The SMART Operator programme aims to promote responsible behaviour around dolphins, whales and seals by boat operators.


SMART (Sustainable Marine Mammal Actions in Recreation and Tourism) is a voluntary collaboration between commercial boat operators and DOC for the protection of marine mammals in New Zealand.

Effect of tourism on marine mammals

Viewing marine mammals in New Zealand is a memorable experience. With half of the world's cetaceans (dolphins and whales) having been sighted in our waters, New Zealand really is a hot spot for viewing these beautiful animals!

As demand for viewing experiences with marine mammals has increased, so too has the pressure on these animals by both tourism and recreational vessels. Numerous studies have documented the effects reckless viewing can have on marine mammals – these include changes in behaviour, boat strike, and reducing the opportunity for feeding, resting, and socialising.

We can all play our part in making marine mammal viewing in New Zealand sustainable now and into the future.

Become a SMART operator

Commercial boat operators can contact their local DOC office to find out how to participate in the SMART Operator Programme.

Recreational boat operators can learn more about boating around marine mammals.

Current SMART operators

SMART operators undertake ongoing, intensive staff training, use responsible advertising and provide comprehensive education to the wider public. These measures provide and promote safe viewing of marine mammals around Aotearoa, helping to protect our special taonga.


Dolphin Seafaris
Activity: Wildlife tours, Dolphin viewing and swimming in Bay of Plenty
Phone: +64 7 577 0105

Abel Tasman

Abel Tasman Eco Tours
Activity: Nature cruises in Abel Tasman
Phone: 0800 223 538

Abel Tasman Kayaks
Activity: Guided kayaking tours and rentals (part, full and multi-day) in Abel Tasman 
Phone: +64 3 527 8022

R & R Kayaks
Activity: Guided kayaking tours (part, full and multi-day) in Abel Tasman
Phone: 0508 223 224

Waka Abel Tasman

Activity: Waka tours from Kaiteriteri & in Abel Tasman National Park

Phone: 0800 9252 28 (WAKA AT)



Abel Tasman Charters

Activity: Small group scenic cruises and charters exploring the Abel Tasman National Park coastline

Phone: 0800 22 35 22


Kahu Kayaks
Activity: guided kayaking tours (part, full and multi-day) in Abel Tasman
Phone: +64 3 527 8300

Marlborough Sounds

Cougar Line
Activity: Day cruises, water transport, Queen Charlotte Track
Phone: +64 3 573 7925

Lochmara Lodge 
Activity: Water Taxi, accommodation, wildlife recovery and arts centre, Queen Charlotte Sound
Phone: +64 3 573 4554

Marlborough Tour Company
Activity: Cruises and Tours in the Marlborough Sounds
Phone: +64 3 577 9997

Pelorus Mail Boat
Activity: Pelorus Sound Mail Run, Kenepuru Sound Cruise
Phone: +64 3 574 1088


Dolphin Encounter
Activity: Dolphin viewing and swimming in Kaikoura
Phone: 0800 733 365 (within New Zealand) or +64 3 319 6777

Banks Peninsula

Akaroa Dolphins Cruises
Activity: Dolphin viewing and nature cruises in Akaroa harbour
Phone: +64 3 304 7866

Black Cat Cruises
Activity: Dolphin viewing, swimming and nature cruises in Akaroa and Lyttleton harbours
Phone: +64 3 304 7643

Pohatu Penguins

Activity: Nature and sea kayak tours in Akaroa

Phone: +64 3 304 8542



For more information email or contact our office.

DOC Customer Service Centre
Phone 0800 275 362
Address DOC offices
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