Seeing orca from a kayak was pretty much what made Dan Marsh decide to make New Zealand his new home.

And this sunny Sunday afternoon, the Brit's dream came true with the help of a "back in five minutes" sign.

Marsh, 23, made the move to Aotearoa in pursuit of some of the best kayaking in the world.

And right at the top of his list was seeing a pod of orca.


This afternoon in the middle of a shift at Ferg's Kayaks in Okahu Bay he got word there was a group hunting stingray out in the bay.

"I quickly closed the shop, chucked up a 'Back in five minutes' sign up. I wasn't going to miss it."

Unexpectedly, the pod came right into the bay into water that was only about one or two metres deep.

Marsh said the mammals came right up close to his kayak and a mother and her calf took particular interest in him.

Passionate kayaker Dan Marsh says seeing orca was a dream come true. Photo / supplied.
Passionate kayaker Dan Marsh says seeing orca was a dream come true. Photo / supplied.

"It was really special. My heart will be racing for weeks. It's one of the reasons I came to New Zealand - it's always been a dream to see orca like that up close."

At one point Marsh thought it "had all gone quiet" but suddenly the biggest stingray he'd ever seen leapt up out of the water and the mother orca caught it in her mouth.

"It was really, really special - I'll remember it for the rest of my life."

But while Marsh's afternoon was a once in a lifetime experience, the Department of Conservation warns people not to touch whales.

In February, a pair of paddleboarders got so close to two 7m-long Southern right whales off Second Beach in Dunedin, one of them touched one of the whales for several seconds.

The department's guidelines advise people to keep at least 50m from whales and at least 200m from a mother and calf so as not to disturb the mammals.