Marlborough Sounds

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With one fifth of New Zealand’s coastline, the Marlborough Sounds is a haven for the outdoors, scenic tours and nature visits.

Made up of four distinctively different Sounds – Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru, Pelorus, and Mahau – the winding waterways and sheltered bays make for great boating, fishing and diving. Charter your own boat, kayak or join a guided tour such as a world famous mail boat cruise or a nature cruise, and take in the beautiful scenery.

You will often get close to New Zealand’s wildlife on a number of tours, or simply by spending time on the water or a beach. Marine, animal and bird life is everywhere in the Sounds, from fur seals and little blue penguins, to up to five species of dolphin (including orca), the rare Rowi kiwi, tuatara and weka.

The iconic Queen Charlotte Track can be explored by foot, mountain bike or sea kayak over one or several days. The 70km track passes through a range of landscapes – lush forest, historic bays and skyline ridges. Accommodation is plentiful – from backpackers to high end lodges – and all transfers and luggage are made by water-taxi, providing easy access and a relaxed experience.

Combine a memorable deep sea fishing experience with a dive at the Mikhail Lermontov, one of the largest diving wrecks in the world. Or escape to one of the many lodges, bed and breakfasts or holiday homes scattered throughout the Sounds that are accessible only by boat, float plane or helicopter.

The Marlborough Sounds waterways are the perfect environment for seafood farming. 70% of New Zealand’s export Greenshell™ Mussels and 75% of farmed salmon comes from the Sounds. Visitors can visit these farms on organised tours, and sample the local delicacies matched to a glass of award winning Marlborough sauvignon blanc.

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While you're here:

  • Cruise the secluded bays of the Marlborough Sounds by charter boat or kayak – discovering your very own little piece of paradise.
  • Swim with the dolphins in their natural environment, or dive the Mikhail Lermontov, one of the world’s largest diving wrecks.
  • Feast on Marlborough King Salmon and Greenshell™ Mussels matched with a glass of the latest vintage sauvignon blanc.
  • Visit Motuara Island bird sanctuary, one of four reserve islands in the Queen Charlotte Sounds uninhabited by humans.
  • Wake up at one of the many lodges and bed and breakfasts with supreme views over the pristine waters of the Marlborough Sounds.
  • Walk or bike the Queen Charlotte Track, with a range of options from half-day to five day experiences.
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