'Incredibly beautiful' pod of dolphins in Waitematā Harbour delight onlookers

The sight of dolphins up close in Auckland's Waitematā Harbour has made a visiting ex-pat want to stay in New Zealand.

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The dolphins were filmed off Herne Bay early on the morning of June 3. Source: Supplied

Peter Bale watched with a group of bystanders as about 40 dolphins swam around near Watchman Island, off Herne Bay this morning.

Mr Bale told 1 NEWS it was a good case of humanity coming together after the coronavirus lockdown.

"It was incredibly beautiful, and it was one of those things where people were talking to each other even more than before [lockdown]."

Mr Bale was running around Westhaven about 7.30am when he spotted the large pod.

"At first I thought they were triathletes but then I thought their arms look awfully like fins."

Mr Bale stopped to film them when a couple of women walked by and stopped as well. He said they "formed a little clot" and described it as "a shared experience".

Eventually 40 to 50 people gathered, with cars pulling up and workmen pausing to watch too, Mr Bale said.

The dolphins swam around for about 15 minutes about a kilometre out from Westhaven, but some got as close as 10 metres away, he added.

"It was absolutely beautiful and incredibly emotional. There were so many."

Mr Bale now lives in England, but has been living in Auckland's Wynyard Quarter during lockdown.

"I know they exist in the harbour but I've never seen them that close," he said.

In a statement to 1 NEWS, the Department of Conservation said it was not uncommon to see dolphins in the harbour and they could have been there for many reasons.

Anyone who comes into close contact with marine mammals should follow DOC's guidelines