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One kayak, two people, six dolphins

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About a month ago, my partner Karina and I had the pleasure of walking a stunning coastal track near Whangamata in the Coromandel. Whilst on the track, and to our delight, a pod of Bottlenose dolphins swam by as they hugged the shoreline.

I was able to get some photos but I remember thinking at the time that I had to get back there at some stage to see that part of the coast from the water line. So last week, I went back loaded with my double kayak and with my good friend Jade.

Click the image above to watch the video

Nathan Pettigrew got up close to a pod of bottlenose dolphins. Video: Nathan Pettigrew.


Jade lives here now but was originally from Zimbabwe and more accustomed to seeing giraffes and elephants and the like, so it was a nice treat to get her on the water to hopefully show some of the marine life that we have here.

We set out and it became quickly apparent that the water visibility was pretty poor after winds and rain the previous days. This meant the chances of seeing eagle rays or stingrays in the shallows were almost non-existent, especially since there was a decent amount of swell rolling in.

And where Tauranga has a healthy seal population, surprisingly, we didn’t see any seals here on this small 7km route.

As we were paddling back in, we were talking about how beautiful New Zealand is, and how at least we’d managed to get out on the water for a day’s paddle on a bright, sunny day.

But just as I was giving the safety briefing before surfing back in, I spotted a dorsal fin out of the corner of my eye. The bottlenose dolphins had arrived!

It appears from previous photos taken from the coastal hike that this was the same pod, as there was a match in the dorsal fins of a couple of the members.

And on this day, the dolphins did the same thing. They hugged the coastline and were often only a mere one metre from the rocks. It was amazing to see, with the stunning background that our beautiful country offers.

We weren’t with the dolphins for too long as there was a workup of birds, meaning a workup of fish underneath that, and the dolphins raced off at speed to get to them.

As of recently, the Bay has been visited by Southern Right whales, bottlenose dolphins and a pod of Orcas, although recent studies show that in some parts of New Zealand, sightings and possibly numbers of bottlenose dolphins are on the decline.

So although whale numbers around the country, especially sightings of Humpbacks, seem to be on the rise, we still need to pay special attention to some other species that ‘hang with us’ around our coastline.

Giving this wildlife adequate space and not coming up to them at speed or making sudden turns – especially in ‘powered’ vessels – will aid in helping these magnificent creatures to share our waters for many years to come.

We want them to feel relaxed here. After all, it has been their home far longer than it has been ours.

I’m sure it would be an absolute dream for many of us to see a rising trend for marine life, showing that New Zealand is THE place to see some of the best scenery and best nature that the world has to offer.

Be good to the ocean. Thanks friends.

Comments on SunLive


Posted on 25-08-2015 15:31 | By Reefer

Nicely pieced together and a good story too. thanks to Nathan and Sunlive for bringing us these gems.

Posted on 22-08-2015 06:42 | By Me again

Once again wonderfully done.
Thanks once more

Posted on 21-08-2015 18:57 | By nerak

Nathan, great sitting backing watching with an evening wine! Looking forward to your next screening. Nothing quite like being out on the water, although I’m not quite as adventurous as you, but one day hope to see some dolphins.
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