Make your way to a departure point in Paihia to board a high-speed catamaran dolphin boat (it's also possible to meet the boat in Russell). Find a comfortable spot on deck, and keep your camera out—you'll have unobstructed views of the Bay of Islands as the captain searches for a pod of dolphins.
If you spot a group of dolphins, Department of Conservation regulations will determine whether it’s possible to swim alongside them (when baby dolphins are present, no swimming is allowed). Should your group get clearance to swim, pull on a wetsuit and snorkel gear, then slip into the water to see the animals beneath the surface. Touching the dolphins is not allowed, but it’s a fascinating chance to see them swimming through the clear water.
Following your swim, return to the boat for a hot drink and a hot shower, then head back towards the original departure point, where this dolphin tour concludes.