and red volcanic amphitheater that will take your breath away. Your cruise ends with return to the Akaroa cruise dock. This 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 enjoy the excursion and ensure your timely return to the port. This excursion is not covered by our worry-free policy. -------------------- ITINERARY -------------------- On your cruise you will discover the highlights of the Harbour including: 1. Akaroa The French colonized this area after the English declared sovereignty over New Zealand in 1840. Today you can see the French influence everywhere, for example street names like Rue Jolie, which means 'Happy Street'. Nowadays fishing, farming and tourism are the mainstays of the township. 2. Onuku Marae This is the location of the historical Maori village in which one of the oldest churches in New Zealand is located. In 1840 the chief Tekau signed the Treaty of Waitangi here. It is still used today for many gatherings. 3. Cathedral Cave Known to the Maori as Te Anau O Kokiro, the cave was named after the Chief Kokiro. This is an example of how the rough sea has created a volcanic cave over thousands of years, and clearly shows the layers of different volcanic eruptions. Numerous shags nest here on the cliffs. 4. Palm Gully This is the southernmost point at which New Zealand's only native palm tree grows. 5. Te Ruahine This is the northernmost point of the harbor. Translated from the Maori language this means 'old lady'. 6. The Lighthouse For the last 150 years a lighthouse has been located at this point. The original historic Lighthouse is now located inside the Harbour, near the wharf and is only lit for special occasions and holidays. 7. TimuTimu This is the southern most point of the Harbour, translated from the Maori language this means, 'Cut off short'. 8. Salmon Farm Young salmon are being farmed in Lucas Bay and sold to the national and international market. 9. Paua (Abalone) Farm Caskets filled with paua or abalone is fixed to floaters. This shell is being used for jewelry as well as for farming pearls. The flesh of the paua/abalone is recognized world wide as a delicacy. 10. Wainui A small holiday village. 11. Dolphins The Hector's or New Zealand dolphin is a native species and is one of the smallest dolphins in the world. Most are found in the South Island around Banks Peninsula. One of the rarest dolphins, its population is currently between 3,000 and 4,000. This is fewer than any other marine dolphin, and marks the species as endangered. 12. Little Blue Penguins This penguin is the smallest in the world and is now on the endangered species list. The penguins are distinguished by a white leading edge on their flippers and are only 30cm high. Ecologists are trying to establish a colony at Boulder Bay. 13. Spotted Shags Colony of Spotted Shags. The white rock is 'guana' or bird droppings, which show how old this colony is. Both the male and female birds change to a brilliant green around the neck and face during their mating season. 14. Seabirds The following seabirds can be seen in and around the Harbour: 5 different types of cormorant, black-backed seagulls, red and black-beaked seagulls, white-necked swallows, Canadian geese, paradise ducks, mollymauks, white-fronted terns and occasionally gannets, petrels and albatross.
Admission Ticket Free
Stop At:  
Akaroa Lighthouse
Voted the number 1 wildlife activity in New Zealand, your award winning cruise is packed with highlights including the rare, NZ native dolphin – the Hector’s Dolphin, as well as penguins and other sea birds. And you’ll see giant volcanic sea cliffs and hear about Akaroa’s fascinating past. Cruises depart every day, weather permitting.
Admission Ticket Free
  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Please bring light jacket, sun protection and camera
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Most travelers can participate
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 12 travelers
  • OPERATED BY Black Cat Cruises
You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance of the experience for a full refund.
  • For a full refund, you must cancel at least 24 hours before the experience’s start time.
  • If you cancel less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time, the amount you paid will not be refunded.
  • Any changes made less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
  • Cut-off times are based on the experience’s local time.
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund.

Learn more about cancellations.

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Traveler Tips

  • "Be aware of the weather when you go on this trip." See review
  • "Keep in mind, water can be rough so bigger boat may be better, bit if a trade off." See review


90 Reviews

Reviews by Viator travelers

Showing 1-10 of 90 reviews
, Oct 2021
A wonderful family friendly experience, our kids had a ball and were so excited to see the little dolphins.
Saw Orca, no seals, pretty landscape
, Apr 2020
Tour guide on boat was very engaging and knowledgeable. The boat was quite crowded went at the 1:30 slot, not that much space outside VS amount of people. No one wants to be sitting inside where you cannot see ANYTHING so for that reason was over crowded. We went Feb 20th so not quite off season but local kids were back in school. I would just look for a smaller vessel and pay when I got to Akaroa. If this looks not crowded then I would take it. Keep in mind, water can be rough so bigger boat may be better, bit if a trade off.
Excellent...would recommend the tour
, Mar 2020
Tour guide was excellent Tried hard to give us the best experience in viewing marine life and giving us the information of the are.
Harbour cruise
, Mar 2020
Great guide, lots to see, wasn't disappointed. Dolphins were about in abundance and the seals were sunbathing on the rocks.
, Feb 2020
Very enjoyable, it was a very cold wind at the front of the boat but well worth it to see lots of hector dolphins swimming and jumping around the boat would do this excursion again
Great nature lovers trip
, Feb 2020
This was a good harbour tour attempting to get us up close to the nature. However, as with an tour on the water the weather is a very big factor. The crew was competent and gave a good narrative of the harbour and its wild life and history. Be aware of the weather when you go on this trip. The day we went it was very windy and cool. We sat outside the whole time and there was limited shelter from the wind. I was able to get some great pictures of the wildlife but I had a 300mm telephoto lens. Great trip for the nature lover.
Very nice tour!
, Jan 2020
We saw dolphins really close and went around the harbour to see some great rock formations. There were Seals resting on the side. We also saw a penguin. Definitely recommend it if you are a nature lover.
Too Crowded
, Jan 2020
The crew was fine, but we couldn’t see or hear much. The reason was due to a WAY overcrowded boat with quite a few loud, pushy rude people. Rules of behavior ought to be announced and enforced. For the entire trip we had people push in front of us, effectively blocking our view. They were playing loud music and singing and screaming, preventing us from hearing the crew’s dialogue. Apparently there were over 90 people squeezed onto the boat. Crowd size should be capped at 60 at most. This was the most disappointing tour on our entire two week trip. It certainly wasn’t worth the price.
Great Day
Jimmy P
, Apr 2019
Had a great day with several Hector dolphin sightings swimming right up to the boat. Also took us to see some beautiful shore side outside the Harbor. Very nicely done on a great boat. Thank you
Was a nice ride through the...
John G
, Mar 2018
Was a nice ride through the beautiful bay, although quite bumpy the day we were there, but saw very few wildlife.

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Akaroa Shore Excursion: Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise
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