Brandon Stone, the Captain of your Ship

Your Captain – Brandon Stone

Bay Explorer’s owner Brandon Stone has a long-held passion for the ocean, so with Bay Explorer he makes his passion accessible for others to share – both locals and tourists to the region.

Brandon has grown up on the ocean, surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, sailing and exploring coastlines. Brandon has a marine education also. He has the highest credentials in SCUBA with PADI as Master Scuba Instructor. Brandon spent 3 years as a lecturer at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic Marine Studies. His study of marine mammals culminated in research on Humpback whales in Tonga, and Southern Right Whales in the sub-Antarctic.

He has owned and operated marine businesses that have introduced thousands of new people to this aquatic environment.

“I have had the most awesome encounters with marine wildlife, swum with orca, sunfish, sharks, seals… endless interactions, I don’t know how many times I have heard people say that was the BEST DAY EVER, hell I have said it so many times myself”
Brandon Stone

Brandon took the first commercial dolphin swimming operation out of Tauranga as skipper of Dolphin Seafaris. His knowledge of the local waters proved invaluable creating the first public and commercial marine interactions in the area. His original company started in 1990, AQUANAUTS was a company based in Mount Maunganui, Tauranga for several years. He then started the international tour company ON THE WILDSIDE. This business took clients are far as Vavau Tonga to swim with Humpback whales.

He currently operates BAY EXPLORER and KEWPIE CRUISES www.kewpiecruises.co.nz in Mount Maunganui, Tauranga. It’s an icon tour business in Tauranga now, taking passengers daily on scenic harbour cruises in Tauranga harbour and to Matakana Island.

“Its now part of the local pride in the area, the best of Tauranga tourist activities”. An ideal option if you are limited for time and looking for activities in Mt Maunganui.

How much does it cost?

Our https://bayexplorer.co.nz/tauranga-scenic/  start at $35 for children and $95 for adults.

We also offer a 10% group discount for groups of 10 or more, and special educational rates are also available (conditions apply).

If your looking to see dolphins and other marine wildlife, check out our Half Day Cruise, costs start at $65 for children and $175 for adults..

Does Bay Explorer operate every day?
The Bay Explorer operates 7 days a week – we go out every day except for Christmas Day. However, we do operate our full and half day trips on different days.

Bookings are essential and can be made directly from this website. Check out availability here:


Do we need to book in advance?
Yes. Bookings are essential to secure your trip - if you're visiting the region, we recommend you book on your first available day in the Bay, so that if the trip is postponed due to operational circumstances, you may (subject to availability) have the option of an alternate day.
Where does the boat leave from?

The boat departs from the Strand Wharf in Tauranga City. (you can find us across the road from  the Starbucks cafe) by the Sweetest thing cafe.

When do we check in, and what time is departure?

Check-in: 3:15pm for briefing at 3:30pm (The Strand, Tauranga City Waterfront)

Departure: 3:30pm Strand Tauranga

Return: 6:30pm Strand Tauranga

It is very important that you provide contact details (including a New Zealand mobile phone number) where we can get hold of you.

How big is the boat?
Bay Explorer is 18.3 metres (65ft) single hull vessel.  The boat is very stable in all sea conditions and designed for your safety and comfort.
What do we need to bring for the cruise?

The following items are recommended for all trips:

  • A water/drink bottle
  • A warm jacket (bring an extra layer or two so you can layer up or layer down according to the weather)
  • Eftpos card or cash (we have a licenced bar onboard, coffee, tea plus a range of snacks)
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Camera (check that your camera is charged; we do have a 230v power charger on board as a back-up)
  • Binoculars if you have them (we have a pair on board but if you have your own please bring them).

These are recommended for our full day trips:

  • Your own lunch (either a packed lunch or food brought for cooking on our free communal onboard BBQ)
  • Swimming gear is optional (and recommended) in summer *
  • Wetsuits and snorkelling gear if you are proficient *

*Note that extra items can be left on the boat while you participate in our water sports on our full day cruises.

What is included?
All of our cruises include:

  • Cruising on our comfortable vessel BAY EXPLORER.
  • Department of Conservation permit: We have a government permit to view dolphins whales and seals, we will spend time with these mammals whenever we see them.
  • The shared knowledge and passion of our professional and experienced captain and crew.
  • Onboard books and resources
  • An onboard licensed bar where you can purchase cold beer, chilled regional wine and much more.

Our full day cruise also includes:

  • Anchoring in a secluded island bay, where we can use Paddle Boards and Kayaks
  • Use of our onboard communal BBQ at lunch time
Can I bring my children onboard?

Yes you can! We offer Children's pricing for ages 6-12, and children 5 years and under are $20 for all activities.

If bringing children, please be aware of the following:

  • While our boat is spacious, it is not a playground and children must be supervised at all times.
  • It is not an option to turn around and come back for one passenger, so please only bring your children if you think they will be okay on the boat for the entire duration of the trip.
What happens if I get seasick?
If you have suffered from seasickness in the past, or think you might, then we recommend taking some seasickness medication before the cruise. We also recommend bringing some spare medication with you (read the label carefully as some require that you take the medication the night before). We don’t have any to sell onboard, but you can normally get them from local pharmacies.
What happens if my cruise gets cancelled due to weather?
If we cancel the cruise due to weather we will either postpone you to another day, or offer a refund.
Do you have toilets on board?
Yes. There are two fully-flushing household toilets on board. Male and female toilets
Can we go swimming at the island?
During the summer, if conditions permit, there will be a chance for a swim out at the island.  You are welcome to bring your swimming gear on board and jump in for a dip when we anchor the boat.
Can we go swimming with dolphins?
Swimming with dolphins is not the focus of the cruise. Instead, we encourage watching marine wildlife from the boat. It’s awesome, and environmentally sustainable eco-tourism. Dolphin watching and other wildlife interactions from our boat is a breathtaking experience, made better since the animals are not interfered with. We have found that our massive outdoor cruise deck aboard the Bay Explorer is ideal for viewing dolphins and all wildlife.

Of note, any swimming with wild common dolphins is difficult to execute and largely constrained by legalities. By law, NO SWIMMING with dolphins is allowed if there is the presence of juveniles (under the Marine Mammal Protection Act).  However these young animals are adorable to watch and witness from the comfort of the boat..

NOTE: NO commercial operator can offer swimming with dolphins that have juveniles present in the pod, and juveniles are often present over summer months.  You must be made legally aware of this if booking with other operators.

How do you find marine mammals?
With over 20 years experience and research undertaken, our crew are experienced and knowledgeable. Finding marine mammals in the Bay of Plenty is a study of the food chain, and requires an understanding of tidal flows and current movements.

 

 

Most importantly, finding wildlife relies on a keen eye and an ability to keep focused on the water; it requires concentration as there is nothing really to focus on the sea and 360° viewing with an infinity of water, but a trained eye can pick up the slightest movement up to a 2km away. Finding the local seabirds and schooling fish can be the gateway to finding dolphins on our safari. It requires an understanding of tidal flows and current movements to find fish and birds. Often you must rely on your own instinct from many encounters in past days. Sometimes we receive information from other vessels out in the Bay who have spotted animals on their own travels.

What research do you conduct?
We work with the Department of Conservation, collecting data with every encounter about the marine mammals, their environment and their behaviors. Our business also enables research to be carried out for Masters and PhD studies, supporting students at Toi Ohomai and the University of Waikato in their Marine Studies.
Are marine mammals endangered?
Marine mammals face many outside threats, ranging from commercial whaling to captivity, ship strikes and pollution. Fortunately in New Zealand there is a very strong advocacy to protect these animals. Legislation has been established to help the protection of species and habitat. There are many ways to reduce impact on these animals with the right understanding of their biology and behaviour.  All crew members of the Bay Explorers are marine enthusiasts and conservationists.
Do you have educational material on board?
Read our great books and folio about animals, geography, history, and the cultures past and present. We have compiled a selection of material from various publications pertaining to Marine Mammals in NZ and worldwide. This is available to you in open book form, laminated, a living document updated and edited regularly.

Current books include:

  • WONDERS OF THE SEA: THE PROTECTION OF NEW ZEALAND’S MARINE
  • MAMMALS by Kate Mulcahy & Raewyn Peart.
  • DOLPHINS OF AOTEAROA. LIVING WITH NZ DOLPHINS by Raewyn Peart
Can groups go on the tour?
Yes, the Bay Explorer is great for photographic groups, social groups, business groups and conferences etc. It is an ideal activity for a half or whole day outing. We offer a 10% group discount for groups of ten or more. Special educational rates are also available during our low season.  Please contact us for more information.
Is there a maximum age limit or physical ability requirement?
The cruise does not call for a certain amount of physical ability - you can simply sit back and relax and enjoy all that you can see.
(please inform crew however if you have any special medical or physical needs).  Please note that the optional water sport activities will require you to enter the water via an inflatable craft. Our preferred method involves stepping from the vessel onto an inflatable boat and then onto a standup paddle board SUP or onto a kayak. To get back on board, you will need to climb up a ladder up the side of the boat. However - as mentioned - if you require a more passive experience simply stay onboard and relax and observe the beautiful bay, have lunch or snacks and a drink from the licenced bar.
Do these cruises suit everyone?
Yes, everyone!  We have a broad base of clientele who are interested in a full or half day experience; they tend to appreciate all that is the ocean, not just the wildlife encounters. Passengers can choose and participate in any of the water activities we offer on full day cruises, but this is completely optional, so you can define your BEST DAY EVER your way.
Does the vessel accommodate wheelchairs?
Our vessel is not wheelchair friendly in its design but we can accommodate wheelchairs if we know in advance.  Please advise us at point of booking (also inform crew if you have any other special medical or physical needs)
Calendar

Book Your Adventure

Come join us on the water to experience the BEST DAY EVER in the Bay of Plenty!  Use our easy online booking system to secure your spot now!

The Bay Explorer

Bay Explorer are local boat tour specialists who are passionate about all our region has to offer. We are proudly Kiwi owned and operated, with plenty of experience running day trips from Tauranga.

Departure Point

Corner of Wharf Street & The Strand
Tauranga
New Zealand 3110

Ph: 021 605 968
Intnl: +64 21 605 968

Accredited by QUALMARK Tourism New Zealand’s proud mark of excellence.

footer-doc-100pxEndorsed by Department of Conservation New Zealand to interact with marine wildlife.

footer-trip-100pxCheck out the Bay Explorer reviews on Trip Advisor New Zealand!