Add dates
Things to do in

Marlborough Sounds

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.

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

4. 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: Full-Day Guided Kayak Tour with Lunch

5. 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

6. 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.

From Aukland: 18-Day North & South Island Tour with Guide

7. From Aukland: 18-Day North & South Island Tour with Guide

Day 1 - Auckland to Hot Water Beach •Explore Cathedral Cove •Relax at Hot Water Beach; by digging your own spa pool. Day 2 - Hot Water Beach to Waitomo •Hike through the Karangahake Gorge •Magical Glowworm Caves in Waitomo Day 3 - Waitomo to Rotorua •Hike through the Ruakuri Reserve •Spend the evening and night at a Māori village where you'll learn about the history and culture of the locals. •Opportunity to visit Hobbiton (not included) •Immerse yourself into Maori culture and history by exploring Rotorua. Day 4 - Rotorua to Tongariro National Park via Taupo •Walk the Huka Falls walkway •Soak under a waterfall or in the naturally heated rock pools at Spa Park. Day 5 - Tongariro National Park •Hike the Tongariro Crossing; one of New Zealands best one day hikes (shuttle not included) •Go skiing or snowboarding on Mount Ruapheu (equipment not included) Day 6 - Tongariro National Park to River Valley •Hike the Taranaki Falls walk •Spend the day at River Valley Lodge; nestled on the Rangitikei River •Go white water rafting on the Rangitikei River or Horse trekking (not included) •Enjoy an organic group roast dinner. Day 7 - River Valley to Wellington •Buzzing city vibes in the capital Wellington Day 8 - Wellington to Kaikoura •Inter-Island transport across the Cook Strait; one of the most enjoyable and beautiful ferry journeys in the world •Wine tasting in the Marlborough region •Visit Kaikoura Seal colony. Day 9 - Kaikoura to Christchurch •Hike the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway •Enjoy the amazing panaramic views of Kaikoura •Discover hidden gems of Christchurch in a city street art trail Day 10 - Christchurch to Lake Tekapo •Marvel at the stars at the Dark Sky Project, Lake Tekapo. •Visit the The Church of the Good Shepherd. •Hike up Mount John for panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and lakes. Day 11 - Lake Tekapo to Mount Cook (return) •Spend the day at Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. •Hike the Hooker Valley track to Hooker Lake. Day 12 - Lake Tekapo to Queenstown •A buffet dinner with panaramic views of Queenstown at the Skyline Stratosphere Restaurant. Day 13 - Queenstown free day - Have the whole day to yourself and explore the wonders of Queenstown. Day 14 - Queenstown to Glenorchy day trip - Today we'll cruise past the lake, soaking up the views and onto Glenorchy where we will do some short walks. Day 15 - Queenstown to Wanaka •Roys Peak hike (6 hour return); take in breathtaking views over Lake Wānaka (only accessible November to May) •Mt Iron hike (alternative to Roys Peak); providing 360-degree views of the The Pisa range. •Visit the famous Wanaka tree Day 16 - Wanaka to Franz Josef •Thunder Creek falls in Mt Aspiring National Park. •Lake Matheson; famous for mirror views of Aoraki/Mount Cook. Day 17 - Franz Josef •Design and carve your own Greenstone jewelry in a West Coast workshop (included) •Walk the Glacier valley walk in Franz Josef Day 18 - Franz Josef to Christchurch •Scenic hikes across Arthurs Pass •Walk the Castle Hill track. •Devils Punchbowl waterfalls.

Other Sightseeing Options in Marlborough Sounds

Want to discover all there is to do in Marlborough Sounds? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Marlborough Sounds

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 233 reviews

Really enjoyed the commentary the crew were so lovely and just getting our and seeing the birds seals dolphins etc. The lovely islands you pass by . Was so tranquil and lovely. Loved it all

Really great, informative and enjoyable tour. Great value for money. Staff were very knowledgeable, friendly and made sure we had a great tour. Definitely recommend this activity.

The most wonderful experience. The skipper had so much knowledge, it made for an incredibly interesting journey. Thanks Beachcombers

Super awesome experience. Friendly and knowledgeable guide. Amazing scenery. Highly recommended to all

Very knowledgeable skipper. Taking in the scenery from a different point of view was great.