A friendly sea lion has been captured swimming just inches from kayakers off the shore of Stewart Island – and even jumps from the water to say hello.

The playful young pup followed keen seafarers Barry Hosking and Ed Parker for several kilometres as they traveled with a larger group of kayakers during an annual row around the coast.

As they navigated through the water 30 km’s south of New Zealand’s South Island the curious sea animal splashed alongside them.

Just over a kilometer from land, the energetic pinniped couldn’t resist befriending the two men in bright yellow boats.

The bubbly mammal danced around the pair when the self-invited pup rides a wave towards Mr Hosking.

Launching itself over the end of one of the kayaks the sea lion stopped to pose for a photo mid-air.

The friendly mammal then dives back into the water and bobs about with the two men as they make their way back to land.

Credit: Daily Mail