Swimming with New Zealand's many dolphin species is considered one of the country's best experiences.
There are nine different species of dolphin that are found around the New Zealand coast, including Hector's, Māui and bottlenose dolphins. These dolphins are large, gentle, intelligent creatures who seem to seek out human company when you encounter them. The common dolphin is very distinctive with a criss-cross or hour-glass type pattern centred on the flanks. Colours include purplish black, grey, white and yellowish tan. The bottlenose dolphin has dark or light grey on the back grading to white on the undersides, although their colour and shape can be variable. The smaller dusky dolphin, less than two metres long is equally as playful. And then there’s the Hector’s dolphin, one of the world’s smallest and rarest dolphins found only in our waters.
Spending time with dolphins while swimming or diving in New Zealand is an enticing and humbling experience that is an incredible privilege.
There are many tours and experiences across New Zealand and every encounter is special in its own special way. The cruise operators take extraordinary care to make sure that the dolphins are not harmed, and in many operations, part of the tour price goes towards dolphin conservation.