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Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary and Ship Cove Cruise from Picton

  • Have time at your leisure on Motuara Island to look for wildlife
  • Visit Ship Cove, once Captain Cook’s favorite spot to anchor in New Zealand
  • Learn about the sights, flora and fauna from your knowledgeable captain
Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary and Ship Cove Cruise from Picton
From US$62.46
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  • Overview
  • What to Expect
  • Important Information
  • Reviews
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Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary and Ship Cove Cruise from Picton
From US$62.46
Cruise Queen Charlotte Sound to Motuara Island and Ship Cove on a 4.5-hour boat tour from Picton. Search for birdlife and marine mammals, such as Hector’s dolphins and bottlenose dolphins, as your captain details the region’s natural and cultural history. Spend time exploring Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary, home to endangered native birds including the South Island saddleback, king shag, little blue penguin and kiwi. Enjoy complimentary tea and coffee on board, with free time ashore in Ship Cove.
What to Expect
Board your boat at the Picton waterfront and settle in for the 1-hour cruise through Queen Charlotte Sound to Motuara Island, with an additional stop in Ship Cove. Throughout the 4.5-hour excursion, your captain shares area highlights including the wildlife and human history of the Marlborough Sounds. Sip complimentary tea and coffee as you search the waters for little blue penguins and Hector’s dolphins — considered the rarest marine dolphin in the world.

Disembark to explore the Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary on your own via an interpretive trail leading to a lookout point at the island’s summit. The regenerated forest has been cleared of all predators, making way for rare native birds to flourish here. 

During your 60–90 minutes on Motuara, be on the lookout for the saddleback, New Zealand robin, kiwi, bellbird, tui, grey warbler, New Zealand pigeon, silver eye and fantail. You may also view waterbirds like shearwaters, shags and gannets, and glimpse the Maud Island frog and Marlborough green gecko.

At the designated time, re-board the vessel for the 10-minute ride to Ship Cove, where Captain James Cook anchored the Endeavor in 1770. Explore the monuments, displays and sheltered beach for 30 minutes before returning to Picton.

Please note: It is recommended that you bring your own food, as there are no shops or cafes to purchase snacks during the tour.
Reviews (12)
1 - 5 of 5 reviews
Reviewed 4 April 2018
Dolphins, penguins and stunning vistas

Beachcomber does a fantastic job all around -- the boat was excellent, crew very knowledgeable and friendly, and the experience top-flight. Dolphins swam alongside the boat for awhile. On Motuara Island, we were lucky enough to find two blue penguins inside one of the nesting...More

Thank Sally-on-the-go
BeachcomberPicton, Reservations at Beachcomber Cruises, responded to this reviewResponded 25 April 2018

Hi Sally , Thank you for taking the time to write us a review. We are pleased to hear as a company we have provided a great service all round.We really are blessed to have such incredible staff working for us willing to go the...More

Reviewed 23 February 2018
Great Cruise to Ship Cove

Amazing service from beachcomber cruise. The captain was very helpful in explaining everything during the cruise and was an exceptional service

Thank AnGeLo B
BeachcomberPicton, Front Office at Beachcomber Cruises, responded to this reviewResponded 24 February 2018

Hey AngeloAnojan Thanks for your TripAdvisor review! I'm very happy to hear that you had a great time on our cruise and that you enjoyed our services, that's very good feedback!

Reviewed 1 February 2018
Amazing Cruise to Start of Queen Charlotte Track

What a great team you've got here! The customer service was outstanding. I was looking for a water taxi to take me out to Ship Cove and the start of the QCT, and Beachcomber offered a very reasonable option. It was a nice clean vessel,...More

Thank lomichellefritz
BeachcomberPicton, front office at Beachcomber Cruises, responded to this reviewResponded 14 February 2018

Hey lomichellefritz Thanks for your email, im sure that we can help you out with some transport out to the Queen Charlotte Track. Thanks for your comments about our team, we do pride ourselves in providing a fantastic level of customer service so im glad...More

Reviewed 29 December 2017 via mobile
Worst cruise ever. Don't waste your time or money.

We did the ship cove cruise and had the worst 4.5 hours ever. The commentary was mind numbing. Nothing of interest was said, just a load of boring information about the prices or features or rich owners of the houses that we passed. It became...More

2  Thank Roving746204
BeachcomberPicton, Front Office at Beachcomber Cruises, responded to this reviewResponded 8 January 2018

Hello TripAdvisor User We are very sorry to hear that you did not enjoy your cruise with us, most people do usually enjoy the extra stops that the boat does as it gives passengers more of a chance to see some extra scenery. Unfortunately this...More

Reviewed 26 November 2017
Great Trip to see Island, Sounds and Walk!

This was a fabulous trip and great value for money. The island was wonderful, especially seeing the baby penguins in the nest boxes and great variety of birdlife that can now live predator free on the island... Glorious sailing and then a nice scenic walk...More

Thank GreensinOz
BeachcomberPicton, Front Office at Beachcomber Cruises, responded to this reviewResponded 5 December 2017

Hi GreensinOz, Thank you for your recent reveiw. Its sounds as thou you have had a brilliant time out on the Queen Charlotte Sounds. Motuara Island is a little hidden gem with very cute penguins this time of year , little fluff balls with cute...More

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