Marine Mammals

Discover Marine Wonders in Marlborough Sounds: Dolphins, Whales, and Seals!

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Welcome to the enchanting world of Marlborough Sounds, where an array of captivating marine life awaits your exploration.


Immerse yourself in the company of five diverse dolphin species – the dusky, bottlenose, common, orca, and the rare Hector's dolphins – as they gracefully navigate these tranquil waters. Embark on a captivating dolphin cruise, inviting you to either swim alongside these intelligent creatures or observe their majestic beauty from the comfort of the deck.

These cruises offer more than just dolphin encounters; they celebrate the entire wildlife tapestry of the region. Marvel at playful seals and marine birds, adding a symphony of life to the surrounding vistas.


From October to March, you have a chance to witness the rare but grandeur of massive orcas as they venture close to shore, their towering dorsal fins breaking the surface in pursuit of their prey.

As the seasons transition, the marine spectacle transforms as well. Winter unveils the presence of humpback whales at the edges of the Cook Strait, sometimes gracing the Marlborough Sounds with their majestic presence. It doesn't happen often but it is possible. The legacy of whaling has transformed into a conservation mission, with former whalers now employing their keen eyes to gather crucial information about humpbacks for the Department of Conservation.

For a deeper dive into the world of whales and the history of whaling in Marlborough Sounds and Cook Strait, explore the Picton Museum, nestled along Picton's foreshore.

For conservation queries, E-ko provide Whale Tours in winter to Whale Station and with WCA information about Whales Now in Marlborough and what they do to protect them for Conservation.


Meanwhile, native New Zealand fur seals bask on sun-soaked rocks, their playful pups contributing to the lively ambiance of the Marlborough Sounds. Whether you embark on a cruise or paddle through these pristine waters in a kayak, the heartwarming antics of seals, especially around Kaipupu Wildlife Sanctuary, promise an unforgettable encounter with these charming creatures.

Embark on a journey of discovery, where the rich marine heritage of Marlborough Sounds comes alive through engaging encounters with dolphins, whales, and seals. 

Navigating Near Marine Mammals

It is a criminal offence to harass or disturb marine mammals. When navigating near marine mammals the following rules apply:

• Do not circle them, obstruct their path or cut through any group;
• Keep at least 50m away from whales at all times;
• Proceed slowly at speeds of less than 10 knots;
• At any time, only a maximum of three vessels should be within 300m of the mammals.

For any enquiries or concern, please refer to the DOC website