The Bay of Islands is a must visit when backpacking New Zealand - and is one of the most popular locations to swim with dolphins in New Zealand!

Dolphin Cruise Paihia

For those of you short on time - the Dolphin Eco Experience not only allows you to get up close and personal with the curious creatures - but also the opportunity to explore some of the most spectacular islands and hidden beaches in the bay. The tours depart either in the morning or afternoon.

As you board the small vessel (which allows for an intimate experience and a low deck for fantastic photo opportunities), the staff begin to tell you about the Dolphins that inhabit the area... bottlenose dolphins are playful and the ones to look out for!

Dolphin Spotting from the boat


Within 20 minutes of our journey, we encountered a pod of six playful dolphins (they even swam right up next to the boat)! Unfortunately we were unable to swim with the dolphins as there were babies. After about 90 minutes of following the growing pod of friendly fins - we made our way out to the deep waters in search for more. We didn't have much luck, but we were all still on a high from the previous encounter.

We sailed around the Bay of Islands and stopped at a few of the favourites for a swim at the beaches and a snorkel... I have never seen water as turquoise as the water in the Bay of Islands!

The cruise was amazing and the crew ensured that we were all now dolphin experts! I definitely recommend the tour to any backpacker travelling up to the Bay.

Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands is made up of 144 islands and is located in the Northland region of New Zealand (north of Auckland). Paihia is the most popular destination for Backpackers to base themselves in the Bay of Islands. Speak to your Auckland accommodation about places to stay and deals for Dolphin watching boats.

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