Our small staff of boat crew, shuttle drivers and office personnel are extremely passionate about the local area and it's unique wildlife. Our guides have been fortunate enough to have been guiding and interacting with the local wildlife for many years. They have decades of experience between them. It is their pleasure to showcase the area they love, to visitors. They know the best places to view wildlife . You can't beat local knowledge.
The boat, MV Sootychaser is a brand new (2018) custom build. With passenger comfort in mind, it has been specially designed to be able get up as close and personal with oceanic wildlife as is possible. It is the first boat of its kind to offer passenger services on Otago Harbour.
We look forward to welcoming visitors on board MV Sootychaser to show you the best of what Dunedin has to offer.
Owner/Skipper, Rachel McGregor
Having been given a bird book by my grandfather at age 9, I could not have thought of a more boring present, at the time!
At 23 years of age and after having been offered a full time job as a wildlife guide at Taiaroa Head, I found myself now working with one of the largest sea birds in the world. How my views on birds swiftly changed! I was observing these graceful giants daily and learning how interesting these long lived and hugely oversized sea birds really were. I found myself hunting around in storage, trying to find that old bird book, from my grandfather!
Despite my initial lack of enthusiasm for birds, my passion for other wildlife came early on.
As a child growing up in British Columbia, Canada, I had many opportunities to see animals in the wild. It was also then that I was introduced to my first experiences on boats.
Later, moving to Dunedin, New Zealand with my family, my interests for wildlife and boats came together. First, as a wildlife Guide at Taiaroa Head and around the Otago Peninsula, then later working as a deckhand and a skipper for tourist wildlife cruises, for 9 years.
Since 2006 I’ve been skippering and working on a variety of commercial boats. They include passenger, research, oil spill recovery, search and rescue, dredger and work boats.
Throughout my various roles on the Otago Harbour, I have always been fascinated by the wildlife that surrounds me, and excited by seeing all the other commercial vessels going about their daily business.
It is a pleasure to entertain visitors with the area’s unique wildlife and to share my knowledge of the maritime industry and the local area.
To do this from the deck of my custom built boat M.V. Sootychaser in the ‘Wildlife Capital of The World’ is a dream complete.
I look forward to inviting you onboard MV Sootychaser and to share with you this wonderful area and its unique wildlife.
Skipper, Richard Oliver
I have been involved in ecotourism around New Zealand since 1988. The passion for this was founded during my daily crayfish trips in Kaikoura, being visited by Hector Dolphins daily as they followed us around while we were lifting our pots, and also often viewing visiting pods of Orca and huge pods of the local Dusky Dolphins.
Whale watching was started in Kaikoura NZ and I was one of those involved in the establishment of this now world-renowned operation. After six busy enjoyable years with that venture I established a yacht charter business with my partner Trudie, based in Tauranga and Kaikoura. After two years working long hours it was time for a break which lasted until 2001 when I worked again on land- and ocean-based ecotourism in and around Dunedin, largely focused on the wildlife of the Otago Peninsula. Another change of scene then saw me working in various guiding and skippering roles on the Coromandel Peninsula for four years. The pull of Dunedin was eventually too strong, and we made the move south again in late 2009, and I was pleased to be back amongst the albatross, penguins and sea lions.
For me it has been a privilege to meet with many hundreds of like-minded people and share the unique wildlife experiences New Zealand has to offer. It is the enjoyment that clients get from their own unique experience that fuels the passion I have for the Otago area.
Shuttle Driver/Crew John Burke
Originally hailing from Manchester in the UK, I have been involved in Eco Tourism on the Otago Peninsula since I started training as a guide in 2004, oddly enough on the same day as Rachel. Since then I have been lucky enough to have introduced thousands of visitors to the Peninsula and Harbour's unique wildlife and scenic beauty.
Although there are many species to enjoy in the area I must confess to having a favorite, the New Zealand Sea Lion. These magnificent marine mammals are a threatened species so I have become one of the Trustees of the New Zealand Sea Lion Trust which is dedicated to saving this iconic treasure.
Working in the outdoors, with wildlife and meeting people from all over the world is quite a contrast to my previous life in Manchester working as a Funeral Director and it has been a privilege for me to have been picked to join the team at this exciting new venture as a driver and guide.
Rachel McGregor, Skipper
Richard Oliver, Skipper
John Burke, Shuttle Driver/Crew