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Marlborough Sounds Tours

8 reviews
Marlborough Sounds
Set at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, the Marlborough Sounds amazingly comprise one fifth of New Zealand’s coastline. Not because the region is large, however, but simply because the serpentine coast weaves in and out of so many bays it massively adds to the mileage. Here the coastline is so stunningly rugged that mail is still delivered by boat to towns that are cut off from roads, and visitors can actually ride along with the boat that’s delivering mail. It’s a rural time capsule that hearkens back to life in the 1800s, where sheep still roam the forested hills and fishermen ply the waters for mussels and live off the bounty of the sea.

For an authentic experience in Marlborough Sounds, hop aboard a seafood cruise to sample the clams, mussels, and salmon the Marlborough area is known for. Or, to scour the shore on your own two feet, hike the famous Queen Charlotte Track that weaves through Queen Charlotte Sound, or pedal your way up rolling green peaks by renting a mountain bike in town.

Practical Info

Nearly all tours of the Marlborough Sounds depart from the town of Picton. The most popular way of reaching Picton is aboard a ferry that crosses the Strait from neighboring Wellington on the North Island.
 
Did You Know? From 1888 until 1912, a dolphin by the name of Pelorus Jack would help mariners find safe passage through the treacherous, narrow French Pass.
Address: Picton, South Island, New Zealand
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16 Tours & Activities to Experience

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Day Cruises

Marlborough Wine Tour and Cruise from Picton or Blenheim

Marlborough is New Zealand’s largest wine region, famous for its Sauvignon Blanc and scenic Marlborough Sounds. Discover both on this full-day small-group tour as you visit several Marlborough wineries, indulge in expert-led wine tastings, tuck into lunch at a waterfront restaurant (own expense), then set sail on a cruise through the Marlborough Sounds, accompanied by a delicious seafood tasting platter.
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  • 7 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$143.63
From  
US$143.63
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  • 7 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation

Swim with Dolphins

Dolphin Swimming and Watching E-Ko-Tour from Picton

Slip into Marlborough Sounds for a swim alongside pods of wild dolphins, with certified guides to help find the dolphins and ensure the tour is dolphin-friendly. Watch for dusky, bottlenose, common, orca, and Hector’s dolphins, and if conditions allow, you’ll have the chance to view the dolphins from inside the water. This dolphin tour includes wetsuits with hoods and booties, as well as hot drinks on board the boat, and round-trip transport from the Picton waterfront.
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  • 2 to 4 hours
From  
US$107.72
From  
US$107.72
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  • 2 to 4 hours

Day Cruises

Full Day Marlborough Sounds Mail Boat Cruise

Explore the scenic waterways of the Marlborough Sounds on a small-group half-day cruise by mail boat from Havelock. The historic Pelorus Mail Boat delivers mail, groceries, and freight to residents along this remote inland waterway where the boat is the main link to the outside world. Hear commentary from the crew about the region, and perhaps have time to disembark at spots along the way (conditions permitting).
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  • 5 to 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$71.16
From  
US$71.16
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  • 5 to 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Nature & Wildlife

Wildlife Island Sanctuary (Motuara ) and Dolphin Cruise from Picton

Search for rare seabirds and several species of marine mammals, such as Hector's, bottlenose and dusky dolphins along with New Zealand fur seals, during a half-day sightseeing cruise in the Marlborough Sounds. Cruise to Queen Charlotte Sound and take a nature walk on Motuara Island, where a predator-free landscape allows for plentiful birdlife. Listen to commentary from enthusiastic marine biologists, and treat yourself to tea, coffee, hot chocolate and cookies.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$84.22
From  
US$84.22
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation

4WD, ATV & Off-Road Tours

NEW TO VIATOR

Marlborough Sounds Ultimate Cruise

The best experience in Marlborough. This tour offers an amazing, fully-guided experience wildlife. A small-group tour to view some of New Zealand’s spectacular scenery and wildlife. Visit Motuara Island and cruise the calm waters of the majestic Queen Charlotte Sound. Water, wilderness and wildlife. You will have the opportunity to see multiple species of wildlife, including rare sea birds, marine mammals and endangered land birds. Led by enthusiastic and fun Guides, you will be given the possibility of viewing five different species of dolphins, little blue penguins, seals, seabirds and land birds. Enjoy the only daily service fully-guided walk on Motuara Island, seeing and hearing the amazing bird life where Captain Cook planted the first flag and claimed New Zealand.The view is spectacular from the lookout all the way to the North Island. On the return enjoy complimentarily hot drinks and chocolate biscuits and in the afternoon tour local wine and muscles. The Ultimate Cruise.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$84.22
From  
US$84.22
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Kayaking & Canoeing

Full Day Queen Charlotte Kayak and Walking Tour from Picton

Combine sea kayaking and self-guided hiking on this full-day outdoor adventure in the Marlborough Sounds. Paddle from the Picton waterfront to the western end of Queen Charlotte Sound and search the azure waters for marine life such as eagle rays, cormorants, little blue penguins, New Zealand fur seals and dolphins. Encounter secluded beaches along the shoreline before an independent hike on the Queen Charlotte Track, from Anakiwa to Mistletoe Bay. Lunch and return transfer by water taxi are included.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$117.52
From  
US$117.52
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Kayaking & Canoeing

Half day Guided Sea Kayak Tour from Picton

Tour the western end of Queen Charlotte Sound on a half-day paddling adventure from Picton. Settle into your sea kayak and follow an expert guide from the waterfront to sheltered coves and remote beaches. Search the waters for eagles rays, cormorants, little blue penguins, New Zealand fur seals and dolphins while you learn about the natural history of the Marlborough Sounds. Numbers are limited to ensure a small-group experience.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$62.02
From  
US$62.02
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Multi-day Tours

14-Day South Island Adventure Tour from Christchurch

Spend two full weeks exploring New Zealand's magnificent South Island witht his guided tour. You and your fellow travelers will get to experience the best of the island, including the thermal baths of Hanmer Springs, the seaside town of Picton, the glorious Abel Tasman National Park, and the stunning Franz Josef Glacier, as well as Queenstown, Lake Matheson, and Lake Tekapo. You’ll even have some free time to go bungee jumping, if the mood strikes!
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  • 14 days
From  
US$2,079.38
From  
US$2,079.38
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  • 14 days

Kayaking & Canoeing

Full day Guided Sea Kayak Tour from Picton

See the exquisite Marlborough Sounds from the water during a full-day adventure by sea kayak. Depart from the Picton waterfront and prepare to be wowed as you paddle past secluded coves along the western end of Queen Charlotte Sound. Your knowledgeable guide points out marine life such as eagles rays, cormorants, little blue penguins, New Zealand fur seals and more. Stop at a sheltered beach for a delicious lunch with locally sourced ingredients. Numbers are limited to ensure a small-group experience.
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  • 7 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$84.87
From  
US$84.87
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  • 7 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation

Nature & Wildlife

Half-Day Dolphin Viewing Eco-Tour from Picton

The sunken river valleys, forested cliffs, and sandy bays of the Marlborough Sounds are one of the best places in New Zealand to spot dolphins in their natural environment, but increased tourism can often put wildlife at risk. This 4-hour cruise from Picton is run by certified Department of Conservation operators, allowing you to interact with dusky, bottlenose, and orca dolphins in a safe, fun, and eco-friendly way.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$84.22
From  
US$84.22
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Helicopter Tours

Bay of Many Coves Helicopter Tour with 3-Course Lunch from Wellington

Across the Cook Strait is the Marlborough Sounds, a cluster of picturesque bays, inlets and islands. Set in one of these bays is the Bay of Many Coves Resort, a luxury hotel that can only be accessed by boat or helicopter. Your helicopter will leave the Wellington waterfront and fly you over the Cook Strait to the Resort. Once there, you’ll be treated to a three-course lunch at the resort’s gourmet restaurant The Foredeck.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$521.64
From  
US$521.64
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Private Sightseeing Tours

Private Wine Gourmet and Scenic Delights Tour from Blenheim

Marlborough is not only New Zealand’s most important wine region, but it’s a renowned foodie hotspot. Taste regional delicacies, gourmet cuisine, and fine wine on this private 6-hour tour from Blenheim, then customize your itinerary with a visit to the Omaka Air Museum, a tour of a local brewery, or a cruise around the Marlborough Sounds.
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  • 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$375.40
From  
US$375.40
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  • 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Private Sightseeing Tours

Private Wine Gourmet and Scenic Delights Tour from Picton

Marlborough is New Zealand’s largest wine region and a renowned foodie hotspot. Customise your itinerary on this private 6-hour tour from Picton and taste an array of regional delicacies, sweet treats, and fine wines. Optional activities include a visit to the Omaka Air Museum, a tour of a local brewery, or a cruise around the Marlborough Sounds.
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  • 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$453.74
From  
US$453.74
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  • 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Kayaking & Canoeing

Full-Day Guided Sea Kayak Trip from Picton

Spend your day sea kayaking around Queen Charlotte Sound on a guided excursion from Picton. Paddle across the harbor and stop for morning tea at a remote beach, then continue into the Grove Arm of the sound and enjoy lunch in a tranquil bay. Keep an eye out for cormorants and other wildlife as you listen to expert commentary about the Marlborough Sounds from the guide.
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  • 7 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$91.40
From  
US$91.40
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  • 7 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Cultural Tours

NEW TO VIATOR

20 Day New Zealand Uncovered Haka Plus Tour

You’re probably wondering what makes this tour a little fancier than some of our others with similar itineraries? Well, it’s pretty simple – along with a number of extra-special itinerary inclusions, the biggest difference is you'll stay in comfortable twin-share hotel accommodation.That’s right: say au revoir to busy budget dorm rooms – you get a twin-share room to lay your head down each night. Haka Plus Tours are great for couples or friends who are travelling together. If you’re travelling alone, we’ll match you with someone for an instant road trip pal! Or if you’d prefer a room to yourself, that’s no trouble at all. You have the option to upgrade to a private room as well.We kick off in Auckland and 20 days later we wave goodbye in Christchurch. Along the way you’ll get to see some of the most breathtaking scenery New Zealand has to offer. This includes national parks, rainforests, hidden pools, UNESCO World Heritage Areas, and probably more beaches than you have toes.
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  • 20 days
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$4,242.98
From  
US$4,242.98
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  • 20 days
  • Free Cancellation

Cultural Tours

NEW TO VIATOR

12 Day Wanderer Haka Plus Tour!

Welcome to the 12 Day Wanderer Haka Plus Tour! Get to know some of the most stunning parts of the North Island – and get a peek at some of the perks of the South Island too on this 12-day tour. Kicking off in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, and wrapping up in Christchurch on Day 12, this the experience of a lifetime. From cultural activities to adrenaline-pumping adventures to sights you’ll have to see to believe, Haka Plus Tours are the way to see Aotearoa New Zealand.This is your chance to swim, kayak, surf, rock climb, cave tube, white-water raft, bungy jump, skydive, hike, bike, luge, see kiwis (and whales, dolphins and albatrosses), relax in hot pools, eat and drink like a local, and more!Pack in as many or as few of the activities on offer as you want – this is your tour, and we want you to have a great time! The tour includes some must-dos, but when it comes to things like bungy jumping and mountain hiking, we leave the choice up to you.
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  • 12 days
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$2,480.24
From  
US$2,480.24
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  • 12 days
  • Free Cancellation


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(888) 651-9785
(888) 651-9785