What We Do
Overview What We Support Our People Auckland Stories Resources FAQs
Ways To GiveProfessional Advisors
Overview Trust Resettlement Bequests Our Investment Approach
Apply For Grants
Overview Grassroots Giving Programme North Shore Fund The Clinton and Joy Whitley Fund Daphne Stevens Scholarship Grant Accountability Reporting
News & EventsWomen's Fund
If We Were 100 Women About Women's Fund Supporters
Contact UsDonateLog in

Gulf Guardians: Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari

Since the turn of the century, Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari have been out on the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana as conservationists, researchers and for tourism purposes. Now, they're giving back in perpetuity, via Auckland Foundation and Gulf Guardians. Read on to find out more about their giving journey and why they do what they do.


Uploaded Image


AWDS logo

Who are Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari and what do you do?

Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari was established in 2000. We function as a platform of opportunity for marine researchers and data collection, whilst delivering a marine tourism experience to visitors and locals. Our goal is to inform and educate our passengers about the fragile balance between human existence and our direct impact on the incredible marine life and marine environment. The tour, aptly named a Safari, goes in search of marine wildlife in Tīkapa Moana/The Hauraki Gulf. Sightings range from a multitude of seabirds including Blue penguins, to cetaceans such as Common Dolphins and Bryde’s Whales, to more uncommon species like Oceanic Manta Rays and False Killer Whales.


Why have you decided to give via Auckland Foundation & Gulf Guardians?

Being out on the water every day we have a strong connection to Tīkapa Moana/The Hauraki Gulf. We immerse ourselves in this environment which supports our business and feel it’s our responsibility to provide guardianship to it. As we explain to our passengers, the marine environment is key to supporting earth’s breathable atmosphere and much of life on earth. We want to be able to support and protect a healthy marine environment and contribute to local causes that are aiming to regenerate the Gulf and it’s marine life. We couldn’t think of a more appropriate cause as a tourism operator, reliant on and appreciative of this environment, than a local foundation and projects working to restore the Mauri of this place. From the tiny life of phytoplankton up to large Bryde’s whales, many marine inhabitants have a key role in sequestering carbon from the atmosphere and they rely on a clean and healthy ocean to do this. We chose to support the initiatives working for the purpose of creating a healthy local marine environment and counter some of our impacts.

Conservation and research is at the heart of your work. Can you tell us about some of your initiatives and why this is so important?

Our mission statement is ‘The preservation of species and the environment through research, education and awareness’. This idea permeates through how we conduct our operation and all our tours. From our inception in 2000, research data has been collected on board including extensive observations of all marine mammals encountered. This data has been provided to many institutions, universities and researchers over the years to contribute to studies and papers on the marine life of the Gulf including population estimates. We often explain to passengers that it’s really important for people to understand species and the environment in order to best learn how to protect it. That’s why we have been collecting data for over 23 years, so researchers can learn more about species that inhabit the Gulf, what changes occur over time, and what is needed to ensure their ongoing existence. Some of the data we have collected on the Bryde’s whales of the Gulf, informed researchers of their area use and behaviours, influencing the establishment of a local voluntary shipping protocol – The Hauraki Gulf Transit Protocol – which has reduced deaths of Bryde’s whales due to ship strike to none.

We contribute to citizen science projects, taking observations of water quality during the trip whilst demonstrating how this is done to those on board. What’s most important to us is sharing knowledge and stories, aiming to inspire others to become citizen scientists, develop a love of the ocean and become global advocates for protection of marine species around the world.


Head to the Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari website: whalewatchingauckland.com

If you would like to talk to us about shaping your own giving, get in touch today: info@aucklandfoundation.org.nz