Dolphin Encounter Kaikoura - Swim with Dolphins Cruise

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Full details

As incredible opportunity to swim and interact with dolphins in stunning, natural surroundings

Get ready for the experience of a lifetime, swimming and interacting with playful Dusky Dolphins in their natural environment off the coast of Kaikoura.

Our guide to Dolphin Encounter Kaikoura - Swim with Dolphins Cruise

Departing from Kaikoura in your comfortable, purpose-built vessel, which boasts plenty of cover if the weather takes a turn for the worse, head out to the Pacific Ocean and keep your eyes peeled!

Dusky Dolphins inhabit these coastal waters all year round, offering wonderful views, envy-inducing photo opportunities and, of course, the chance to join these incredible mammals in the water.

Once the friendly crew have located your new swimming buddies, don a wetsuit and snorkel (equipment provided) and take an unforgettable swim.

Depending on the dolphin's behaviour, you will usually spend 20-40 minutes in the water as the creatures playfully interact with the group and swim among you.

What's more, other marine mammals such as orca (killer whales), pilot whales, New Zealand fur seals, and Hector’s dolphins are occasionally spotted on the voyage while a full guided commentary is given throughout keeping you in the loop.

Please note - if you do not wish to swim with the dolphins but would still like to see these amazing creatures in their natural environment, please see our Kaikoura Dolphin Watch Cruise for a non-swim ticket option.


Daily year round. Does not operate on 25th December.

Start times

8.30am or 12.30pm. There is an additional 5.30am departure from November to April.


Approximately 3.5 hours.

Terms and conditions

Terms and conditions for Dolphin Encounter Kaikoura - Swim with Dolphins Cruise

  • Please follow the instructions on your voucher.
  • IMPORTANT: You must be a competent swimmer and be able to swim on your front without the aid of a life jacket. You will, however, be provided with a wetsuit which will aid buoyancy. 
  • A reasonable level of snorkelling experience is required.
  • The minimum age for swimming is 8.
  • All tours are dependent on suitable sea and weather conditions.
  • Management of Kaikoura Dolphin Watch reserve the right to restrict the age limit of those participating on the tour if sea conditions are such that it is not suitable for young children to participate.
  • The skipper for the Kaikoura Dolphin Watch may decide on the day of your tour that sea conditions are unsuitable for a child to be on board. Kaikoura Dolphin Watch is unable to provide this information earlier than at the tour time and there is no charge for the cancellation of your reservation if Kaikoura Dolphin Watch deems it unsafe for the child to be on board.
  • Seasickness is not grounds for seeking a refund for the tour.
  • All swimmers participating in the Dolphin Encounter tour are required to complete a medical disclaimer form before joining the trip.
  • If you are asthmatic or have a respiratory condition and are prescribed an inhaler, you will be required to have your inhaler with you on the day in order to participate in a tour.
  • Cancellation Policy: Free cancellations for bookings cancelled prior to your holiday departure date. No refunds are given for cancellations made post departure.


Frequently Asked Questions for Dolphin Encounter Kaikoura - Swim with Dolphins Cruise

  • How long do we spend swimming with the dolphins?
    The total swimming time will depend on a number of factors - The dolphins behaviour at the time, travel time to the dolphins and the sea conditions. Generally, if the dolphins are interactive, the swim time can be 20 – 40 minutes.
  • Is there a better time of day to do a tour?
    Will there be more dolphins in the morning or afternoon?Generally we recommend the morning (5.30am and 8.30am) tours as sea conditions can be calmer and dolphins can be more interactive, but the number of dolphins does not vary too much from tour to tour.
  • How close do you actually get to the dolphins?
    Quite close, usually about an arm’s length away. The dolphins are extremely good at judging distance in the water and will come very close to you without touching you.
  • Will I be able to touch the dolphins?
    Swimmers are advised not to try and touch the dolphins and to swim with their arms by their sides. Reaching out to try and touch the dolphins usually causes them to move away from you.
  • What should I bring with me?
    You should bring a bag to take your all your warm clothes, towel, hat, sun glasses and swim suit. Don’t forget your camera (with full battery) and lots of memory space for those fantastic photo opportunities. Video cameras are also a good option.
  • Can I still go if I have a health or mobility condition or impairment?
    This will depend on the extent of your condition or disability and the sea conditions on the day. As a general rule the boats are unable to accommodate wheelchairs, but passengers who are able to sit unaided once on board can be accomodated. To swim with the dolphins participants must be able to move themselves onto and off the boarding platform at the stern of the vessel without assistance. This activity does require a degree of physical fitness and the client must have the ability to swim in the open ocean, preferably with snorkeling expirence.
  • Is there a dolphin season?
    Dusky dolphins can be seen all year round in Kaikoura, however the water temperature does change seasonally. In summer the temperature can reach 87C and go down as low as 26 C in winter.
  • Can my child swim?
    Absolutely, but as this is a open ocean experience there is an age limit for participating in the dolphin swimming activity, which is 8 years of age. Children should be accompanied by an adult at all times. Management reserve the right to impose greater restrictions should sea conditions deteriorate.

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