I wake to find that we are the only boat at anchor in this spot. Our yacht hangs in a mere 3 metres of clear turquoise water, nicely enclosed by an island to either side of us. There’s sand, pebble and shell, which appear as bright stripes of white and pale pink at the shoreline. A steep craggy black rockface and grassed hill lead up from each of the beaches to a high lookout point with dizzying views of the bays. Today’s islands are called Waewaetorea and Okahu, not that it really matters, we could be anywhere.


At barely 8am I hear them first. An exhaled breath close to the hull and amplified in the water. Bubbles and gasps that sound so familiar to us now, like a greeting from an old friend. The dolphins have come. Rocket squeals with delight and Indigo claps his fat little hands. James leaps onto the paddleboard and follows them with lazy strokes towards the pool of dazzling morning sunlight near the beach where they are playing. They jump, they leap, they spin, twirl and splash. The brilliance of the light, low on the water turns his standing figure into a thin silhouette but now and again I catch glimpses of his smile.


This was not planned. We haven’t gone searching for them, unlike the tour boats and dive boats that turn up later to share in the sight. Instead we were just getting ready for our breakfast pancakes on an ordinary Tuesday.


And, in case you were wondering, I’m not writing to arouse envy. I write this simply to express the sheer pleasure and the wave of gratitude that finally, after what seems like a very long time of striving to return to it, things have got back to normal in our little world.


It’s just a strange coincidence that our normal happens to be something really rather extraordinary.