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Updated 8:43PM 07 July, 2020


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Light breeze at 6.84km/h

Today's Scheduled Trips

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Watch the 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.



 Watching Kaikoura's dusky dolphins has a uniqueness all of its own.

The opportunity to join the tour as a watcher provides spectacular viewing of these acrobatic and energised dolphins. Also witnessing the interaction between swimmers and dolphins is a fascinating experience and could quite accurately be described as the most incredible dolphin show you are likely to see.

Watchers and swimmers travel on the same boat so if someone in your group prefers to watch rather than swim, this is not a problem as all guest will travel together.

The boats are specifically built with optimum viewing in mind and have upstairs decks as well as walk around bows to enable you to capture the perfect images.

The acrobatic displays of the Dusky dolphins will captivate your heart and put a smile on your face.

How to get the Most from your Dolphin Watching Experience

If you have decided that swimming is not for you, watching the dolphins and the people swimming with them has an appeal all of its own.

The displays of acrobatic behaviour, the leaps and somersaults and the peculiar repetitive displays of jumps and tail slapping, provide the most incredible oceanic dolphin show on earth. Not to mention the strange mix of singing and “dolphin-like” sounds that the swimmers are encouraged to make to attract the dolphins’ attention, is hilarious to see. The images you can capture by staying on board and taking in the entertainment all around you is something delightfully unique and unlike anything you will have seen before!

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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 Dolpins

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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Kaikoura is renowned for an abundance of wildlife and we do have a very high success rate of locating the dusky dolphins. If for some reason we are not successful in locating the dolphins (due to such things as deteriorating weather conditions) you will receive a refund. All our tours are subject to a minimum operational cost.


The Dolphin Encounter tours are approximately 3.5 hours duration and the time spent on the ocean will be approximately 2.5 hours.The length of time spent swimming with the dolphins can be up to 40 minutes but this depends on the travel time to the dolphins, the sea conditions of the day and the dolphin behaviour at the time of the tour.

Tours operate daily at 5.30am (sunrise tour), 8.30am and 12.30pm

Three tours per day operate in the high season (November to April) and two tours per day operate in the low season (May to October). The best time of day to do the tour is either 5.30am or 8.30am if possible. The reasons for this are that the sea conditions tend to be calmer in the day and the dolphins can be more interactive, but the number of dolphins does not usually vary too much from tour to tour.

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



3 years to 14 years inclusive (Note: Ages are subject to sea conditions of the day and restrictions can apply)

* (Please note this pricing is valid to 30 November 2018)

Dolphin Encounter Tours operate daily at 5.30am (sunrise tour), 8.30am and 12.30pm. Find information and tips on how to prepare for your tour.

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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.