Dolphins of Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf

3 main species of dolphin can be seen during any season of the year in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf - much to the delight of tourist and locals alike.

Common dolphins

A stunning species with a beautiful yellow hourglass pattern down their sides. Thousands of common dolphins visit in the Hauraki Gulf. In fact, scientists estimate that this number is over 10,000!

An oceanic species normally found in deep water, the common dolphins hang out in the shallow Hauraki Gulf thanks to the good supply of food. They are experts at rounding up fish and trapping them against the water surface to be able to pick them off one by one.

In Winter, the feeding activity rockets as the dolphins feed more to stay alive in the cooler waters. Groups also join up often forming ‘superpods’, numbering in their hundreds to thousands of animals. In summer, common dolphins take a break and spend more time socialising in smaller groups.

Bottlenose dolphins

A bottlenose dolphin population lives along the north-eastern coastline of the North Island. The Hauraki Gulf is the centre of this and pods of bottlenose pass through the area throughout the year. These pods will often stay in the area for several days before moving on.

They are a coastal species so, if you’re lucky, you might see from them one of Auckland’s many beaches. They can also be seen away from the coastline as they travel from one place to another.

They are an acrobatic species often leaping in co-ordinated displays with each other.


Orca/killer whale

Contrary to popular belief, orca/killer whales are not actually whales but dolphins. They are the largest of all dolphin species.

Orca pods visit the Hauraki Gulf regularly throughout the year to feed on their favourite prey, sharks and stingrays.

Similarly to bottlenose dolphins, they are a coastal species and are often seen hunting around rocks and reefs. They are also seen away from the coast as they search for their food whilst travelling through the area.

Over 22 species of marine mammal have been seen in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, so there are many different species you could see out on the water.

The chances of seeing a dolphin or whale during your visit to Auckland may increase by heading out on a whale and dolphin watching trip.

Article by

  • Phone
  • Book now
  • Visit our website