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Marine Wildlife


Come and meet the Locals.

One of the highlights of a visit to the Marlborough Sounds is an up-front encounter with our marine wildlife. The clear cool waters, sheltered coves and native bush backdrops provide a spectacular setting for watching these magnificent creatures.

It is also possible, providing conditions allow, to go swimming with the dolphins. Interacting with them in their underwater habitat is the adventure experience of a lifetime.

We can arrange special excursions with our friends from 'E-Ko Tours', who have considerable experience in navigating the Sounds for the best dolphin watching opportunities.


dolphins sealsSpecies You May Encounter:

Bottlenose dolphins are frequent visitors all year round, sometimes in groups of up to 150! They are very social animals and are guaranteed to put on a good show.

Dusky dolphins are only found in the southern hemisphere and feed regularly in the Marlborough Sounds during autumn, winter, and spring. Known for performing perfectly executed back flips!

Common dolphins are quite distinctive with a yellow coloured side-patch and can often be seen riding a bow wave or slip-streaming in the wake of boats. Groups in open water sometimes number up to 500 or more.

Hector’s dolphin is the world’s smallest and rarest oceanic dolphin and is only found in New Zealand waters. It can be seen mainly throughout the summer and is a treat for our international guests to see.

Orca or killer whales are actually the largest of the dolphin species and their visits are a bit unpredictable. Although there are only approximately 200 orca resident in New Zealand waters, they are often sighted in the Sounds, particularly during December and January.

New Zealand fur seals are very common in the area with a large colony in Queen Charlotte Sound. Playful and very appealing, they are always a delight to have around.

Humpback whales, southern right whales, and pygmy blue whales are also seen in the open waters of New Zealand and sometimes in Cook Strait. A glimpse of these largest of ocean going mammals is indeed a sight to be remembered.