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Top activities in Akaroa

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Our most recommended Akaroa Outdoor sports

Akaroa: Dolphin Nature Cruise

1. Akaroa: Dolphin Nature Cruise

Embark on a journey of discovery with the knowledgable crew and expert dolphin-spotting dogs, as they unveil the breathtaking highlights, enchanting magic, and captivating wonder that Akaroa Harbour has to offer. This company holds a Department of Conservation Marine Mammal Viewing Permit, meaning legally they are able to take guests to view dolphins & seals. Only two permitted companies operate all year round. For conservation reasons, they do not swim with the dolphins. Their luxurious low-lying catamaran provides a closer encounter with the rare Hector's dolphins. Along the way, you will also learn about the incredible history & see NZ fur seals, penguins, seabirds, sea caves & spectacular volcanic formations. Enjoy a complimentary drink of local NZ wine, beer, or juice, as well as delicious home baking. A 100% locally owned & operated family business, going back 7 generations to the area, who are committed to raising awareness with a portion of your fare going towards conservation efforts protecting the precious wildlife & marine environment. Please note, they have a high success rate with dolphin sightings all year round, as we are in a hotspot for the Hector's dolphins. However, as the dolphins are wild they can never guarantee to see them. If your tour does not see a dolphin, you will be offered another trip free of charge. No refunds will be given in the event of not seeing dolphins. To learn more please visit their website.

Akaroa: Swimming with Wild Dolphins 3-Hour Experience

2. Akaroa: Swimming with Wild Dolphins 3-Hour Experience

Swim with the endangered Hector’s Dolphin, the world’s rarest and smallest oceanic dolphin. On New Zealand’s ultimate dolphin experience, you’ll have the chance to see and swim with Hector's dolphins close up, in the wild.  Check-in at Akaroa’s main wharf and meet the friendly crew who will provide you with a warm wetsuit, mask, snorkel, booties, gloves, and a hood if necessary. Climb aboard the jet-powered catamaran and cruise out into the sheltered harbor. The highly trained crew will give you a safety briefing and explain how to interact responsibly with the dolphins.  With only 12 swimmers permitted per vessel, you’ll have a greater chance of seeing the dolphins up close. Gear up and slip into the tranquil harbor waters to join the dolphins their natural habitat. The covered vessel has no propellers, making it safer for you and the dolphins. Warm up in the heated cabin or take a hot shower afterwards. Hector's dolphins are protected in Akaroa Harbor by a marine mammal sanctuary. The tour operator was the first cruise boat company in the world to gain the coveted Green Globe 21, an international program to ensure best environmental practices. A portion of every ticket sale goes towards the research and conservation of Hector's dolphins.

Akaroa Harbour 2-Hour Nature Cruise

3. Akaroa Harbour 2-Hour Nature Cruise

Experience an award-winning nature cruise of Akaroa Habor. Discover wildlife like dolphins, seals, penguins, and other seabirds. Gaze upon giant volcanic sea cliffs and hear about Akaroa's fascinating past.  Travel on a modern catamaran, which is perfect for viewing the natural wonders of Akaroa Harbour. There's lots of room on the two decks for unimpeded viewing and plenty of covered seating for shade and shelter. Inside, for your convenience you'll find a bar and washrooms. Each cruise is fully narrated by your skipper who has extensive knowledge of the nature, wildlife and the history of the harbour. As Akaroa Harbour was a live volcano millions of years ago, there are many spectacular ancient lava flows to be seen. One cliff has a sheer 500-foot face and a fascinating history, while Nikau Palm Gully is the southernmost limit for these tropical palm trees. There is also the incredible Scenery Nook, an amazing pink, purple and red volcanic amphitheater that will take your breath away.

Akaroa: 4WD Safari and Guided Sea-Kayaking Experience

4. Akaroa: 4WD Safari and Guided Sea-Kayaking Experience

Enjoy a memorable sea-kayaking experience from Akaroa with two departure options. No experience is necessary because the trips are run in settled safe conditions by an experienced and knowledgeable guide.  Depart from Akaroa for a scenic drive in a 4WD minivan over the crater rim of the Akaroa volcano to Pohatu Flea Bay. Learn about the region from your local guide and, during the afternoon trip, stop for photo opportunities along the way. Then, it is time to gear up and climb into the double kayaks. Your safety is the top priority and the experience can be mind-blowing with the right sea conditions. Explore the outer coast of Pohatu Marine Reserve and marvel at its spectacular towering cliffs, rock stacks, reefs, and deep sea caves. Flea Bay Island and the impressive island arch can be reached in settled sea conditions. Marvel at the diverse wildlife and marine species such as penguins, seals, various seabirds, and possibly the world’s smallest dolphin.

Akaroa: Wildlife Sailing Cruise with Dolphins and Penguins

5. Akaroa: Wildlife Sailing Cruise with Dolphins and Penguins

Sail with dolphins in the harbor as well as the Pacific Ocean. Visit caves, cliffs and waterfalls along the journey. See penguins, seals, and albatrosses as well as a myriad of other seabirds. Learn about the French, Maori, and English local history along the way. Experience the age of sail aboard a traditional sailboat, The Fox II. The Fox II is a wooden (kauri) gaff-rigged ketch that was hand built in 1922 in Auckland. We are proudly Kiwi and privately owned and have been operating in Akaroa Harbour for over 30 years. The Fox II has received the Qualmark Gold Accreditation, recognizing it as one of the most high-quality, safe, and sustainable experiences in New Zealand.

Akaroa: Pohatu Little Penguins 3-Hour Evening Experience

6. Akaroa: Pohatu Little Penguins 3-Hour Evening Experience

Join the tour from Akaroa for a scenic drive by a 4WD minivan over the crater rim of the Akaroa volcano to Pohatu/Flea Bay. Listen as your guide shares with you the history and unique wildlife of Akara. Stop for photo opportunities where you can gaze across Akaroa harbor and enjoy stunning views of the endless Pacific Ocean. On arrival, walk around the colony to monitor nesting sites, collect data, and make sure that the birds are doing well. Spot the penguins undisturbed, socializing on the water, and with darkness falling, a very high likelihood of some returning to shore. Binoculars and camouflage gear are provided to maximize viewing abilities. Darkness will signal the end of the activity, as artificial lighting disturbs the birds so is not used. At certain times of the year, you may even see some of the rehabilitation efforts, such as supplemental feeding.

Akaroa: Pohatu Penguins Scenic Nature 2-Hour or 4-Hour Tour

7. Akaroa: Pohatu Penguins Scenic Nature 2-Hour or 4-Hour Tour

Join a 4WD eco-tourism safari to the spectacular award-winning Wild Side Conservation area. Depart Akaroa for a scenic drive in a 4WD minivan over the crater rim of the Akaroa volcano to Pohatu Flea Bay. Along the way, learn the region's history from your local guide. Stop for photo opportunities with views of Akaroa harbor and the Pacific Ocean. Arrive at a local family's farm where you can meet friendly pet sheep and hand-feed them for a real kiwi experience. In season, monitor nesting sites with your guide and learn about the conservation work done for the largest colony of little penguins on mainland New Zealand. At certain times of the year, you may even see some of the rehabilitation efforts such as supplemental feeding. The extended 4-hour tour includes visits to the spectacular cliff-tops of Akaroa Heads Lighthouse Reserve. You will have more time to enjoy the area with homemade muffins and cakes, and more time to see the native wildlife and to explore Flea Bay. This activity directly funds the conservation work that takes place at Pohatu Bay to protect the penguins.

Akaroa: Akaroa Marine Reserve Sea Kayaking Tour

8. Akaroa: Akaroa Marine Reserve Sea Kayaking Tour

Experience the natural wonders of Akaroa Harbour harbour and marine reserve by sea kayak on a 2.5 hour sustainable tour. Paddle in one of New Zealand's most scenic and ecologically diverse natural environments. Akaroa is one of the best places to sea kayak in NZ! A local kayak/nature guide leads each small group to ensure a personal, informative, and safe experience. We are the most sustainable tour in Akaroa and leave minimum impact on the fragile marine reserve which is our backyard. Paddle and explore serene inlets and bays as you glide through the turquoise waters of the extinct, sea-flooded volcanic crater. Your nature guide will guide you through the marine reserve and share information about some of the rarest marine mammals in the world including white flippered penguins and hector dolphins which are native to NZ, fur seals, a large array of birdlife and many other sea creatures! Chance sightings are very frequent during the sea kayak season! The views are stunning, there are lots of caves and features to paddle through, the guides are informative, friendly and the best in the business and our tours are suitable for all abilities.

Akaroa: Guided Sea Kayaking Safari at Sunrise

9. Akaroa: Guided Sea Kayaking Safari at Sunrise

Experience Akaroa's premium guided sea kayak tour through the tranquil marine reserve on a 3-hour guided tour. Enjoy taking part in the most sustainable tour in Akaroa. Travel in small intimate group with your own local nature guide to avoid any disturbance to the conservation areas. Venture into an eco-paradise and have the chance for endangered wildlife encounters along the way. We are located in the heart of Akaroa and offer the most water time possible during the kayak tour as we do not have to travel to launch. The early morning trip can make for spectacular conditions and encounters. We are always the first operators on the water and usually have the whole harbour to ourselves with other tour boats only starting as we are finishing our tour. Your tour also includes a comprehensive safety briefing, your guide will then lead you through the turquoise waters and provide brief stops on the water to share information about areas of interest, and facts about the wildlife, flora and fauna. For alot of paddlers this is the highlight of their NZ holiday. Highlights include witnessing cormorants diving, NZ fur seals swimming and sunbathing on the rocks, White flippered penguins preening as well as regular magical encounters with the protected and endangered Hector Dolphins which can only be found in NZ.

Akaroa: 24-hour Overnight Pohatu Penguin Package

10. Akaroa: 24-hour Overnight Pohatu Penguin Package

Discover the award-winning Wildside of Banks Peninsula and its unique fauna and flora on this 24-hour tour.  Start your adventure in a four-weel drive mini-bus from Akaroa and travel over the crater rim of the ancient Akaroa volcano to the Akaroa Head Lighthouse. Marvel at the scenic reserve that stands on high cliffs and take in the views of the endless Pacific ocean.  Enjoy a self-guided bush walk through Tutakakahikura scenic reserve, an ancient forest with 400 years old native trees to finally arrive at Pohatu marine reserve where you will spend the night. Settle down and use the time to relax. Enjoy safe swimming beaches before your evening penguin tour in season. Note that the evening tour will not be run from March to early/mid-April as the colony is at sea fattening up after their molt. We may have some late penguin molting that you might be able to see through the conservation work. The following day you can go on an additional adventure if you would like. Join the sea-kayaking safari and discover the wildlife of the Pohatu marine reserve. See New Zealand fur seals, many species of sea-birds, and the frequent visit of Hector's dolphins. The tour runs from midday to midday but specific departure times can be arranged.

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What people are saying about Akaroa

Done the tour around Christmas time and had a great experience. Guided drive out was great, our driver guide was very friendly and informative, and she even sent up an extra jacket with the next tour group arrival for my partner as she had forgotten hers in Akaroa, which was very appreciated. The room and communal areas were clean and comfortable, no issues there. The tour was excellent, we were lucky enough to be able to see some of the baby penguins in nesting boxes as out guide had to do some health and weight checks on a couple. I cannot remember our guide's name unfortunately, she a young student originally from Wales I believe, she was great, very friendly and extremely knowledgeable. Very glad we made it to this activity.

Done this activity over Christmas. Everything was excellent, good briefing to start off with and lay out expectations for the day. Wetsuits were warm and comfortable. Can't remember guide and pilots names, guide was an English lad and skipper a local Kiwi, but both very friendly and informative. Great time in the water and lucky enough to have plenty dolphins around us. The guide took some great pics and they were sent to us almost before we'd even left the facility on our return. Highly recommned.

We were very satisfied with our guide, she had put her heart and soul into it. We would like to thank her very much for the unforgettable day with her. We saw dolphins sealing, it was so incredibly beautiful. We felt very safe with her and loved listening to her. You can feel that she lives for these animals and loves them. Thank you❤️

Lucie led us in a small group of two through an untouched morning silence. We saw many different birds, crayfish and also a Hector's dolphin that circled the boats for a long time. Kayak material good and reliable. Lucie's explanations of the details were very good.

Ben was a passionate guide who had a lot to tell. because there were no further registrations, we had a private tour for the three of us. It was a great experience. the tour is recommended