Marlborough Sounds

The Marlborough Sounds are an unspoilt paradise for those who love the sea, tranquillity, the natural world, freedom walking or outdoor adventure. The broad pathway of the Queen Charlotte Track lures walkers of all ages and experience along the ridgelines of the Sounds, through virgin native forests and down to blue-green coves fringed with ferns. Venture out on a cruise, charter a boat, paddle in these peaceful waterways, observe rare birds, dolphins, seals and penguins, catch a fish for dinner and relax at a hidden hideaway. It's all deceptively accessible from the towns, yet feels a stunning natural world away. The Sounds remain relatively undiscovered, a retreat from the mainstream although, if you need it, civilisation is unexpectedly close at hand. For centuries, Marlborough has offered safe harbour to travellers. First to Maori traders and war parties; then to European explorers, such as Captain James Cook and Dumont D'Urville; and now to visitors seeking new landscapes and rejuvenating experiences.

If you arrive in the region by sea or air, the intricate detail of the Marlborough Sounds engages your interest immediately. Maori legend describes the entire South Island as Maui's waka (canoe), wrecked on a reef during a fishing expedition. The shattered bow of the canoe became the Sounds. Marlborough basks in year-round sunshine, providing perfect conditions for walking, mountain biking, sea kayaking and vineyard explorations. It's a region where you can pick a theme and follow it through. Focus your itinerary on outdoor adventures, vineyards and wineries, arts and crafts, history and gardens or marine pursuits. Better still, mix them up and experience a little of everything this beautiful region has to offer.

Scenic Highlights:

The Marlborough Sounds: Reaching out into the Pacific Ocean like the fingers of a welcoming hand, the Marlborough Sounds is made up of the Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru and Pelorus Sounds. This collection of drowned river valleys is a natural wonder, created when the mountains sank in earth movements and the sea flooded into the valleys. Bordered by forested hills rising almost vertically from the water's edge, the sounds are a true scenic highlight. They can be explored from either Picton or Havelock. You can sail, kayak or motor around the beaches, coves and inlets.

Wineries in the Marlborough Region: Once a farming landscape, this expansive plain is now home to the largest grape growing and wine-making area in New Zealand. The region's soil types, abundant sunshine, long autumns and crisp winters have proved to be the ingredients needed to produce world class wines. The orderly vineyards are beautifully framed by mountain ranges.

Queen Charlotte Track: West from Picton is the famed Queen Charlotte Drive, an incredibly scenic way to drive to Havelock and Nelson. This road wends its way through native forest, offering frequent views of the inner Queen Charlotte and Pelorus Sounds.

Activities:

- Take a one, two or even up to five day walk of the Queen Charlotte and many surrounding walking tracks
- Enjoy leisurely walks around the many walking tracks in the Marlborough Region
- Enjoy the Sounds by Kayak
- Cruise the Sounds and watch dolphins explore along side your boat
- Visit the regions heritage locations, The Rai Valley Cottage and The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
- Experience an underground caving adventure
- Cycle or Mountain Bike around the sounds
- Go on an eco tour of the sounds
- Get the catch of the day when you go salt water fishing
- Watch the seals play in their own environment of the beautiful sounds
- Bird watching is a great activity in the Marlborough sounds
- There are many guided independent, private and group sightseeing tours in the Marlborough Region covering an array of activities
- For the more adventurous and daring, visit New Zealand’s most scenically diverse skydiving centre.
- Or just sit back and enjoy the gorgeous scenery the Sounds have to offer!