on April 6, 2006
Amazing, amazing, amazing. That was the one word that we kept repeating over and over again after going on the Dolphin Encounter. It was absolutely... well, amazing. I've never experienced anything like it before.You start off getting into a wetsuit (which can be a task in itself), and then having a short orientation about what to do and what not to do when you are in the water. Then you get on a bus for a short ride, and then onto the boat. In our case, once we got on the boat, we were in for a 15-minute ride through the thick fog, every once in a while with the guide shouting, "Oh look, an albatross!" When we eventually found our spot (and the other boat), we weren't even too far from land (which, I would find out later, was a very good thing).Then, we fitted our snorkels and masks on, and the boat blew its horn, and we were off. I don't know which was more hilarious--watching the dolphins themselves, or the people that were swimming with them. They told us that if we dove deep into the water or sang to the dolphins that they would be more likely to play with us. So if you're on the boat, you see a bunch of idiots floundering around singing "Dooooo yoooooooou speeeeeeeaaaaaak dollllllllphiiiiiiiin" through their snorkels. Haha.We got to jump out of the boat at two or three different places when the pod of dolphins was coming towards us and then swim around while 300 or so dolphins swam around us, and in some cases, in quick circles around us until we got dizzy and had to stop. Nothing can really describe that feeling.Afterwards, while we were all basking in what we had just experienced, we got to sit on the boat and drink hot chocolate and watch the dolphins as they swam. My friend's advice: don't try to take pictures and drink hot chocolate at the same time on a boat. Cameras and hot drinks don't mix, and she didn't have a camera for the rest of New Zealand. No good. I found out at this point that me and small boats don't agree, but conveniently, they have buckets and very close land to stare at. That helped me out immensely and I managed to enjoy the dolphins, but not nearly as much as they were enjoying themselves.When we got back to the Dolphin Encounter place we got a few free postcards and a $10 coupon for anything in the store, so of course we bought t shirts to show-off what we had just done. And when I say free, I mean it cost $115NZ, but again, worth every penny. My advice: BOOK IN ADVANCE. That's a must, because it fills up quickly and there was hardly any room for walk-ins on our day. But seriously, if IGoUGo had higher than "Very Highly Recommended," that's what I would rate the dolphin swim.
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