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Canterbury, New Zealand Cruises & boat tours

Our most recommended Canterbury, New Zealand Cruises & boat tours

Kaikoura: Whale Watching Cruise

1. Kaikoura: Whale Watching Cruise

Take a whale-watching cruise off the Kaikoura coast, and see giant sperm whales in their natural environment. Enjoy onboard commentary as you encounter a range of wildlife, including fur seals, pods of dolphins, and the endangered wandering albatross. Set sail on a catamaran, equipped with engines that minimize underwater noise and nonpolluting toilets. Take in the views from the large outdoor decks or stay inside the air-conditioned interiors with comfortable seating and plasma screens displaying marine wildlife animations. Gain an insight into the habitat with scientific information and indigenous knowledge about these creatures from the crew. Passenger numbers are kept well below the vessel's capacity to ensure a more personal experience.

Kaikoura: Dolphin Encounter Cruise

2. Kaikoura: Dolphin Encounter Cruise

Cruise along the scenic Kaikoura coast as you watch for dolphins. During the cruise, you'll be able to swim with the dolphins in their natural habitat or watch their antics from the comfort of the boat. Kaikoura is one of the best places in the world to encounter the Dusky Dolphins in their natural environment. The Dusky Dolphins are some of the most interactive and acrobatic species of dolphins, making them thrilling to watch and interact with. 

Akaroa Harbour 2-Hour Nature Cruise

3. Akaroa Harbour 2-Hour Nature Cruise

Experience an award-winning nature cruise of Akaroa Habor. Discover wildlife like dolphins, seals, penguins, and other seabirds. Gaze upon giant volcanic sea cliffs and hear about Akaroa's fascinating past.  Travel on a modern catamaran, which is perfect for viewing the natural wonders of Akaroa Harbour. There's lots of room on the two decks for unimpeded viewing and plenty of covered seating for shade and shelter. Inside, for your convenience you'll find a bar and washrooms. Each cruise is fully narrated by your skipper who has extensive knowledge of the nature, wildlife and the history of the harbour. As Akaroa Harbour was a live volcano millions of years ago, there are many spectacular ancient lava flows to be seen. One cliff has a sheer 500-foot face and a fascinating history, while Nikau Palm Gully is the southernmost limit for these tropical palm trees. There is also the incredible Scenery Nook, an amazing pink, purple and red volcanic amphitheater that will take your breath away.

Kaikoura: 2.5-hour Albatross Encounter and Wildlife Cruise

4. Kaikoura: 2.5-hour Albatross Encounter and Wildlife Cruise

Enjoy this once in a lifetime bird watching experience just 15 minutes of the coast of Kaikoura. Within just a small area, meet one of the greatest varieties of seabirds and pelagic bird life you'll find anywhere in the world. Up to 12 species of albatross alone can be viewed at various times of the year. Equip yourself with your bird identification list, your expert local guide and driver will take you on a journey from the Port out into the open ocean. Enjoy the opportunity to watch the birds come in close to the boat for a unique feeding experience. Throughout the tour, your guide will take you to various different spots to ensure you see as many species as possible. As you make your way back to Kaikoura, come in close to the shore and marvel at the picturesque New Zealand coastline. If you’re lucky, you will have an opportunity to see beautiful fur seals basking in the sunshine.

Franz Josef Glacier: 2-Hour Scenic Lake Mapourika Cruise

5. Franz Josef Glacier: 2-Hour Scenic Lake Mapourika Cruise

Soak up panoramic views of the Southern Alps and glaciers reflecting on the mirror-like waters of Lake Mapourika on this 2-hour scenic cruise. The lake was created by the Franz Josef Glacier as it retreated 14,000 years ago and now sits calm and reflective between the Southern Alps and the sea. Meet your experienced skipper and small group at the office in Franz Josef and take a complimentary transfer out to Lake Mapourika. Board the boat, then sit back and relax onboard the Hanna-k in the comfortable enclosed cabin or on the covered back deck. Your skipper will take you through to the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary on the far shorelines of the lake and will help you spot New Zealand's native birds. Enjoy informative commentary and fascinating stories as you cruise past untouched Jurassic rainforest and 900-year-old Kahikatea trees. Sip on a cup of complimentary tea or coffee as you unwind in beautiful Glacier Country, a picture perfect way to escape the crowds and enjoy the West Coast’s scenery.

Franz Josef Glacier: 2.5-Hour Lake Mapourika Cruise and Walk

6. Franz Josef Glacier: 2.5-Hour Lake Mapourika Cruise and Walk

Begin your adventure at the meeting point in Franz Josef to join your small group and transfer out to Lake Mapourika with your guide. Cruise across the lake in the comfort of the boat and enjoy a stunning vista of Southern Alps and glaciers. On a clear day enjoy views as far as Mount Cook.   Sit back as you arrive into the calm estuary of the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary. Your local knowledgeable skipper will provide you with exclusive access and will guide you through a private rainforest trail.   Follow your skipper through the Jurassic rainforest track and get local insight on the region. Spot native birds as you find your way to the scenic lookout, the perfect spot for a cup or tea or coffee made on the spot.

Hanmer Springs: Jet Boat, Quad Bike and Bungy Jump Combo

7. Hanmer Springs: Jet Boat, Quad Bike and Bungy Jump Combo

Enjoy a beautiful day in Hanmer Springs exploring the Waiau River Gorge by jet boat, Quad Bike and bungy jump! Travel the entire length of the magnificent Waiau River Gorge, and take in the scenery along the way. Hold on tight as you experience the famous Hamilton jet spin. The beautiful alpine river features narrow gorges, braided shallows and white water rapids. You will traverse over 30 kilometers through spectacular scenery on a jet boat ride of at least 30 minutes. Allow 1 hour for the entire experience, including a safety briefing as your guide's focus is above all else safety, along with customer service and value for money. Jump from the 135-year-old Waiau Ferry Bridge at the Hanmer Springs bungy jump. Experience a range of emotions, from sheer terror to pure elation, in the seconds it takes you to plummet 35 meters towards the river. Perfect for those who don’t want to try a high bungee jump, including first timers, the older and the young, the experience includes pick-up by jet boat at the bottom after your jump to take you safely back to shore. Put yourself in control of a 4-wheel Quad Bike and challenge yourself to a mountain terrain of river crossings, mud, dust, dirt and excitement. Discover the real backcountry of New Zealand on a 2-hour tour through farmland, sheep trails, rivers, sand and bush. Get to ride your own bike (subject to age restrictions), and get the freedom to test yourself within the safety boundaries on an adventure that is perfect for families, groups or individuals. 

Akaroa: Scenic Coastline Wildlife Cruise

8. Akaroa: Scenic Coastline Wildlife Cruise

Join us for a wildlife tour that explores the spectacular volcanic coastline and abundant wildlife of Banks Peninsula and Akaroa. Our tour numbers are kept limited, offering you a small and intimate tour that will take you where others can’t. Some of the wildlife you’ll get to see include little blue penguins and an array of seabirds. Our friendly and knowledgeable crew love meeting and talking with our guests and Scruffy, our friendly boat dog, joins us on afternoon trips! Tony, a real Kiwi, has been exploring the waters around the Peninsula since the 1960s. He’ll entertain you with his the stories of his adventures and share his enthusiasm for this wonderful environment and stunning wildlife. Our characterful and comfortable boat - Wairiri, is a 41-foot Kauri Launch built in 1964. Our tours specialise in small groups and enough space to move around the boat for the best wildlife viewing and photo opportunities! Tony often still has a lobster pot out and we pull it up on some of our trips. We never know what we find in it: Lobster, octopus, conger eel, starfish and sand sharks are just a few of the creatures we might have caught.

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What people are saying about Canterbury, New Zealand

Overall rating

4.9 / 5

based on 38 reviews

We saw sperm whales, dolphins and seals. The children were delighted to see the sperm whales squirting and diving. The ship wasn't rocking as much as I was worried about, so I didn't get seasick. At first, when the passengers were outside, it was going so fast that the wind was blowing my hat off, but that was also a fun experience. The sea breeze is cold, so we recommend wearing a windbreaker.

This dolphin encounter was such a special experience, we saw what felt like a hundred dolphins, who were very playful and swam close to the boat. The cruise is run professionally, and all staff involved did such a wonderful job. They were warm and friendly, and consistently checked on the passengers to make sure everyone was happy and comfortable.

Amazing experience! The captain pursued 3 sperm whales which we viewed as they swam and dove into the sea. Saw a huge pod of playful dusky dolphins too!!

Such an amazing experience swimming with *so* many dusky dolphins! Everything was very well organized and I would recommend this to anyone in Kaikoura!

The speedboat was new and modern. The crew very nice and helpful. Saw a whale and lots of dolphins. Was a great experience