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Marlborough Sounds
Marlborough Sounds

Marlborough Sounds

star-5
522 Reviews
Picton, South Island

The Basics

Despite being a relatively small area, the Marlborough Sounds make up around 93 miles (150 kilometers) of New Zealand’s coastline. Few people live in the four sounds (Queen Charlotte, Pelorus, Kenepuru, and Mahau), with the little town of Picton being the only sizable population center. Paved and unpaved roads extend to certain arms of the sounds only—some residents of the far reaches get to their properties by boat.

There are lots of ways to enjoy the Marlborough Sounds. The Queen Charlotte Track is a popular multi-day hike, and you’ll find plenty of other walking and biking trails as well. Campers with a tent or campervan have no trouble finding places to sleep at the many campgrounds. Dolphin-watching cruises depart from Picton and Havelock. If you’re short on time and just passing through, take the scenic Queen Charlotte Drive.

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Recent reviews from experiences in Picton

star-4
Beautiful day on the sound
TMD, Mar 2020
Marlborough Sounds Ultimate Cruise
Lovely trip with lots of sightings of local birds, seals, penguins. Lovely friendly staff. Small boat, so seats were limited and the only seat left for us was right at the front right behind the captains butt! no toilet facilities during the 4 hour cruise and 80s disco music on the way home spoiled the serene scene for us (not the right music for such a trip) Otherwise a lovely way to se the Marlborough Sound.
star-5
Great experience!
Chris S, Jan 2020
Marlborough Sounds Ultimate Cruise
We had a great experience on the cruise. Our guides were awesome, they had tons of great information as we cruised Queen Charlotte's Bay and hiked. We were fortunate to see two schools of dolphins and some seal colonies. Overall great adventure and would recommend!
star-5
fabulous trip
ghtutttutt, Nov 2019
Full Day Marlborough Sounds Mail Boat Cruise
Our day on the Mail boat was the highlight of our holiday. Very interesting commentary from the Captain kept us all amused. we saw dolphins and a seal. Such a different way of life for the Sounds dwellers.

Things to Know Before You Go

When driving, stay safe while taking in the views by pulling over into the many viewing areas by the side of the road.

Avoid Picton’s crowds by using Havelock as an alternative gateway to the sounds.

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How to Get There

Ferries run between Wellington and Picton. Many travelers drive to Picton from the south or west, or take a rental car on the ferry. There’s a small airport just south of Picton; however, a cheaper and more convenient way of flying to/from the Marlborough Sounds is to go via nearby Nelson (about a 1.5-hour drive west of the sounds) or Blenheim (about an hour’s drive south).

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When to Get There

The Marlborough Sounds are busiest during the New Zealand summer school holidays (late December through late January), with families camping and boating. The rest of the year sees far fewer visitors, though winter (June through August) tends to be cool and damp—not ideal for outdoor activities.

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Vineyard Tours of Marlborough

Marlborough is known for having some of New Zealand’s best sauvignon blanc. However, it isn’t produced in the Marlborough Sounds but the Marlborough plains—south of the sounds, around the town of Blenheim. If you’re a wine lover, stop by a vineyard or two while traveling through.

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