How do you explore Marlborough Sounds

How do you explore Marlborough Sounds? 

Nestled at the top of the South Island, the Marlborough Sounds is an intricate network of ancient sunken river valleys. It offers a remarkable blend of serene seclusion, abundant wildlife, and a rich tapestry of history uniquely Kiwi. 

So, if you’re ready to venture into all that the place offers, you’re probably wondering: How do you explore Marlborough Sounds? 

You can explore Marlborough Sounds through kayaking, hiking, fishing, wildlife tours, wine tours, birdwatching, cycling, and scenic drives. 

Come with us on a virtual tour of Marlborough Sounds as we take you through all of the exploration options at your disposal.

Explore Marlborough Sounds by Kayaking

One of the most exciting ways to explore this enchanting region is kayaking. With over 1,500km of coastline to explore, it offers some of the best kayaking experiences in New Zealand. 

The Marlborough Sound has countless deserted beaches and hidden coves only accessible by water, providing a unique opportunity to explore these untouched areas.

Guided Tours and Independent Rentals for Kayaking

Marlborough Sounds Adventure Co, the region’s most experienced kayak operator, offers guided trips from one to four days. These trips come with quality equipment and expert guides who provide insightful commentary about the region’s history and wildlife.

For those who prefer independent exploration, the company offers kayak rentals for single or multi-day use. Pricing starts from $65 per day, with discounts for longer rentals.

If you’re seeking a longer adventure, consider embarking on a seven-day solo sea kayaking trip. You’ll be able to fully explore the Marlborough Sounds’ beauty at your own pace.

Explore Marlborough Sounds by Hiking 

Marlborough Sounds is a hiker’s paradise. From leisurely strolls to multi-day hikes, there are countless paths for you to explore. To help you out, we’ve listed some of our favorites below!

Queen Charlotte Track

Often considered the crown jewel of Marlborough’s hiking trails, the Queen Charlotte Track is a must-visit for any hiking enthusiast. This track spans 70km from Ship Cove to Anakiwa and offers stunning views of Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds. 

The trail can be completed in 3-5 days, but plenty of shorter walks and day hikes are available along the route.

Nydia Track

The Nydia Track is another favourite among locals and tourists alike. This two-day hike traverses native forests, regenerating bush and small streams, providing ample opportunities to spot local wildlife.

Archer Track

The Archer Track is popular for those seeking a less crowded hiking experience. This trail takes you through lush native bush and offers panoramic views of the Wairau Valley.

Wairau Lagoon Walkway

The Wairau Lagoon Walkway is a perfect choice for a more relaxed, family-friendly option. This 3-hour loop takes you through the serene beauty of the Wairau Lagoons, a birdwatcher haven.

Wither Hills Farm Park

If you’re short on time, the Wither Hills Farm Park offers various short walks that can be completed in under an hour. The park provides stunning views of the Wairau Plains and Cook Strait.

Explore Marlborough Sounds by Fishing

Marlborough Sounds has earned a reputation as a premier destination for fishing. Its abundant marine life and stunning landscapes are a paradise for anglers.

From casting a line from the shore to venturing out into deeper waters, the Queen Charlotte Sound promises a memorable fishing adventure.

Here, anglers can catch blue cod snappers, grouper, and trevally, amongst other fish. Species like kawahai and salmon can be found at the mouth of the Wairau River.

Fishing Charters

For those less experienced or looking for a guided experience, several fishing charter boats operate in the Marlborough Sounds. Sounds Connection has half-day, full-day fishing trips out to the Queen Charlotte Sound. Bay of Many Coves also has fishing charter tours for those wanting to catch and release blue cod. 

Explore Marlborough Sounds with Wildlife Tours

The wildlife tours in Marlborough Sounds are a must-visit. Renowned for its rich biodiversity and stunning landscapes, Marlborough Sounds offers many unique wildlife experiences that will leave you spellbound. Below are our handpicked favorites.

The Ultimate Dolphin Viewing Experience

Marlborough is home to five species of dolphins, making it a world-class destination for dolphin viewing. With various tour operators offering dolphin cruises, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get up close with these intelligent creatures.

E-Ko Tours, one of the leading tour operators, offers award-winning Marlborough Sounds and Picton tours, including dolphin cruises.

Nature Walks and Eco Adventures

If you prefer land-based adventures, Marlborough Sounds doesn’t disappoint. Natural Encounters Walks and Affinity Cruises offer immersive nature and wildlife tours. 

The Queen Charlotte Track is another popular option, offering breathtaking views of the sounds. In contrast, Pelorus Eco Adventures provides an additional layer of excitement for the adventurous at heart.

Explore Marlborough Sounds with Wine Tours

With over 120 wineries and more than 30 cellar doors to visit, the region offers a tantalizing journey for the senses, particularly for fans of the world-renowned Sauvignon Blanc. Here are a few different wine tour options! 

The Original Marlborough Wine Tours

The Original Marlborough Wine Tours is an excellent place to start, especially if you’re new to the region. Suitable for ages 18 and above, these 6.5-hour tours take you through the region, visiting six wineries. It’s an immersive experience that goes beyond just sampling wines. 

Full-Day Marlborough Wine Tour 

If you have a whole day to spare, consider the Full-Day Marlborough Wine Tour. This tour includes wine-tasting experiences at various vineyards, allowing you to sample a wide range of wines the Marlborough Region offers. 

Self-Guided Biking Wine Tour

For those who prefer a bit of adventure with their wine, the Marlborough Full-Day Self-Guided Biking Wine Tour is an incredible option. This tour allows you to bike through the beautiful landscapes of Marlborough at your own pace, stopping at wineries along the way. 

Hop n Grape Tours 

Known as the leading provider of Marlborough Wine Tours, Hop n Grape Tours offers daily group wine tours, private wine tours, full-day wine tours, and half-day tours. It’s a versatile option catering to different preferences and schedules.

The Gourmet Wine Experience

If you want to splurge on a luxury wine experience, consider the Gourmet Wine Experience offered by Sounds Connection. With prices starting from $229 per person, this tour offers a high-end wine tour experience. 

Marlborough Food and Wine Tours

Marlborough Food and Wine tour combines the best of Marlborough’s wines with its sumptuous local cuisine. The full-day trips depart from Blenheim or Picton and take you on a journey to sample the celebrated Marlborough wines, all while enjoying views of stunning rolling hills.

Explore Marlborough Sounds by Birdwatching

The Motuara Island Sanctuary is a must-visit spot in Marlborough Sounds. It’s a haven for bird watchers, who can observe a wide array of rare sea birds, such as Penguins. 

One of the birds here is the critically endangered Orange-fronted Kakariki, which can be spotted on private charter tours. Blumine Island, another gem in the Marlborough Sounds, is home to the Orange-fronted Parakeet, Saddleback, and Rowi.

In addition, the King Shag, a bird species found only in the Marlborough Sounds, and the South Island saddleback are rare birds that can be seen too.

Explore Marlborough Sounds by Cycling 

The Queen Charlotte Track is one of New Zealand’s oldest and best-loved mountain bike trails. Tracing the bays, beaches, and forests of the Marlborough Sounds, this track is incredibly beautiful and rich in human history. It’s a more challenging ride (a multi-day track) but worth the effort. 

And if you want a different sort of track, you won’t run out of options soon. With 26 tracks ranging from epic high country trails to long flat runs through vine-clad valleys, there’s a route for every skill level. 

The Marlborough Sounds Adventure Co. offers quality mountain bikes specifically prepared for the challenging terrain of the Queen Charlotte Track, by the way. We recommend them if you don’t have the appropriate gear for that particular trail. 

Explore Marlborough Sounds with Scenic Drives

One of the most popular scenic drives in the Marlborough Sounds is the Queen Charlotte Drive. This 40-kilometre winding road links the towns of Havelock and Picton. 

It’s fringed with native forest, offering breathtaking views at every turn. Despite its short length, the journey is packed with beauty and intrigue, making it one of New Zealand’s top scenic drives.

There are numerous lookout points where you can stop and soak in the panoramic views of the Marlborough Sounds. For those seeking a more off-the-beaten-path experience, the drive to French Pass and Bulwer is a must. 

Although it’s not the northernmost point you can drive to in mainland Marlborough, it’s very close. Along the way, you’ll find some fantastic viewpoints perfect for capturing those unforgettable travel photos.