The Rock | Bay of Islads Adventure Cruise


Marine Life

Bottlenose | Maori name - Terehu

There are nine different species of dolphin found around the New Zealand coast, including Hector's, Māui and Bottlenose dolphins.

If you are out on the water in the Bay of  Islands and are lucky enough to encounter dolphins they will most likely be a Bottlenose  (Tursiops truncatus) as we are home to NZ's largest population,approx 450 individuals live in the area.

Bottlenose have a relatively short beak and a high, with a hooked and prominent dorsal fin. They are dark or light grey on the back grading to white on the undersides, although their colour and shape can be variable. The size of a newborn is around 85 cm - 1.3 m in length, and an adult 1.9 - 3.9 m.

Bottlenose dolphins are super swimmers, gliding through the water using their curved dorsal fin on their back, a powerful tail and pointed flippers. They can reach speeds over 30km an hour and dive as deep as 250m below the surface.

These cool creatures are awesome acrobats too and can be seen flipping (or “breaching“) out of the water. In fact, they can launch themselves up to five meters out of the water before.There are different theories as to why they do this – it could be to get a better view of things in the distance, clean parasites off their bodies, communicate with other pods or just for good fun!

Bottlenose dolphins are widely distributed throughout the world in cold temperate and tropical seas and generally do not range poleward of 45° in either hemisphere.New Zealand is therefore at the southern most point of their range. Limits to the range of this species appear to be temperature related.

Diet and Foraging

Individuals living close to the shore feed primarily on a variety of inshore bottom-dwelling fish and invertebrate species. Those offshore feed on mid-water fish species and oceanic squid.Their dives rarely last longer than 3-4 minutes inshore, but may be longer offshore. Individual feeding appears to be the most prevalent foraging method but individuals are also known to work together to herd schools of fish.  


Females breed every 3-5 years and calves suckle for around 2-3 years.Calving peaks are known to occur for most populations between spring and summer/autumn. Female bottlenose dolphins can live up to more than 50 years of age, and males can reach as old as 40-45 years.


Sharks are probably the most important predators of bottlenose dolphins with the numerous shark-bite scars found on as many as half of all bottlenose dolphins providing evidence of such encounters. Killer whales are also likely to be one of the main predators.

Bottlenose dolphins are also susceptible to human impacts due to their coastal nature. We are passion about protecting our local marine life and  ensure we adhere to the Marine Mammal Protection Regulations (1992).


Seeing a dolphin or more likely a pod of dolphins in their natural habitat is truly a sight to behold. They are majestical in water and really do like to play!

Find out about our different types of cruises available and see which one fits you. Learn more about it here.

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