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Swim With Dolphins Kaikoura, New Zealand


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NZ Freephone:

0800 733 365


+64 3 319 6777


96 Esplanade
New Zealand

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Dolphin Encounter Introduction

Dolphin Encounter is a locally owned business. The partners are: Ian Bradshaw, Dennis Buurman and his wife Lynette. All three are long-time residents of Kaikoura, having grown up and been educated in the region.

We have been operating watch or swim with dolphin tours in Kaikoura since the summer of 1989 to 1990 and have developed a wealth of experience in introducing visitors to the delights of a wonderful marine environment, close to our beautiful coastline.

Swimming with, or watching, the dusky dolphins is something very special and makes one realise that we must treasure our oceans and the inhabitants within them. If we don't, we risk losing another of the world's creations, that once gone, will never be restored.

Swim With Dolphins in Kaikoura Tours

Dolphin Watching – The opportunity to go out and watch the dusky dolphins from our boats, gives visitors wonderful views of these spectacular and acrobatic dolphins. As well as this, there is the opportunity to witness any interaction between the dolphins and swimmers, who are also on the same boat.

Dolphin Swimming – The dusky dolphins inhabit the coastal waters off Kaikoura all year round, making Kaikoura a unique place in the world where wild dolphins can be encountered every day, weather permitting. It is this fact that sets our operation apart; our success rate of swimming with dolphins in Kaikoura is second to none.

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Kaikoura Dolphin Encounter Information

Dolphin Acrobats Swim With Dolphins in Kaikoura Dolphin Encounter
  • Tours have a total duration of approximately three and a half hours and a complete guided commentary is given throughout the tour.
  • On our Kaikoura dolphin tours you are sometimes lucky enough to see other marine mammals such as orca (killer whales), pilot whales, New Zealand fur seals, and Hector's Dolphins.
  • Our boats are fitted with hot showers and toilets for passenger comfort and have covered areas for protection against the elements.
  • Things to bring on the tour are warm clothing and cameras plus plenty of film.
  • Our larger boats take 16 swimmers and up to 20 watchers. Our permits restrict us to 13 people in the water at any one time.
  • Due to the seasonal nature of our operation we have heavy demand for our tours throughout the busy tourist season—November to April. It is recommended that bookings be made well in advance during this period.
  • We do not accept children under the age of five years on our tours without prior consultation.
  • Because this is an open ocean experience the age limit for children participating in the swimming with dolphins activity is eight years of age.
  • All snorkelling gear and wetsuits are provided and although snorkelling experience is not a requirement, we remind you that this is an open water experience where a variety of sea conditions can be encountered. Therefore previous snorkelling knowledge is a definite advantage.
  • Dolphin Encounter in Kaikoura operates under a permit system under the jurisdiction of the Department of Conservation. We have our own code of practice so that our operation with the dolphins causes the least possible disturbance to the activities of these wonderful creatures.

The Dolphins You May Encounter

Dolphin Encounter

Kaikoura is blessed by having a variety of marine mammals and a large variety of seabirds (pelagics) within close proximity of its shores. By far the most common marine mammals found in Kaikoura are the dusky dolphins and the sperm whales.

The dusky dolphins are reputed to be amongst the most acrobatic of the dolphin species, and their spectacular leaps, jumps, side slaps and back flips, bring shouts of joy to most who go out to witness their wild and free behaviour.

One of the most spectacular leaps performed by the duskies is its trademark somersault and the duskies will often repeat these acrobatic leaps time and again.

Our Dolphin Encounter Boats

Dolphin Encounter vessel

LissodelphisLissodelphis is a 13-metre catamaran, built in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1998, powered by twin 315HP Volvo diesel engines and has a cruise speed of 22 knots. This vessel takes 16 swimmers and 20 spectators. On board facilities include toilet and shower.

DelphinidaeDelphinidae is a 14-metre mono hull, built in Bluff by Stabi-Craft Marine in February 2003. The boat is powered by a 680HP Volvo diesel motor and has a cruise speed of 22 knots. This vessel takes 16 swimmers and up to 15 spectators. On board facilities include a toilet and deck shower.

KotukuKotuku is a 9-metre mono hull built in Bluff, New Zealand, in 1994, powered by twin 200HP Yamaha outboards and has a cruise speed of 27 knots. This vessel can take 14 passengers. On board facilities include toilet and shower.

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Our Dolphin Encounter Shop

Dolphin Encounter t-shirt

At Dolphin Encounter in Kaikoura we have produced and developed our own unique range of apparel which symbolises the marine mammal environment of the area. Many of our designs are from original images of the whales and dolphins taken by Dolphin Encounter photographer, Dennis Buurman.

Our shop, which doubles as our office and meeting place for our tours, has a wide range of t-shirts, clothing and gifts and much, much more. We have our own range of postcards as well as a great selection of whale and dolphin posters, including the 'Wild and Free' and 'Living Free' posters by Dennis Buurman.

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