Voted the number 1 bucket list activity in New Zealand.


While our Swimming with Dolphins experience is taking a Winter break the Akaroa Nature Cruise is still available with twice daily departures. Advance bookings for the dolphin swim are available. Select your dates from the calendar button below to reserve your spot for our swim excursions which resumes from 1 October 2024.

Step into our world and immerse yourself in New Zealand’s authentic eco-tourism adventure. Cruise through the magnificent Akaroa Harbour and encounter the wild Hector’s dolphins in their natural habitat. It’s essential to note that we respect their space: no touching or disturbing them. It’s a genuine and respectful encounter on their terms.

Dolphin Guarantee: Refer to our policy for booking assurance.

Capture memories, and ignite your adventurous spirit!

Allocate 3 hours for your dolphin swim experience. This includes 2 hours on the water and an additional hour for preparation, safety briefings, and post-swim relaxation with hot showers.


$229 – Adult 16 years & over

$199 – Child 8-15 years

A Child swimmer MUST be accompanied by an Adult swimmer in the water


(5 Years and over)
Under 5’s can spectate for free as long as they have an accompanying adult spectator.




For all enquiries please call us on 0800 436 574 or email us on [email protected]


When booking your swim you can add a membership to join our Protect Hector’s team for just $29 




We see dolphins on nearly every trip (97%).
However, sometimes even if we see them, they do not want to interact with swimmers.  If we are unable to complete a successful swim, you will be entitled to a 30% refund of your ticket price.

Just bring your swimming costume and a towel, your phone and sunblock are not essential but advisable. Everything else is provided for you including a wetsuit, mask, snorkel, booties, gloves and a hood if necessary. You can hire or purchase a towel from us if you forget to bring one.

YES.  You need to be confident in the water and capable of swimming at least 50 metres. If you cannot swim you can still join us on the boat as a watcher. Obviously, the water is over your head and a degree of confidence in swimming is required.

Customers must declare any pre-existing medical conditions which may limit their participation.

If you are prone to suffer from sea sickness we advise taking an anti-sea sickness tablet before checking in for your swim. Different varieties take different amounts of time to start working so make sure you give yourself this time before heading out on the water. We also offer pressure point wrist bands, however, it is best to attempt to stop the potential sea sickness before it starts. If you suffer from asthma it is essential to bring your inhaler with you to take out on the boat for your own safety.

No. These dolphins have extremely sensitive skin and a slight touch may bruise or hurt the dolphin.  A nail may scratch the surface of their skin causing infections.

Yes these dolphins are completely wild.

No. We must not disturb their natural diet and feeding habits.

Yes. If you are swimming you must be at least 8 years old. Children between 8 and 12 inclusive must also be accompanied by an adult swimmer. If you are booking with us as a spectator there is no age restriction. Please see the child swimmer info below…

Yes – Children can swim, but there are some rules:

  • Children must be aged 8 years or older.
  • Children aged 8-12 years old must be accompanied by an Adult swimmer in the water.
  • All Children (16 years or younger) must be accompanied (on the vessel) by an Adult or guardian 18 years or older.
  • Children must be fit and confident swimmers – our swim experience takes place in the ocean.

We have been operating dolphin swimming for 20 years now and have never had a problem with sharks.  Generally if there are sharks around then the dolphins will be nowhere to be seen.

In the summer the water temperature is around 17 degrees Celsius, in winter this usually decreases to around 11 degrees.  We have high-quality thick wetsuits which keep you warm in the water. We also have booties, gloves and hoodies.

In order to provide the best advice please call the wharf to enquire (0800 436 574) before booking. 

We have hosted many customers with disabilities, however, it is our duty to ensure the care and safety of our guests with the utmost respect and understanding. 

If you have a strong support swimmer and have experience swimming in the ocean then it may be possible. Our swim boats are not accessible by wheelchairs so a degree of mobility is required to board the vessel. If we feel safety is compromised then a swim will not be possible. 

You may have recently been alerted to the news that a swimming with dolphins operator in the Bay of Islands (North Island, New Zealand) has recently ended its tourism operation due to the declining numbers of Bottlenose dolphins.

This is isolated to the Bay of Islands only. Black Cat Cruises Swimming with Dolphins experience in Akaroa (South Island, New Zealand) continues to operate as normal as our Hector’s dolphin population remains stable.

Black Cat Cruises prides itself on working with dolphin researchers to ensure the Hector’s dolphin population is protected and cared for. As the largest tourism operator in Banks Peninsula and one with a strong reliance on our natural environment, we strive to be a leader in environment management programmes.


  • A basic level of fitness is required. You will be floating in the water and will be required to swim to and from the boat – distances up to 50 metres (150 feet) at a time.
  • Swimming with dolphins is not available for children under 8 years old. Children between 8 – 12 must be accompanied by an adult swimmer.
  • Customers should have some knowledge of English, so they can understand safety instructions and emergency procedures. If you do not speak English, you should be able to read and understand the foreign language safety instructions and be confident that you can communicate with the crew using pre-agreed hand signals in the event of an emergency.
  • Customers must not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Environment & Safety First

Black Cat Cruises was the first cruise boat company in the world to get the coveted Green Globe 21, an international programme to ensure the best environmental practices. We are also DOC-approved and are the only cruise operator in Akaroa to have an Enviro-gold certification from Qualmark.



Great! You’re in the right place!


We have a great package for that.


How about cruising to Diamond Harbour?


Pick from Quail or Ripapa Islands.


We operate from the main wharf in Akaroa, only 80 minutes (82 km) drive from Christchurch on State Highway 75. Once in Akaroa
follow the main road until you see a wharf on the waterfront with a large blue building half way down. This is where you check in.


Akaroa is located around an 80 to 90-minute drive from Christchurch City and Christchurch International Airport.

It is an easy drive in a car through New Zealand farmland and then over the stunning Banks Peninsula hills to Akaroa. Use Google Maps for detailed directions on how to get from Christchurch to Akaroa.

Once in Akaroa continue along Rue Lavaud, which turns into Beach Rd. Look for the long wharf in the centre of the town. You’ll see our large blue building on the wharf with a dolphin mural painted on the roof. Print this map out to help you navigate. You can also find us at 61 Beach Road.


Cruise ship passengers will disembark directly onto the main wharf in Akaroa. This is where our main booking office and gift shop are located. Please allow enough time for your tender boat to reach the wharf in time for your activity check -in.

hector's dolphins akaroa
christchurch day trip


The award-winning Black Cat Cruises is not only an acclaimed success in New Zealand’s tourism industry but also internationally recognized as an eco-tourism pioneer. We hold the honour of being the first to introduce cruises in Akaroa, and we're proud to be acknowledged as New Zealand’s very first eco-tourism operator.


Our Nature Cruises and Dolphin Swimming experience depart from the stunning Akaroa harbour which is only a 90 minute scenic drive from Christchurch. The Diamond Harbour and Quail Island ferry depart from Lyttelton in Christchurch.