In the northern part of the North island, the most regularly encountered
dolphin is the 'Common Dolphin'. and this is replaced in more southern
waters by the Dusky Dolphin. A number of operators at Paihia, Whakatane,
Kaikoura and Akaroa offer the chance for visitors to swim with these.
The New Zealand or Hector's Dolphin is the world's rarest marine
dolphin and also the smallest. These can be seen in many parts of
the South Island and, more rarely, on parts of the North Island's
west coast. They are not very comfortable with people trying to
swim with them, but will often allow a close approach by boats.
Operators who specialise in showing visitors the New Zealand Dolphin
are at Akaroa, Waikawa Bay in Southland and at Greymouth and Punakaiki
on the West Coast of the South Island.
A number of other dolphin species also frequent our waters. Rissos
Dolphin has been seen fairly regularly in the Marlborough Sounds
and the most southern pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphins resides in Milford
Sound. For the extremely lucky there is the chance of seeing the
spectacular Southern Right Whale Dolphin in the deep South.
If you wish to see something larger, boat operators at Tauranga
and Kaikoura give you the chance to see Sperm Whales and in season
Southern Right Whales and from time to time rarer species.
the cetaceans we have a number of seals living here. The New Zealand
Fur Seal resides on many parts of and can be easily seen at places
like Cape Palliser, Red Rocks near Wellington, Cape Foulwind on
the West Coast, Kaikoura and Nugget Point. They are not hard to
find, just follow your nose. Swimming with seals is offered by operators
at Kaikoura and in Marlborough.
Other seals can also be found. The very rare New Zealand Sea Lion
hauls out on parts of the Southland and Otago coasts. They can get
a bit grumpy, so don't try anything creative like sitting on them
to get your photo taken. Even grumpier is the Sea Leopard which
also hauls out in many parts.
Sea Elephants are also regular visitors. One called Dumbo spends
his summers next to the Christchurch Pier. With the thousands of
visitors he gets one can only presume that a quiet holiday is not
high on his list of priorities.
All our seals were hunted quite ruthlessly in the early days, firstly
by the Maori and later by European sealers, and it is only in recent
years that the New Zealand Sea Lion and the Sea Elephant have begun
breeding again along our coastline.