Amateur photographer Brian Came reckons his stunning images of dolphins showing off in - and above - the surf at Waipū Cove aren't all that special, other than the fact the pod is the same one he helped rescue at Mangawhai some years ago.

But that's not belittling the images he took on Thursday, it's just because the photos of the dolphins are not as good as some he's taken in the past.

Still, most people would consider the photos amazing.

As a keen surfer from Te Arai, Came said he often swims with dolphins and regularly takes great photos.

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So when he saw a pod of dolphins at Waipū Cove about 1pm on Thursday he grabbed his camera and started shooting.

Two dolphins having fun in the surf at Waipū Cove.
Two dolphins having fun in the surf at Waipū Cove.

"There were five of them, possibly six, and I saw them about 200 or 300 metres north of the Surf Club. They are just amazing creatures. A lot of people don't realise just how big a bottlenose dolphin can be - they are pretty big mammals.''

And he should know as he's seen a lot, particularly while surfing at Te Arai Beach of the nearby Forestry Beach.

It was only when he looked at Tuesday's images closely that he realised the dolphins were the same ones he helped rescue at Mangawhai.

''I always hoped one day they'd come back to say thanks for helping rescue them, and it was great to see them again. You can tell them from their fins. They have distinctive markings on their fin and looking through the photos I could see they were the same ones
from Mangawhai,'' Came said.

Dolphin gymnastics at Waipū Cove on Thursday.
Dolphin gymnastics at Waipū Cove on Thursday.

He said his photos from Thursday were good, but not as good as some he'd taken in the past.

''About five or six years ago at Te Arai I saw a pod coming in real close and leaping several metres out of the water so I thought I'd be able to get the National Geographic pic of the year shot so ran to get the camera. As I ran back I got it ready and started shooting, thinking I'd get some wonderful images.

''But it wouldn't take that stunning picture ... then I realised I'd left the lens cap on in my excitement and panic to get back to the beach to get the photograph.''

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He hasn't made that mistake again.

Another time he got up close with dolphins was at a school camp for one of his children.

''I was in the water and a mother dolphin came right up to me and showed me her baby. It was only a small thing, just a few weeks old probably, but it was amazing,'' Came said.

''Then, about five years after that, I was surfing at Te Arai and a dolphin came up really close to me. It sounds funny, but I looked at it and thought 'I know you,' and it had the same kind of look as well. Then I realised it was that baby from all those years previously, I could recognise it and it recognised me.

Came said he always has his camera at the ready while at the beach as he never knows when he will get to see such a spectacular aerial show from the marine mammals.