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Marlborough Sounds

Culture & history

Our most recommended Marlborough Sounds Culture & History

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.

Marlborough Sounds and Ship Cove Cruise from Picton

2. 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 Havelock: Marlborough Sounds Mail Boat Full-Day Cruise

3. From Havelock: Marlborough Sounds Mail Boat Full-Day Cruise

Embark on a truly unique marine experience on a Kiwi mail boat cruise. See what it’s like to deliver mail in a remote part of the world by sea in the Marlborough Sounds on a full-day cruise. Set sail on the Pelorus Mail Boat, which has been operating for more than a century. As a sea postie for a day, cruise through the largest, quietest and most remote part of the Marlborough Sounds, Pelorus (Te Hoiere) Sound, and Kenepuru Sound. Relax on the spacious catamaran between mail, parcel, and supply deliveries and pick-ups. Marvel at the stunning scenery of clear blue water in tranquil coves and bush-clad hillsides. Weather-permitting, even get to take a sneak peek at Greenshell Mussel Farm on an informative tour. Meet some of the residents who await the Pelorus Mail Boat on far-flung jetties, unspoilt beaches, or even on their boats. Even meet a variety of 4-footed furry residents who accompany their owners to collect their mail. Benefit from a fun local crew will provide informative and entertainment commentary about life in this isolated part of the Marlborough Sounds. You’ll learn what life far away from the nearest road is really like, along with some of the area’s fascinating history. The crew will also keep an expert eye for local marine wildlife including dolphins, seals, penguins and stingrays. As an added bonus, even enjoy some free tea, coffee, and biscuits onboard.

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).

From Auckland: 18-Day North & South Island Tour with Lodging

5. From Auckland: 18-Day North & South Island Tour with Lodging

Experience the majestic beauty of New Zealand's diverse landscapes on an 18-day adventure. Join your guide on the trip of a lifetime as you travel from Auckland all the way down to Queenstown. Take part in unique local activities along the way and end your journey in the city of Christchurch. Day 1: Auckland to Hot Water Beach •Explore the stunning 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 •Admire the magical glowworm caves in Waitomo Day 3: Waitomo to Rotorua •Explore the lush Ruakuri Reserve •Spend the night in a Māori village, where you'll learn about local history and culture •Seize the opportunity to visit Hobbiton at your own expense •Discover the town and lake in Rotorua Day 4: Rotorua to Tongariro National Park via Taupo •Walk the scenic Huka Falls walkway •Soak under a waterfall or in the naturally heated rock pools at Spa Park Day 5: Tongariro National Park •Book a shuttle to Tongariro Crossing, one of New Zealand's best hikes •Rent skiing or snowboarding equipment and head over to Mount Ruapehu Day 6: Tongariro National Park to River Valley •Walk the trail to Taranaki Falls •Spend the day at River Valley Lodge, nestled along the Rangitikei River •Enjoy free time to go white water rafting or horseback riding •Taste an organic roast dinner Day 7: River Valley to Wellington •Take in the vibrant city vibes of Wellington, New Zealand's capital Day 8: Wellington to Kaikoura •Board a spacious ferry for a ride across the Cook Strait •Sip on some local wine in the Marlborough region •Visit the impressive Kaikoura seal colony Day 9: Kaikoura to Christchurch •Hike the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway •Admire incredible panoramic views of Kaikoura •Discover hidden gems of Christchurch on a city-street art trail Day 10: Christchurch to Lake Tekapo •Marvel at the stars in the Dark Sky Project •Visit the Church of the Good Shepherd •Trek up Mount John for panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and lakes Day 11: Lake Tekapo to Mount Cook •Spend the day inside the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park •Walk through the Hooker Valley track to Hooker Lake Day 12: Lake Tekapo to Queenstown •Feast on a buffet dinner with panoramic 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 •Cruise past the lake and onto Glenorchy, where you can embark on short scenic walks Day 15: Queenstown to Wanaka •Take in views over Lake Wānaka from Roys Peak (only accessible from November to May) •Alternatively, join the Mt Iron hike, providing 360-degree views of the Pisa range •Visit the famous Wanaka tree Day 16: Wanaka to Franz Josef •Discover the Thunder Creek falls in Mt Aspiring National Park •Admire the famous mirror views of Aoraki/Mount Cook from Lake Matheson Day 17: Franz Josef •Design and carve your own Greenstone jewelry in a West Coast workshop •Take on a glacier walk Day 18: Franz Josef to Christchurch •Explore a variety of trails across Arthur's Pass •Walk the Castle Hill track •Stop at the Devils Punchbowl waterfalls.

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What people are saying about Marlborough Sounds

Overall rating

5.0 / 5

based on 7 reviews

on the ride out to ship cove we saw dolphins and the guide gave us plenty of time to see them and managed to position the boat so we could all get amazing photos.

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.

Best skipper and crew, great commentary and very willing to answer questions