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Updated 8:40PM 07 July, 2020


Light rain showers
Light breeze at 5.76km/h

Today's Scheduled Trips

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Swim with Wild Dolphins

In their own environment.

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COVID-19 & EARTHQUAKE REPAIRS: We are temporarily unable to operate Dolphin Encounter Tours, whist our operating base is closed for earthquake repairs.  At this stage we are accepting bookings for regular daily scheduled tours from 1st October 2020 and we hope to move this date forward in due course.

Meanwhile, we are pleased to offer an alternative - our NEW COASTAL ENCOUNTER TOUR :

  • This two hour tour takes you out into Kaikoura’s beautiful blue backyard. Join our friendly crew aboard to learn about our unique marine environment.  Enjoy great photographic opportunities along the stunning scenic coastline and against the Kaikoura Seaward Range mountain backdrop.  The journey will encounter some of the wildlife Kaikoura is famous for,  and may include dolphins, NZ Fur Seals, albatross and other pelagic birds.
  • Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our guests and our team and we will be complying with public health guidelines. We thank you for your patience and understanding whilst we undertake the extra measures required to do this.
  • We are reducing the number of passengers we welcome aboard each tour to ensure there is space for all participants to maintain appropriate social distance. We are also adding extra measures to our vessel and equipment cleaning and disinfection procedures. Hand sanitiser will be available on board and you are welcome to bring your own along too.
  • Encounter Kaikoura requires that all passengers consider themselves medically fit to be able to participate in a tour.
  • If any customers are feeling unwell or displaying any symptoms of being unwell, the crew reserve the right to refuse passage and in this instance a full refund will be given.
  • All passengers must comply with instructions given by the crew and maintain distancing from their immediate group as required by current government guidelines.
  •  We will not be supplying refreshments on board but customers are welcome to bring their own food and beverage (alcohol excluded).

Depending on customer support, we hope to continue to offer this temporary tour initially every weekend, subject to both weather and minimum numbers, until such time as we can resume our normal tour operation.  

Weekend Coastal Encounter departures can be booked online now subject to availability.

We can also schedule both private charters and additional standard Coastal Encounter tour departures for a minimum group size or minimum operating fare,  Please email to book these options and with any queries and for more information.



Swimming with dolphins is a unique and sought after activity often being described as a life-changing experience; creating the most special and heart-warming memories of any activity.

There is a limit of just 16 swimmers on each vessel with plenty of additional space for watching. We have three dolphin swimming vessels and are able to operate up to three tours per day. Please book your dolphin swim seats as soon as you can. There is no shortage of seats available for watching the dolphins so advance bookings for watching is not so essential. Both swimmers and watchers travel on the same boat.

Please book as far in advance as possible to avoid disappointment.

Find information and tips on how to prepare for your tour.

Our guide on how to interact with wild Dusky Dolphins

The Dolphin Encounter tour is focused on respecting the dolphins in their natural environment

While the dolphins will come very close to you we don’t recommend that you try and touch them but rather, the best idea is to swim with your arms at your side. If you reach out to touch them this will usually cause the dolphins to move away. The dolphins are curious and we encourage swimmers in the water to make some noises, for example, singing a favourite song or making a dolphin like noise through your snorkel can attract the dolphins close to you.

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What do others say about their encounter?

""Totally unforgettable.""
""Bestest boat experience ever.""
""The highlight of our whole trip to New Zealand.""

When you encouter the dolphins, you leave transformed. Share the experience.

Kaikoura Dolphins

The types of dolphins you can expect to see.

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Photos and videos from previous tours!

Dolphin Conservation

Protect our very special environment.

Fantastic Local Fare

Coffee and dining at our café, right on the waterfront

Key things to know before your tour

Check out our top tips before the adventure!

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Your Unique Kaikoura Experience

Dolphin Encounter Tours

Dolphin Encounter Swim



15 years and upwards



8 years to 14 years inclusive

Dolphin Encounter Watch



15 years and upwards



5 years to 14 years inclusive

* (Please note this pricing is valid to 30 September 2019)

Dolphin Encounter Tours operate daily at 5.30am (sunrise tour), 8.30am and 12.30pm. For everything you need to know about your tour click here.

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Caring for Our Natural Environment

Caring for Our Natural Environment

We are privileged to have the abundance of marine life here in Kaikoura and we don’t take this for granted. In 2009 we established the Encounter Foundation specifically to support organizations and groups that are actively working on projects that result in improving the health of the natural environment through conservation, education and research.

We donate a portion of each customer fare to the Encounter Foundation to support worthy projects which make an impact on ensuring our environment is preserved and treasured for future generations.

Thank you for enabling us to do this – your support of our business is making a difference in a very positive way.