Kayaking with seals and dolphins

Country: New Zealand
Spot: Kaikoura
Duration: three hours
Outdoor Activity: Kayaking
Sustainable tourism rating: écotourisme-5-SOL

Kaikoura is a small resort on the east coast of the South Island which has surprised us with the variety of the outdoor activities it offers. But the charm of this town lies not only in the beautiful beaches, green hills and lively inner city. Once a mandatory stop for foodies who found their happiness in this town where THE lobster is the star of every restaurant, today it is the marine life that attracts travellers from around the world.

Every day, dolphins, seals, whales and fish offer unbelievable underwater shows while albatrosses, blue penguins and a multitude of birds (of which I do not know the names!) accompany us in this magical land.


To meet them we opted for one of our favourite activities: kayaking. Our feet guided us to Kaikoura Kayaks, small family business that offers guided kayak trips, half or day rentals, kayak fishing and even a school to learn kayaking. Thanks to their very warm welcome and high quality gear we quickly understood why they are so famous.


After the briefing at the base of Kaikoura Kayaks, we were ready to embark upon what was to become the greatest experience we enjoyed in New Zealand.


While sitting in our kayaks, our small group began to head gently towards the rocks inhabited by fur seals when suddenly our eyes stoped on some weird waves … what we thought to be just waves striking against rocks were in fact dolphins happily jumping out of the water only a few meters from our kayaks.


With haste, we all began paddling to meet them and the show they gave us remained one of the most unique experiences that one can live.
After a few minutes in their company, we headed towards the seals – always with the same good atmosphere in our group and the desire to see more! The guide, very friendly and professionally, told us the sad story of these marine mammals that were chased by Maori for their fat and by the Europeans for their fur. Fortunately, there was some noble spirits who decided to end this massacre before the fur seals disappeared from our seas forever. Thanks to these precursors, today we can find large colonies of seals in the southern hemisphere and no less than 150 000 in New Zealand.


The seals were waiting for us on the rocks and in the water as if they knew we were coming. Not as agile as the dolphins, they still impressed us with their acrobatic poses, better than in a yoga class.


The three hour ride was almost at an end. We were happy with what we had seen and it was nice because the wind was mild and the waves carried us without even having to paddle. Our only regret was to say goodbye to this sea full of surprises which really touched us.


The enthusiastic cry of a kayaker has brought back our smile because we knew we were no longer alone. This time two schools of dolphins had returned to say goodbye and their jumps accompanied us for a while.


To see all this marine wildlife so close and to have these natural and spontaneous encounters especially while kayaking is undoubtedly one of the best adventures to offer to all Sportrotters!


The cons
One would like to swim with seals and dolphins.


The pros
An eco-friendly activity and a very professional management team
Very comfortable kayaks where you stay warm without a drop of water in the kayak
A perfect mix of sport and wildlife. Kayaking with dolphins is amazing
Low budget (NZ$ 95 / adult and NZ$ 70 / child) for organized outings and even less if you rent a kayak
Possibility of taking beautiful photographs.


One thought on “Kayaking with seals and dolphins”

  1. Hi Geo and Greg! Abi and Andy here. The English couple you met at Whitianga Harbour Campground 🙂

    Sorry it’s taken so long to contact you. Very jealous of your dolphin encounter in Kaikoura. It’s probably one of my favourite places in NZ and has so much wildlife to see! We did the whale watch tour which was great except we didn’t (and still havn’t!) see any dolphins 🙁

    Wanted to thank you also for recommending Mike as a helpx host. We had a wonderful 5 days with him and all the kids. He took us out to so many places and treated us like guests rather than helpxers, as you said he would. He even offered to sell our van for us if we had trouble in Auckland. So yes big THANKYOU!

    We also sold our van before even getting to Auckland. We put up a free advertisment though the Backpacker Board website and had lots of calls. Sold for $3850 so very happy with that but still sad to see “DUG” go.

    Starting to organise our Thailand travels so will be looking at your website for tips. Think we might spend a few days and the first night in Bangkok as we fly in at 1am so if you recommend anywhere good to stay?

    Hope you’re having fun, Lots of love
    A & A

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