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Experience The Best Adventures in Marlborough Sounds

If you really want to get away from it all, Marlborough Sounds in NZ could be thedestination you have been looking for. Located at the north-east tip of the South Island of New Zealand, this area boasts over 1500 km of coastline thanks to the ancient riverbeds which have been flooded over millennia with water from the Pacific Ocean. What nature has crafted at Marlborough Sounds is an intricate maze of waterways which take you around islands, inlets, and unspoilt beaches, which are perfect to explore by boat or by kayak.

Critically Endangered King Shag only 730 in 2023

9-10 Hours

Daily Departures:
8.00 AM

Bottlenose Dolphin watching in Picton 2023

1-2 hours

Daily Departures:
8.00 AM, 10.00 AM, 12.00 AM , 14.00 PM

Dusky Dolphins Swimming

2 - 4 hours

Daily Departures:
9.00 AM

QCT Track Walkers

1-1.5 Hour

Daily Departures:
8.00 AM, 13.30 PM

Humpback tail slap

4 hours

Daily Departures:
8.00 AM

1-2 Hours

Daily Departures:

Dolphin Watching

2-4 hours

Daily Departures:
On Request

Marlborough Sounds – A Little Slice of Paradise

The Department of Conservation is responsible for more than 50 reserves in this area, meaning that this natural gem is protected, and the pristine nature will be available for future generations. The region consists of three principal bodies of water: Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru and Pelorus Sounds. Within these areas are located some of the most secluded waterfront holiday properties, only accessible by water or by helicopter.

52% of the Marlborough Sounds is in Reserve and there are over 700 bays. There are 11 Predator Free Islands which are focused on breeding up Endangered Species mostly to be relocated to other locations in New Zealand. New Zealand has an aspiration of being Predator Free by 2050 and the DOC islands in this area play a vital role in that government focus to reestablish our Native Species. The islands are used for Breeding and then Translocation of the Endangered Species to Predator Free locations around the country.

Motuara Island in Queen Charlotte Sound is New Zealand's most productive Endangered Species Breeding island and there you can see rare and Endangered Species upclose. There has been an investment of over 40 million dollars into the Breeding of Endangered Species on this island with the focus on Rowi Kiwi where numbers have been raised from less than 100 birds to now 700. Every Endangered Species introduced to Breed on Moutara Island has been a success due to its isolation and warm climate.

It is also arguably birthplace is as Captain Cook planted the Flag on these islands and also Kupe arrived here 1000 years ago. His Descendants and Cook started our multicultural society there over a 9 year period from 1770. Cook and the descendants of Kupe the Nagti Kuia developed a good relationship and Cook based all of his Expeditions from this location and visited a total of 5 times and spent 170 days locally. It is also where Sir Joseph Banks started his work on defining a Catalog system for plants and animals which was given to Charles Darwin in 1773 upon his return to England. His original work also included the First Bird Counts ever completed and in particular the counting of the Critically locally endemic King Shag at 650 individuals , with today only 700 individuals this animal is a scientific paradox and a must see. So Motuara Island and Ship Cove in Queen Charlotte Sound is a MUST DO for animal lovers and History buffs. Read More

Marlborough Sounds NZ Activities

The land rises sharply from sea level, creating a landscape of heavily wooded peaks as far as the eye can see. Within these, there is a network of hiking and cycling trails to suit every ability. For those in search of a real adventure, the 70km Queen Charlotte Track can be completed over 5 days, with a range of overnight accommodation options from camping to high-end lodges. But hiking is just one of the Marlborough Sounds activities visitors to the area can enjoy; with something for every nature lover.

As well as the millions of appreciative tourists who visit Marlborough Sounds in New Zealand every year, dolphins are also regular visitors to this area, as well as a wide variety of native New Zealand birds.

Queen Charlotte Sound is the only location in New Zealand to be able to see all 5 species of Dolphin during the year. Orca frequent the sound up to 20 times a year , Common Dolphin from October to December , Dusky Dolphin stay in the sound during Autumn and Winter, the Bottlenose Dolphin here is the largest Pod in New Zealand and the only place you can swim with them and the area also has the rarest Hector's Dolphin Subspecies. This subspecies has only less than 34 individuals and is only located in Queen Charlotte Sound , they have adapted their feeding and shrunk their body to now only be 1.2m long and incredibly hard to find unless you know their habits. They can be found year round with the main matting period between January to April.

It’s possible to take a dolphin viewing boat trip, or even swim with these playful creatures. The sheltered aspect of the sounds can be a much less daunting experience than swimming with them in the open ocean. As Queen Charlotte Sound is the most sheltered waterway in New Zealand it provides the best Dolphin Viewing opportunities as the water is clear and the Dolphins are not pressured by to many boats. They will come over to look at people and if you wave and interact they will stop and look up at you which gives by far the best photo and video opportunites in New Zealand.

For our whale island tours in New Zealand, you see Humpback migrates past Tory channel Entrance which has the only Restored Whaling station in New Zealand. There were 10 local Whaling stations and the migrating Whales still follow the traditional path past Tory Channel entrance with up to 400 Whales a month and increasing every year from the end of May till the end of August. Perano Whaling Station also has been restored by the Department of Conservation and access to a Restored Whalers recreation room which was used by the original multicultural families. With Maori and European marrying in this area from 1830 and working in the Whaling industry this is the only location in New Zealand were you can see original photos and touch original artifacts from this era.

Unsurprisingly due to the abundance of waterways, boat trips in Picton NZ are one of the most popular Marlborough Sounds activities available in the area. These range from leisurely day trips to take in the breathtaking views, visits to Predator Free Islands to see Endangered Species, aquaculture farms, and even high-end gourmet seafood and wine tasting aboard. The Marlborough region is famed for its world-class Sauvignon Blanc, as well as many local artisanal products such as honey, sea salt, and pine nuts.

A Perfect Base to Explore the Marlborough Sounds Picton

As one of the gateways to Marlborough Sounds in Picton, it is an obvious choice for those who want to go wildlife or whale watching in New Zealand, arrange a wine-tasting experience, spend a few hours kayaking, take the coastal train, or a scenic flight. It’s also the home of E-Ko Tours, a conservation-focused tour operator. We offer a full range of nature-based experiences which will inform and delight visitors to our beautiful region. On all our Endangered Species tour we see the endangered species 90% of the time one of the Dolphin Species are encountered up close.

We feel lucky to call Marlborough Sounds our home, and we’d love to share the best of it with you. Call in to see us in Picton and let us provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences for you! Read less

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