A pod of dolphins has delighted families by swimming and leaping close to shore in the Bay of Islands.

Auckland photographer Steve Wilson said the pod of at least a dozen dolphins found a group of families who had anchored at Oke Bay in the outer part of the Bay of Islands.

"I was on my friend Mike Malcolm's launch Affinity. Mike took us on a tiki tour and we ended up at Oke Bay," he said.

"There were a few families there. The kids were just out there playing on kayaks and dinghies and paddleboards and that.

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"There was a pod of dolphins there, at least a dozen, and quite by chance one of them turned out to be in this spectacular picture of the dolphins behind the kids."

Jones said he was in the bay for about half an hour and the dolphins were still there when he left.

"They chose to come to us, not vice versa," he said.

Wilson has a website called SteveWilson.photo but said he was not a professional photographer.

"I've done a couple of paid jobs in the past but that's it," he said. "It's my hobby."