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Before Your Tour

Everything you need to know about your Albatross Watch Tour

  • How long do the tours last?

    Standard Albatross Encounter tours are approximately 2 to 2.5 hours, from check-in time, to the time you return to our booking office.

    Extended specialist tours (available on request) are about 4 hours in duration.

    We occasionally run 6 hour tours once or twice a year, if you would like to be on our mailing list for this option please contact the Customer Service Team.

  • How long will I be on the boat?

    Time on the water during the standard Albatross Encounter tour is around about two hours.

  • Am I guaranteed to see an albatross?

    Our success rate for the albatross is very high at around 99%. But due to weather restrictions such as low fog and hot calm days when flying conditions for the larger birds are not ideal, there are times we might not be able to view the normal array of seabirds. In such situations when tours are affected by fog or sudden weather events, we do have a partial refund policy.

  • What should I bring?

    It’s always a good idea to bring some warm clothing, a hat, sunglasses, and of course a camera with full battery and lots of memory space for those fantastic photo opportunities! A variety of lenses for your camera is an advantage, with the wide angle for close ups and zoom for the more distant shots. 

  • When is the best time to go?

    Oct-Apr Albatross Encounter Tours operate daily at 9.00am and 1.00pm.

    In winter 2021 (May-Sept) tours will be scheduled at 9.00am and 1.00pm Saturday and Sunday and once daily at 10.15am Monday-Friday.

    **Please note that for Summer 2020/21 and Summer 2021/22 our popular 6am departure will not be regularly scheduled due to reduced demand.  We look forward to reinstating this in the future!**

    We tend to recommend our morning tours as the sea conditions are generally calmer and the commercial fisherman usually are out on the ocean which helps attract the seabirds. If possible we like to take advantage of this by stopping near fishing boats as they will often have a good selection of birds waiting around the boat.

    If your looking for the best time of year, we advocate the times around seasonal changes, that is the late spring early summer time of October/November and autumn of March through to May. These are the cross-over months when both winter and summer species are either coming or going, so offers the greatest diversity of species. However we do see a wide variety of pelagics year round, but can never guarantee specific sightings of individual birds as every tour is unique.


  • What am I going to see?

    Lots! There's a wide variety of seabirds in the area, including many species of albatross, shearwaters and petrels. This link will give you an indication of what you might see on our tours and when you're most likely to see particular species. We also have daily sightings reports for recent tours.

  • Are reservations essential?

    We highly recommend you make a reservation, especially in the summer season when demand is high.

    Check availability or Book

  • Can my children go?

    Absolutely! But as an open-ocean experience, we do require that children be at least 3 years of age to participate. Our Skippers also reserve the right to increase the minimum age requirements on the day of the tour if there are adverse sea or weather conditions.  In this instance a refund is available.  Children under 3 years are not permitted aboard.

  • What is the cancellation policy?

    If you need to change or cancel your reservation if you notify us before 4pm on the day prior to your scheduled tour date there will be no penalty. If you don't let us know, or let us know after that time, full fare penalties will apply.

  • Can disabilities be accommodated aboard?

    We try our best to make this experience available for everyone. However, due to our robust health and safety procedures, and the prevailing sea conditions on any given day, we do have a few restrictions.

    As a general rule our boats are unable to accommodate wheelchairs, but we can accommodate passengers who are unable to sit unaided.

    Before your booking, please drop our Customer Service manager a line about what you would need from us to facilitate your tour experience. We will always do our best to help.

Our Boat: Encounter II

Our Boat: Encounter II

Meet Encounter II. It's a 9.7-metre monohull built in 1993 by Stabicraft in Bluff, New Zealand. It can take up to 13 passengers and is powered by a 370HP Yanmar jet unit. It has an enclosed cabin with open deck that sits low to the water offering superb viewing and photo opportunities.

On board facilities include a marine toilet, but it's in a very small enclosed space so it's preferable that you make use of bathroom facilities before departure. A field guide of Birds of New Zealand is available on board as well as a spare pair of binoculars.


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