Wildlife Island Sanctuary and Dolphin Cruise (Motuara Island)
A nature cruise and historical experience with fantastic scenery, wonderful wildlife and degree qualified guides. A perfect way to experience the Marlborough Sounds. Daily departures at 13:30 (13:15 check-in). Now also enjoy Yealands wine and Sealords mussels as a complimentary extra.
Whales migrate north through the Cook Strait from May to August annually. Humpback Whales, Right Whales, Fin Whales and Blue Whales can be seen at this time.
They come close to Tory Channel entrance which has the only restored Whaling Station in NZ.
Join us on New Zealand's best dolphin experience in the clear calm waters of the scenic Marlborough Sounds. Our degree qualified guides ensure you (and the dolphins) have the best and safest experience possible. Oh and we guarantee you will have NO sea sickness on our trips.
Wildlife and Wine Cruise (Kaipupu Point Sanctuary)
This unique experience offers an intimate wildlife experience with local experts
Wildlife and Wine
Marlborough's Perfect Cruise
Combined with Award Winning Yealands Wine and Sealord Mussels,
This Cruise is simply a Marlborough MUST DO
A nature cruise and historical experience to be enjoyed by all. Fantastic scenery, wonderful wildlife and degree qualified guides. A perfect way to experience the Marlborough Sounds.
You'll also enjoy a free sample of Yealands award-winning local wine and Sealord's local mussels. Yes - Wine and Sea
Cruise to the historic Perano Whaling Station through the calm and majestic Queen Charlotte Sound experiencing a variety of marine wildlife on the way. This is the only restored whaling station in New Zealand. You will be able to see and touch actual machinery used during New Zealand's whaling era.
Here at E-Ko Tours, we have a long history of working with education providers to offer you and your students a safe, fun and unique learning experience. You can provide your own educational material and teachers or have our degree qualified marine biologists tailor a trip to your needs!
Enjoy our intimate 4 hour wildlife and Dolphin cruise in the majestic Marlborough Sounds with the award winning local wildlife experts, departing at 13:30 daily.
We take you where the wildlife is!
Embark on a fully guided wildlife and dolphin cruise like no other. Travel through Marlborough's Queen Charlotte Sound to unique Wildlife Sanctuary Islands, encountering a huge variety of rare, wonderful and interesting species along the way.
Our passionate expert guides will be with you all the way - our team are passionate about the local environment and love to share it's unique aspects with our small groups
Motuara Island is predator free and is home to some rare species such as the yellow-crowned parakeet and saddleback.
Cruise the clear, calm waters of the Marlborough Sounds on a scenic journey to Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary, and relax in the knowledge that that you'll be with the only NZ operator that guarantees you will not get sea sick.
Our comfortable vessels and expert team take you on a conservation focused, wildlife adventure for your soul.
Expert commentary and fantastic viewing areas allow you to enjoy playful Hector's, Bottlenose, or Dusky Dolphins (90% encounter rate!).
We also see NZ fur seals and numerous seabirds before landing on Motuara Island for a 1-hour nature lover's walk to remember.
You'll also enjoy a free sample of Yealands award winning local wine and Sealord's local mussels. Yes - Wine and Seafood on the way home! Enjoy :-)
Explore the island on your own or go with our knowledgeable guide who will point out and describe the resident blue penguins, rare saddleback, melodic bellbirds, cheeky robins, native pigeons and yellow-crowned parakeets (kakariki).
If it's a clear day, you may also be able to spot the North Island in the distance.
About Motuara Island Bird Santuary
The birds on this predator-free island are fearless, plentiful and very vocal. The view from the Cook Strait lookout is absolutely spectacular!
It's not unusual for you to be able to get very close to these amazing creatures - there'll be plenty of photo opportunities.
Motuara Island was significant for Maori. At the southern tip of Motuara Island is smaller Hippa Island which was the site of a pre-European M?ori p?.
The adjacent Ship Cove was where Maori first met pakeha on a sustained basis - our guides will show you exactly where.
Motuara Island was the location where, in 1770, Captain Cook proclaimed British sovereignty over the South Island. (via Doc)
After returning to the boat, sit back and relax with a hot drink and cookies (Wine and Mussels also) before making our way back to Picton and stopping to check out any extra species we discover.
We are located conveniently on Picton's main W\waterfront with car parking close by and only a 1-minute walk from the main street. Just look for the Dusky Dolphin outside our shop.
Board our purpose built vessels at our floating wharf for your small group experience before embarking the ultimate cruise through the scenic and sheltered waters of the southern Queen Charlotte Sound.
We were lucky enough to head out with e-Ko Tours recently on a perfect late autumn day with not a cloud in the sky.
We'd considered carefully which cruise company to go with and were not disappointed... The boat was well appointed and comfortable with space for everyone to move around easily.
Paul, the skipper, was friendly and fun to chat to and Tristram, our guide, was superbly knowledgeable about everything we saw during our 4 hour trip to Motuara Island and back.
Also much appreciated were the thoughtful hands up and down from boat to jetty, myself being not the most agile. Little things that make a big difference.
We saw a wealth of wildlife whilst on our trip - 2 species of dolphin, the Hector's were absolutely delightful as they played right around the boat, rolling to look up at us!
And fur seals, rare shags, petrels, gannets, moon jellyfish, and on the island - Saddlebacks, Black Robins, Bellbirds, Wax-eyes, Fantails and Kakariki. I advise sitting quietly by the "bird bath" - water source where the birdlife comes to bathe and drink - for best viewing of birds.
It was incredible to listen to the birdsong in the bush, something that is sadly a thing of the past in so many places. Thank goodness for predator-free sanctuaries such as this. It was a most memorable day and I thoroughly recommend e-Ko Tours to all.
The King Shag is one of the world's rarest sea birds with a global population of only ~830. They are endemic to the Marlborough Sounds and are the largest of the Cormorant species that inhabit the region.
The Hector's dolphin is one of the world's smallest cetaceans at approximately 1.4m in length. It is only found in New Zealand and is our only endemic cetacean. It can be found in the north and south islands and has an estimated population of around 13, 000 individuals.
Here at E-Ko Tours we are proud to follow the Marine Mammal Protection Act 1978 and the Marine Mammal Protection Regulations 1992. These ensure the marine mammals of New Zealand are protected and that their conservation is a top priority. Our interactions with the marine mammals of the Marlborough Sounds adhere to all regulations and our conservation focused tours are designed to educate and raise awareness about conservation in the Marlborough Sounds.
Detailed information - Wildlife Island Sanctuary and Dolphin Cruise (Motuara Island)
The Tour Departs from Picton Waterfront which has a carpark within 200 meters of the E-ko Shop
What to Bring ;
Footwear you can walk in
Light jacket if overcast
Tour requies a minimum of 4 to operate
Tour may be cancelled due to weather or safety at our discretion / Full refund
48 Hours Notice of customers cancelllation required for refuund
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