Marlborough Sounds

Visit Marlborough Sounds, NZ

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  • The Marlborough Sounds is a maze-like landscape of steeply-sided inlets, peninsulas and islands at the top of the South Island. It is a favourite location for sailing, kayaking and fishing and has some great multi-day walking and cycling trails.

    The area was first visited by Captain Cook in the 1770s and later became a base for the early sealing the whaling industries. Today, fishing and aquaculture (mussel farming), wine-making and tourism are the dominant industries.

    Marlborough is well-known for its Sauvignon Blanc and other white wines, as well as for its seafood. The region hosts a number of food and wine festivals. Vineyards and restaurants can be visited at any time of year.

    Accommodation in Marlborough Sounds (NZ)

    Many places of accommodation in the Marlborough Sounds are located near the sea and accessible only by boat. Lodges that offer serviced rooms, self-contained units, or dormitory-style, backpacker accommodation can be found in places such as Endeavour Inlet and Ponga Cove. Many have restaurants and bars, with facilities for guests to use boats and kayaks.

    The large towns of Picton and Blenheim have hotel, motel and holiday park (camping) accommodation.

    There are holiday homes for rent at locations around the Sounds.

    Some home-stay providers offer activities such as fishing or photography.


    Transport around Marlborough Sounds

    Road transport around the Marlborough Sounds is limited, to due its difficult geography. Most destinations in the area are reached by boat. Water taxi and boat charters are readily available. It is also possible to hire kayaks.

    The nearest airports are at Nelson, to the west of the Sounds, and Picton, which each have scheduled services to and from Wellington. The inter-island ferry from Wellington berths at Picton. The main railway line to Christchurch also begins at Picton.

    Mountain bikes can be hired at Picton for local transport. There are also bus and shuttle services between Marlborough Sounds locations.

    Tourist Activities around Marlborough Sounds

    The Marlborough Sounds provide great opportunities for hiking. The Queen Charlotte Track is the most famous of these, which takes 3-5 days to walk or 2-3 days to cycle. The direction of the track can also be followed by sea using a kayak, and some visitors combine walking and kayaking over 5 days to complete the journey.

    Boatcharters are available for fishing or recreational sailing. Boat operators also run eco-tours that visit a seal colony and usually encounter dolphins, whales and sea birds along the way.

    Awildlife recovery centre at Lochmara has rare native birds that can be fed, along with ecological displays and projects. Visiting families can enjoy kayaks, swings and a flying fox zipline.

    A visit to Marlborough would not be complete without visiting award-winning wineries. There is a selection of guided tours to wineries around the region, many of which have restaurants.

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    Marlborough Sounds