• Eco-Cruise Options

  • Although our trips are predominately eco-tours, some guests may just want to visit a pretty, secluded beach; have a picnic; take a swim; gather seafood and just relax.

    Others may want a specialized cruise focusing on a particular interest:

    • Dedicated bird-watching cruise
    • Filming Nature or History documentaries
    • Authors doing research for books
    • Wildlife photographers
    • Wedding parties / Birthday parties
    • Taking friends & family on a Sounds adventure
    • Business team-building trips
    • Clubs / Sports groups / Businesses come to have a day out for staff

    We can arrange catering, but most large groups bring their own lunches.

    Because there is so much to see, we can't possibly cover it all in one day. As such, our itinerary is flexible. Unless prearranged, at the start of each trip, we canvas our guests to see what their special interests are and tailor a trip to suit. The weather can also influence our itinerary.

    Below, you'll get an idea of the types of things to do and places to see on our ecotourism cruises.

  • Native Birds
  • Visit Bird Sanctuaries

  • The Marlborough Sounds is an ideal place for bird watching trips, a sheltered inland waterway that offers an amazing diversity of bird life. We can visit off-shore island bird sanctuaries in Marlborough Sounds.

    Takutai will guide you to see some of the rarest of New Zealand native birds. Even experienced bird watchers are amazed at Takutai's uncanny ability to hear and identify all the diferent birds by their song. She has amazing eyesight and sees the birds long before anyone else.

    Takutai instinctively knows the hierarchy or pecking order of the birds and knows you have to wait for certain birds to fly off before others will show. She will show you birds you would never see on a freedom walk.

    There is a whole range of native sea birds and land birds to encounter including the little blue penguins, gulls, terns, oystercatchers, fluttering shearwaters occasionally albatross, cape pigeons and southern ocean petrels. Some birds like the Australasian Gannet and Cormorants have colonies.

    The New Zealand King Shag is one of the rarest birds in the world and is only found in the Marlborough Sounds.

    The island sanctuary walks usually take between 1 and 2 hours, sometimes longer for bird photographers. One island is called Oruawairua which means mind, body and soul. There are WW2 gun emplacements which have wonderful panoramic views.

  • Dolphins
  • Watch NZ Dolphins

  • Bush Walks
  • Go on Bush Walks

  • Some people prefer to go for a bush walk in a catchment that has some of the biggest and oldest podocarps in NZ, giant rimu trees reputed to be 2000 years old, were standing at the time of the birth of Christ.

    Two popular short walks on the off-shore islands of Marlborough Sounds are the Oruawairua Walk on Blumine Island Scenic Reserve and the Motuara Island Lookout Track.

    We also visit sites of historical significance like Ship Cove (Captain Cook's favourite Pacific base) - it has an interesting monument, flanked by ships cannons of the period and informative signage, a very good beach for swimming and diving off the wharf, a bay steeped in history.

  • Wildlife
  • See Endangered Wildlife

  • For those who are interested in endangered animals we can take you for a cruise of East Bay, which for Maori is the spiritual heart land of the Sounds.

    There you'll find Arapawa Sheep that Maori say were left behind by Portuguese sailors, generations before Captain Cook. There are also Feral Goats (old English milch goats left behind by Captain Cook). They were the only ones left in the world and were saved from extinction by a wonderful American Eco Warrior Betty Rowe. When Betty passed she left half her farm as a sanctuary for the sheep goats and other biodiversity.

    We can also visit a Marine Protected Area to feed the magnificent Blue Cod, or for those who are interested in the history of the whaling era, we can steam down Tory Channel and visit NZ's very first shore-based whaling station in a bay called Te Awai iti. See the whale bones on the beach and whale oil in the banks, as well as tombstones of some of NZ's very first European settlers.

    Then visit the remains of the Perano Whaling Station, a sunken rock called Wheke Rock, which Maori say is the remains of Te Wheke o Muturangi - the giant octopus that Kupe (the famous Maori explorer) chased from Hawaiki and killed it at the entrance to Tory channel.

  • Pricing
  • Trip Packages & Pricing

  • We offer a number of tour options and there is a 2-person minimum. For larger groups, we will negotiate a price depending on numbers, Tutanekai has a survey for 30 paxs. [Prices quoted below are in New Zealand dollars.]

  • All Day
    Exclusive Eco-Cruise

    $1200 for 2 paxs,
    $100 for each additional passenger.

    Meals, drinks and snacks provided.

  • 1½ Day
    Overnight Eco-Cruise

    $2000 for 2 paxs,
    $100 for each additional passenger.

    Meals, drinks and snacks provided. Cost of overnight accommodation ashore is extra.

  • 2-Day
    Overnight Eco-Cruise

    $2400 for 2 paxs,
    $100 for each additional passenger.

    Meals, drinks and snacks provided. Cost of overnight accommodation ashore is extra.

  • Some Specialty Eco-Cruises

  • Red Sky Waiata (sing song)
    Evening Eco-Cruise

    Sing Along With Takutai Of Maori Eco Cruises In Marlborough Sounds

    $100 per person, minimum 4 paxs.

    Join us for an evening cruise around the inner Sounds.
    We will anchor up in a secluded, picturesque bay with a nice golden sand beach surrounded with native bush.

    You can pre-order a Fish & Chips meal, we will have teas/coffee and snacks and you are welcome to bring your own drinks (BYOD).

    Takutai will have a strum up and treat you to some Maori Waiata - you might like to learn some Maori Songs. On occasion, Koro Nevell Tahuaroa will accompany us. He is a great entertainer on guitar and saxophone.

    If you are not into singing, we will put on some music and indulge in conversation, sharing stories about our respective countries, cultures and interests.

    We leave from the old wooden wharf at Waikawa Bay
    (not Waikawa Marina) at 6:30 pm and return around 9:30 pm

  • Birthday Adventure
    All Day Eco-Cruise

    Birthday Adventure With Maori Eco Cruises

    $1200 to charter boat, max 30 paxs

    Make this special day into a Sounds adventure with your Friends and family. Your cruise could include a variety of exciting and enjoyable options:

    • Have a swim / dive at a secluded beach or Marine Reserve.
    • Go on a bush walk on an Island Bird Sanctuary like Motuara, home to some of New Zealand’s rarest birds.
    • Visit the Blumine Island WW2 Gun Emplacements.
    • Bay of Mystery, seek out Captain Cooks Goats and Arapawa Sheep.
    • Explore a sunken shipwreck or the old derelict Whaling Station.
    • Visit Ship Cove - Captain Cooks’ favourite Pacific base.
    • Visit Virgin Bush with 2000-yr old Podocarps.
    • Call and have drinks at a Sounds Resort.

    We leave from the old wooden wharf at Waikawa Bay
    (not Waikawa Marina) at 9:30 am and return around 5:00 pm.

  • Photos
  • Captured Memories

  • We've had the pleasure of leading eco-tours and eco-cruises for a lot of wonderful people - individuals, couples, school groups, business groups, etc. - over the last 20+ years. Here's just a sample of the photos we've taken to capture those memories.

  • Grateful for this experience

    We came from the USA and wanted to be familiarized with culture in New Zealand outside of the urban and anglo-centric areas, and our expectations were exceeded

    We were warmed and charmed by the hospitality and wisdom shown by Takutai and Pete during the tour with their company. We relished the conversations and stories they shared about environmentalism, Maori culture, and education.

    We saw beautiful vistas on the comfortable and stable Tukanetai, and felt not only safe but at peace.

    We saw wildlife we’d never seen, like Popoto dolphins and Saddleback Birds in their sanctuaries... and it was amazing to see how respected they were.

    They served a wonderful healthy meal and invaluable knowledge. We cannot recommend working with these lovely people enough.

    Kyra & Ken (USA)

  • Pete & Takutai,

    I just wanted to personally thank you for the tour of the sounds. The scenery and wildlife of the sounds is simply stunning.

    However, one expects to see these things. What one does not expect is to get such a wonderful array of Maori, European and Ecological history and culture of the area set forward in such a personal way.

    Takutai, your extra effort and interest in me personally and in my interest in Maori martial arts was the highlight of the trip. Your generosity in setting me up with Reg was singular.

    I really do miss you. Pete, you and I will meet again and spend some more time together, perhaps over a cold one.

    Let’s keep in touch, at least once in a while, and I’ll see you on my return.

    Bob Charron

  • Depth of knowledge

    Desray and I really enjoyed our day with you out on the sounds.

    It is truly awesome to be able to go half way round the world and to feel at home so quickly with special people like yourselves. I felt we were given an insight into the Maori people and the sacred way of life…

    Pete, your stories while we were sailing were great, such a depth of knowledge and a firm love of your land is such a pleasure to watch.

    John & Desray (South Africa)

  • Thank you

    Just a quick email to thank you for a wonderful day out on your boat, we both enjoyed it tremendously.

    Ray & Yvonne (England)