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    Travelling Whales in Cook strait
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    1st Successful Whale Watching Tour...

    Recent Wildlife Sightings
    Author: E-Ko Tours
    June 18, 2017

Wildlife Island Sanctuary and Dolphin Cruise (Motuara Island)

Wild Life and Dolphin Cruise


Enjoy the BEST 4 hour wildlife and dolphin cruise in the majestic Marlborough Sounds with the award winning local wildlife experts!


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. 


Cruise the majestic Marlborough Sounds on a scenic journey to Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary. Our comfortable vessels and expert team take you on a conservation focused, wildlife adventure for your soul. Outstanding 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.


Capturing the very best of the Marlborough Sounds, this half-day tour is New Zealand's best nature experience.


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).  The birds on this predator-free island are fearless, plentiful and very vocal. The view from the Cook Strait lookout is absolutely spectacular!  After returning to the boat, sit back and relax with a hot drink and cookies before making our way back to Picton and stopping with any extra species we discover.


We are located conveniently on Picton's main 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!


Come inside to see our stunning display of life size models of the wildlife species you will encounter on your experience. Wildlife information can be downloaded FREE to your phone. 


Board our purpose built vessels at our floating wharf for your small group experience before embarking on your cruise through the scenic and sheltered waters of the southern Queen Charlotte Sound.


Sea Birds

  • Little Blue Penguins

  • King Shags

  • Reef Heron

  • Variable Oyster Catcher

  • Fluttering Shearwaters

  • Artic and Pomeranian Skua 

  • White Fronted Turn

  • Spotted Shag

  • Pied Shag

  • Little Black Shag

  • Australasian Gannets


Marine Mammals

  • New Zealand Fur Seals

  • Hectors Dolphins

  • Bottlenose Dolphins

  • Common Dolphins

  • Dusky Dolphins

  • Orca


Land Birds

  • Fantail

  • Grey Warbler

  • Tui

  • Bellbird

  • New Zealand Wood Pigeon

  • South Island Robin

  • Rowi Kiwi

  • Yellow Fronted Kakariki

  • South Island Saddleback

  • Nesting Penguins 


Daily departures at 13:30 (13:15 check-in).


Commonly seen on this tour

King Shag

King Shag

(Leucocarbo carunculatus)

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. 

Hector's Dolphin

Hector's Dolphin

(Cephalorhynchus hectori)

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.

Departure Information

  • Duration

    4-5 hours
  • Briefing Time

    Viewing Only - 30 Minutes before tour departure


Wellington Street Picton
View Map View Map


  • Dolphins (90% encounter rate)
  • Motuara Bird Sanctuary Island
  • Degree qualified guides
  • Learn about the Marlborough Sounds
More Info

Tour Gallery

Conservation Initiatives

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.