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Albatross Encounter. Birding experts say that when the conditions are right Kaikoura is one of the leading pelagic (oceangoing) bird-watching destinations in the world. It's also one of the most accessible, as the birds come close to shore to feed. Albatross Encounter operates tours by boat to view these birds, including several albatross species and the Hutton's shearwater, which disperses all around the world yet breeds only in the Seaward Kaikoura Range. Tours last 2½ hours and operate daily at 9 am and 1 pm, plus, in summer, at 6 pm. It's an intimate encounter with some of the planet's most spectacular birds. Longer, specialist tours are available by arrangement. Book on their website or at the Encounter Kaikoura headquarters, café, and gallery (great bird photographs available here, taken by company founder, Dennis Buurman), where you can also book to swim with dolphins. 96 The Esplanade, Kaikoura, 7300. 03/319–6777 or 0800/733–365. www.encounterkaikoura.co.nz. NZ$115.
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