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Queen Charlotte Sound Mail Boat Cruise

Picton, New Zealand
Book online or call: (888) 651-9785(888) 651-9785

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icon4 hours  (Approx.)
iconOffered in: English

Keeping you safe during COVID-19
What you can expect during your visit
Hand sanitizer available to travelers and staff
Regularly sanitized high-traffic areas
Gear/equipment sanitized between use
Guides required to regularly wash hands
Contactless payments for gratuities and add-ons
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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
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.
Pass By:  
Queen Charlotte Sound
Cruise through the tranquil waterways of the Queen Charlotte Sound, see wildlife and native flora and fauna along the way

Traveler Tips

  • "If you sit up top, I recommend a warm jacket even on a sunny day and that your hat is tied on." See review
  • "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!" See review
  • "The cruise lasted longer than we anticipated: need to extend our parking to 5 hours." See review


85 Reviews
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Reviews by Viator travelers
Magical trip among stunning scenery
, Jun 2020
This was a fabulous trip. The scenery is stunning. The pilots commentary personable, helpful, and informative. We saw King and pied Cormorants, little blue penguins, fur seals, and a sting ray. There are several options to view; from the top of the boat, at the back or inside the main cabin. We took our own afternoon tea from the Seabreeze cafe, which was a good idea. Going up into Endeavour inlet was magical with the actual mail drop offs at several points. I would have liked more Māori history too.
One of the best
, Mar 2020
Excellent experience, and informative. Great commentary. Scenery is unbelievable. Great sense of history when visiting Ship Cove.
Great Cruise
, Mar 2020
The trip is very good. It covers a lot of the Queen Charlotte Sound and the commentary was excellent. Staff are friendly and helpful. We were lucky enough to see a seal catching a salmon that escaped from the salmon farm and a very big pod of dolphins that the where the captain ensured we all had a good sighting.
A great way to see Queen Charlotte sound
, Mar 2020
A lovely trip on Queen Charlotte sound. The crew were very professional in dealing it the medical incident on board.
Mail run
, Mar 2020
Brilliant, helped by a beautiful day. Very good skipper/ guide. Interesting facts about ecology of the area. Boat very comfortable.
A nice afternoon
, Feb 2020
We had a very nice afternoon on the mailboat. The captain told a lot about what we saw and the weather was great.
Perfect way to experience Queen Charlotte Sound
, Feb 2020
Tour guide was excellent. Content of his commentary was helpful, with enough detail & lively. He was very willing to answer queries. His own enthusiasm for the Sound, its natural significance and distinct character , was great. He demonstrated a reassuring competence as a boat navigator.
The sights and staff very informative and helpful
, Feb 2020
The staff were friendly, the sights were interesting and it was comfortable. The weather was perfect
This is a 'must do' cruise
, Feb 2020
The cruise was so much more than we expected. Although we new it was 'the Mail Boat Cruise' hadn't fully appreciated that it WAS a mail boat. Excellent commentary, unexpectedly interesting visit to Cook's Monument. We were impressed by the skills and professionalism of the pilot. The cruise lasted longer than we anticipated: need to extend our parking to 5 hours. Our 1:30 boat got back into Picton around 5:45 - not that we are complaining. Grateful that the office team suggested that we might like to buy some food for the cruise.
Great trip
, Feb 2020
Saw Hector's dolphins and had a wonderful time. Great commentary and beautiful scenery. We really loved seeing the houses hidden throughout the sounds.

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Product code: 6607MAILBOAT

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