Frequently Asked Questions

What does the tour involve?

Tours depart from our shop located in the main street of Kaikoura. At check in you will be introduced to your guides and the other swimmers on your tour. You will also be provided with warm, buoyant wet suits and snorkeling equipment.

From our base you will be taken on a short bus trip before a 5 to 15 minute boat trip to one of our favorite seal swimming areas. Along the way you will be given a briefing on New Zealand Fur Seals, aspects of snorkeling, seal swimming etiquette and safety. One to two experienced guides, equipped with large float boards will then accompany each group in the water.  

From here every tour is different as the seals are totally wild. Due to the seals natural curiosity swimmers can reasonably expect to get some interactions at around 3m distance at different times. As we ware dealing with wildlife in their natural habitat levels of activity do vary but if you do not get to see any seals in the water then you will be refunded back to the spectator rate of $55 and $35 for children, or offered a second tour free of charge if there is availability. 

Generally around one hour is spent in the water before returning back to base for hot showers. Allow 2.5 hours.

What is the cancelation policy?

If you would like to cancel or rechedulal your tour, 24 hour notice is required to insure a full refund. Reshedualing is purely subject to availability. If you would like to cancel within 24 hours please call us as soon as possible as if we are able to resell your places no fees will apply.

If tours are cacnelled due to unsuitable conditions on the day a full refund will apply.

The refund of bookings made through the 'Book Now' button on our website will be made diretly back to the credit card that you used to make your booking. You will receive an email advising that the full refund has been processed back to your card. The email will be sent to the same email address that you used to make the booking. Refunds are usually recived within a few day however they can take up to seven working days depending on which bank you use. If you are concerned about a refund please email us at















What if the tour is below standard?

If you do not get to see any seals in the water you will be given the choice of a second tour free of charge or a discount 50% of the standard tour cost.

Can I purchase a Gift Voucher?

You can purchase a gift voucher buy clicking here they are valid fro two years and fully refundable if not used. To redeam a gift voucher click here. If you have any issues please email us at

What is the booking procedure?

You can book and pay online now by cicking on the this link or by using the 'Book Now' button on the home page of our wesite. Alturnatively you can email us on or call us on 0800 732 579 or +643319612 if you are calling from a foreign country/mobile. Please be aware of the time differences if calling from a foreign country.

What are your scheduled tour times?

October and November: Tour times vary, to check tour times for these months please use the 'Book Now' button on our home page to search tour times and avalibility. Alternatively, email us direct. 

December, January, February and March: 9.30am, 11.00am, 12.30pm and 2.00pm.

April and May: Tour times vary.

Tour times may vary slightly due to tidal conditions and weather so you need to call the day before your tour to reconfirm. If the above times are not suitable you may like to reqest other tour times as these can sometimes be arranged.


How long does the tour take?

Tours run for around 2 to 2.5 hours.

Do you operate all year round?

***Please note that this season we are only taking bookings from the 15th of November as currently the condtons are unsuitable and we suspect that conditions will not improve for seal swimming until around this date***

Tours operate from early October until May subject to conditions. We do not operate in the winter months between Mid May and late September. In the winter seal swimming becomes very inconsistent, has a very high cancellation rate and rarely delivers the experience that our advertising suggests. With the temperature being cooler the seals spend much less time in the water within the colonies where we swim. There are also more storms that lead to tour cancellation and poor water visibility. This results in a very small chance of getting seals interacting with swimmers in the water. For these reasons we choose not to operate in winter. 

Do I need to be a strong swimmer?

In most conditions you do not have to be a strong swimmer/snorkeller to swim with the seals. We have guides in the water with big float boards and the wetsuits that we give you are like life jackets so you can’t sink! Every now and then we do get more difficult conditions in which case we would restrict the tour to those with previous snorkeling experience. If you happen to be on one of those tours then we will allow you to cancel free of charge.

Are the tours safe?

As with any interactive nature activity that is conducted in a natural ocean-based environent there is always elements of risk involved. The seals are completely wild and are capablie of inflicting serious bites. To put your mind at ease Seal Swim Kaikoura has been operating since1987 and during that time there has only ever been a few small bits/nips, none of which were serious. We have many processes and procedures in place to help ensure that you enjoy a safe and enjoyable tour however there are risks and you will be required to sign a Medical and Liability Disclaimer before participating. Feel free to email us if you have any concerns.

Are there any sharks?

We have been operating since 1987 and we have not seen any sharks nor have we seen any evidence of their preditation in the colonies. However, it is the open ocean and we can never exclude the possibility of encountering a shark one day. 

What do you supply?

We will supply you with 5mm dive suits, a hood, fins and mask & snorkel. We also provide hot showers, changing facilities and safe storage.

What are the size ranges of your suits?

Obvously we can cannot garantee that we have suits to fit absolutly everybody, however we do have a very large range of suit sizes right up to a XXXXL. So far everyone has been able to fit into one of our suits. If you are concerned you are able to come and meet us before the tour to try a suit on for size. If you cannot fit into one of our suits you will be able to cancel free of charge.

What should I bring?

You will need to bring a swimsuit (underwear will do if you don't mind it getting wet), towel and warm clothing to put on after the tour. 

Do I need to book in advance?

It is always best to make a reservation as occasionally we do fill up ahead of time. If you are travelling on a flexible itinerary the bookings are flexible and can be cancelled or re-scheduled anytime up until24 hours before the booking time. This will allow you to call us closer to the time and re-schedule the booking if there isavailability on a date that will suit you better. We do accept same day bookings if space allows, but to ensure your seal swim we advise advance bookings.

Where are you located?

 We are conveniently located right in the main street of Kaikoura at 58 West End, Kaikoura.

What are the drive times from Christchurch / Picton / Blenheim / Nelson?

We advise you to allow 2.5 hours to drive from Christchurch to Kaikoura or from Picton to Kaikoura, 4 hours from Nelson to Kaikoura or 2 hours from Blenheim to Kaikoura.

Are you close to the Train / Bus Station / Information Centre?

 We are located one minute walk from the Kaikoura Information Centre and the bus/shuttle stops for buses/shuttles arriving to and departing from Christchurch, Picton and Blenheim. We are also only a 5 minute walk from the Kaikoura train station.

Can our children come with us?

We do not have a strict age limit for children. Instead it is up to our head guide/skipper on the day to decide what age/ability level is suitable for the given conditions. In general we cannot take children of five years or under. If the tour is unsuitable for your child/children on the day then a full refund will apply.

It is important when talking to your children about the tour that you explain to them that it is dependent on suitable conditions right from the start. Children booked on the swimming tour will need to be accompanied by an adult that is capable of staying with the child and insuring there safety for the duration on the tour. 

Can you pick us up?

People are encouraged to meet at our office and suit up area at 58 West End, Kaikoura (located in Kaikoura's main street) 15 minutes before tour time. By prior arrangement we can 'sometimes' pick up and drop off at your motel or backpackers.