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Kaikoura - Dolphin Encounter (Watch Option)

Get up close and personal to Kaikoura's incredible resident dusky dolphins in their stunning natural environment!


  • Discover wild dusky dolphins in their natural element!
  • Learn about and enhance your understanding of dolphins
  • Highest success rate in NZ for locating and viewing dolphins
  • Amazing photo opportunities from the spacious vessel
  • A magical experience of a lifetime!

Encounter Kaikoura is a friendly and enthusiastic business dedicated to providing our customers with a magical experience of a lifetime!

We operate picturesque tours along the spectacular Kaikoura coastline and give you the option to swim (please see other booking option)* and interact with wild dusky dolphins or watch their playful acrobatics in the open ocean from the comfort of our boat.

Dolphin Encounter®, pioneered dolphin encounter tours in Kaikoura New Zealand in 1989/90 and have developed their tours for those wishing to enhance their understanding of dolphins in their natural environment, providing a truly unique experience!

Tours scheduled daily: We close just one day each year - Christmas Day!

Please note this booking option is for watching only, and although you will be on the same boat as swimmers you will not have the option to swim. If you would like to swim with the dolphins, please check out our swim deals: Kaikoura - Dolphin Swim Tour

Adult $95.00
Child $55.00

What's included

  • Return transfers between the base and harbour
  • Light refreshments on board (ginger cookies & hot chocolate) - conditions permitting
  • Blankets on-board (for colder months)
  • Complimentary information pack on return from the tour


  • Approximately 3.5 hours (approx 2.5 on the water)


  • Encounter Kaikoura, 96 Esplanade, Kaikoura


  • Check in: Please call the team to reconfirm your booking and tour operation the day prior and to receive your check in time for the following day. Please report to 96 Esplanade, Kaikoura on the day.

    Please Note: Return times are not guaranteed.

  • Child Age is 5 - 14 years. Sea conditions on the day need to be ideal for children to participate on this tour. Children under 5 years are not permitted on this tour. The skipper reserves the right to increase the age limit on the day if they believe the conditions warrant this decision.

    Please note: Our tours operate in the open ocean and we are subject to sea conditions and weather on the day of the tour. All tours are also subject to minimum numbers to operate.

    Encounter Kaikoura vessels have ample seating and an onboard toilet. There are also blankets on board should these be required in the colder months.

Available Bookings from July 05 to July 11

Change Dates

All prices are shown in NZD ($)

Sun 5 Jul
Mon 6 Jul
Tue 7 Jul
Wed 8 Jul
Thu 9 Jul
Fri 10 Jul
Sat 11 Jul

Authenticated Reviews & PhotosAll of our reviews are from people who have booked and paid for this activity thru Bookme

Authenticated Reviews & PhotosAll of our reviews are from people who have booked and paid for this activity thru Bookme


168 reviews

Showing all 168 authenticated Bookme reviews

Tony from New Zealand wrote on 10 December 2019

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Awesome awesome awesome

Loved every minute. They said they would try and find the dolphins they didn't disappoint . So many so close awesome trip

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Moira Brown from United Kingdom wrote on 03 September 2019

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Excellent Dolphin Encounters

A fantastic afternoon! I decided to watch rather than swim as last time I got very seasick and water is very cold! Beautiful day and a bigger boat than last time - no seasickness, lovely dusky dolphins,super crew, Ali from Glasgow was the best!The swimming was amazing last time getting so close, face to face with these curious and friendly dolphins but watching from the boat was just as good. Thank you Dolphin Encounter.

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Lucy from United Kingdom wrote on 17 May 2017

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This was one of the best things I've done in New Zealand by far. Our guide, Tracey, was brilliant: very knowledgeable and friendly. We were very lucky and managed to see a pod of around 300 dolphins! I didn't swim but even so I couldnt stop grinning for the whole tour. It was so amazing to see the dolphins in their natural environment and the way they interacted with each other and with the boat was wonderful. We had a good amount of time on the water and even on the journey to and from the dolphins we were able to see lots of other marine life including albatross and seals. A great experience!

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Angela from United Kingdom wrote on 01 March 2020

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Great experience watching dolphins

We found a pod of dolphins after some 30 minutes on the boat. Marvellous sight. I wasn’t swimming with them but watching as no space left. Unfortunately the pod dispersed and we moved off again and were lucky to find an even bigger pod but the dolphins didn’t stick around for long. The southerly wind made it very choppy and swimmers did well in the 5 ‘ swell. Several watchers and swimmers were sea sick and I succumbed despite anti emetics. Next time I’d definitely want to be swimming but in calmer waters. The staff were fantastic. A great experience.

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Anna Harjans from Germany wrote on 30 January 2020

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It was a great adventure! The swimming was fully booked but you can ask to be put on the waiting list! They did everything to give me the chance to swim! It was just amazing!!

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10:00 a.m.Thursday 13 July

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