Christchurch Dolphin Swimming and Watching

(Christchurch, Canterbury, South Island, New Zealand NZ)

Christchurch Dolphin SwimmingThe town of Kaikoura, situated outside of Christchurch, is one of the best places close to the city for dolphin watching and this spot also provides the opportunity to actually swim with these friendly aquatic mammals.

Within reasonable driving distance of Christchurch, Kaikoura can be reached in around two and a half hours and is often home to large pods of dusky dolphins, which regularly number more than 500 and present great photo opportunities. Tourists also head here for the seasonal whale watching, with sperm whales often being easy to spot and regularly seen swimming alongside the resident dolphins. On the eastern side of Kaikoura, you will also find a large group of Southern fur seals, with low tide allowing visitors to get close up by walking along the rocky shoreline.


Dolphin swimming around Christchurch is a common recreational activity and another popular location for this pursuit is off nearby Akaroa, a small town situated just 80 km / 50 miles from the city centre. Akaroa features a particularly scenic harbour area and groups of dusky dolphins are often found nearby, between October and April. A number of dolphin swimming tours and cruises are available around both Kaikoura and Akaroa, where wetsuits and flippers are provided, and in the unlikely event that your trip is unsuccessful, you will usually get a second trip provided at no extra cost.

Christchurch Dolphin Swimming

Dusky Dolphins

Dusky dolphins are a large species of dolphin and can reach lengths of up to two metres / six feet. They are known for their inquisitive nature and are usually full of spirit.

With a friendly character, dusky dolphins are extremely playful, particularly around swimmers. These dolphins often perform great acrobatic displays of somersaults and frequently congregate close to the shoreline, from spring to autumn.


Swimming with sharks nearby Christchurch is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to dolphin swimming. Located in areas of Kaikoura, outside of the city, scuba divers are always protected from the sharks in a strong, metal cage designed for this purpose.