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“Simply amazing!”
Review of Dolphin Encounter

Dolphin Encounter
Ranked #1 of 27 Tours in Kaikoura
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Owner description: Swim with the dolphins in their natural environment or watch their acrobatic displays form the comfort of the boat.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Activities for older children
Bracknell, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
37 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Simply amazing!”
Reviewed November 6, 2013

Our trip was on a wet grey November day but it was still amazing. We saw literally hundreds of dolphins, right by the boat. The swimmers got to interact with them at close range, and the watchers on the boat got a ringside view. The staff were all excellent, really friendly & knowledgable, always managing a great balance between safety focus and customer service. If you are in Kaikoura & can only afford one experience, do this! One tip; if you are worried about seasickness go to the local pharmacy & buy Kaikoura Cracker - it really works!

Visited November 2013
Thank BobLiz15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Level Contributor
17 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Worth every penny!”
Reviewed November 4, 2013 via mobile

This is by far one of the most amazing things I've ever done! The staff are excellent and couldn't have been more helpful, id never used a snorkel before and they did there best to help teach us everything we needed to know before getting into the water! While in the water you swam around making lots of noise to entertain the dolphins and you get right up close to swim around with them it was the most amazing experience ever with so many dolphins everywhere! The staff take great care of you with hot chocolate and ginger biscuits and help with all your gear and tips on attracting dolphins! Hot water on the boat to warm up before you get changed is a nice touch!

Visited November 2013
Thank kevinots
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bristol, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
30 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“An experience like no other”
Reviewed October 19, 2013

It took a couple of attempts, waiting for the winter winds to calm and the dolphins to be close-by, but at last we made it out on the Dolphin Encounter and enjoyed the most enchanting trip imaginable. The water is cold at this time of year, but you quickly forget about that once you plunge your head beneath the waves and start interacting with the 200+ dolphins swimming around you.

From start to finish the staff behind reception, and the guides on the boat (Gary and Ed) were incredibly attentive, entertaining and friendly, with plenty of interesting information on the dolphins provided during the photo session after the swim. Thanks so much for this expereince!

Visited October 2013
Thank ruthe451
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Calgary, Canada
Level Contributor
33 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 84 helpful votes
Reviewed October 16, 2013

Amazing experience swimming with 200-300 wild dolphins. We had to travel around 45 mins to get to the dolphins and to be in the water with them was amazing. Everything is well organized. The trip consists of several short swims with the dolphins where you must try to entertain the dolphins by diving, making noise, etc and once the dolphins swim away you get on the boat and they spot more pods for you to swim. Then they try to find a pod of them where we can watch the dolphins playing and we can take photos. They are very upfront about refunds if you cannot swim with them or don't see any as they only have a permit for a certain area where they can find the dolphins. We went on the morning tour with great success. When we went out fishing in the afternoon I saw the group coming back early with wet suits still on. They respect the dolphins and we just get to see how the dolphins and play. Staff was great and had great information to share about the dolphins. A highlight of my trip I highly recommend this trip.

Visited October 2013
Thank Rabbit G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
33 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
“Amazing experience - a must in Kaikoura”
Reviewed October 10, 2013

Kaikoura has many things to offer, and we had only a few a days and chose to do this. No regrets at all.

- reasonably priced (compared to other activities)
- well organized (all the safety instruction, logistics and administration is planned out to a T so everything goes very very smoothly - even down to the details, e.g., providing blankets, ginger biscuits and hot cocoa on the ride back was just great - they even took extra care of kids who got seasick)
- very helpful and informative staff (they actually know about dolphins)
- they are very upfront and straightforward about their cancellation and refund policies (e.g., if you don't see dolphins or if they don't swim and interact with you)
- very eco-friendly (they operate on a permit system and don't do anything to coax the dolphins to come to you or play with you - the dolphins just live there - which is very comforting)
- overall really fun and amazing experience (how often do you get to boat along with a pod of 200+ dolphins??)

Bottomline: compared to other outdoorsy activities in NZ we did, this stood out among the rest as being not only comparably and reasonably priced, but just overall the most well-organized and fun overall.

Tip for travellers: if you even think you get a little seasick, definitely take some dramamine before your trip - the ocean can get choppy. Also - so you know what to expect - the swimming with the dolphins actually takes place as a series of short swims as you follow a pod of dolphins in their normal travel. Assuming you find a pod (there are spotters that will ID one likely before you go out), you catch up to them - stop, and jump in the water - and then it is your job to entertain them. making noises, swimming around and diving etc. and they stick around and eventually they swim off. Then you catch up to them and repeat. a boat is allowed a max of 5 swims to prevent excessive bothering of the dolphins, which is good and enough - and each swim can be anywhere from a few minutes to 10-15 I think. In the spring when water is 8 degrees - even with a full wetsuit, even three swims was good enough for me and the view from the boat was just as wonderful.

Visited October 2013
Thank Steve S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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