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    Hector's Dolphin in the Queen Charlotte Sound
    Latest Article

    Photo of the Week March 31st

    E-Ko News
    Author: E-Ko Tours
    March 31, 2018

Bird Watchers Experiences

King Shag

Enjoy the BEST bird watching experiences in Marlborough Sounds with the award winning local WILDLIFE EXPERTS!


We take you where the wildlife is!


E-Ko is very excited to now offer you, keen bird watchers, four different options for experiencing the plethora of rare and wonderful birds the Queen Charlotte Sound has to offer. All options include time spent on the water cruising the Queen Charlotte Sound in search of a large variety of sea birds that inhabit the area, including one of the world's rarest sea birds, the King Shag!


Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary Experience

Briefing times: 13:15 daily

Trip duration: 4 hours

Price: Adult $99 Child $55 Infant $30


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 degree 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 blue penguins, South Island Saddleback, Kereru, Bellbirds, Yellow-crowned Parakeets (Kakariki), NZ Falcon and South Island Robins.


Enjoy a 1-hour bush walk to the top of the island for the added bonus of amazing view 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) and much, much more!



Blumine Island Drop off (Orange-fronted Kakariki)

Briefing time: 13:15 (subject to availability)

Trip duration: 4 hours

Price: Adult $155 


For bird enthusiasts keen on seeking the 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. This predator free bird sanctuary is also home to the South Island Saddleback, Bellbirds, Kereru, Tomtits, Tui, Weka, and the very rare Mohua. 


Note there is no jetty or pier onto the island, so you may end up with wet feet jumping on and off the vessel! 


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 specialized experience focuses on two species; New Zealand King Shag and 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 is only 830 of these birds on the planet and 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 Karkariki. 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 animal. Before we drop you off on the island we will tell you our secret method for success.


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 scones and hot drinks on this tour. Luxury Birding.



E-Ko Rowi Kiwi Experience

Briefing time: 13:15

Trip duration: 4 hours

Price: Adult $99 Child $55 Infant $30


We transport the rarest Kiwi in New Zealand to Motuara every 6 weeks as part of our ongoing support for the Department of Conservation. You can see these young kiwi chicks up close and personal on one of our transport trips. The afternoon Wildlife Tour is used to take birds out and bring them back from Motuara .


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



These tours are only available through phone or email bookings




Commonly seen on this tour

King Shag

King Shag

(Leucocarbo carunculatus)

The King Shag is one of the world's rarest sea birds with a global population of only ~830. They are endemic to the Marlborough Sounds and are the largest of the Cormorant species that inhabit the region. 

South Island Saddleback

South Island Saddleback

(Philesturnus carunculatus)

The South Island Saddleback is endemic to New Zealand and became famous in 1964 for being the first bird species to be saved from extinction by trans-location. From the original 36 rescued birds their population is now estimated to exceed 2000.

Departure Information

  • Duration

    4-10 hours
  • Briefing Time

    Viewing Only - 30 Minutes before tour departure


Wellington Street Picton
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  • King Shag
  • Unique photo opportunities
  • Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary
More Info

Tour Gallery

Conservation Initiatives

Here at E-Ko Tours we are proud to follow the Marine Mammal Protection Act 1978 and the Marine Mammal Protection Regulations 1992. These ensure the marine mammals of New Zealand are protected and that their conservation is a top priority. Our interactions with the marine mammals of the Marlborough Sounds adhere to all regulations and our conservation focused tours are designed to educate and raise awareness about conservation in the Marlborough Sounds.