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Swim with dusky dolphins in Kaikoura

Last updated: 21 March, 2024

Kaikoura is one of the best places in the world to encounter these charismatic mammals as pods of hundreds – sometimes thousands – of wild dusky dolphins cluster every day just off this dramatic coastline. When the boats find dolphins, (or vice versa), conscripts, equipped with snorkels, smartly ease into the water to marvel at the grace of these magnificent creatures, swimming barely an arm’s length away.

If you’d rather stay out of the water, local operators offer an alternative dolphin-watching tour on a bigger, more comfortable, catamaran-style boat.


Price from: £100
Minimum age: 8
Age suitable: 8+
When: All year around
Duration: 3-4 hours

Getting there & doing it

Local operator Dolphin Encounter will provide you with all the equipment you need, but bring your own swimming togs and a towel. Expert guides are on hand to give you advice on getting close to the dolphins without spooking or distributing them. The boats are small and carry no more than 16 snorkellers.

There is a minimum age of 8 for swimming with dolphins, and all participants must be confident swimmers in the open ocean, though it’s still worth going to watch the dolphins from the boat. Take warm clothes on board for when you get out of the water.

In summer especially, tours are popular so book as far ahead as possible.

When to do it

Tours operate all year round, seven days a week, but less frequently in winter (June to August). In winter, however, sea temperatures are a chilly 9°C-12°C. You’ll be given wetsuits, gloves and boots, but it’s cold when you get in.

Who to go with: organised tours


Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Kaikoura Swim with Dolphins Tour from Christchurch

  • Kaikoura

Discover magnificent marine wildlife out on the South Pacific Ocean during this 12-hour Kaikoura dolphin swim from Christchurch. Travel through the rolling hills of North Canterbury to the rugged coastline of Kaikoura — the perfect place to view New Zealand’s dolphins, seals and birdlife in the wild. With warm wetsuit on, hop aboard your boat and learn from your guide the tricks used to encourage interaction with the graceful and curious dolphins. Dive to the depths below, snorkel over the waves and savor the joy of sharing the dolphins’ natural habitat.

Price NZ$395

Min age 0

Rating 4.47 / 5 [19 ratings]

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