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Wildlife Motuara Sanctuary Tour and Dolphin Cruise from Picton provided by E-Ko Tours

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Wildlife Motuara Sanctuary Tour and Dolphin Cruise from Picton

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2 adults
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Discover Marlborough’s native wildlife on a half-day, small-group Queen Charlotte Sound cruise from Picton that includes a nature walk on the Motuara Island bird sanctuary. Marine biologist guides share insights into Marlborough’s fascinating critters as you watch for seals and five species of dolphin, then get a glimpse of a pristine New Zealand forest on predator-free Motuara Island—home to native blue penguins, saddlebacks, bellbirds, and more.
You'll start at
E-Ko Tours
1 Wellington Street, Picton 7220, New ZealandFollow BLUE line form Visitor Information Center until you see, Seal, Dolphin and Penguin
See address & details
  • 1
    E-Ko Tours
    Stop: 30 minutes - Admission included
    See details
  • 2
    Marlborough Sounds
    Stop: 4 hours - Admission included
    See details
You'll end at
E-Ko Tours
1 Wellington Street, Picton 7220, New ZealandFollow BLUE line form Visitor Information Center until you see, Seal, Dolphin and Penguin
See address & details
  • Enjoy a biologist-led, conservation-focused tour of Queen Charlotte Sound
  • Spot native and rare birds that are threatened on New Zealand's mainland
  • Hike and bird-watch on Motuara Island, and refuel with hot drinks on board
  • Group size capped at 15 travelers for a more personalized experience
What to Expect
Make your way to the Picton waterfront, where you board a vessel bound for the Queen Charlotte Sound, navigating past a maze of inlets and channels. Keep your camera ready throughout the cruise, as you will likely spot fur seals, seabirds, and native dolphins on the scenic trip to Motuara Island. Here and throughout the tour, the onboard marine biologists share facts and background on the wildlife you encounter. At Motuara Island, stretch your legs on a guided nature hike and seek out some of the island’s blue penguins, saddlebacks, bellbirds, robins, native pigeons, and kakariki, or yellow-crowned parakeets. This is a great chance to see rare New Zealand species, as the birds of Motuara Island are able to nest and breed without interference from invasive predators. Following the nature hike, enjoy the return cruise to Picton, with tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and cookies served along the way.
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Important Information
Departure Point
E-Ko Tours, 1 Wellington Street, Picton 7220, New Zealand
Return Details
Returns to original departure point
  • Professional guide
  • Live commentary on board
  • National Park fees
  • Beverages and snacks
  • Tea, coffee, hot chocolate and chocolate biscuits on the return journey
  • Complimentary Local Wine and Mussel Samples of the PM Tour
  • FREE Binoculars to help you spot wildlife and Species ID cards
  • Entry/Admission - E-Ko Tours
  • Entry/Admission - Marlborough Sounds
  • Gratuities
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off
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Additional Info
  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Most travellers can participate
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Minimum numbers apply. There is a possibility of cancellation after confirmation if there are not enough passengers to meet requirements. In the event of this occurring, you will be offered an alternative or full refund
  • Operates in all weather conditions, please dress appropriately
  • Subject to favorable weather conditions. If canceled due to poor weather, you will be given the option of an alternative date or full refund
  • Family friendly with plenty of children's activities onboard
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s cancelled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund
  • This experience requires a minimum number of travellers. If it’s cancelled because the minimum isn’t met, you’ll be offered a different date/experience or a full refund
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 30 travellers
Cancellation Policy
For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.
Traveller rating
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  • 3
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Traveller type
Time of year
Popular mentions
Robert wrote a review 16 Sep
Wanaka, New Zealand48 contributions26 helpful votes
We did the afternoon cruise to Motuara Island bird sanctuary on a sunny day in September. We saw more than a dozen dolphin on the way out and on the way back. The walk to the lookout at the top of Motuara Island was accompanied by birdsong and amazing views. The crew,
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Date of experience: September 2020
M Lewis wrote a review 12 Sep
5 contributions
What an amazing trip. My 7 yrs granddaughter Was blown away. The staff were wonderful and accommodating. Seeing the dolfins, seals and an array of birds. With hot coco and cookies after the beautiful island walk and a glass of Marlborough wine for the adults. I'd recommend this
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Henro2010 wrote a review Aug 2020
Nelson, New Zealand100 contributions58 helpful votes
What a great little tour! We were super lucky to get a millpond smooth sunny winter's day on the Sounds, and were hardly out of Picton before we had some dolphin sightings, including a pair of Hectors. Excellent bird sightings on the water, and the Motuara excursion was just
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Date of experience: July 2020
Angela S wrote a review Jul 2020
wellington271 contributions72 helpful votes
We had a cold but beautiful day and almost immediately came across a large pod of Common Dolphins in association with a group of acrobatic dive-bombing Australian Gannets. Amazing and the highlight of the trip for me. We also saw fur seals, rare King Shags and other more common
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Date of experience: July 2020
Response from josephinewekotours, Guide at Wildlife Motuara Sanctuary Tour and Dolphin Cruise from Picton
Responded 28 Jul 2020
Many thanks for your lovely feedback Angela ! You are right the gannets working together with the dolphins were spectacular ! Have a great day :) and thanks again
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Caitlin wrote a review Jul 2020
7 contributions
Amazing experience! Thoroughly enjoyed our time out, saw heaps of dolphins and penguins! Such a unique and one of a kind experience, would recommend! Food and drinks provided were also an added bonus to an already great trip!
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Date of experience: July 2020
About the operator

Don’t take it from us – here’s what people have to say about this operator.

By: E-Ko Tours
Great trip. Highly recommended
Had such a great afternoon. The staff were lovely and very knowledgeable. Saw so many dolphins (which I know is no
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Wonderful trip swimming with dolphins
We were a family group of four and this was a special treat for a family trip- dolphin swimming. Instructions and c
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E-Ko trip included in travel to Bay of Many Coves resort
this trip was included in our transfer to Bay of Many Coves Resort. The tour staff were helpful, knowledgeable and
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Afternoon adventure
E-Ko Tours is a very professional and environmentally friendly company. Staff are very knowledgeable about the natu
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Not good !
It was my hubby's birthday surprise for me and I must say it was not a great experience at least for me. The parkin
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Awesome trip
Having just got off the Interislander it was short walk to E-Ko Tours office on the waterfront We got on a very nic
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Swimming with Dolphins
Great morning out this morning. 9am departure on a clear calm sunny Marlborough day. We did not have to wait long
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not happy
Rang to enquire about birdwatching tour. Told I could be dropped off on island sanctuary and picked up 2 hours late
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Fantastic Experience
This was the most fantastic way to witness dolphins swimming in The Sounds, seeing the King Shag bird and the littl
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Fabulous day on the boat.
Booked this tour the day before and decided on the Captain Cook tour (which is linked with the Motuara Tour) we wer
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I had the best day on our tour. I have never seen so much wildlife in the Sounds. We saw: king shags, penguins, dus
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Marlborough Sound Ultimate Cruise
Wow, we got the unusual priviledge to see a pid of bottle nose dolphins....for 20 minutes swimming, jumping, singin
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Best experience in NZ in two months
The reception staff are friendly, the tour we picked was on a good sized vessel with a keen and enthusisatic guide
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ash E
Great relaxed cruise
This is one of those cruises that we both really enjoyed.. the boat was turned off when the dolphins were spotted a
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This was an amazing awesome morning highlight was seeing the hectos dolphin such a rare animal and privilege. Then
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Key Details
  • Duration: 4h
  • Mobile Ticket Accepted
  • Free Cancellation up to 24 hours in advance
  • Instant Confirmation
  • Languages Offered: English
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Frequently Asked Questions about Wildlife Island Sanctuary (Motuara ) and Dolphin Cruise from Picton