Queen Charlotte Sound Mail Boat Cruise

Picton, New Zealand

From $70.54 USD

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4 hours (Approx.)
Mobile ticket
Offered in: English


Visit the remote communities of Queen Charlotte Sound aboard a working mail boat. This scenic 4-hour boat cruise departs Picton in the afternoon and makes New Zealand Post rural delivery service along different routes each day of the week. Experience the lifestyle of the Marlborough Sounds firsthand as the boat captain shares regional history and stories of these isolated hamlets. Enjoy complimentary tea and coffee on board and disembark for a 15-minute stop at Ship Cove (1st Oct to 30th April).
  • 4-hour cruise through Queen Charlotte Sound on the mail boat, from Picton
  • Travel with the only official New Zealand Post rural water delivery service in the region
  • See remote communities in the Marlborough Sounds, which constitute a fifth of New Zealand’s coastline
  • Visit Ship Cove (1st Oct to 30th April), a favorite anchorage of Captain Cook and site of early contact between Maoris and Europeans
  • Learn about the history of the region from your experienced captain
  • Disembark at Ship Cove to see the Captain Cook memorial, Maori wood carvings and stroll along the beach


  • Live commentary on board
  • Tea and coffee


  • Food
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off

Departure Point

The Waterfront, Picton

Departure Time

1:30 PM

Return Details

Returns to original departure point at approximately 5:30pm-6:00pm.
Please notify us at the time of booking if you have a connection or are visiting with a cruise ship.
View the magnificent scenery of the Marlborough Sounds and get a glimpse of daily life in the remote outposts via New Zealand Post rural delivery service through Queen Charlotte Sound.
Meet the mail boat in the afternoon at the Picton waterfront, and relax with complimentary tea and coffee on board. The 4-hour boat tour travels into various bays, coves and inlets detailed by the captain, then wraps up with a stop at Ship Cove (1st Oct to 30th April) where Captain Cook anchored the Endeavor in 1770.
You have 15 minutes here to explore the beach and see a memorial to Captain Cook as well as wood-carved Maori statues. Read informative displays about the island and search for birdlife such as oyster catchers, weka and paradise ducks.
Mail routes change depending on the day of the week; see the Itinerary for a sample of scheduled delivery.


Monday and ThursdayStart by cruising through Queen Charlotte Sound to Kaipapa, a small cove in Kumototo Bay. Continue into Blackwood Bay to drop off mail, then pass a king salmon fish farm en route to Ruakaka Bay where the boat stops at a local residence. Then deliver mail to the Bay of Many Coves Resort and make a few more mail stops at Arapawa Island before pulling into Ship Cove.
Tuesday and FridayThe mail boat heads to Curious Cove and then the Tory Channel, traveling along one side past Te Pangu as far as Whekenui, where the Tory Channel enters Cook Strait. Return along the other side of the channel, making a few mail drops along the way, before heading to Ship Cove. 
Wednesday and Saturday The mail deliveries stop first near the East Bay King Salmon Farm on Arapawa Island. Then sail to the top of East Bay for a couple of mail drops. On Saturdays, the run goes to Cape Jackson, a community that only receives deliveries once per week due to the distance. On your return, stop at Ship Cove.
Please note: This is a sample itinerary that can change based on what time of the year you visit.
  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Guests are welcome to bring their own food and drinks to consume on board
  • Closed-toe walking shoes suitable for walking are recommended
  • Not accessible for motorized wheelchairs
  • Please Note: The stop at Ship Cove only occurs during Summer months of 1st Oct to 30th April

For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.


Viator Traveler's Reviews

17 Reviews
5 Star
4 Star
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1 Star
Carole D
, Apr 2019

Captain was knowledgeable personable and funny. Fantastic trip ... worth every penny! Would highly recommend this trip!

, Jun 2018

This tour is exactly as described.
Really good commentary and it was interesting to see the properties and the lifestyles of the folk at the mail drops.
The stop at Ship Cove was great and a chance to stretch your legs. Scenery along the whole sound was very pretty and an opportunity to spot some of the wildlife, especially seals around the fish farm.

Katharine D
, May 2018

This was a very relaxing trip. Queen Charlotte sound is beautiful and we were blessed with glorious weather and very calm seas, which all contributed to making this one of our most comfortable and leisurely trips. The postal run itself was fascinating, and it was very interesting in some cases to approach a jetty and collect/deliver post where the property itself couldn't be seen from the boat! It was great to have this very 'local' experience. We thoroughly enjoyed it!

Colville E
, Feb 2018

A fantastic experience. The skipper, Julian, was knowledgeable and a great deal of fun. When we spotted a dolphin pod he took us over and allowed plenty of time for photos and videos. Some of the dolphins then 'surfed' in our wake. It was great learning about how the residents of Charlotte Sound get their mail and 'guest's delivered. We'd recommend this trip.Wendy and Col Melbourne Australia

russell k
, Jan 2018

Well worth the time. Great experience.

Jack S
, Dec 2017

Nice scenic trip

Alan S
, Nov 2017

Excellent tour. Beautiful scenery, birds, dolphins. Comfortable boat. Good commentary. Easy access from cruise ship..

, Jul 2017

Interesting tour with beautiful scenery.

, Jan 2017

Great experience! Wonderful scenery and a good insight into living in remote and beautiful area of New Zealand while delivering mail and essential supplies.. Friendly staff and boat operator. Also good to support a local family business. Stop at Ship cove also not to be missed.

Russell H
, May 2016

Great trip. Enjoy the commentary by the skipper, lots of,tales to tell plus local history. Also good stories about th people we dropped off mail and supplies to. The boat was very stable, even in some of the rough stuff close to Cook Straight. Well worth doing.

Book online or call
(888) 651-9785
(888) 651-9785
Product code: 6607MAILBOAT

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