Bird watching tour in Queen Charlotte Sound

Enjoy close encounters with a variety of land and seabirds in Queen Charlotte Sound including the rare King Shag and endangered South Island saddleback

Bird watching tour
Bird watching tour

This cruise provides keen birders the opportunity to view a variety of both land and sea birds including the very rare King Shag - only found in the Marlborough Sounds and considered a prized bird amongst birdwatchers.  Learn about the wildlife from our experienced staff as we take the time to enjoy the wildlife that call these waters home. Predator-free Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary is a bird-lovers paradise with blue penguins, South Island Saddleback, Kereru, Bellbirds, Yellow-crowned Parakeets (Kakariki), Bellbirds and South Island Robins encountered along the trail during your 1-hour guided walk to the top for the amazing view across Cook Strait to the North Island.  The birds here are plentiful, fearless and very vocal and if you sit still the birds may come within an arms 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 a variety of seabirds.

Tour Highlights

  • Rare King Shags, South Island Saddleback and other native birds
  • Dolphins (90% encounter rate), NZ Fur Seals, Penguins & seabirds
  • Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary guided walk (1 hour) 
  • Informative history about the area
  • Complimentary birding guide
  • Free tea, coffee and cookies after the walk


Departures Daily: 1:30pm (October - April) return 5:30pm (approx.)

Adult: $115, Child: $60 (5-14), under 5 are free

 Dolphin Watch Naturetours booking

KING SHAG COLONY OPTION (Groups & Charters Only)

We offer an option aimed at those birding groups interested in seeing one of the King Shag colonies from our vessel during a group or private charter excursion. Visiting one of the King Shag colonies is strictly weather dependent. This additional option ONLY applies to birdwatching groups or those requesting a private charter and wanting to see one of the King Shag colonies in the outer Sounds.  Please email us if you would like to know more about this option.


Book a dolphin swimming tour

Birdwatchers Expedition Video

Birdwatcher expedition video