A pair of playful dolphins at a beach north of Auckland ground traffic to a halt and drew many into the water.

The friendly duo was spotted yesterday morning quite close to shore on Little Manly Beach.

Local resident Jaco van Tonder said people eager to get a look at the marine mammals caused a mini traffic jam.

"The friendly dolphins kept the small crowd entertained for hours and caused a minor traffic jam on Whangaparoa Road."

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Mr Van Tonder also jumped into the water to join in the fun.

He said it was the first time in five years he had seen them get so close.

"They were very close, circling people," he said. "They were very playful and we were fascinated with them and they were fascinated with us.

"It was really special."