How long are the trips?
The trip varies depending on how fast we locate friendly dolphins to find you the encounter.
Sometimes we are back sooner if we find swimmable dolphins quickly and get the interaction for you. Or out longer if they are harder to find and get the interaction.
However you should allow approximately 3.5 hours for your experience, 20-30 minutes to get changed into your wetsuits and have a briefing on the dolphins, 2 – 2.5 hours on the water (weather, warm happy people and dolphin dependent) 20-30 minutes to get dry and changed when you get back.
If everyone is happy on the boat and itʼs not too cold we will be on the water longer than other companies because we include a harbour tour with your dolphin swim maximising your experience and increasing your value for money.
How long do we swim with the dolphins?
It depends on travel time to find them, sea conditions and their behavior when we do. Remember this is not a park, these dolphins are wild and with all wildlife itʼs changeable so the swim time in the water is always different. The maximum time we can spend in the water is 45 minutes which is a D.O.C (Department of Conservation) regulation.
How close will they come?
They can come as close as 30 to 60 centimeters (1 to 2 feet) most of the time 1 to 7 meters (3.5 to 23 feet)
Can I touch them?
No sorry there is no touching allowed, it is a regulation from our Department of Conservation. The reason is they have very delicate skin that can be easily damaged and we could also pass harmful bacteria on to them which could potentially harm them.
Are the dolphins wild?
Yes they are 100% wild 100% natural. There are no cages, you will be interacting with them in the Pacific Ocean their natural habitat. This is not Sea World this is Their World which makes it all the more special when they choose to interact with you.
How many will we swim with?
The most common number in a pod (group) is 5 to 6 dolphins. Occasionally they come together in bigger pods.
Remember they are the worlds rarest and smallest ocean going dolphin so their numbers are low, estimated at 7270.
Do we feed them?
No not at all. Once again this is a regulation with D.O.C (Department of Conservation) They actually only eat live fish that they catch themselves.
Why all the regulations?
The regulations are put in place solely to take care of the dolphins and to not change their natural behavior as much as possible. Itʼs a fine balance of management by our Department of Conservation to protect these endangered dolphins. The Hectors/New Zealand Dolphin.
Why can we swim with them if they are so endangered?
It helps raise money for research and education on the Hectors/New Zealand Dolphins. Every person who swims or watches these dolphins on a D.O.C permitted boat contributes financially to them. What a lot of people do not realize is that conservation is a very costly business.
Are there sharks?
There are sharks in every ocean in the world.
But the good news is in over 20 years of Dolphin Swimming in Akaroa Harbour there has never been a problem with sharks.
A funny and interesting statistic for you.
You are more likely to be bitten by a person from New York City than a shark! So ask your fellow guests on the tour where they are from and take care 😉
Are we guaranteed to see dolphins?
Our first priority is your Dolphin Swim experience.
Swimming with the Hectors/New Zealand Dolphins, the smallest and rarest ocean going dolphins in the world, does not happen in aquariums or cages in the ocean.
It happens in their natural habitat the Pacific Ocean & Akaroa Harbour, where they are completely free and everything is done on their terms.
We are ecoSEAker and work in sustainable ecotourism, we respect wildlife in it’s natural state.
This is not Sea World, This is Their World
They are as rare as Bengal Tigers, Giant Pandas and Mountain Silver Back Gorillas !
So it is a real privilege to come out and see them let alone have an opportunity to swim with them.
Although there are no guarantees with wild dolphins they do live here all year round.
The Hectors Dolphins are scientifically known to show more interest in people in the water and boats than any other type of wild dolphin in NZ and most likely the world.
ecoSEAker’s success rate for gaining a swim encounter is 90.5%
On our trips we have always seen the Hectors Dolphins.
We would say that with us there is a 1-2% chance not to see any and 9.5% chance not to gain a swim encounter.
We think that’s absolutely amazing when working with wildlife.
So as you can see we cannot 100% guarantee them but the chances are very high.
The reason for such high chances is because we take you out longer than other companies, 2.5 to 3 hrs on the water.
We are also governed by our Department of Conservation so if the dolphins have calfs (babies) with them or are showing no interest we cannot swim with them.
We are the best deal in town because we take you out longer and include a harbour tour with your dolphin swim, maximising your experience and increasing your value for money.
We are smaller, friendlier, and give you so much more on our tours, see our guest reviews on Tripadvisor.
What should I bring?
You must have your own swimsuit, bikini, swimming shorts etc and towel.
Come wearing your swimsuit under your clothing as this speeds up our departure giving us more time on the water, also you will be changing into your wetsuit with other people of the same sex.
Being a small company means we have small footprint, therefore better for the environment. It does mean however we haven’t got a shower on site. For those who need a shower our local isite-Adventure Center can provide one for a small fee, just ask us.
If you have medication that should be with you at all times you must bring it on the boat with you. Some examples are asthma inhalers, epi pen, pills etc.
Bring a water bottle. Put on sunscreen before you arrive and bring it on the boat if you want to.
Other things to bring: Sunglasses, sun hat or warm hat, warm jacket and definitely do not forget your camera with a full battery.
There are dry areas onboard for cameras. Cameras and electronics onboard must be taken care of by you and is at your own risk.
What do you supply?
We will give you a thick 5mm full body wetsuit, 5mm dive booties, mask and snorkel. We have limited windbreakers and warm hats available. After the swim there will be hot chocolate and biscuits to have on the boat or back at the wharf if conditions arenʼt suitable on the water.
You must have your own towel.
Are reservations essential?
Absolutely! Forward bookings are essential as we only run 1 swim trip and 1 Harbour Adventure Cruise per day.
There are only 12 places maximum on each trip, which means we are less commercial and much more personal.
What is the cancellation policy?
Being a very small business with limited spaces on our trips we have a 48 hour cancellation policy.
If you wish to cancel you must contact us at least 48 hours before the day of arrival to receive a full refund.
If you cancel under the 48 hour period the full fare will be charged.
Christmas Day bookings have a 7 day cancellation period, if you wish to cancel you must contact us 7 days before the 25th of December.
If we cancel the trip due to sea, weather conditions or unforeseen circumstances you will receive a full refund.
Can children swim?
Yes children can swim from the age of 6 years old as long as they fit one of our wetsuits, you may bring your own if you have one. Children 6 to 12 years old must be accompanied by an adult swimmer in the water.
The wetsuits are fully buoyant so everyone can float very easily. Do remember this is swimming in the ocean without being able to touch the bottom and is quite different from a swimming pool.
Can I swim or watch with a disability?
Due to the nature of our boat we unfortunately cannot take wheelchairs. For any other disability or physical challenge please phone us to discuss if it is possible. We will endeavour to accommodate where possible.