Swimming with the Dolphins in Kaikoura

Today, we left Blenheim and our precious cottage to head to Kaikoura.  We are only here for for one night, but we are doing two really fun things!  We are swimming with the dolphins and whale watching!

The drive was only about an hour and a half.  We stopped briefly to look at some fur seals that hang out on the rocks along the edge of the ocean.  They were cute, but after seeing the seal pups a couple days ago, they weren’t as exciting as they would have been otherwise.

As soon as we got to Kaikura, we went straight to Dolphin Encounter.  They fitted us for our wetsuits and showed us a video about what to expect on the trip.  They water is cold here.  Really cold.  I thought that I could just wear my normal wet suit, which 3mm and thicker than most people typically wear in the Caribbean, but I could tell immediately that it wasn’t going to do the trick.  I’m not sure how thick the ones we wore were, but I was not cold at all in the water…..and I am ALWAYS cold.  Not only did I have on a wet suit, but they also gave us a hood to keep our head warm! They told us that the water was 17 degrees Celcius, which is around 62 degrees Farenheight.

The Dolphin Encounter is much different that the typical “swim with the dolphins” activity in Caribbean resorts.  Basically, the boat takes the group out into the ocean and searches for a pod of dusky dolphins.  They do not entice them, feed them, or attract them in any way.  They are very clear about the fact that we are entering their environment.  Sometimes they are interested in us and sometimes they are not.


The dusky dolphin is one of the smallest and rarest dolphins in the world.  They grow to about 3 meters in length and weigh about 90 kg (about the same weight as Moose).

They gave us some instructions about how to attract the dolphins so that they swim with us.  They told us to swim without our arms, make dolphin noises, and dive down into the water.

When the boat reached the dolphins, a horn went off and we all slid from the back of the boat into the water.  I swam my heart out, squeaking and squealing like an injured seal.  I know that I sounded ridiculous, but I wanted to make the most of this adventure.  And there they were.  Hundreds of dolphins swimming around us.  They swam fast, and I tried so hard to keep up with them.  It was incredible.  Every once and a while, I would make eye contact with one and we would swim together.  It’s something that I will never forget.

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Once the dolphins swam away from us, they would blow the horn, and we would all return to the boat.  Then, the boat would take us close to them again, and we would jump out to swim with them.  We repeatd this process five times.  Sometimes, they were more interested than others, but I loved every minute of it.  I could have done it all day.

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Justin, on the other hand, wasn’t feeling too well.  He said that his wet suit was too tight and making his stomach upset.  I think it was the fact that he drank almost a liter of milk before we left Blenheim because he didn’t want it to go bad.

After the dolphin encounter, we checked in to our apartment.  We are staying at The Waves apartment rental.  It is super nice and more “modern” than our last few vacation rentals.  Most importantly, it has an oven, dishwasher, and washer/dryer!

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For dinner, Justin got fish and chips (something that he’s been wanting since we got to  New Zealand).  I got some grilled blue cod.  We both enjoyed it very much!!

Tomorrow, we go whale watching in the morning then head to Akaroa.

See ya then 🙂


2 thoughts on “Swimming with the Dolphins in Kaikoura

  1. The Dolphin Encounter sounds wonderful especially being in their own environment. What an experience! Added to many others. What memories you will have of this amazing trip. NZ is beautiful. I would love to go one day. Glen commented the other day, Maybe we should let Justin plan a trip for us. He has certainly done an unbelievable job. Continue to have fun and enjoy!!

    • It was really amazing, especially since they don’t feed them or entice them to stay around in any way. You and Mr. Glen should definitely plan a trip to NZ. I’m sure Justin could help! I still can’t get over how he planned everything….there are so many details!

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