Cruise New Zealand Akaroa- Ecoseakers Swim with Dolphins
The next stop on our New Zealand Cruise is Akaroa to swim with the Dolphins. This is a must book once in a life time excursion that had been on the top of our list for a very long time. We booked through a family run company EcoSeakers almost two months in advance. The cost was Adult- $175 NZ per person and Child $160NZ. There is a limit to 12 people on the excursion so booking early is a priority. We met at Daly’s Wharf Harbour at 10:30 am which was a short walk 10-15 walk from the tender port.
Akaroa is a tender port which means you have to take a small boat to shore. We were on the first tender off the ship (You know still dealing with jet-lag) and headed to the downtown area. There were lots of shops but being the first off the boat they were just opening their doors. So we ventured out to hike to an old graveyard. (My weird favorite past time) It was a short but vertical hike. Then we went down to the pier to find the check-in place for Ecoseakers. No fancy building for this company but location is key. It is a trailer near the pier where they store all the gear.
Upon arriving and checking our names off the list they start to fit you with a 5mm thick wet suit. You need to have already changed into bathing suit. There is a small park next door with bathroom facilities. Wet suits are supposed to be tight which makes the process of getting into them difficult. (Let me just say no one looks good in a wet suit so don’t worry about it.) You also get booties to keep your feet warm. Ecoseakers provides masks and snorkel if you would like to use it. You also need to bring your own towel on the boat. All your other belongings that you don’t bring will be locked up in the trailer.
Next they give you a short instructions on what you will see and where to swim. The boat takes you out to see and swim with Hector Dolphins. You are not allowed to touch or feed the dolphins. The Hector Dolphins are curious and will swim right up to you but since they are wild there is not guarantee you will be able to see them. There is a small chance you won’t be able to see the Hector Dolphins.
They load everyone on the Zodiac boat and let you know you can either stand in the front or go inside the cabin. Almost everyone was in the front of the boat taking pictures and enjoying the beautiful day. Depending on the weather the trip can get cancelled to to bad weather. We were very lucky that the sun came out and made for a spectacular day.
Swimming with the dolphins
Once the Ecoseaker boat got out of the natural Akaroa Harbour we started searching for the Dolphins. We spent a fair amount to time searching before another boat radioed to say they spotted them. We arrived to see a pod of 5-6 Hector Dolphins swimming around the boat. Then we waited until the other boat departed before getting into the water. Getting into the water can be a hard process as the water is very cold and using the ladder can be a challenge to some people. The wet suits are very buoyant and getting your legs under water be difficult. They suggest riding a bike underwater to keep your legs down. Once everyone was in the water we waited for the dolphins to gain interest in us and as soon enough they appeared. You are not allowed to feed or touch the dolphins. The Hector dolphins are fast and will zoom by you quickly. It was exhilarating to see them pass. We spent about 30 mins in the water with the dolphins.
Break time in the cove
Then they get everyone back on the boat and head to a small cove area to see some sea lions and birds. The blue water and sea rocks were just beautiful to take pictures. They serve you hot Chocolate and biscuits and take pictures while in the cove area. After that we headed back to Daly’s Wharf Harbour. We stayed out as long as possible searching and to experience the dolphins. Once on shore we removed our wet suits and changed at the public park next door.
Final thoughts on Ecoseakers
Ecoseakers also does a Harbour cruise right after the Dolphin experience. It is cheaper but you don’t get into the water with the dolphins. As an added bonus they take pictures of you in the water and send them to you as part of the cost of the excursion. The pictures that the Ecoseakers takes are wonderful as it can be very difficult to take pictures in the water. Children ages 8-12 are allowed to join but must be good swimmers as you are in open water. They do provide pool noodles. Finally as a family run company the owner and assistant could not have been any nicer people. Very friendly and did everything they could to make sure you had an amazing experience.
Once we got back from the tour, the downtown area was in full swing. All the shops were open and crowded with people. We got a sweet treat from a local bakery and ate in the Peninsula War Park. I love to just sit and people watch. Then we walk through the downtown area and did a little shopping. There were some very nice stores with local artists gifts. Finally we made the short hike out to the red and white lighthouse. It is past the Akaroa Yacht Club but easy to walk to from the Downtown area. Akaroa was a charming town one that we hope to one day return and spend more time exploring.
This is part of a larger trip report, Please read more at the following links.
Cruise New Zealand- Dunedin- Otago Pennisula- Coming soon!
New Zealand Cruise- Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound & Dusty Sound- Coming soon!
New Zealand Cruise- Sydney- Bondi Beach- Coming soon!