Adopt a Dolphin

© Will Rayment

Adopt a dolphin and help protect these taonga species and their habitat.

Nine different species of dolphin are found around the New Zealand coast. These include the orca/killer whale and pilot whale, who despite the name are actually both dolphins. The short-beaked common, bottlenose and dusky dolphin also call the waters of Aotearoa home.

New Zealand has two unique species as well. Māui dolphins - only found on the west coast of the North Island. With an adult population estimated at just 54, their conservation status is Nationally Critical. Hector’s dolphin is Nationally Vulnerable and found around the South Island.


Around New Zealand, many dolphin populations are under pressure. Not just the threatened endemic Maui and Hector’s dolphins. Local populations of bottlenose dolphins, in Bay of Islands and other areas are declining.   

Adopt a Dolphin - Boats and Tourism

Boats and tourism

The presence of large numbers of boats and people involved in marine mammal tourism can leave dolphins with insufficient time to rest, and feed and can result in the separation of mothers and calves. Boat strike is also a risk.

Adopt a Dolphin - Noise


Noise pollution from shipping, the oil and gas industry, seismic surveys and underwater construction can stress and injure dolphins. It can also interfere with their ability to communicate, reproduce, navigate, and find prey.

Adopt a Dolphin - Toxoplasmosis


Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease which reproduces in cats and is a significant threat to Hector’s and Māui dolphins. It has been confirmed as a cause of death and can also cause behavioural changes and reduced reproductive rates.

Your adoption will help

© Charlotte Bueb

Fund research into dolphins and other marine mammals

You’ll be supporting work to monitor and protect species through projects like the Māui dolphin drone, an AI-powered tracking drone to autonomously find, follow, and identify Māui and Hector's dolphins. And the Sea Spotter marine sightings app, so everyone can log sightings around New Zealand.

© Darryl Torckler

Support work to establish more Marine Protected Areas

That will help safeguard the health and biodiversity of New Zealand and the world’s oceans. Advocating for putting at least 30% of our coastal and marine areas into an effective network of MPAs by 2030. Including establishing the Kermadec Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary, an important stopping off point for migratory species.