| GEO World|
| Playful dolphin strands NZ woman|
| Updated at: 1106 PST, Thursday, July 30, 2009|
WELLINGTON: A New Zealand swimmer got into difficulty when a friendly dolphin stopped her returning to shore.
The woman had been swimming with the dolphin, called Moko, at Mahia Beach on the North Island. But the playful dolphin did not want the fun to end.
People at a nearby cafe eventually heard her cries for help, and rowed out to her rescue.
She was found, exhausted and extremely cold, clinging to a buoy. She said the dolphin had meant no harm.
The woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, was wearing a wetsuit. But even that eventually failed to protect her from the winter cold.
She told the local newspaper: "I went out by myself quite late, which probably was not the wisest thing to do.
"We were playing around for a while but then when I wanted to go back in, he just wanted to keep playing. I became exhausted and started to panic."
Moko took up residence at Mahia Beach, south of Gisborne, two years ago, and has become a major attraction.
During the summer, hundreds of people take to the water to play with him. But there are fewer people around in the winter, and residents believe he gets lonely and bored.