Our team

Captain Paul (Director)

Dolphin Watch Naturetours: Paul Keating
Dolphin Watch Naturetours: Paul Keating
Paul’s enthusiasm and fun loving exterior belies his 22+ years experience at sea; a global career that spans Master of Super Yachts (www.yachtcaptain.co.nz ), marine engineer, professional diver, and deep sea fisherman. With 3,500+ dive hours spent underwater and decades of sea time on the ocean Paul is happy to tell stories about his adventures …..and yes he knows the billionaires’ holiday secrets!

Alan Lawson [Director]

Alan’s experience reads like a who’s who of some of the most successful companies in the world. From multinationals to start-ups, Alan has been involved in them all.

He has managed campaigns for global brands and governments at Saatchi & Saatchi to running a $750m global network of agencies to being the European Marketing Director of the world’s first ever internet service provider.

Alan’s main hobby of photography has taken him all over the world to places you won’t find on a map so he brings a wealth of travel related experience to reinforce Nature Tour’s premier position as a top travel activity.

Tristan

Tristan is a marine zoologist with a vast array of wildlife knowledge and has extensive field research experience having participated in many conservation projects globally. His portfolio includes working for the MPI as a fisheries observer, turtle conservation in the Caribbean and the south pacific and whale shark and Angolan colobus monkey conservation in Kenya.

He is a keen diver with commercial and recreational diving qualifications who is driven by a passion to explore and protect the delicate marine and terrestrial eco-systems of our planet, aspires to understand and conserve precious environments so that they may be preserved for the enjoyment of future generations and has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge along with boundless enthusiasm.

Jack

Jack is joining us this season from Christchurch where he has been working in New Zealand’s growing cruise ship industry. Before that he spent a number of years studying tourism and business management both and home and abroad. His hobbies include water polo (both playing and coaching), skiing, hunting and fishing. His family settled in the Marlborough region in the 1800s but until now, he has never lived in the area.

General

Our staff members are carefully chosen for their enthusiasm and interest in the wildlife and history of the area. They undergo rigorous training to ensure that their knowledge is detailed, accurate and interesting! Confident in the water, they will put you at ease, help to make your experience rewarding and memorable and, above all, fun!

We like to work with a smile on our faces , every day we have fun showing the wildlife of Malborough sounds to you
We like to work with a smile on our faces , every day we have fun showing the wildlife of Malborough sounds to you

Our boats

Our Boats
Delphinus and Miss Te Rawa are both in Safe Ship Management (SSM) and are operated by fully qualified and licensed skippers and crew. All vessels are available for private or group charter in the Marlborough Sounds with activities ranging from diving to sightseeing – just drop us a line and see what we can do for you.

Delphinus

A 13 metre catamaran that cruises at 20 knots and is surveyed for 30 passengers. An extremely comfortable enclosed cabin, open back seating to catch the sunshine and sea breezes, walk-around sides and fully railed bow make this boat ideal for viewing the scenery and wildlife in the Sounds. Delphinus is equipped with the necessary safety equipment and has a marine toilet for passengers’ use.

Miss Te Rawa

A 9.1 metre custom built Semi-enclosed power boat .She cruises at 25-28 knots ,Seats 14 passengers inside a comfortable cabin with fantastic ,360 degree open view windows.She is currently surveyed for 25 passengers. There is seating on the back deck to catch the abundant sunshine and breeze through your hair. She has a forward viewing area for wildlife photos and a beach access ladder from the foredeck. This makes her the perfect boat for going to the DOC islands and Queen Charlotte Track. Miss Te Rawa is equipped with the necessary safety equipment .

Historic Ship Cove & Dolphin Cruise

Historic Ship Cove & Dolphin Cruise
A nature cruise and historical experience to be enjoyed by all. Fantastic scenery, wonderful wildlife and great guides. A perfect way to experience the Marlborough Sounds.
Orca are rare visitors that come into the Marlborough Sounds around 12 times each year to feed on stingrays. Group sizes range from lone animals to 12 members in a family unit.
Orca are rare visitors that come into the Marlborough Sounds around 12 times each year to feed on stingrays. Group sizes range from lone animals to 12 members in a family unit.
Cruise the length of the calm and sheleterd Queen Charlotte Sound. Experience and learn about playful dolphins (90% encounter rate), fur seals and amazing seabirds before landing at historic Ship Cove of Captain Cook fame. After being welcomed ashore by the cheeky resident Wekas, Oyster Catchers and Paradise Shelducks, you’ll spend approximately 45 minutes enjoying the untouched native forest, fascinating history and breathtaking scenery. Spectacular views toward Motuara Island and open ocean Cook Strait waters will leave you speechless. After returning to the boat, sit back and relax with a hot drink and cookies as we cruise back to Picton by approximately 5:30pm.

Tour Highlights

Dolphins (90% encounter rate), seals & seabirds
Historic Ship Cove stop off and walk (45mins)
Informative history about the area
Family friendly
Conservation focused
Free tea, coffee, hot chocolate and cookies
Departures Daily: 1:30pm (October – April) return 5:30pm (approx.)
Adult: $99, Child: $49 (5-14), Child 0-4 $30
Group tours (of any size) can be arranged for any time of the year!

Motuara Island & Dolphin Cruise

Motuara Island & Dolphin Cruise
Capturing the very best of the Marlborough Sounds, this half-day tour is a New Zealand nature experience to be enjoyed by all. Fantastic scenery, wonderful wildlife and great guides make this Picton’s most fascinating cruise.
Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary
Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary
Cruise the majestic Marlborough Sounds on a scenic journey to Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary. Our comfortable vessels and expert team take you on a conservation focused, wildlife adventure. Outstanding commentary and fantastic viewing areas allow you to enjoy playful Hector’s, bottlenose, or dusky dolphins (90% encounter rate!). We also see NZ fur seals and numerous seabirds before landing on Motuara Island for a 1-hour nature lover’s walk to remember. Explore the island on your own or go with our knowledgeable guide who will point out and describe the resident blue penguins, rare saddleback, melodic bellbirds, cheeky robins, native pigeons and yellow-crowned parakeets (kakariki). The birds on this predator-free island are fearless, plentiful and very vocal. The view from the Cook Strait lookout is absolutely spectacular! After returning to the boat, sit back and relax with a hot drink and cookies before making our way back to Picton and stopping with any extra species we discover.

Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary & Dolphin Cruise

Dolphins (90% encounter rate), NZ Fur Seals, Penguins & seabirds
Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary guided walk (1 hour)
Visit a working salmon fish farm
Informative history about the area
Family friendly
Conservation focused
Free tea, coffee, hot chocolate and cookies
Departures Daily: 1:30pm (October – April) return 5:30pm (approx.)
Drop off at Interislander ferry terminal available – please notify the staff before departure.

Adult: $99, Child: $55 (5-15), Child 0-4 years $30
Group tours (of any size) can be arranged for any time of the year!
Dolphin Watch Naturetours booking

Swimming With Dolphins

Swimming With Dolphins
Swim with dolphins and view them in their underwater world is the adventure experience of a lifetime and one that you’ll never forget!!!
Swimming with the dolphins in Picton, New Zealand
Swimming with the dolphins in Picton, New Zealand
Join us on a dolphin swim & viewing cruise in the sheltered calm waters of the scenic Marlborough Sounds. We’ll search for Dusky, Bottlenose, Common, Orca and the rare Hector’s dolphins that frequent this amazing area. Whether it’s watching a group quietly cruising along or marveling at their high leaps, back-flips, and somersaults during social bouts, dolphins are a magnificent sight! Our Department of Conservation permit allows us to seek out and interact with all species of marine mammals that live in the Sounds. We take you where the wildlife is and provide respectful interactions with these amazing creatures. During the cruise, we’re also likely to see NZ Fur Seals and a variety of seabirds (like Gannets, Shearwaters and Penguins)

Once spotted, we’ll cruise with the dolphins and get the swimmers ready if conditions allow. As a permitted operator, we abide by the rules and regulations established for dolphin swimming and viewing activities. If conditions are good, then we’ll place swimmers in the water for the adventure of a lifetime! Unlike other dolphin swimming operations around New Zealand where several boats are on 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. We primarily operate in an area of little to no sea swell – meaning seasickness is rarely an issue for our guests. Wetsuits, masks and snorkels are provided free of charge. If you’re not keen on swimming with the dolphins, then join this tour for some fantastic dolphin viewing from above.

Tour Highlights

5 possible dolphins species (Bottlenose, Dusky, Common, Hectors & Orca)
Dolphins that are wild and FREE!
Scenic cruise in the calm and sheltered Queen Charlotte Sound
Expert knowledge of the wildlife that lives here
All swim equipment provided
Dolphin Viewing success 95% & Swim sucess 80%
Dolphin Swimming Terms – see below
Family Friendly
Conservation focused
Fantastic photo opportunities
Free tea, coffee, hot chocolate and cookies
Departs Daily (October to April) Check in at 8.15 AM
Dolphin Watch Naturetours booking

This lucky couple get a fantastic look at 2 Bottlenose Dolphins swimming right underneath them.
This lucky couple get a fantastic look at 2 Bottlenose Dolphins swimming right underneath them.
A large group of Bottlenose Dolphins coming straight at this lucky group of swimmers.
A large group of Bottlenose Dolphins coming straight at this lucky group of swimmers.
General Information about swimming with dolphins:
Dolphin Swimming – If you aren’t able to swim with dolphins, we’ll give you a parital refund! Success rate (all year) for viewing dolphins is currently 95%! Success rate (all year) for swimming with dolphins is currently 80%! Please keep in mind that like all dolphin swimming tours in New Zealand, there is always the rare chance that you will not be able to get in the water with wild dolphins. For an update on what we’ve been seeing and swimming with recently, please view our www.facebook.com/naturetours
Wetsuits, masks and snorkels are provided. You will need to bring a swimsuit, towel, camera and sunscreen. A hot deck shower is available immediately after swimming to warm you up. Tea, coffee, hot chocolate and biscuits are provided free-of-charge after swimming/viewing.
Space is limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment.
Each dolphin swimming tour lasts approximately 2 – 4 hours. Tour times depend on where we find the dolphins.
Viewing dolphins in their underwater world is truly a magical experience and one not soon (if ever!) to be forgotten. It should be noted that open water dolphin swimming operations are not like that of an aquarium type atmosphere. Dolphins are generally very interested in swimmers, however, these are wild animals that are in total control of the situation and we are simply guests in their world. If the dolphins are not in the mood to interact with people, they may simply move on and swimmers should be aware there is the chance that they will not interact with them in the water. If that is the case, we will bring the swimmers back onboard for some awesome viewing from the boat. Please understand that it is the dolphins choice whether to interact with the swimmers and refunds can not be given if the dolphins are “not interested” for whatever reason.
Like all swim with dolphin operators in New Zealand, this is an open water experience – not an aquarium setup. The Marlborough Sounds are extremely sheltered from the wind and we rarely experience any sea swell that makes swimmers sick in other areas of New Zealand. However, if sea and wind conditions are deemed too severe, all dolphin swimming tours will be cancelled for matters of passenger safety. Your safety is paramount to us and we will not put swimmers in the water if the conditions are unsafe for you to disembark or climb back aboard the vessel. If dolphins are viewed, but weather is not good enough to put swimmers in the water then your fare will reduced. Read additional terms and conditions for dolphin swims.
We are a Department of Conservation (DOC) permitted swim with dolphins operators. It is our years of experience operating around both dolphins and whales that provides our guests with important and relevant information during each dolphin swimming or viewing experience.
Book a dolphin swimming tour

Marlborough Sounds scenic cruises and bird watching
Marlborough Sounds scenic cruises and bird watching
Groups and Private Charters

Ship Cove Marlborough Sounds cruise
Ship Cove Marlborough Sounds cruise
Ship Cove Eco-Cruise & Walk

Bird watching tour
Bird watching tour
Birdwatchers Expedition

Swimming with dolphins
Swimming with dolphins
Swimming With & Viewing Dolphins

“Loved the Sounds, loved the dolphins – another lifetime ambition completed!”
Paul & Frankie, United Kingdom
Swim With Dolphins Video
Swim With Dolphins Video

Nature Tours wildlife cruises TIA award Nature Tours Qualmark rating
Dolphin Watch Ecotours Picton Foreshore, PO Box 197 Picton New Zealand Phone: 03 573 8040 Email: [email protected]
Home | Media | Links | FAQ | Terms and Conditions | Contact Us | Top

Home

Dolphin Watch & Nature Tours provide Dolphin Swimming & Viewing Tours, Scenic Wildlife Cruises, Bird Watchers Expeditions, School/Educational Packages & Private Charters
( Rebranding 2015 as E-Ko Tours )
We operate out of Picton in the calm & sheltered waters of the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. A clean green paradise full of natural beauty, bush, sea, history and wildlife, all waiting to be explored and experienced. Our conservation focused and fully guided tours are fun, informative and educational.
Enviro Gold Award | Dolphin Swimming | Nature Tours
Wildlife, Water & Wilderness…we have it all!

“We had an absolutely great time with the dolphins. It belongs to one of our . . .”
Dagmar and Libor, Czech Republic

Here at Dolphin Watch & Nature 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, educate and raise awareness