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Whale Tours

The Marlborough Sounds is a place where time stands still, where endlessly green rainforests meet crystal blue waters and there is a surprise around every corner. View our range of tours below.

Humpback tail slap

4 hours

Daily Departures:
8.00 AM

The Best Marlborough Sounds Tours . . .

Composed of fascinating geological features that create an awe-inspiring landscape, the many sounds, islands, islets and peninsulas that make up the Marlborough Sounds stretch across a vast area of over 4,000 km2.

Whether you are an avian admirer, landscape lover, mad about marine mammals, voracious for vino or hooked on history, our Marlborough Sounds tours will satisfy any area of curiosity.

With much of the Marlborough Sounds region being inaccessible on foot, the best and only way to visit many areas is by boat.

Our captains and guides know the area like the back of their hands and provide our guests with an expert commentary on the historical, geographical and natural aspects of the magnificent scenery that you
will encounter.

Where are the Marlborough Sounds Located?

The Marlborough Sounds are located in the most north-easterly tip of New Zealand’s South Island and are a hive of biodiversity, with many of the unique inhabitants found nowhere else on Earth.

The area provides a safe haven for many endangered species now absent from the rest of New Zealand due to the presence of invasive predators, which have been eradicated from many of the protected areas scattered throughout the Sounds.

One such place is Motuara Island, where our tours visit daily. Here, you can spot rare species including rare saddleback, melodic bellbirds, cheeky robins and yellow-crowned parakeets - as well as Dolphins of course!

E-Ko Tours takes pride in our collaboration with many of the regions’ conservation organisations, providing them with funding for their projects, as well as collecting data with our guests for their crucial research.

The Marlborough Sounds’ luscious green mountainsides and heavenly crystal blue waterways provide a breathtaking backdrop to all of our tours and our resident fauna never fails to disappoint.

With an ever-abundant and playful population of Hector’s, bottlenose and dusky dolphins, orcas, New Zealand fur seals and seasonal cetaceans, including southern right and humpback whales, Marlborough Sounds’ marine mammals are often the stars of the show. Check out our whale watching tours for the best experience!

Marlborough Sounds Wildlife

The region is a birdwatchers dream, with many rare and endemic species inhabiting the peaceful and undisturbed rocky outcrops, islands and prime roosting trees.

With such an abundance of wildlife, no two Marlborough Sounds tours are ever the same.

You may serenely sit and observe the incredible landscape and wildlife as we cruise along the shimmering waterways of Marlborough Sounds which, owing to the area’s extremely convoluted formation, constitute 1/5 of the total length of New Zealand’s coastline.

Experience Wild Dolphins

Or if you wish to get more up-close-and-personal with our cetacean neighbours, we are Picton’s only tour operator that has permission for our guests to swim with wild dolphins - a unique and unparalleled experience that no one else can provide.

For at least 800 years Māori have occupied Marlborough Sounds and archaeological discoveries have indicated that the area was one of the very first places to be occupied by Māori when occupying New Zealand.

The area, known to Māori as Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka a Māui - is very important in Māori culture and has spiritual significance, with its existence believed to be the remains of a waka (canoe), sailed by the sons of ancient gods.

Marlborough Sounds Tours Depart from Picton

Touring the Marlborough Sounds region is only possible from Picton, but visitors are regularly amazed at the diversity and abundance of the small town’s offerings.

Whether you crave adrenaline or wish to serenely soak in the sights, Picton has something for you.

At E-Ko Tours, we cater for all interests, whether you’re a landlubber or an old salt, whatever your timeframe.

As the Marlborough Sounds is so well-protected and has narrow waterways, it has long provided a safe shelter for Māori as well as its non-human inhabitants.

With our highly trained captains, eternally calm and swell-free waters and sturdy vessel, we confidently provide each customer with an exclusive no-seasickness guarantee, which is yet to be challenged in our 10 years of operation.

E-Ko Tours, curing wanderlust since 2009.

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