New Zealand

Dolphin Encounter


At Dolphin Encounter you get the opportunity to swim with, or just watch, the dusky dolphins in their natural environment off the coast of Kaikoura, New Zealand. Whether you choose to view from the boat or join the dolphins in the ocean, you will have a unique experience that will stay with you for a lifetime!

We at Dolphin Encounter are focused on giving those who take our tour a natural experience, not one that is fabricated, but one where any interaction between man and mammal is on the terms of the mammal. Our tours have two options, watching (viewing) or swimming. Both these options occur on the same boats, they are not separate tours.

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.

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 is second to none.


  • Tours have a total duration of approximately three to three and a half hours and a complete guided commentary is given throughout the tour.
  • On our 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 deck showers and toilets for passenger comfort and have covered areas for protection against the elements.
  • Things to bring on the tour are a swimsuit and towel (if swimming), gear bag, warm clothing and camera.
  • 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 5 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 8 years of age.
  • All snorkeling gear and wetsuits are provided and although snorkeling 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 snorkeling knowledge is a definite advantage.

Opening hours

  • Summer (November to April) - Tours operate three times per day, weather permitting, at 5.30am, 8.30am and 12.30pm
  • Winter (May to October) - Tours operate two times per day, weather permitting, at 8.30am and 12.30pm
  • Encouter Kairkoura will be closed on Christmas Day

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