- Cruise Calm Sheltered Waters of Queen Charlotte Sound
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Tour info in brief
|2 – 4 hours
|Adult: $199 (16+ years)
Child: $175 (12 – 15 years)
|1 Wellington Street, Picton
No Seasickness Guarantee
About the Tour
Swim with Wild Dolphins in the Marlborough Sounds
Join us on New Zealand’s best dolphin swimming experience in the shimmering, flat waters of the scenic Marlborough Sounds. Swimming with wild dolphins is a genuine bucket list activity – we never get tired of seeing the joy and wonder on the faces of our swimmers! We’ll be searching for Dusky, Bottlenose, Common, Orca and the rare Hector’s dolphins that frequent this unique area.
From 1st December – 31st May, the E-Ko Dolphin Swim Tour will only be running twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays only. The tour will then be available to book daily from 1st June – 30th November.
We have made the decision to focus on this tour in the Winter months, which is when we have a much better swim success rate due to the fact that the very social Dusky dolphin frequent the Marlborough Sounds during this time of the year.
E-Ko will continue to offer our Dolphin View tour in the Summer months, which is when we find that you will experience fantastic viewing opportunities here in the Marlborough Sounds – in particular our very rare and protected Queen Charlotte Sound Hectors dolphin. Read More
Swimming with Dolphins: The Ultimate Nature Experience
Anyone who has ever taken to the water with a mask and snorkel may have seen sea creatures up close in their natural habitat, but fish are not interested in meeting humans. Watch an underwater wildlife documentary and you will see a school of brightly coloured specimens scattering in all directions when the camera comes along. Dolphins, though, are not fish but mammals – they have to surface to breathe, just as we do – and they are sociable mammals that seem to enjoy company. If you swim with dolphins, it can be a magical experience, and we are proud to be able to let you swim with dolphins in New Zealand waters.
Safety and Respect in a Dolphin Encounter
If you come on one of our swimming with dolphins expeditions with E-ko Tours, you will find the whole thing very organised, because your safety is paramount for us, as is the welfare of the dolphins. It should be regarded as a privilege to have a swim alongside these wonderful creatures and our guides will advise you on how to behave in the water. There are rules and regulations to be observed and we make sure all our swimmers are fully aware of them.
Ours will often be the only vessel out there on the calm, peaceful water and we restrict group numbers, so there will never be too many of you vying for a place near the dolphins. When we spot a group (or pod) of dolphins, we will get close enough and, assuming the conditions are good – which they usually are – we will help you into the water so you can enjoy the time in complete safety. If other members of your party don’t want to swim, that’s fine. They can stay on board and take pictures and video. After all, if you can take home some visual evidence that you did this wonderful thing, how cool would that be? If you prefer to watch these beautiful creatures from afar, our dolphin watching tours offer a unique outing for dolphin and nature lover alike.
How Do We Know the Dolphins Enjoy this?
Dolphins are sociable, fun-loving creatures, that much is obvious. They appear to be perfectly happy having a few humans around, which is why the authorities allow swimming with dolphins in New Zealand.
Our Qualifications to Organise Dolphin Encounters
Our captains are experienced and careful, and our guides are WCA-accredited marine guides. We have a special Department of Conservation permit to interact with dolphins and other marine mammals. We expect those who join our dolphin cruises to behave respectfully and responsibly both on the vessel and in the water. Swimming with dolphins in New Zealand is fun for our guests and we are determined the dolphins will enjoy it too. Read less
What to expect
Ready, Set, Swim (with dolphins!)
Once spotted, we’ll cruise with the dolphins and get you ready to swim if conditions allow. As a permitted SMART (DOC ) and WCA operator, we abide by the rules and regulations established for dolphin swimming and viewing activities. If conditions are good, then we’ll place you in the water where you will experience a real adventure for your soul – an experience you’ll never forget. Whether it’s watching a group quietly cruising along or marveling at their high leaps, backflips, and somersaults during social bouts, dolphins are a truly magnificent sight!
Guides and Permits
Our WCA Qualified guides are there to make sure you (and the dolphins) have the best and safest experience possible. Our special Department of Conservation permit allows us to seek out and interact with all species of marine mammals that live in the Sounds. We’ll take you there and provide respectful interactions with these amazing creatures.
You’ll see more than just dolphins.
During the cruise, we’re also likely to see NZ Fur Seals and a variety of seabirds (like Gannets, Shearwaters and Penguins). We pride ourselves that on an E-Ko tour, we will show you a wider variety of wildlife species than on any other NZ marine tour. Once you come out of the water, your guides will be waiting with hot drinks and cookies which you can enjoy while we cruise back to Picton.
Dolphin Swimming or Viewing?
It’s worth noting that you don’t have to swim with dolphins – we have our Motuara Island tour (our most popular) – which not only takes in dolphins, but has the added bonus of spending an hour on a wildlife sanctuary – so you have the opportunity to see a much wider variety of wildlife.
Why Choose E-Ko?
Unlike other dolphin swimming operations around New Zealand where several boats are around the same group of dolphins, we are Picton’s only dolphin swimming operator – that means we’re the only boat with swimmers in the water with a group of dolphins. And of course, don’t forget our ‘no seasickness guarantee’ – our waters are so calm that in over 10 years of operation we have never had a guest suffer from seasickness – no one else is willing or able to offer this guarantee! All equipment is provided for you. Just bring your swimwear, a towel, your camera and a sense of adventure.
Prices include all equipment and gear – just bring your swimwear and a towel.
- Adult: (16+ years) $199
- Child: (12-15 years) $175
Tour Times ⏰
- Briefing: 08:15
- Departure: 09:00
- Duration: between 2 – 4 hours
Even though this tour is in the sheltered waters of the Marlborough Sounds, it is still an open ocean experience and in order to swim with the dolphins, you should be confident in the open ocean. You’ll need to sign a declaration stating you are medically fit and healthy and also a liability disclaimer if you are participating in the swimming experience. If you have any concerns please call us and chat to us about your suitability to participate in this tour.
What to bring
- A towel
- A sense of adventure!
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
“An ultimate experience”
Trip advisor – 5 STAR ***** Swim with dolphins – an ultimate experience! Had the most amazing experience yesterday! Saw probably a dozen dolphins up close (so close you could almost touch…but remember, don’t touch the special sea friends). Sunny day, water not too cold. Staff was knowledgeable, friendly and as excited we were. All in all, a beautiful time out.
“Truly fantastic experience”
Trip Advisor – 5 STAR ***** Dolphin swim
Facebook — 5 star ***** Loved it! The crew, the boat… the dolphins! Everything was awesome!