Hole in the Rock Dolphin Cruise

Join us on board our purpose built vessel for the best half day around the Bay.

Hole in the Rock Dolphin Cruise

Adult ($ nz)


Child ($ nz)



4.5 hours


Set off on a half-day Bay of Islands cruise in search of dolphins and other marine life. Enjoy the views from our purpose built vessel as we journey right to the end of the Cape Brett Peninsula, to the famous Hole in the Rock on Motukōkako Island. 

Tour description

This is the most popular dolphin watching cruise in the Bay of Islands, and for good reason! Board your cruise in Paihia or Russell and take in the stunning views as we glide out through the islands and along the Rakaumangamanga Peninsula to Cape Brett, where a historic lighthouse keeps watch over Piercy Island/Motukōkako, or as it is popularly known the ‘Hole in the Rock’.

Dolphin and whale viewing
Cruise around the Bay of Islands
See the Hole in the Rock
Island stopover at Otehei Bay
Informative commentary
Friendly, local crew

According to Māori legend, local warriors used to paddle through the Hole in the Rock in their canoes before departing for battle. Drops of water from the cave roof above were a good omen. If conditions permit, your skipper will expertly guide the ship through the narrow space... and if you get dripped on, consider yourself lucky!

Keep an eye out for dolphins, whales and other marine life during your cruise, and have your camera ready as we get you up close to the action. Our purpose-built catamaran is licensed by the Department of Conservation for dolphin viewing and our crew have years of experience locating dolphins in these waters. Please note that during our morning cruise we are permitted to interact with common dolphins only.

Cruises include an island stopover at Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island. Stroll along the white sand beach, or walk to the top of the hill for scenic views over the entire Bay of Islands. On our morning cruise you can choose our free island extension – stay longer, explore the island’s walking trails and beautiful beaches, and return with us in the afternoon. 

Our vessel has indoor and outdoor seating available, as well as large outdoor viewing decks. Hot and cold refreshments are available for purchase on board or you can enjoy great food and drinks at the fully licensed Otehei Bay Cafe and Bar.

Useful Info


    Paihia Wharf or Russell Wharf

  • BRING:

    Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and your camera.

  • HEAR:

    A full commentary is provided by your skipper.

  • EAT:

    You can buy hot and cold drinks and limited snacks on board, or grab a meal at the cafe on Urupukapuka Island. Limited menu available in off peak season.


    Interacting with common and bottlenose dolphins, orca, whales and other marine mammals is subject to DOC regulations.

  • Pricing:

    Adult $135, Child $67.50
    2 Adult/2 Child Family Pass $337.50


Until 30 November 2021:

Sat | Sun | Tues | thurs DEPARTS RETURNS
Paihia 10:00 am 2.30 pm
Russell 10:10 am 2:20 pm
Note: This tour will also operate over Labour weekend on Monday 25 October

From 1 December to 17 December 2021:

Paihia 10:00 am 2.30 pm
Russell 10:10 am 2:20 pm

From 18 December 2021:

MORNING (daily) Departs Returns
Paihia 8:30 am 1.00 pm
Russell 8:40 am 12:50 pm
AFTERNOON (DAILY) Departs Returns
Paihia 2:00 pm 6:30 pm
Russell 2:10 pm 6:20 pm

While New Zealand is within the COVID-19 Protection Framework, we will be operating with a requirement for vaccination certificates. Vaccination certificates must be presented at the time of check in as a prerequisite to boarding your cruise. 

Explore Group are committed to providing a COVID safe environment, all customer facing staff and vessel crew will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.


"Awesome tour with a great commentary - kept us all entertained. We saw a pod of dolphins and the skipper was so gentle about making sure not to get too close or move too quickly during the encounter. Plenty of sights to take in and an awesome stopover at one of the islands in the bay. Would definitely recommend."

Amazing Tour

March 2021
Alec P, Tripadvisor

"It was a great trip. Plenty of variety with an excellent commentary from the captain. Seeing a group of dolphins out by the Hole in the Rock was a highlight!"


May 2021
Susan A, TripAdvisor

"We had a great day with perfect conditions. The captain was great. I loved his sense of humour thrown in amongst some informative history of the area. Really worthwhile!"

Perfect day in the Bay of Islands

March 2021
Danielle R, TripAdvisor

"Must do Bay of Islands experience! Loved the commentary too. We took our 2 year old and 2 month old in our stroller. It was perfect!"

Must do! Family friendly

February 2021
Brittney G, TripAdvisor

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