The residents of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park: Auckland’s secret neighbours

Whales, Dolphins, Seabirds, Sharks and Seals - Auckland has some unexpected neighbours living right off the city's coastline.

Venture beyond the city and the inner islands to discover Auckland’s best-kept secret - it’s unique marine ecosystem brimming with life!


The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is considered to be a highly Important Bird Area with many different seabird species seen here from Australasian gannets to shearwaters to petrels to little blue penguins! Four seabird species choose to breed here and nowhere else in the world – not a bad choice if we do say so ourselves.


In the summer, shark sightings increase as adults venture towards the coast to give birth to their pups. To most people’s surprise, there are sharks…yes, that’s right, sharks…in the ocean! Commonly spotted are hammerheads, blue, mako and bronze whalers however even the largest – the whale shark - has been seen in the Hauraki Gulf before.


New Zealand Fur Seals can often be seen basking in the sun on the water surface. In the Winter you may even come across one hauled out on one of Auckland’s popular beaches. There’s no need to worry about them though, they are just resting and unless they’re visibly injured or entangled, they can be left alone and observed from a safe distance!

Turtles, rays and sunfish

In the Summer, a warm water current called the East Auckland Current moves closer towards Auckland’s coastline. This current brings species that are normally found in warmer waters such as turtles, manta rays and sunfish!

Whales and Dolphins

The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is graced with the presence of both whales and dolphins and boasts a visitation record of over 1/3 of all marine mammal species (including seals and sea lions) making this one of the most diverse areas for whale and dolphin watching in the world.

Common dolphins are seen here year-round and are always on the search for food.  Pod sizes can range from anywhere between 10 animals to up to 2,000!

Bryde’s whales are thought to be one of the only non-migratory forms of whale species in the world. This means they do not travel far (unlike other whales such as humpbacks which travel from Antarctica up to the Pacific Islands and back each year) and so they are seen year round in the Hauraki Gulf too.

Orca and bottlenose dolphins also frequent the area at different times of the year and their visits are always a surprise as you could see them absolutely anywhere and at anytime!

Many other marine mammal species have been seen here including sperm whales, blue whales, humpback whales, pilot whales, leopard seals...the list goes on!

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