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Queen Charlotte Sound / Tōtaranui

Queen Charlotte Sound / Tōtaranui: Our most recommended tours and activities

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.

Queen Charlotte Track: Cruise & Self-Guided Hike from Picton

2. Queen Charlotte Track: Cruise & Self-Guided Hike from Picton

Cruise through the Queen Charlotte Sound to walk part of the Queen Charlotte Track, one of the top ten coastal walking tracks in New Zealand. Your self-guided adventure starts with a cruise north from Picton to the historic Ship Cove. Here you can learn about the local area from your skipper, whilst on the lookout for marine wildlife. You will be able to choose between the following two hikes: Furneaux Lodge to Punga Cove Your first hike opportunity will be from Furneaux Lodge to Punga Cove, a 12.7-kilometer hike. You can enjoy 30-minutes ashore at the historic Ship Cove before rejoining the vessel and cruising around to Furneaux Lodge where you can grab a coffee or even brunch. Begin your self-guided hike along the Queen Charlotte Track, where you will learn that this area is rich in history and follows the coastline around the Endeavour Inlet through regenerating native bush to the Punga Cove Resort.  Ship Cove to Furneaux Lodge This hike provides you with the opportunity to hike from Ship Cove to Furneaux Lodge, a trail of 15 kilometers. You will arrive at Ship Cove where you'll begin your self-guided hike of the Queen Charlotte Track. You can climb away from the beach as you pass through native forest regenerating beneath a high canopy of trees. You will then be able to admire stunning views of the sound when you reach Tawa Saddle. The track then drops into Resolution Bay and follows an old bridle path into Endeavour Inlet to Furneaux Lodge. After your walk, you'll have time to relax before boarding your cruise vessel around 4:00 PM for your return boat journey to Picton with an estimated arrival time of 5:30-6:00 PM.

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.

From Picton: Marlborough Sounds Cruise with Seafood

4. From Picton: Marlborough Sounds Cruise with Seafood

Cruise the pristine waters of the Marlborough Sounds on a scenic tour from Picton and admire breathtaking views of nature. Indulge in fresh, locally-caught seafood, including Regal salmon and Greenshell mussels, perfectly paired with a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Board the vessel at Picton Marina and set sail into the striking Queen Charlotte Sound. Become surrounded by forested hills and keep an eye out for local wildlife, including seals, dolphins, and birds. Learn about local history and the marine farming industry in the area. Enjoy the boat's indoor and outdoor areas for views of the hills from different perspectives and taste delicious seafood paired with a glass of wine. For an extra drink, take advantage of the onboard licensed bar, serving a good range of snacks and Marlborough wines, beers, juice, and bottled water. Finally, turn around and return to Picton Marina.

Picton: Queen Charlotte Sounds Sightseeing Cruise

5. Picton: Queen Charlotte Sounds Sightseeing Cruise

Hop onboard a sightseeing cruise to see the natural beauty of Queen Charlotte Sounds. Search for local birds and wildlife, and feed fish from onboard the boat. Cruise to Double Cove, Lochmara Bay, and Onahau Bay on a short cruise, perfect for cruise ship passengers short on time. Crossing the main reach of Queen Charlotte Sounds will have you arriving at Double Cove, a sheltered haven of holiday homes, cormorants, and lively local fish. Cruise around the bay taking in some amazing waterfront properties and wildlife nestled in the cove, and stop to feed friendly fish from the vessel. Mullet and Big Blue Cod are among the locals who visit at feeding time, along with sea birds who like to join in the fun. Continue your sightseeing cruise into Lochmara Bay, Onahau Bay, and around the grove arm of the inner Queen Charlotte Sound. This area is surrounded by years of regenerating beach forests and natural beauty. Your friendly skipper will give a full commentary and answer any questions along the way to ensure you take away the best the Marlborough Sounds has to offer.

Marlborough Sounds: Full-Day Guided Kayak Tour with Lunch

6. 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).

Picton: Kaipupu Sanctuary with Water Taxi Transport

7. Picton: Kaipupu Sanctuary with Water Taxi Transport

Take a leisurely walk around Kaipupu Sanctuary and enjoy the bird song, native forest, and stunning views across the inner Queen Charlotte Sounds. Allow around 2 hours to explore at your own pace with the convenience of water taxi transport to and from the walking track. Only a 10-minute water taxi ride from Picton Habour, Kaipupu Sanctuary is a great place to explore New Zealand's unique biodiversity. Located in the heart of Picton Harbor, it is a community-driven conservation project that provides visitors with an opportunity to experience the wonder of nature. The 2.7km loop track will take you through recovering native bush, old-growth forest, and a restoration zone. The bush-clad hills are home to many of New Zealand’s unique native birds and insects and New Zealand fur seal can often be found lazing on the jetty during autumn and winter. With a predator-free fence surrounding the area, the sanctuary is a haven for local wildlife. Pest traps are maintained by volunteers to ensure rats, stoats, and possums that swim around the fence are quickly removed. Weed infestations that once smothered the regenerating forests have been significantly reduced, and an extensive education program has seen hundreds of local children visiting the Sanctuary.

Queen Charlotte Sound: Scenic Cruise & Lunch

8. Queen Charlotte Sound: Scenic Cruise & Lunch

Meet your local guide in the morning before boarding your cruise and setting off. Admire the views of Queen Charlotte Sound, or Tōtaranui, as you travel through the ancient, drowned valley. Catch a glimpse of the local marine wildlife before arriving at Endeavour Inlet just in time for lunch. Choose your food from the set menu, which includes stone-baked pizzas. Eat outside on the jetty overlooking the inlet, or inside the cosy café for colder days. Explore the grounds with a short walk, or sit on the beach and drink in the views until it’s time to meet the local supplier back at the jetty for your scenic cruise home at around 3.15 pm.

Marlborough: Full-Day Wine and Seafood Tour with Cruise

9. Marlborough: Full-Day Wine and Seafood Tour with Cruise

Experience the best of beautiful Marlborough on this full-day tour. Get picked up from Blenheim in the morning and head straight to your first of two wineries. Taste award-winning reserve-grade Marlborough wine, talk with respected winemakers, and explore beautiful Marlborough vineyards at both locations. Afterward, drive to Picton to enjoy a delicious BBQ lunch prior to departure onboard our premium catamaran, then sit back for a relaxing seafood cruise for the afternoon, accompanied by fresh local seafood and Marlborough sauvignon blanc as you cruise the stunning Marlborough Sounds. Relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the Queen Charlotte Sound while cruising aboard a luxury boat, and learn about the local history. Visit a salmon and a mussel farm to experience the Marlborough marine farming industry first hand. Make use of the onboard licensed bar, serving a range of Marlborough wines, along with beers, juice, and bottled water. A range of light snacks, including chips and peanuts, are available to purchase. Enjoy the boat's indoor and outdoor areas for views of the forested hills and clear blue waters from different perspectives.

Marlborough Sounds Guided Kayak and Freedom Walk Tour

10. 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.

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What people are saying about Queen Charlotte Sound / Tōtaranui

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 197 reviews

Wonderful trip on the Mailboat Ferry along Queen Charlotte Pass, going into wilderness area. The trip was wonderful and the Skipper was so knowledgeable and interesting. It passed our expectations, especially when we landed to look around for a small while, seeing the smallest dolphins in the world and meeting the locals as they collected their mail. A beautiful cruise and stunning scenery, a must do in Picton.

I would highly recommend this trip as a great way to see an insight into the beauty of the Marlborough sounds and enjoy a coastal walk from Furneaux lodge to Punga cove finished with a relaxing swim and picnic. Jason our skipper on beachcomber cruises was extremely informative and interesting as he safely guided us around the inlets dropping us off and picking us up from our locations right on schedule.

Super experience. Guides were great! Everything was great! 11 out of 10

The team is excellent, from frontbdest to boat crew!

Really great trip! Amazing walk and lovely cruise ☺️