Swimming with Dolphins in Russell, New Zealand
January 1, 1970
by Anne Watermann
Have you ever thought about swimming with a Dolphin? If so, you are like me. I travelled quiet a few times, so I had many Chances to swim with these amazing creatures. For example on Oahu, Hawaii. There was something like a Zoo for Mammals, but I did not like it – people get into the water of the station, they touch the Dolphins and the staff takes a picture of you and the Dolphin. This might take 3 minutes – it costs a lot and the circumstances are so sad. That is why I never did it – till I travelled to New Zealand with my boyfriend in December 2015. In my travel guide, I have read some sentences about a company called “Fullers Great Sights” with a Tour called “Dolphin Eco Experience”. They carry you out with a vessl, through the beautiful Bay of Islands region. The Dolphins are seen there all year round and it is unlikely that you miss them. So with this awesome half-day Tour you can watch Dolphins in their natural environment.
Half a Day with the Dolphins
We left the harbour of cute little Russel early in the morning. The Vessel was nice, up to eight people could sit in the front – the sun deck- and enjoy the views. It was just after one and a half hour that we saw a big group of Bottlenose Dolphins. If you are lucky, you can also swim with the Dolphins. That is what I like about the Eco tour – they care about the animals. Due to a Baby Dolphin, we were not allowed to swim with them. It is the same when the Dolphins are sleeping or feeding, because then they need to rest. Just when they are in the mood to play, you can go out and have fun with them.
But it was so worth it – we sat on the front deck, the vessel was moving quickly and the Dolphins swam around and under the boat, always coming up and jumping out of the water. This was unique and amazing, you could see it in everyones face. Plus, yiu get so close to them when you sit in the front of the vessel, because the deck is so low! It feels like you nearly touch them.
Lucky us – we saw another group of Dolphins
It happened so quickly. I sat on the deck with some Kids and enjoyed the views. Then suddenly, we stopped and our guide pointed at 3 or 4 Dolphins out there. And then she said, that they are in the mood to play – we can go and swim with them. The situation on the boat got a little bit hectic, everyone was running around, grabbing a pair of fins, snorkel and mask and making their way to the back of the boat. There was a minimum of 13 people or so who could go first – you can imagine, that everyone is swimming around, trying to find the Dolphins.
At the beginning everyone got a paper sheet where it was written that Dolphins are active animals – if they are playful, you have to swim fast, dive down, swim circles and stuff, so that they interact with you. Pretty exhausting, but fun, if you are one of the stronger persons.
At first, i had several fins from other snorkeling people in my face and did not know where to swim. But thanks to the gym I had enough power to swim fast and away from all the people. And then it happended: From nowhere came a Dolphin, he circled underneath me and swam to the crowd. This was one of the most amazing moments in my life – swimming with a wild dolphin in the open ocean!!
I and everyone else were flashed and so happy. We experienced something special, something that we will always remember.
I hope I inspired you to put this on your bucket list, if you will ever be in New Zealand.
Russel – what a tiny cute “Town”
Besides, I fell in love with Russell. Many travellers do this Tour from Pahia, which is cheaper, but not as nice as Russell.
Because Russell is situated on a peninsula, there are two ways to reach it: You can either drive on a long gravel road or you take the little ferry, which is not that expensive. It is good to buy some things to eat before driving to Russell, because there you just have a little supermarket. We stayed at the Russell Motel, which was big and had a nice pool with a barbecue area. From there it is just a short walk into “Town”. The Town of Russell consists of an Esplanade at the sea with really beautiful little Houses where you can eat and sit on the Terrace. We once ate at the “Duke of Marlborough”, it is not cheap but you get stunning views of the sunsets in style. At the end of the street is also a little swing hanging from a tree. Oh and these beautiful flowers everywhere!
A Plus was that it was still Christmas Time, so everything was decorated so lovely. You can sit in the sun, eat ice cream, go for a walk, go for a run or just relax at the beach. We had three beautiful Days out there!
This would be a great film location, too. I hope you got curious to visit Russell and soke in the relaxed beach atmosphere. It is so worth it!