on May 12, 2010
Whilst in Kaikoura it is worth (if you can) trying to do at least one of the sea life experiences that are available. I was lucky enough to do two the whales (see my review) and swimming with the dolphins.Why would I do both? You may ask but both are very different experiences and both were absolutely fantastic. Swimming with dolphins was a lifetime ambition of mine and I was so pleased to have achieved it. Dolphin Encounter runs tours to view the dolphins, you have a choice of going as a watcher or a swimmer. This means that if you can't swim or don't feel confident in very deep sea water then you can still watch the dolphins. If you are going to swim I would suggest that you are a reasonably confident swimmer as the sea can get a bit choppy plus you will be swimming with animals which are surprisingly big. The tours last around 3.5 hours and leave at 5.30, 9.30 and 12.30 on a daily basis. In the New Zealand summer time the tour times are adjusted for daylight saving so it is worth checking before you go. I would definitely recommend booking in advance in peak season to avoid disappointment.As with the whale watching tour if the weather is too bad then the tour will not run so again it may be worth you preparing to spend a few days in Kaikoura unless you are certain of the weather forecast. It is mainly storms and wind that is the problem so hopefully you will be ok in the middle of summer. When you arrive at the centre you are briefed and given a very thick wet suit to wear. You need to bring your own towel and swimwear to go underneath. The boat is much smaller than the whale watching one as the group size is much smaller. There is an inside bit on board so you can shelter. The guides on the boat will supervise you when you are swimming and will keep you safe. You must do what they ask at all times and if you don't they can stop you swimming again. They also give you a commentry of the tour which is both entertaining and informative. I was lucky enough to get to swim with the dolphins 5 times. It is absolutely freezing when you first jump into the water, having been given flippers and a snorkel. After a couple of seconds you do warm up though. It is absolutely amazing getting to swim with dolphins, The guides tell you how to make noises and shapes in the water so that you can attract the dolphins to you, and it really works. I ended up with a massive bruise from a dolphin head butt!The watchers on the boat said that they enjoyed it just as much as the swimmers. Everyone got a great view and great photographs.After swimming there is biscuits and hot chocolate to keep you warm!Getting to see a pod of dolphins and swim with them was a once in a lifetime experience and one that I could not put a price on. If you have to know the price it is currently $165 (NZ) which is expensive but I feel it is worth it!Can't recommend this enough - go for it!
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