Dolphins boost paddler's courage
Australian pro-surfer Dave Rastovich completed his epic fortnight 350km paddle from Taranaki, welcomed by several hundred supporters at Piha on December 1.
He had unexpected visitors while paddleboarding the west coast to draw attention to possible sea bed mining impacts and the plight of the critically endangered Maui's dolphin.
Eight Maui's dolphins swam beside him for about 45 minutes as he paddled towards the notorious Manukau Harbour entrance on November 29.
"They caught swells with me and escorted me to the very start of the inlet in really dangerous conditions. They really gave me the confidence to navigate that bar because there's some heavy water in that area, some of the heaviest water I've ever encountered."
Mr Rastovich, a founder of the international marine life conservation group Surfers for Cetaceans, joined forces with Kiwis Against Seabed Mining for the trip.
Proposals to mine the west coast seabed are opposed by a range of business groups and environmental organisations, including the Seafood Industry Council, Sea Shepherd NZ, Project Jonah, Sustainable Coastlines, Mauis SOS.