Cille Fabert thinks that there’s nothing better than a healthy dose of ocean air, sea spray and wildlife.
The owner of Tauranga-based Dolphin Seafaris, Cille has been sharing the joy of seeing wildlife in their natural habitat for fifteen years. She believes that, more than ever, locals should connect with the ocean that surrounds Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty.
“We’re so lucky to see orca cruising past the Mauao track or under the Matapihi Bridge. How can you not feel a greater appreciation for nature after seeing such beauty in your backyard?”
Dolphin Seafaris offers wildlife tours for patrons to see marine life in its natural habitat, and for those lucky enough, to swim with wild dolphins. The catamaran pushes off from the Tauranga Bridge Marina for the five-hour tour.
Originally a diving instructor from Norway, Cille said that the ocean has always called to her. The Bay of Plenty’s connection to the Pacific Ocean made her feel right at home when she moved here in 2018.
Cille said she particularly loves taking locals out because of the joy it brings to experience their ‘salty backyard’ first time.
“I love hearing how amazed locals are at the beauty of the wildlife in the Bay of Plenty. I’m constantly told that folk who’ve lived here their whole life didn't know that getting out on our ocean you can see dolphins, orca, sharks, sunfish and turtles all in a day.”
In October 2019, Cille chartered new territory when Dolphin Seafaris was the first tourism operator in the North Island to be awarded the Department of Conservation’s SMART accreditation. SMART stands for Sustainable Marine Mammal Actions in Recreation & Tourism and recognises businesses that minimise disturbances on marine animals.
Cille firmly believes that it’s in the best interests of the animals and her business if their interaction can be kept as wild and authentic as possible.
“We love these animals and want to ensure that future generations can marvel at their beauty also,” said Cille.
Dolphin Seafaris also partners with marine conservation charity Project Jonah. A portion of each Dolphin Seafaris booking goes towards Project Jonah. Customers are also given the option to donate to the charity themselves when booking a Dolphin Seafaris tours. Since the partnership began in November 2019, the business has donated over $4,000 to the charity.
Project Jonah is a New Zealand charity founded in 1974 for the purpose of helping marine mammals during strandings. The charity has pioneered rescue techniques that are now used the world over, including in its Marine Mammal Medic course offered at Toi Ohomai in Tauranga. Ten days before the alert level four lockdown began, Project Jonah taught sixty new Marine Mammal Medics funded by Dolphin Seafaris’ donations.
“When I started this business, I made it my mission to contribute to the education of our future guardians of the sea.”
Cille is thrilled to connect with wildlife and the ocean once again, and is hopeful that Kiwis will make the most of having Aotearoa all to themselves for a while.
This story is part of TIA's #TourismChampions campaign. View more inspirational stories here.