‘I can manage in the ocean‘ I said.
‘I am not sure, the sea is moderate today and we are not letting any non-swimmers go inside the water‘, one of the staff at Dolphin Encounter said.
‘Please, I really think this would be easy and I have done it once in the past. If you say that your wet suits create enough buoyancy that I don’t sink and if you can give me a kickboard, I should be good.‘
‘Are you sure you can swim back to the boat when the horn goes off?‘
‘Okay, let me ask my supervisor.‘
In 10 minutes, my friend Vijay and I had filled the declarations form and were excited to go our adventure. Adarsh, who is my other friend, was joining us as a spectator.
Swimming with Dolphins tour
The swimming with dolphins tour was divided into two parts – one the induction and the second the actual swim.
- Activity: Swim with dolphins
- Company: http://www.dolphinencounter.co.nz/kaikoura/
- Cost: 175 NZD (Approx. 120 USD)
The induction was for about 30 minutes which included:
- The briefing about the equipment.
- Trying on our equipment (wet suit, snorkeling mask, and fins).
- A short video of what to expect and what are the important signals used in water.
Tip: Make sure you take the sea sickness tablet as the ocean can be quite rough.
After about 10 minutes bus ride to the boat and 30 minutes boat ride, we saw the dolphins. They were the dusky dolphins, the most acrobatic dolphins that exist.
The crew instructed us to get ready to jump into the water. I was very excited, even though I am not a good swimmer, all I was thinking was were these beautiful dolphins. I was given an extra kick board to manage in the ocean.
Tip: Make sure you take the extra kick board or a floater, if you are not comfortable swimming.
As soon as the horn blew (indicating we could jump into the water), I held my orange kick board tight and took a big step – into the ocean.
My heart was beating fast and I was not sure what was happening with my mask and snorkel. And the water was cold, which was definitely not helping a non-swimmer like me. It took me about 10 minutes in the water to settle and stabilise.
After settling in, I started to look around and then I saw these dolphins under water. I was awed. They looked spectacular under the water. They were larger than what I had always imagined. I have always been in love with dolphins and whales and here this was my chance of getting close to the wild ones. I was swept away (not quite literally) by this wonderful moment.
We were told earlier in the induction to make some noise or shout through our snorkelling masks, so the dolphins get curious. We remembered and of course we made the weird loud sounds through our masks. It was a competition – who would attract more number of dolphins. Yes, it’s a bit silly. But it worked! The dolphins were inquisitive and they started swimming and circling around us.
At one point, there were three dolphins that were circling under me – I mean I was at the surface floating and the dolphins were exactly under me in a circle. I was overwhelmed but I got an evil thought. Iff dolphins were dangerous and could eat humans, I can definitely vouch that I would have been the afternoon meal.
There is absolutely nothing to be scared of the dolphins. They are the most gentle, intelligent and amicable creatures.
The horn blew again and we returned to the boat. This time the crew asked us to sit on the steps, at the back of the boat so we could jump into the water again.
Another 15 minutes ride, the horn blew again. This was our second swimming stop. When I entered into the water, I saw in a far distance, there were larger number of dolphins (more number than in our first stop). They were plenty in number and they looked like they were dancing under water. It was in a rythm, just that there was no music. Oh-My-God! What a sight that was. It was wonderful and I laughed and cried like a small child. I couldn’t do much under water, else I would have had a little dance as well. It was truly an experience to remember.
I am glad that Vijay had this experience on his birthday! And Adarsh had a relaxing time on the boat looking at these dolphins jump and splash out of the water. All in all, this was one of the best experiences we had in our travel to Kaikoura.
Also read, 3 days itinerary in Kaikoura.