E-Ko Tours are an innovative company leading sustainable tourism in New Zealand.
Based in Picton, Marlborough Sounds E-Ko Tours was founded with the vision to develop a business that would be a force in local conservation and education. It is easy to see why since opening for business, they have won the Tourism Industry Award for Innovation in Eco-Tourism and this year they were inducted into Trip Advisor’s Hall of Fame.
They have integrated this vision in both their internal processes and their product offering, with fantastic results. Their staff are volunteers for Guardians of the Sounds, are trained by Project Jonah as marine mammal medics and they utilise resources to assist the Department of Conservation (DOC) with their kiwi breeding program – Project Nest Egg. Pretty impressive right?!
Information surrounding these initiatives is incorporated into the commentary their guests receive while on tour and the delivery is made in such a manner that involves people from all walks of life being excited about conservation.
Joining an E-Ko Tour instils a sense of pride and accomplishment. By simply participating in one of their tours you are helping support a business that supports the local environment and as such, know that you too are helping to conserve that environment.
1. Can you tell our community what sustainable tourism means for E-Ko Tours?
Here at E-Ko Tours, we are proud to promote environmental responsibility at the company, community and global levels.
We feel very fortunate to operate in such a pristine corner of the world, and as such we believe it is our duty to take an active role in protecting the Marlborough sounds and all of its wildlife through conservation projects, public outreach and education.
At E-Ko Tours we believe in helping to conserve the unique environment that we operate in. We have many in-house initiatives and we are also heavily involved with a variety of different conservation organisations and projects such as Kiwis for Kiwi, Operation Nest Egg, Project Jonah, and Guardians of The Sounds.
2. What can your guests expect when coming on one of your E-Ko Tours?
At E-Ko, our aim is to increase awareness and appreciation of wildlife, the environment and promote conservation by providing a unique experience on both land and sea with exceptional service that exceeds all customer expectations. To facilitate staff in providing customers with the best possible experience, we, as a company, take their wellbeing very seriously.
To help us achieve this balance, we take inspiration from Te Whetu [The Star]. The concept of Te Whetu was developed as a framework to encompass the five key areas of overall wellbeing.
These five areas are; manatu [mind], kaupapa [body], wairua [spirit], whanau [family] and whenua tapui [land].
3. What other initiatives are you involved with in your community and what other ways do you involve your business with environmental responsibility?
At E-Ko Tours we believe in supporting marine mammal research wherever possible. One of our major initiatives has been the development of a “dolphin database.” We have also donated time and resources to help Te Papa with their Little Blue Penguin research initiative on Motuara Island.
4. Your accreditation with Qualmark and being an Enviro Gold operator, what does this mean for customers?
As a company we are continually striving to improve our green businesses practices by reducing our energy and water consumption, reducing and responsibly managing waste through recycling and composting initiatives. We also use our business as a platform for community education and conservation efforts locally, nationally and internationally. Here are some examples of our green practices: boat hoses fitted with stoppers to conserve water, use recycled products e.g. toilet paper, use rechargeable batteries, wetsuits hand washed in cold water, remove any plastics found in the ocean, eco-friendly merchandise e.g. reusable cups and shopping bags.
5. Conscious communities come alive best when?
They are connected.
6. Your favourite quote?
“Intelligence is the ability of a species to live in harmony with its environment.” Captain Paul Watson.
E-Ko Tours offer a unique range of products focused on the nature, history and wildlife of the Queen Charlotte (QC) Sound. Our office is ideally situated at the head of the QC Sound on Picton’s picturesque waterfront opposite to the jetty where our two boats (Delphinus and Miss Te Rawa) are moored. We are owned and operated by local mariner Paul Keating.