My parents and I spent a week and a half on the south island from Picton as far south as Fox Glacier doing the usual tourist things. I'm from the US. This was one of the top activities we did, and definitely the top in terms of quality for price.
Liecester and his wife are great, down to earth, wonderful to chat with. The price was very, very reasonable for the full day trip about 930am to 330pm though ours ran 10 to 4 because we were late. I recommend the full day trip (only a little more than the half day trip, hugely entertaining, and not rushed). Driving a boat is just challenging enough to be fun but not enough to be frustrating. You can drive slow and take in the scenery and go fast and zip around this huge body of water. I felt totally safe even going fast.
Be careful when you get into shallow water though as you can damage the motor without even knowing it. As the third member of my party I went in a boat with the the extra member of another party. Our motor went out pretty far out without any obvious problems beforehand and Liecester had to tow that boat back. We rearranged people and I went back with my parents (3 in a boat rather than 2) and were still able to go a good speed and had actually a little more time to look around since Liecester had to go a little slower towing another boat. Felt badly about the motor but Liecester was very friendly and gracious.
Didn't see any marine life on my trip, but there's plenty of spectacular scenery. A nice stop for lunch on a beach and then a short but beautiful walk through the bush included.
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