Dolphin Encounter, Kaikoura

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Dolphin Encounter Tours, Kaikoura

Dolphin Encounter offers tours to swim with and watch wild dusky dolphins in their natural environment off the coast of Kaikoura, New Zealand.

Swimming with dolphins in the open ocean was an idea that started here in Kaikoura back in the summer of 1989/1990.  Since that time Dolphin Encounter has taken many thousands of visitors to fulfil a dream of a lifetime, that of swimming with or watching the dusky dolphins.  The dusky dolphins species are described as the most acrobatic of all the dolphin species and customers are amazed and delighted by the leaps and somersaults that are typical of the dolphins daily activity routine.

Dusky dolphins are found in the coastal waters of Kaikoura all year round and the size of the pods can vary from between 50 dolphins to 2000 dolphins depending on the time of year and the behaviour of the dolphins.

The Dolphin Encounter tour offers two options – swimming with the dolphins or watching the dolphins.  Whether you choose to swim or watch, you will not be disappointed.  Both options are offered on the same boat so if some of your party wish to watch and some wish to swim, they can all travel together.

Dolphin Watching

This is a great option for clients who prefer not to get wet or perhaps are not confident swimmers or experienced snorkelers.  The dolphin aerial activity is spectacular and the grace and beauty of the dolphins will warm your heart and bring a constant smile to your face!  Prepare to be entertained and of course the photography opportunities are incredible enabling memories to be created that will stay with you for a lifetime.

Dolphin Swimming

If swimming is your preference, then please make sure you book the tour well in advance as the number of swimmers on each boat is limited to just 16.  This is governed by the Department of Conservation permits which all commercial operators have to hold in order to operate with marine mammals.  We provide you with a wetsuit, mask, fins and a snorkel and we also have towels available to hire if you need one.  Swimming with the dusky dolphins is one of life’s special opportunities and the dolphins are generally really sociable.  The swim option is in high demand so please book well ahead to avoid disappointment. 

GoPro cameras are also available for hire to capture outstanding images and videos of your time with the dolphins.  It is advisable to book camera hire at the same time as booking a tour to be sure you don’t miss out.

Our success rate of locating dolphins and swimming with them is very high. possibly the highest of any operation in New Zealand. Tours operate every day with the exception of Christmas day which is the only day of the year we are closed.

Dolphin Encounter Tour Times and Prices

(quoted in NZ$, subject to change)

  • Summer 5.30am, 8.30am and 12.30pm
  • Winter 8.30am and 12.30pm
  From 1 Dec 2016

Adult Swimming


Child Swimming (8-14 yrs)


Adult Watching


Child Watching (3-14 yrs)


Dolphin Encounter, Kaikoura Enquiry Form


96 Esplanade

Phone: +64 3 319 6777

Freephone: within NZ: 0800 733 365


Web: Visit website

Dolphin Encounter, Kaikoura Enquiry Form