Things to do in
Marlborough Sounds

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Our most recommended things to do in Marlborough Sounds

Queen Charlotte Sound Mail Boat Cruise from Picton

1. Queen Charlotte Sound Mail Boat Cruise from Picton

Climb aboard the only official licensed New Zealand Post Rural Delivery Service by water in the Queen Charlotte Sound for a truly unique and interesting tour! Join in the excitement of Mail Day as the skipper delivers the New Zealand Rural post bags, groceries and freight to the residents that call the Queen Charlotte Sound waterways home. The Mail has been delivered by boat for over 150 years in the Queen Charlotte Sounds. Admire Marlborough Sounds' magnificent scenery and take a glimpse into daily life in the remote outposts of this region. Operating from Monday to Saturday, no one day is the same. The route changes daily, covering a different area and delivering the mail. During your cruise your skipper will provide interesting and informative commentary on the history of the Marlborough Sounds and the people who lived there then and now. Feel free to ask questions and keep your camera handy for any wildlife encounters.

Picton: Dolphin Watching & Island Wildlife Sanctuary Cruise

2. Picton: Dolphin Watching & Island Wildlife Sanctuary Cruise

Embark on a unique, fully-guided wildlife and dolphin cruise through the Marlborough Sounds. Begin your journey in Picton, where you will meet the expert team who will take you on a conservation-focused, wildlife adventure for your soul. On the journey, you will be encountering a huge variety of rare, wonderful and interesting species along the way. Enjoy the engaging commentary and fantastic viewing areas which allow you to enjoy playful Hector’s, Bottlenose, or Dusky Dolphins with a 90 percent encounter rate. You will also have an opportunity to see New Zealand fur seals and numerous seabirds before landing on Motuara Island for a 1-hour nature lover’s walk to remember, great for adults and kids alike. After returning to the boat, sit back and relax with a hot drink and cookies before making our way back to Picton and stopping to check out any extra species you can discover.

Marlborough Sounds and Ship Cove Cruise from Picton

3. Marlborough Sounds and Ship Cove Cruise from Picton

Navigate the magnficent waterways of Marlborough Sounds on a morning boat tour, departing from the Picton waterfront. Cruise up through the Queen Charlotte Sound to historical Ship Cove. Warm up with tea and coffee and listen to live commentary on regional historical and natural landmarks. Keep a lookout for marine life such as little blue penguins and Hector’s dolphins — considered the rarest marine dolphin in the world. After about an hour’s journey, your boat drops anchor at Ship Cove. Step ashore for 30 minutes and discover the inlet named by Captain James Cook on 15 January 1770. The Endeavour was anchored here to replenish supplies and the spot became a favourite anchorage of Captain Cook. Dabble in the creek where Captain Cook made home brew for his crew and share the beach with the resident wildlife. Have your photo taken beside the Captain Cook Monument commemorating his visits to this area. Or, just relax and enjoy the tranquil surrounds.

Marlborough Sounds: Full-Day Guided Kayak Tour with Lunch

4. Marlborough Sounds: Full-Day Guided Kayak Tour with Lunch

The day starts with a safety briefing and getting kitted up before heading down to the beach. Listen to a quick paddling introduction and then head out onto the water for the rest of the tour. The route is always flexible so the tour goes where the weather is best. Depending on how the group decides, there may be a chance to stop and stretch your legs or take a swim before continuing on to a pretty beach for a delicious picnic lunch. Upon landing at the beach, your guide will serve up some hot drinks. After lunch, work your way back towards the starting beach, all going well with a sea breeze at your back. Once back at the beach, you will de-kit and then head off on the rest of your adventure in New Zealand. Showers are available if needed (water dependent during the drier months).

Marlborough Sounds Guided Kayak and Freedom Walk Tour

5. Marlborough Sounds Guided Kayak and Freedom Walk Tour

Maximize your time in this brilliant area with a half day of guided sea kayaking, followed by a half day of freedom walking on the popular Queen Charlotte Track. Your day starts with a safety briefing and getting kitted up before heading down to the beach. After a quick paddling introduction, you’ll head out onto the water.   From Anakiwa, head off along the North Coastline towards Mistletoe Bay, where you’ll encounter some local bird life and, if you’re lucky, some marine mammals. Arrive at Mistletoe Bay around lunchtime, where you’ll say goodbye to your kayaks and guide and head off for your freedom walk.   Walk back to Anakiwa following old bridle paths high above the water along Queen Charlotte Track, offering you a very different perspective than from the water. Pass by stunning views, contrasting landscapes, historical landmarks, and a wonderful variety of native bush and wildlife. The final hour of walking is on an easy path through mature beech forest to Anakiwa.

Marlborough: Private Yacht Tour with Lunch & Sparkling Wine

6. Marlborough: Private Yacht Tour with Lunch & Sparkling Wine

Experience the Marlborough Sounds in complete luxury with up to 5 friends on the private Cloudy Bay yacht. This excursion is a unique way to savor Cloudy Bay wines in the captivating beauty of one of New Zealand’s most pristine settings. Guests can take part in the sailing process, or just sit back, relax and enjoy a flute of Cloudy Bay’s sparkling wine, Pelorus. A casual lunch will be served onboard, featuring some of Marlborough's incredible local produce. Also indulge yourself in wine pairing throughout the lunch. Your transfers from Cloudy Bay Vineyards or your local accommodation are included in this experience.

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What people are saying about Marlborough Sounds

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 203 reviews

Nice afternoon on the water with a fantastic guide/captain/compare who told great jokes and stopped to see the dolphins. Thanks heaps, and loved seeing and hearing how people live in the sounds. Vicki and Ian

Although the weather was not on our side, Ryan made our adventure entertaining and the scenery was still stunning! Highly recommend :)

Enjoyed the boat trip very much. All the staff were fabulous and very friendly.. Would definitely recommend this trip to others

Not only was the scenery superb the staff were also. A delightful way to spend the day Wonderful memories to treasure

Ryan the Skipper was full of knowledge and interesting to hear