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“Exactly what you would hope for in a wildlife tour”
Review of E-Ko Tours

E-Ko Tours
Book In Advance
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US$74.45*
and up
Ship Cove and Dolphin Eco-Tour Cruise
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US$74.45*
and up
Bird Watching and Dolphin Eco-Tour from Picton
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US$124.08*
and up
Half-Day Dolphin Eco-Tour from Picton
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: We provide award-winning, wildlife and conservation focused guided cruises and dolphin swimming experiences through the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. Those looking for the thrill of a lifetime can join us for our Dolphin Swim or View Experience or you could take part in our fully guided cruises to your choice of bird sanctuary islands or Historic Ship Cove. A clean green paradise of bush and sea full of natural beauty, history and wildlife is waiting to be explored and experienced. E-Ko Tours is Qualmark Enviro-Gold certified and the only local operator able to actively search for Dolphins. We provide degree qualified, professional guides on all our Tours.
Useful Information: Lockers / storage, Activities for young children, Wheelchair access, Activities for older children, Bathroom facilities
Reviewed 28 March 2014

We had a great time watching and learning about the NZ wildlife in Queen Charlotte sound. The guides were passionate and knowledgeable and worked hard at providing that unique kiwi service of friendliness and professionalism. A lot time is taken up in getting to locations, but the guide are constantly scanning the horizon trying to seek out more wildlife for us to observe. Best part of the day by far was our encounter with some very friendly bottle-nose dolphins who were apparently in a "very good mood" for people.

Thank yukev
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
TikitheKiwi, Owner at E-Ko Tours, responded to this reviewResponded 11 April 2016

Kia Ora ,

Thanks so much for the wonderful review. Always great to get good comment about our knowledgeable staff and the fantastic experience you had with the wild dolphins and wildlife . We are the only local company with qualified guides whom go through extensive training and its means alot when our customers see the difference on our Tours . We like to make everyone feel special and enjoy the beautiful area we have to live in .Thanks again

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Reviews (291)
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185 - 189 of 291 reviews

Reviewed 22 March 2014

My rating is mainly because I felt this was very poor value for money.
I know that no one can guarantee the wildlife (we hardly saw any) or the weather (we got hailed on) so that's no one's fault. Though we might have seen more birds on Motuara Island if we hadn't galloped to the top. Any wildlife worth it's salt would have heard us coming a mile away. As I was mainly interested in the birds, it would have been nice to be told I would see more if I'd stayed at the bottom of the hill and sat quietly. Still we did get a good view of the Sound and the approaching storm from the lookout.
I didn't really mind getting wet - part of the deal and I was prepared for it.
The staff did their best to give us a good view of the birds and seals we did see and were very knowledgeable and informative.
This cruise is advertised as 4-4.5 hours. I can only assume the rush to get us back in 3.5 hours was due to the weather, though this was never stated. I felt rather cheated and would have enjoyed even just cruising the sound for the remaining time rather than feeling they couldn't wait to get us off the boat. If it was really necessary to get back early, perhaps we could have been offered a partial refund or a discount on another trip.

Thank Goannas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
TikitheKiwi, Owner at E-Ko Tours, responded to this reviewResponded 11 April 2016

Kia Ora ,

Thanks so much for the wonderful review. Always great to get good comment about our knowledgeable staff and the fantastic experience you had with the wild dolphins and wildlife . We are the only local company with qualified guides whom go through extensive training and its means alot when our customers see the difference on our Tours . We like to make everyone feel special and enjoy the beautiful area we have to live in .Sorry the trip returned early due to weather .Thanks again

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Reviewed 15 March 2014

I tried to do this swim with the dolphins in February but there was only the Hector's Doilphins to view and what a brilliant display they put on. Nevertheles they allow you try again (or some money back) and I did. This time when I went the Bottlenose Dolphins were there (they're big close up) and I have to say I had one of the most amazing and fantastic experiences in my life and one no one should miss. The people at Ecotours are knowledgeable and excellent hosts. I cannot recommend this outfit enough, they are magnificent. And better still you're not swimming in open ocean but the far more sheltered Sounds, brilliant. Ecotours beats other operators in NZ easily. Thank guys for a really great morning. I shall certainly try and be back in the future.

Thank Rob S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
TikitheKiwi, Owner at E-Ko Tours, responded to this reviewResponded 11 April 2016

Kia Ora ,

Thanks so much for the wonderful review. Always great to get good comment about our knowledgeable staff and the fantastic experience you had with the wild dolphins and wildlife . We are the only local company with qualified guides whom go through extensive training and its means alot when our customers see the difference on our Tours . We like to make everyone feel special and enjoy the beautiful area we have to live in .Thanks again

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 March 2014

A big kudos to the team at Dolphin Watch Ecotours! Friendly and passionate staff make this tour a pleasant ride on the sea. On our tour, we hadn't seen dolphins for almost three hours, until finally we found a pod of very small and cute Hector dolphins. We stayed and watched them for 10 minutes, until they vanished. Then we were heading back towards the land when we hit a huge pod of 40 something Bottlenose Dolphins. We were able to jump in the water and swim with them. Granted they simply passed by us, so the "swimming with them" was more of a "we are in the water watching them pass by", but it was extremely exciting nonetheless. The dolphins were extremely close to us, passing us by at fast pace, beside and under us. A very exciting experience, one that my girlfirend, myself and our friend will not forget. I wish the dolphins were not in such a hurry to continue their journey, and had decided to stay with us a littlebit, which they do from time to time we were told after the experience.

All in all, a highly recommended experience.
These dolphins are in the wild. The ONLY way we should be allowed to watch them, and swim with them.

Please stay away from activities that involve dolphins in captivity. Those highly intelligent creatures die quickly of boredom in captivity, where they are exploited and must work for food.
I'll pay ANY DAY to see them in the wild and watch them pass by us like they did today, over any other type of dolphin entertainment.

Thank you.

Thank Martin P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Glen M, Owner at E-Ko Tours, responded to this reviewResponded 8 March 2014

Hello Martin,
Thanks so much for taking the time to share your feedback with us and what wonderful feedback it is! You are clearly someone who like us, has the ultimate respect for the these amazing wild creatures. It was a real pleasure to have you and your partner onboard and thankyou for being an advocate for keeping dolphins wild and free!! :)

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Reviewed 6 March 2014 via mobile

The staff was excellent and very informative. We got a tour of the complete Sound and saw many birds including pinguins bafore actually seeing Hector dolphins and then the amazing swim with the bottle nose dolphins. We did 2 swims! One of the staff took tons of photos and posted them on their FB page! No need to pay extra! All in all a ince in a lifetime adventure!

Thank YanikPhoto
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Glen M, Owner at E-Ko Tours, responded to this reviewResponded 8 March 2014

Thankyou so much for that fabulous feedback! To hear you describe your trip as a "once in a lifetime experience" makes us so proud of what we do and so happy that we can share our gorgeous backyard with visitors! Its also great to hear our complimentary facebook photos are appreciated. We are not all expert photographers but we certainly do our best to get some cool shots to share with you all. Thanks again for joining us and perhaps we will see you again one day!

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