Wildlife in the Bay of Islands Maritime Park

Bottlenose dolphin

Wild Bottlenose Dolphins

​(Tursiops truncatus)

New Zealand Classification: Nationally Endangered

 A population of around 480 animals live along the northland east coast of New Zealand. The bottlenose dolphin earns its name from the shape of its short beak and lower jaw which looks like a Bottle.  See more here


Orca/Killer whale

NZ Orca

(Orcinus orca)

New Zealand Classification: Nationally Critical

A small population of less than 200 animals call New Zealand home, orca visit the Bay of Islands in pods of 2 – 15 animals on average. These distinctive black and white-toothed mammals are actually part of the dolphin family. They can grow up to 9m in length. They can sometimes be seen close to shore hunting tasty stingrays or sharks.


Common dolphin

Common Dolphins

(Delphinus sp.)

New Zealand Classification: Not Threatened

The common dolphin is easily recognised by its size, speed and pattern of colours – it is one of the only tricolour dolphin species in the world. Common dolphins found in New Zealand waters belong to the species now known as the short-beaked common dolphin. They are known to dive to depths of 280 metres in search of prey and hunt cooperatively within schools.  These animals are vocal and show a wide range of acrobatic behaviour.


Bryde’s whale

Brydes Whale Bay of Islands

​(Balaenoptera edeni)

New Zealand Classification: Nationally Critical

There are less than 200 Bryde’s whale (pronounced ‘Brooders’) in New Zealand. These whales are surface feeders and make for an incredible sight when seen sweeping through krill, plankton or ‘large boil-ups’ of fish.


Australasian Gannet


​(Morus serrator

New Zealand Classification: Not Threatened

Australasian Gannets are black and white birds with a yellow head and long bills. These birds are spectacular to watch hunt, The Australasian Gannet hunts fish by diving from a height into the sea and pursuing their prey underwater. They can dive from a height of 30 metres and achieve speeds of 140 km/h as they strike the water – Crazy Diving Birds.


Little blue penguin

Little Penguin

(Eudyptula minor)

 New Zealand Classification: At Risk–Declining

Blue penguins are the smallest penguin in the world and possibly the cutest. Blue penguins have a range of calls to recognise each other, claim and defend territory. Blue Penguins come ashore in groups called rafts. This may be just a few penguins or over 100. To cool down after swimming, little blues ruffle their feathers and hold their flippers up away from their body.



Shearwaters and Gannets

There are five species that can be spotted out in the Bay. These are the Buller’s, Flesh-footed, Fluttering, Little and Sooty shearwaters. These birds are cheeky and are often feeding with the dolphins.





Eagle Rays – Sting Rays

Eagle rays appear to fly through the water, gracefully beating their large pointed pectoral fins like wings. While eagle rays are not aggressive, they can deliver a painful sting with their tail. Eagle rays have pointed pectoral fins, and they are wider than they are long.