Finding Māui's

How do I enter?

You'll automatically go in the draw to win a Go Pro Hero camera when you make a sighting.

If you think you’ve seen a Māui’s dolphin phone 0800 DOC HOT. You can also download WWF's mobile app or submit your sighting on the Department of Conservation's website.

A second chance to win…

For another chance to enter the draw, use this guide to find out if you have seen a Māui’s dolphin that scientists have already identified. If your dolphin isn’t on the list, it’s all the more reason to send your photo in.

To enter the second chance competition, email your photo with your name, phone number and which Māui’s you think you saw to online@forestandbird.org.nz. The competition closes at 5pm on the 20th of March 2016. Photos may be shared on social media.

What do they look like?

Look for the "mickey mouse" round dorsal fin that identifies Māui's dolphin from the common dolphin. Their bodies have distinctive grey, white, and black markings and a short snout.

Use our guide to identify individual dolphins.

Where do they live?

Māui's prefer shallow waters, which means you may see them while you're out fishing, surfing or swimming this summer. They may be in river mouths, estuaries, harbours and shallow bays but are also known to be well off-shore. They're found off the west coast of the North Island - between the Whanganui River in the South and Dargaville in the North.

Why are sightings important?

DOC keeps a database of Māui dolphin sightings that goes back to the 1970s. Sightings help them understand the distribution of Māui's dolphins. In some cases, DNA can be collected and a method called DNA fingerprinting used to distinguish individuals. This 

way, they may be able to tell if this dolphin has been sighted in the past, improving our knowledge of their movement patterns.

How do I record a sighting?

If you think you’ve seen a Māui’s dolphin phone 0800 DOC HOT. You can also download WWF's mobile app or submit your sighting on the Department of Conservation's website.

What should I record?

The more information you can provide, the easier it will be for DOC to confirm the sighting and use it for scientific research. Make sure to include the following information:

  • Location (a GPS coordinate if possible)
  • A photo or video Any landmarks (include them in photos if possible)
  • The number of dolpins
  • The date and time

Try to remain in the vicinity of the dolphins if you can - but don't chase or harass them. Keep speed to a minimum and avoid sudden changes in direction. DOC staff may attempt to make radio or phone contact with you and take a genetic sample on arrival.