Swimming with one of New Zealand's many dolphin species is considered one of the country's best experiences.

Auckland Harbour, Auckland

Dolphins are large, gentle, intelligent creatures who seem to seek out human company, playing, frolicking, even communicating. When you encounter them, swimming or diving, and you spend time with them, you leave entranced, enthralled and, yes, humbled that you had this incredible encounter. You feel privileged.

Of the species, there’s the common dolphin and the large bottle-nosed dolphin which can often be more than three metres in length (it’s all right, they are very gentle). There’s the smaller dusky dolphin is less than two metres long but very playful. And then there’s the Hector’s dolphin, one of the world’s smallest and rarest dolphins found only in our waters. There are many dolphin watching and swimming tours.

They are all different but the encounters are never less than special. And, to reassure you, the cruise operators take extraordinary care to make sure that the dolphins are not harmed. In many operations part of the tour price goes towards dolphin conservation.

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