Swimming with Dolphins

Old Jan 18th, 2006, 05:46 AM
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Swimming with Dolphins

Whilst staying in Christchurch we can either drive down to Akaroa to go swimming with the Hector Dolphins or drive up to Kaikoura to swim with the Dusky Dolphins. I was thinking Kaikoura would be better (even if it is further) because there may be an opportunity of seeing some whales. What would anyone recommend?
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Old Jan 18th, 2006, 08:10 AM
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I don't know anything about the dolphins in Akaroa, but we went with Dolphin Encounter in Kaikoura on a dolphin-swimming trip. I found them to be very professional and I was impressed with their concern for the dolphins. (As they often reminded everyone--the dolphins will swim with you, if they want to; you don't swim with the dolphins.)
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Old Jan 19th, 2006, 03:03 AM
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aby
 
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dmjapril
mind u though operated by the same company, dolphins & Whales r different tours !!
If u go swim with dolphins u don'y go out to search for Whales.
But if u go on the whale safari u can have a good chance of enjoying duskys on the way (real aerobatic species) though u won't swim with them.
On One of my tours in Kaikoura - a dolphin watch - we stopped to see also the Albatross feeding because it was on our way & because we asked the captain. the other dolphin boat did not do it...
aby
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Old Jan 19th, 2006, 05:42 AM
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Thanks for your posting Aby.
There is just so much to do, you just don't know what to do for the best. After reading through a lot of postings for NZ I've resigned myself to the fact that one 3 week trip is not going to be enough!!!
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Old Jan 19th, 2006, 05:57 AM
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dmjapril I have also come to the realization that 3 weeks is hopelessly inadequate, but there will be many good reasons to return. We will be in NZ late Feb, early Mar. While we will be in S Island, will also have time in Bay of Islands, where they also have dolphin swimming excursions.

Can anyone compare the Akaroa / Kaikoura dolphin experience with that of the BAy of Islands? Thanks.
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Old Jan 21st, 2006, 03:27 AM
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We did both Kaikoura and Bay of Island a few years back.

The Dolphin Encounter in Kaikoura was amzing. It still ranks as one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Longhorn was right - you don't swim with dolphins they swim with you. We were dropped off at the front of a pod of about 300 hundred dolphins who then swim by you. If one takes an interest in you it will slow down and pace you or swim in circles beside you. They keep a very respectful distance of a few inches to a foot (no touching) but to my mind seemed genuinely interested in checking you out to see what you might do. The water was cold and a bit rough (in early October) but we went in about three times on the trip, and then watched them from the boat for about 10-15 minutes. The dolphins seemed to enjoy surfing in front of the boat. I know many are not in favor of swimming with dolphins but I was very impressed with this outfit and their respect for the dolphins and their environment.
In Bay of Island our experience wasn't quite as amazing. The videos of the warm weather encounters looked much more fun than our cold weather swim. We found a small pod of 4-5 dolphins but they were not much interested in us so spent most of their time swimming very quickly away. We enjoyed watching them from the boat and the trip operator was very good. It also combined other viewing of this beautiful area from the boat but we didn't have much luck with the dolphins that day.
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Old Dec 5th, 2006, 08:07 PM
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On the only day we could possibly fit in the tour with Dolphin Encouter, the only booking they have available is 5:30 AM. Does anyone know if there is any advantage or disadvantage to going out this early in the morning? (i.e, are the dolphins more active, less, etc.) I've asked the tour company, but curious to hear if anyone here has an opinion. Thanks!
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 05:21 AM
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xandohead09

When are you trying to book for? We're going to be there in late February 2007 but I don't know when yet so haven't booked. Hope that's not going to be a problem
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 02:19 PM
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Elizabeth-- Book now! We booked months in adv for Jan 06 and got the last two spots.

5:30am is the "best" time because the seas are calmest and there is the smallest chance of cancellation. We went at that time and loved it.
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 03:46 PM
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Tim and Liz - I was afraid someone would say that............OK - now I have to nail down our SI schedule - thanks for the motivation!
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 06:33 PM
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Dolphin Encounter in Kaikoura is fantastic. We did the 5:30 am swim and it was one of the most exhilarating, rewarding experiences of our 3-month trip to NZ. Have a wonderful time!
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 07:11 PM
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Thanks, everyone. The reason the 5:30AM are all that's left is because I'm booking this VERY last minute. We were, however, able to book today for New Year's Eve morning. We will be staying at Christchurch the night before, so we'll likely need to leave at 2AM, but we're adventurous hardy folk, and we should be fine. I'm very much looking forward to it.
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 07:19 PM
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dmjapril,

Swimming with dolpins has to rank up there with my all time favorite experiences! You will love it.

I did Kaikoura, (I was in a car coming down from the North Island) so it was on the way to Christchurch, so I can't comment on Akaroa, even tho I've been to Akaroa, just didn't do the dolphin thing there - but I'm thinking - dolphins / swimming - can't be bad!
I have clients going in February out of Akaroa, so I'll get feedback from them.

Please don't make my mistake though! In Kaikoura you watch a video so you know what to expect, etc, and then you're suited up in a wetsuit that's bouyant. I got rather warm in it and zipped it down to mid-chest level. I completely forgot about this on the boat. They blew the horn for everyone to jump out as the dolphins were approaching and when I hit that water I thought my heart would stop!

It was SO cold (and this was in a NZ summer) - very shocking. It took me a moment to realize what had happened (cold water pouring in),and zipped up my suit. I missed the first "wave" of the pod that zoomed past (you cannot believe how fast they are).

Hope this is helpful!

Regards,

Melodie
Certified Kiwi Specialist
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 07:41 PM
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In March of 06, Bay of Islands, the dolphins had babies in the pod, so they weren't allowing any boats out that would disturb them. Sorry we missed it, but a very good policy, I think.
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Old Dec 19th, 2006, 07:38 AM
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I was able to get a booking for late February/07 - we took the 5:30am excursion - will report back!
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Old Dec 19th, 2006, 08:50 AM
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I'm glad you were able to secure a booking-- we LOVED it!

Liz
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Old Jan 11th, 2007, 03:02 PM
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Hi wlzmatilida
I actually posted the original question back in Jan 06. We went to NZ in Feb/Mar 06(wish we were going back this year). I did the swimming with dolphins (lunchtime slot). The sea was a little choppy but it was the most amazing experience. I couldn't believe how close I was to wild dolphins.
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