All marine mammals are fully protected in New Zealand waters under the Marine Mammal Protection Act 1978.

DOC rules and regulations

The Marine Mammals Protection Regulations 1992, was developed to manage the rapidly growing whale- and dolphin-watching industry. DOC is working with local tourism operators to reduce the effects of tourism on dolphins in places like Kaikoura, Bay of Islands and Fiordland.

We are proud to be a tourism operator in the Bay of Islands who is has a permit from Department of Conservation to interact with marine mammals.

 Interaction is strictly limited by the rules of the licence and we take this responsibility very seriously.

There is no guarantee of dolphins.

Carino operates with a Department of Conservation permit however for the protection of Dolphins and other marine mammals; all interaction with them is governed by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

 Here are the basic details of our marine mammal licence so you can understand why we do what we do during your cruise.


  • if there are already three or more vessels near a pod of dolphins or whales, we need to stay at least 300 metres away
  • once we get within 300 metres from marine mammals, we slow right down
  • we don’t go within 50 metres of whales, and if they approach us we will aim to stay out of their path
  • we don’t go within 200 metres of female baleen or sperm whales with calves
  • we will approach them slowly from a parallel direction, slightly from behind
  • once we stop to view them, we put the boat’s engine into neutral or low revs



  • we don’t interact with bottlenose dolphins at all before 12pm daily
  • There are certain areas in the Bay of Islands that are marine mammal sanctuary zones, which we do not travel in – if the marine mammals are in these areas, we cannot view them.
  • the time we spend with a pod is limited to 50 minutes per trip, or 20 minutes if the species is Bottlenose dolphins
  • always stay 50m from pods that have calves or juveniles dolphins
  • No swimming with any dolphins within the Bay of Islands maritime park.
  • At no time touch dolphins or feed them
  • Operate your boat slowly and quietly at “no wake” speed
  • Do not disturb dolphins if they are feeding or resting
  • we don’t disrupt their normal movement or behaviour
  • we don’t separate marine mammals from their pods, travel right through a pod or cause them to scatter
  • we don’t make sudden changes in speed or direction
  • if they show any sign of being disturbed or distressed, we immediately leave them alone
  • no throwing food or rubbish near them
  • no making loud or sudden noises




Your sightings of dolphins can be reported to the 0800 DOC HOTline (0800 362 468). These are always of interest and help increase our knowledge of cetacean distribution and movements around New Zealand.