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For lover's of marine wildlife experiences, New Zealand's seal population will provide you with plenty of photo opportunities.

Take a walk along some of the rockier parts of New Zealand’s coastline and look closely. At first you’ll see nothing but rocks. And then one of the rocks will move and you’ll realize that what you’re looking at is a basking fur seal.

The New Zealand fur seal is easy to recognize with its pointy nose, long whiskers and visible ears. Its other distinguishing feature, alas, was also nearly the cause of its extinction. In early days sealing was a big business and the fur seal was prized for its luxurious fur coat. Happily, seal hunting was banned in 1894.

In the North Island you can see the seals at Cape Palliser, near Wellington and at Castlepoint on the Wairarapa coast.

Take a kayaking trip around Tonga Island in the South Island’s Abel Tasman National Park and you’ll see seals, dolphins and penguins. Other places are Cape Foulwind near Westport, and Kaikoura where you can enjoy a guided seal-swimming experience and marvel at their grace in their natural element.

Tour the Catlins Coast and Gillespies Beach near Haast you can also hope to spy Hooker’s sea lions, southern elephant seals and leopard seals.

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