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Bird Watchers Tours


  • King Shags
  • Orange Fronted Kakariki
  • Small Group Tours
  • Expert Guides

Save the planet –
Take an E-Ko Tour!

A portion of each tour fee goes back into conservation

Tour info in brief

4 hours
1.30 PM
Pricing: Adult: $129 (16+ years)
Child: $65 (5 – 15 years)
Infant: $30 (0 – 4 years)
Location: 1 Wellington Street , Picton
Briefing: 1.15 PM

No Seasickness Guarantee

About the Tour

Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary Experience

This experience provides the opportunity to view a variety of land and sea birds, including the very rare King Shag.

Found only in the Marlborough Sounds, the King Shag is considered a prize amongst birdwatchers.

Learn about the wildlife from our qualified guides as we take the time to enjoy the species that call these waters home.

Predator-free Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary is a bird-lovers paradise and home to:

  • Little Blue penguin
  • South Island Saddleback
  • Kereru
  • Bellbird
  • Yellow-crowned Parakeets (Kakariki)
  • NZ Falcon and South Island Robins
  • Fantail (Piwakawaka) and Grey Warbler

Enjoy a 1-hour bush walk to the top of the island for the added bonus of amazing views across the Cook Strait to the North Island.

The birds here are plentiful, fearless and very vocal and, if you sit quietly, they may even come within an arm’s reach!

Other species likely encountered include:

  • Dolphins (Dusky, Bottlenose, Hector’s, Common or Orca)
  • NZ Fur Seals
  • Spotted, Pied and Little Shags
  • Variable Oystercatchers
  • White-fronted terns
  • Australasian Gannets
  • Fluttering Shearwaters
  • Reef and white-faced herons
  • Arctic skuas (seasonal)
  • Caspian Terns
  • and much, much more!

Prices include all equipment and gear.

  • Adult: (16+ years) $129
  • Child: (5-15 years) $65
  • Infant: (0-4 years) $30

Tour Times⏰

  • Briefing: 13:15
  • Departure: 13:30
  • Duration: 4 hours

Blumine Island Drop off (Orange-fronted Kakariki)

  • Briefing time: 13:15 (subject to availability)
  • Trip duration: 4 hours
  • Price: Adult $169

For bird enthusiasts keen on seeking the incredibly rare and endangered Orange-fronted Kakariki, this option provides a drop off and pick-up onto Blumine Island for approximately 1.5 hours during the afternoon Wildlife Experience.

We have a 90% success rate on finding this elusive bird and bird watchers from all over the world come here to photograph and view these amazing creatures.

Before we drop you off on the island we will tell you our secret method for success (and you have to keep it a secret!) 😉

This predator free bird sanctuary is also home to the

  • South Island Saddleback
  • Bellbirds
  • Kereru
  • Tomtit
  • Tui
  • Weka
  • Mohua (very rare!)

Note there is no jetty or pier onto the island, so you may end up with wet feet jumping on and off the vessel – but it’s worth it for the experience!

After your time on the island we will pick you up for a cruise back to Picton.

Please note this option is subject to availability and weather conditions.

Bird Watchers Expedition

For Birding Watching Groups or Clubs – You pick the island!

  • Briefing time: 08:00
  • Trip duration: 4 hours
  • Price: $1500 for up to 14 passengers

This specialised experience focuses on two species – the New Zealand King Shag and the Orange Fronted Kakariki, New Zealand’s rarest bush bird

Lots of other species are also encountered on the cruise through the beautiful calm waters of Queen Charlotte Sound to our predator free bird sanctuary islands.

Departs Picton at 08:00 for an hour long search for our rare and endangered King Shags only found here in Marlborough.

There are just 830 of these birds on the planet but we have 99.9% success rate finding them.

You have one of our specially trained Captains to guide you and make the photos perfect.

Blumine Island, our next stop is THE place to see the incredibly rare Orange Fronted Kakariki.

We have a 90% success rate finding this elusive bird and bird watchers from all over the world come here to see (and usually photograph) this prized species.

Before we drop you off on the island we will share our secret method for successful spotting with you.

After your time on the island we will pick you up at 11:00 for a cruise back to
Picton as we search for dolphins and other wildlife before returning you safely to shore by 12:30.

We also supply biscuits and hot drinks on this tour. Luxury Birding.

E-Ko Rowi Kiwi Experience

We transport the rarest Kiwi in New Zealand to Motuara approximately every 6 weeks as part of our ongoing partnership with the Department of Conservation.

You can see these young kiwi chicks up close and personal on one of our transport trips.

Email or call us and we can add you to our list of people wanting to see the Rowi Kiwi.

Tour Times⏰

  • Briefing: 13:15
  • Duration: 4 hours


  • Adult: (16+ years) $129
  • Child: (5-15 years) $65
  • Infant: (0-4 years) $30

All our birdwatchers tours are only available through phone or email bookings – contact us and we’ll take care of you.

King Shag only found in Marlborough Orange Fronted Kakriki Yellow Crowned kakariki in birdbath South Island Saddle back washing on motuara island


What to expect

Orange-Fronted Kakariki, New Zealand’s rarest bush bird – 90% success ( only 300)

King Shag ( only 830 worldwide )

Close encounters with Bird Species and great commentary

What to bring

Camera Equipment
Sunhat and sunglasses
Bird Species book


Where are we?

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.

Before your tour starts feel free to take a seat inside the shop or outside on our sun drenched deck and enjoy the stunning views.

Customers can also get online with our free WiFi, and purchase a tea or coffee to enjoy on the deck.

You will Never Miss your Ferry

Our tour schedules are integrated with the Interislander – so there is no chance that you’ll miss your ferry.

What people are saying about us

“Totally awesome Eco tour”

Facebook -5 Star *****
Ria Migaloo reviewed E-Ko Tours – April 6,

Totally awesome Eco tour, i so loved seeing all the amazing bird life It was truly the best day ever 🙂 ohh and to see the Hectors too was just icing on the cake. Only sorry that I couldn’t stay longer but i,ll be back 🙂 Bless

“Quality Wildlife Tour”

Trip Advisor – 5 Star***** – 23 May 2017

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 agilest. 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.