Large pod of bottlenose dolphins in Akaroa Harbour leaves viewers stunned

Story by RNZ

A rare visit by bottlenose dolphins to Akaroa Harbour has delighted swimmers and kayakers.

The pod was estimated to be made up of as many as 100 of the dolphins and was seen just after 7am on Sunday near the Akaroa lighthouse and wharf.

The animals were feeding in the water directly off Akaroa township by about 9:30am and moved towards the heads after about an hour, but stayed in the area until the afternoon.

The dolphins were followed by several boaties, kayakers and jet ski riders.

The endangered Hector's Dolphins are often seen in Akaroa Harbour, but it is very unusual to find bottlenose dolphins there.

George Waghorn, part owner and skipper at Akaroa Dolphins, said it had been about a year since a smaller pod was seen in the same area.

He said the dolphins had put on a show for the sightseers, who were delighted to see them.

"It was pretty amazing to see them. They were jumping and hanging around, and even our two-year-old daughter got to go for a ride on the dinghy and she was screaming and loving it.

"They looked all really healthy - they were doing front flips, back flips, belly flops, side flops tail slaps."

The pod had left the harbour by Sunday afternoon, but Waghorn was now expecting bottlenose dolphin sightings to become more common in the area.