Swimming with dolphins

Trip Start Sep 08, 2009
Trip End May 31, 2010

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Sunday, March 7, 2010

We travelled a short distance north of Rotorua to our next stop on the NZ tour, to the town of Tauranga. Despite being quite a lovely town with an incredible amount of sailing boats, this isn't usually on the tourist route. However we were making the detour to call in on some family friends of Simons, Adam, Liz and family. It was great to meet some more lovely Kiwi people and after a nice lunch in their garden Adam invited us both out for an afternoon on their sailing boat. This was an offer that neither of us could pass up.

We set sail from Sulphur Point where literally hundreds of boats are moored, this is obviously a common hobby for the locals. Ali was let loose on the steering and managed to navigate us out of the harbour without hitting anything. After a short break next to Matakana Island for some afternoon tea it was back to shore. We were battling against the wind for the return and so had to tack most of the way, but Simon took to it very well jumping from left to right when needed and once again we managed to make it back with no incidents.

It was a great afternoon, rounded off with dinner opposite the beach at Mount Manganui. We were very grateful at the end of the day when Adam and Liz kindly invited us to stay at their house for the night as well, a nice comfy bed was most welcome after the hectic sailing trip.

We had planned to spend the next day in Tauranga on a dolphin trip, but unfortunately they all leave so early we had missed the boats by the time we called them. Instead we hit the road up to the Coromandel Peninsular and then took a detour back for the dolphin trip two days later, and it was well worth the detour.

There were two types of trip on offer, a short trip on a high tech catamaran called Dolphin Seafaris (see what they’ve done there!) or Captain Butler’s old sailing ship with only a telescope for spotting the wildlife. We opted for the more relaxed trip out with old Cap’n Butler and true to his word within only an hour of setting sail he had spotted a pod of over 100 dolphins. They were swimming alongside the ship and jumping around showing off it was amazing, and best of all we each got a turn to jump in the water and swim along with them while holding onto the back of the boat.

We must have been sailing around with the dolphins for at least an hour before they lost interest, and we even managed to swim along with them twice before they started to lose interest in us. It was an amazing experience. Afterwards we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing on the old wooden sailing ship enjoying the sunshine. Cap’n Butler is reputed to be quite a character with interesting stories to tell about his time on the water, we didn’t find his stories or jokes really deserved the reputation but we forgave him this as he had managed to find us some dolphins which is more than we managed on the whale trip and no one was sick.
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