Best Time of the Year to See Whales in Auckland

Best Time of the Year to See Whales in Auckland

Whales are majestic creatures. What is equally majestic is seeing them in their natural habitat. Luckily, Auckland is one of the best places for whale watching.

The city is surrounded by water bodies to the east and southwest. The water also serves as home to various whale species. As a result, you don’t need to time your visit to periods when the largest marine mammals migrate. But is whale watching possible all the time in Auckland? 

When is the best time to see whales in Auckland? 

  • January – Dec: Bottlenose Dolphin 
  • Jan – March, May-Dec: Bryde’s whale 
  • Jun – Aug: Blue Whale 
  • Jan – Dec: Common dolphin 
  • Jun – Aug: Dusky Dolphin 
  • Jan – Dec: Hector Dolphin 
  • May-Sept: Humpback whale 
  • Nov – Mar: Killer whale 
  • Jun – Aug: Pilot whale 
  • Jan – Dec: Sperm whale 
  • Mar – April, Aug – Sept: Migrating whales 

Whale watching can be daily, frequently, or occasionally. Regardless of the variability, no month goes by without a whale sighting in Auckland, New Zealand. 

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What whales can I see in Auckland? 

Any time of the year is a good period to see Auckland whales. Not just whales, but also dolphins. Put differently, Auckland does not have a defined season for whale watching.

Auckland is home to the Bryde Whale – a nationally endangered species. As a result, residents and tourists can see them in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park any time of the year.

Other whale species like the pygmy blue whale and sei whale also visit the gulf. 

Besides the non-migratory whales, some species like the humpback and southern right whale travel up the coast between June and August.

Sperm whales are present in Kaikoura’s coastline throughout the year. This is possible because the water serves as a habitat for oceanic life. The canyon also opens to a trench that extends into the Pacific Ocean. As a result, you can see them during whale watch kaikoura.

If you prefer to see sperm whales during a warmer climate, time your visit between November – march. Summer is also a good time to spot killer whales. Humpback whales leave the Antarctic water for the warmer tropical waters during June – August. 

Like the whales, the common dolphins are also resident species in the Hauraki Gulf. As a result, they are here every time of the year.

The common dolphins travel in pods of up to a hundred and their size can vary from a few to several thousand. Dolphin behavior varies depending on the time of the year. For example, they play less in colder months since they tend to focus more on feeding to maintain their fat layer. Conversely, dolphins spend more time playing and socialising in warmer months. 

The most convenient time to see whales as far as weather is concerned is during the warmer months. The gulf is usually calm, and the sun shines brightly. As a result, all you need is sun cream, sunglasses, and a hat.

Nonetheless, you can still visit in the cooler months. Since it is cold, we recommend you bring your gloves, scarf, hat, and rain jacket. 

So, there is no best time to see whales in Auckland. Why? You can see them every time. Different whale and dolphin species are resident in Auckland and a few migrate across the waters. But where is the best place to see whales? 

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Giant Sperm whales are visible all year round during whale watch Kaikoura. You can schedule a tour by boat or get a unique view from the sky on an airplane. The location has nutrient-rich waters that attract dolphins and whales. As a result, most whale watching has a 95% success rate.

Apart from sperm whales, humpback whales travel through the Kaikoura coastline during their annual migration. If you are very lucky, you can even see the blue whale – the world’s largest marine mammals, when they pass through the area. 

 Hauraki Gulf Marine Park

Orcas are regular Auckland whales. As a result, the Hauraki Gulf is a good place to search for whales. The Gulf Marine Park surrounds Auckland and spans over 1.2 million hectares, six marine reserves, and 50 islands. As a result, its location makes it a preferred destination for seeing whales in New Zealand.

A single trip is sufficient to see five different dolphin and whale species, including the rare Bryde’s whale. There are fewer than 200 Bryde’s in New Zealand, and the Hauraki Gulf is the online place to find them. 

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Marlborough sounds 

The Marlborough is located between the South and North islands and is another great place to see whales. Unlike the other places we have mentioned, Marlborough was popular for whalers and whaling. But now, people could go and enjoy whale sightings.

You can view the creatures from a safe distance between June and July when they migrate through the Cock Strait.

Apart from whales, you can spot dolphins when they swim. The success rate of spotting a dolphin is 90%. 

Whale Island 

Whale Island is located in the Bay of Plenty. It is host to common and bottlenose dolphins, orca whales, and pilot whales. You can also see larger migrating whales like the beaked whale and southern right whale. Apart from sightseeing, the water is calm and is ideal for diving and snorkeling. 

Bay of Islands 

The rare Bryde’s whale and orca routinely pass through the Bay of Islands between May and July. You can also see humpback whales, blue whales, and long-finned pilot whales. 


If you want to see a particular whale type, check out the time we have outlined above. But why restrict yourself to a single type of whale when you can see different types.

Auckland is one of the best places for whale watching in New Zealand. Luckily, there are various whale watching tours in the areas with high environmental standards and welfare. These operators will transport you to watch your favorite whales at a fee without damaging the environment.

Thinking of a way to spend the holiday? Come over to Auckland whale watching and see some of the most majestic and acrobatic whales in their habitat. 

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