Dolphin Encounters Kaikoura - NZ Travel
Dolphin Encounters Kaikoura

Located on the east coast of the South Island, Kaikoura is one of the most picturesque places in New Zealand. It is famous for the spectacular marine life that inhabits the coastline including whales, dolphins, albatross, penguins, fur seals and orca. Encounter Kaikoura has been providing boat tours to swim with and watch the dusky dolphins and other wildlife since 1989.



Location: 96 Esplanade, Kaikoura.


Distance from Town: 15 minutes walk.


Departures: Daily. Closed Christmas Day. Please refer to individual tours for departure times.


Food and Beverage:   Cafe Encounter, a fully licensed cafe is located at the main complex in Kaikoura.

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Help Notes:

  • Please reconfirm your booking 48 hours prior to your tour.
  • Report time is 30 minutes prior to departure at the office.
  • Tours are subject to suitable sea conditions on the day and minimum passenger numbers. If we cancel due to unsuitable conditions a full refund will be available.
  • If you are concerned about potentially being seasick, we recommend a visit to the local chemist to buy a "Kaikoura Cracker". Amazing stuff!!

Important Information: All commercial activities involving the taking of passengers to view or swim with marine mammals in New Zealand must have Department of Conservation permits. These permits determine the number of trips per day permissible, the times and duration of tours and the particular marine mammal species allowed to be viewed. In reference to swimming with marine mammals, these permits also determine the number of swimmers allowed in the water at any one time. All operations with the marine mammals come under the regulations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act 1992. These regulations govern the behaviour of vessels around marine mammals in New Zealand and cover such things as; no more than 3 vessels within 300m of any whale, pod of whales or pod of dolphins; the speed and direction in which vessels may approach marine animals; as well as many other operating conditions.

Available Activities:
Dolphin Encounter


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Swim with the dusky dolphins in their natural environment or watch their acrobatic displays from the comfort of the boat. We have the highest success rate of swimming with the dolphins in New Zealand and you are sometimes lucky enough to see other marine mammals such as Orca (Killer Whales), Pilot Whales, fur seals and Hector's dolphins.  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!

Minimum Numbers: 3-6

Maximum Numbers: Subject to change depending on regulations for the day.

Suitable for Disabled Clients: No

Departures: Tours operate at 8.30am and 12.30pm (May to October) with an additional tour at 5.30am in summer (November to April). Tour duration is approximately 3 - 3 1/2 hours.

Inclusions: All snorkeling gear and wetsuits are provided.  Our boats are fitted with hot deck showers and toilets for passenger comfort.

What to Bring: Swimsuit and towel (if swimming), gear bag, warm clothing and camera. 

Suitable for Children: Yes. Children 5 years old and over may participate in dolphin watching if an adult is able to accompany them at all times. Children 8 years old and over may participate in swimming with the dolphins. Please note sea conditions on the day will also determine whether they are able to participate.

Special Conditions: To swim on the tour passengers must be confident open ocean swimmers. Although snorkeling 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. 

Albatross Encounter


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The dedicated Albatross Encounter vessel has been adapted for maximum wildlife viewing opportunities and on board identification guides and brings you up close to a diverse array of seabirds including albatross, petrels, shearwaters, shags, terns and gulls. These species all occur naturally within a close proximity of the Kaikoura Peninsula. Kaikoura's marine environment is home to more seabird species in a small area than anywhere else in the New Zealand.

Minimum Numbers: 3

Maximum Numbers: 14

Suitable for Disabled Clients: No

Departures: Tours operate at 9.00am and 1.00pm (May to October), with an additional tour at 6.00am in the summer (November to April). Tour duration is approximately 2 1/5 hours.

Inclusions: Hot chocolate, biscuits, species checklist, information pack and postcard.

Suitable for Children: Yes. Suitable for children over 3 years of age.

Information displayed on these pages are representative of products and services available through ANZCRO. ANZCRO does not take responsibility for failure of any individual products or services to provide accurate information, or for the accuracy of photographs supplied by the product/service providers for use in these pages.