Bay of Islands: Wild Dolphins in New Zealand

For our first few days in New Zealand, we explored a bit of the Northland, with a quick stop at Whangarei Falls followed by a couple of nights stay at the Bay Adventurer Backpackers in Paihia, to discover the Bay of Islands.

Follow our 6 week road trip through New Zealand

Follow our 6 week road trip through New Zealand

This post is just a small chapter of our extended road trip throughout the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Make sure to check out our whole trip and detailed itinerary within the main post!

Continue reading for a photo and video journal of our quick trip to the north of the North Island!

Whangarei Falls

We parked at the AH Reed Memorial park and did the hour return loop walk, which is great if you’re only looking to stretch your legs for a little bit.

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Whangarei Falls
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Bay of Islands

Of course one of the best ways to see the Bay of Islands is on a boat tour. There are many to choose from, but we got to experience the area with Vigilant Yacht Charters; a beautiful and intimate yacht tour that takes around 5-6 hours. Nik who owns the ⛵️ grew up in Russell in the Bay of Islands, so the tour felt very personal whilst getting to know the place.

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Bay of Islands Vigilant Yacht Tour
Vigilant Yacht Charter Bay of Islands Paihia Russell Wharf
Vigilant Yacht Charter Bay of Islands Paihia Russell Wharf

As we were cruising around the Bay of Islands, we crossed paths with some dolphins and the world’s smallest penguins swimming in the sea, which was such a memorable moment! I think it’s always so exciting to see dolphins swimming naturally in the wild, especially when they show their excitment too!

There are plenty of specific dolphin tours in the area as well, but I’m sure you can often see them on regular boat trips such as ours as well 🐬💙

Lunch is included, along with a stop off at an island; with the option to kayak, swim or walk to a lookout. This was great place to spend some relaxation time, with literally no one about. Joe also took the drone out for his first proper flight, which you can see in the vlog below!

Bay of Islands Vigilant Yacht Tour
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Auckland

If you’re heading back to the city, one of the most popular activities to do in Auckland, is the Whale and Dolphin Safari Tour. We spent the day with Andy and Amber from Bus Life NZ. They’ve been running a YouTube channel about the process and life around renovating a school bus into an RV which they now call home 🚌 They’re absolutely lovely, and it’s always great to meet like-minded people!

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Bus Life NZ

YouTube Channel

The tours are different every day, as they’re literally out searching for the wildlife… in the ummm… wild.

They can’t gaurantee that you’ll see anything, but sightings will range from dolphins to different types of whale, such as orcas and humpback whales 🐬🐳 Unfortunately we only saw dolphins on the Safari tour (which was amazing enough for us, as we never get to see the chance to see dolphins). Depending on how much you see in the day, you may get a refund to come back and try again.

The refund vouchers are valid for a lifetime until you see something, which is pretty great. The longest gap before a family had redeemed their ticket was 13 years later, when the kids had all grown up!

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One tip I would suggest if you’re prone to get sea sick, is definitely taking a sea sickness tablet, as the boat ride was quite bumpy. Amber actually didn’t feel too good on the tour, which you can see in their experience on their vlog.

Where to stay in Auckland

We stayed at the Waldorf Stadium Apartments. The suite was massive and in such a great location, right within walking distance to the wharf and the city centre. I’d say it’s definitely a great choice, especially for travellers who wouldn’t have a car in the city!

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We would like to say thanks to Vigilant Yacht Charters, Bay Adventurer Backpackers and Waldorf Stadium Apartments for inviting us for the activities and accommodation, however all our thoughts and opinions remain our own.

Catch our other posts from New Zealand

New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary: 6 Weeks

New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary: 6 Weeks

Follow our 6 week New Zealand road trip itinerary—including accommodation and activities across the North and South Islands—starting with a flight from Brisbane to Auckland with Air New Zealand.

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