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Encounter Foundation

About Dolphin Encounter

Encounter Kaikoura is a locally owned business. The partners involved in Encounter Kaikoura are Ian Bradshaw, Dennis Buurman and his wife Lynette. All three are long time residents of Kaikoura having grown up and been educated in the region.


Ian, Lynette and Dennis

Ian Bradshaw, along with Dennis’ brother Rik Buurman, were the first to make specific ‘swim with the dolphin’ tours in New Zealand, back in the summer of 1989-90. In the early days the tours operated under the name of “Dolphin Mary Charters” and the venture was a combined scuba diving, fishing and dolphin swimming operation. In the year of 1991 Dennis and his wife Lynette joined Ian and Rik and the operation was renamed Dolphin Encounter® and by this time the operation had become a full time dolphin swimming and watching venture.

In 2000 Rik decided to move on to other things and sold his share to the other partners. Dolphin Encounter is a unique collaboration where the partners brought a range of talents that fitted neatly into providing the necessary skills to successfully operate and develope the Dolphin Encounter experience.

The Dolphin Encounter Experience

The early days

We at Dolphin Encounter® are focused on giving those who take our tour a natural experience, not one that is fabricated. Our encounters with the wild dusky dolphins of Kaikoura are completely natural, we do not feed or entice the dolphins in order to get the dolphins to interact with the swimmers.  Any interaction between man and mammal is completely on the terms of the dolphins.

We live in a time when ‘Eco Tourism’ has become the latest catch phrase and entrepreneurs throughout New Zealand and the world are seizing upon opportunities to create activities that involve interaction with wild animals in their natural environment. In pursuing these ventures we must not lose sight of the fact we are taking a liberty, which although regulated in many instances, is a privilege. For this reason we have a duty to value those animals we come into contact with by giving them the respect they deserve.

Our Mission Statement 

 Dusky dolphins at their best.  © Dolphin Encounter
Dusky Dolphins
© Dolphin Encounter

Dusky dolphins at their best.

To provide a quality experience that:

  • Imparts an awareness and appreciation of the dusky dolphin, its characteristics, behavioural patterns and biology.
  • Provides an understanding of the unique undersea features that are pivotal to the existence of the prolific marine life off the Kaikoura Coast.
  • Draws the visitor's attention to threats posed by man to the marine mammal's environment worldwide, illustrated with examples and any relevant up to date information. 
  • Motivates those who participate to take action in working to protect the wellbeing of the world’s natural marine environment and its inhabitants.