'He's toying with me!' - Kiwi kayaker's incredible up-close encounter with pod of orca

It's enough to make your feet tingle - a pod of curious orca, swimming under and nudging your kayak.

For Papamoa man Carl Dickens, he was more exhilarated than scared when a group of killer whales approached him while he was enjoing a paddle in the days after Christmas.

"They were coming straight underneath me. It was an exhilarating experience," he recounted to 1 NEWS about his experience on December 28.

"To the best of my knowledge, no one has been attacked by them... I felt at ease."

The close encounter occured at Rakino Island, in the Hauraki Gulf, when he spotted the pod. They quickly came up to investigate him and his kayak.

Mr Dickens filmed part of the encounter and shared it with 1 NEWS.

In the video, he can be heard shouting out commentary to people watching from the clifftops above.

"Awesome! Wicked," he calls out.

"Right by my tail, look at that. He's like, toying with me."

The playful orca swim around and underneath his kayak, occasionally bursting above the water and rolling over. At some points, they come close enough to touch.

Mr Dickens says he's very familiar with the area and has been heading out for 42 years, but this is the first time he's been this close to a pod.

Some of the orca were the bigger than his kayak.

"It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments. It was breath-taking, surreal."

He stayed out in the water for around an hour, enjoying the company of two separate pods of orca.

Orca are protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act, and it's against the law to get too close or disturb them.

However if things are reversed and the orca approach a human, people are urged to keep out of their way and maintain a minimum distance of 50 metres if they can.

Mr Dickens says he reported the magical encounter to marine biologist Dr Ingrid Visser, founder of the Orca Research Trust.