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Ship Cove: Queen Charlotte Track Drop-Off


    • CHEAPEST Transport to Ship Cove
  • Fully Guided Transport with Wildlife and Dolphin stops
  • Experience Marlborough Sounds Wildlife and scenery
  • For Track Walkers only and your Packs
  • Pick Up available at Ships Cove at 1615
  • HELP Save the Endangered Species (Taonga)

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    Tour info in brief

    1-1.5 Hour
    8.00 AM, 13.30 PM
    Pricing: Adult: $70
    Child: $50 (5-15)
    Infant: $35 (0-4)
    Location: 1 Wellington Street Picton
    Briefing: 7.45 AM, 13.15 PM

    No Seasickness Guarantee

    FREE Photos

    About the Tour

    We’ll transport you to Ship Cove – the start of the Queen Charlotte Track, Ship Cove (Meretoto) and give you a FREE Wildlife tour on the way:-) The BEST and Cheapest way to start a Walk along the fantastic Queen Charlotte Track.$70  

    History of Ship Cove or Meretoto

    This is where Kupe arrived 800 years ago and his descendants meet Captain Cook who spent 170 days their over 9 years. Cook based 3 voyages from here and visited 5 times. In 1821 we also had a Russian Expedition spend time at Meretoto. It has always been a great place to relax and enjoy the amazing beauty and tranquillity of this spectacular sheltered fertile location. There is a lot of historical information on Display at Ship Cove.  

    We stop for Wildlife along the way

    You can enjoy the only Local Water Transport service that stops for Wildlife, Dolphins, Seals, Seabirds and has an Experienced Crew with a WCA Certified Marine Guide that will inform you about local wildlife, conservation and the local area. You’ll experience a huge variety of wildlife you can also see more land-based wildlife on the Premier Wildlife Sanctuary by upgrading this Drop off to include Motuara Island or other options below.

    Pick Up Times for 1/2 or Full Day Tours:

    You can also spend 1/2 day or a Full day at Ship Cove (Meretoto) and get picked up to return to Picton at 11 am – 4.15 pm from Ship Cove.  

    Short Walk and Day Tour Extras

    Motuara Island Wildlife Sanctuary Guided Tour for $30. Return to Picton from Ships Cove $70. 

    Recommended Extras

    This beautiful location Ship Cove ( Meretoto) is rich not only in History yet also has lots to do and do then we highly recommend the below options; A. Go and see the Beautiful Waterfall which 1-hour return to Ship Cove. B. Take a walk up to see the ancient Trees along the NEW track, up to 1400-year-old Totara Trees, and the Summit lookout is spectacular with Motuara island as a backdrop. C. Hire a Mask and Snorkel and Wetsuit and enjoy the snorkelling in clear calm waters.$30   Call us to discuss what would suit you best or just book online and upgrade when you arrive:-)

    Kupes pole at Ship Cove Dolphin Watching at E-Ko NZ Fur Seal on rock in Picton Outer sounds islands aerial Weka close up little blue penguins Hectors Dolphin Kupes Trail lookout to motuara Island in Queen Charlotte Sound in 2023 Totara tree Ship Cove Monument to Captain Cook at Ships Cove


    What to expect

    We depart at 8.00 AM and 13.30 PM from Picton daily (check-in at 7.45 AM/ 13.15 PM) and you’ll be greeted by our friendly team – feel free to purchase a coffee from our shop 🙂 Our comfortable vessels and expert team take you on a conservation-focused, wildlife adventure for your soul. On our journey, we’ll be encountering a huge variety of rare, wonderful and interesting species along the way. Approximately one hour later you’ll arrive at Ship Cove/ Meretoto, where your next adventure starts. Read More

    Join Us on One of Our Ship Cove Tours

    We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Queen Charlotte Track is the best coastal track in New Zealand – and that is saying something in this blessed country of ours. In addition to that, in our opinion, the best part of Queen Charlotte Track is Meretoto/ Ship Cove to Schoolhouse Bay, and that makes our Ship Cove tours the absolute pinnacle of tours in the area.

    We can take you on a wonderful trip on foot or by sea. The cheapest and best track drop to Ship Cove takes one and a half hours, while there is an 8-hour option that takes in Motuara Island and Ship Cove. On this, you will see dolphins, birds, penguins and seals.

    What Makes Ship Cove Queen Charlotte Sound so Special?

    Queen Charlotte Sound is the most easterly of the main channels or straits that make up the Marlborough Sounds activities. It is a sheltered expanse of water and that, in addition to the fact that we have a very stable vessel, allows us to offer a money-back no-seasickness guarantee. We offer dolphin-watching, whale island tours, and dolphin swimming tours, on both of which you are likely to see both of the endangered creatures that we have adopted as characters in our literature: the King Shag and Hector’s Dolphin.

    The Queen Charlotte track day walk that runs along the edge of the sound allows panoramic views of the water but also has its own land-based charms. The verdant hills and mountains that form the backdrop to the track are alive with birds and animals, going about their business in the trees, bushes and undergrowth. So, if you’re a landlubber, or if you want to see both aspects of Queen Charlotte, you can do the Ship Cove Queen Charlotte Sound trip on foot.

    Is Meretoto the Same as Ship Cove?

    Meretoto is the Maori name for the bay we now call Ship Cove, and it was where Captain James Cook chose to base himself while in the region. Captain Cook was the 18th century British explorer who made three voyages to the Pacific and was particularly fascinated with New Zealand. Whether he appreciated the wildlife or took it for granted, we don’t know, but the world was relatively pristine in those days, so the wonders of nature wouldn’t have been so unusual. Things have changed radically since his time, but Queen Charlotte Track NZ and Ship’s Cove have remained pretty much as he would have seen them. The birdsong that fills the air must have been music to his ears, just as it is to ours, with its heart-warming, soothing innocence.

    The knowledgeable, accredited guides on our nature tours in NZ will give you all the background you need to understand the significance of this blessed part of the world.

    How Can I Book My Ship Cove Tour?

    Fill in the online form, email us or just call us and we can get you booked in for a Ship Cove tour. We can also give you information about all the other excursions we offer including wildlife photography tours and walks from Picton. After all, if you’re going to do an E-Ko Tours nature trip, you might as well get the best. Read less

    What to bring

    All your gear for your Queen Charlotte Track experience Please note our shuttle is for walkers only – we can’t transport bikes 🙂

    • Sunscreen
    • Hat
    • Water
    • Camera
    • Good Walking shoes

    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

    Fantastic tour 5 STAR ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ My wife and I have just returned from a half-day tour. We found this company paid attention to every detail, they delivered exactly what was promised, this of course was with the help of very obliging Hectors Dolphins, seals and a large variety of birds. A very informative commentary by Paul and Tania, both very knowledgeable on all things to do with the area and the local wildlife Best New Zealand boat tour we’ve taken so far 5 Star Captain Paul and guide Tania were awesome. Our family had such a good time. Of course, it helps that the weather was perfect and the wildlife were feeling cooperative. We saw Australasian gannets, Hector’s dolphins, fluttering shearwaters, a blue penguin, South Island robins (the other Motuara Island birds were shy), and lots of shags, including the rare king shag. The tour was full but “full” meant 30 passengers so it felt pretty intimate. We enjoyed cookies, tea, hot chocolate, mussels (well, I didn’t enjoy them but I don’t like mussels), and local wine on the return trip to the harbor. I would’ve liked a bit more time on Motuara Island, but rules are rules so an hour it was. We’ve taken multiple boat tours in New Zealand including Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, Te Anau, and Ulva Island. They’ve all been fun but my whole family agrees that this one is our favorite. 

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