Summer boating in the Marlborough Sounds


With the winding waterways of the beautiful Marlborough Sounds making up around one fifth, or 1500km, of New Zealand’s coastline and covering an area of about 4000km2 of spectacular maritime beauty, there’s hardly a place better suited than the Marlborough Sounds for summer boating.

In addition to the three main bodies of water that make up the Marlborough Sounds (Queen Charlotte Sound, Pelorus Sound and Kenepuru Sound – which are really ancient sunken valleys), the area features a myriad of spectacular bays, quaint coves and secluded inlets, numerous peninsulas and island sanctuaries – creating a veritable scenic wonderland for anyone who loves to spend time on the water.

The steep, native bush-clad hills above the sounds are sparsely populated – largely due to the fact that access is difficult. While some locations can be reached by road, the only way to really explore the Marlborough Sounds or access most of the pristine beaches, small settlements and isolated homes and lodges is via the water.

Tailor-made for summertime boating

The largely sheltered waters of the Marlborough Sounds are a paradise for water-borne craft of any kind – from inches-above-the-water kayaks to boats and yachts of all shapes and sizes. With countless quiet bays in which to drop anchor for a day of tranquil relaxing or an overnight rest, the Marlborough Sounds are pretty much tailor made for boating at any time of the year, but especially in summer.

While the main channels of the Marlborough Sounds offer great calm water boating, some of the channels that lie closer to the strong currents and rough waters of the Cook Strait can be more tricky and are best left to experienced boaties.

Bountiful wildlife

The Sounds are also home to more than 50 marine reserves and island sanctuaries, which help to foster rare native species, such as the kiwi and the extremely vulnerable New Zealand king cormorant, plus a wide range of other native bird, marine and wildlife – and the best way to experience them up close and personal is by getting out on the water.

Encounters with history

The abundant food sources found in the Sounds and the shelter that they provide against bad weather has resulted in the Marlborough Sounds having a rich history of early Maori and European settlement.

In particular, the history of the Europeans in the area starts mainly with the arrival of Captain James Cook in the 1770s, when he anchored his ship, the Endeavour, for provisioning and repair at Ship Cove. Captain Cook spent more time in these waters than in any other place on earth, other than in his home town of Whitby in England. It was during his time in the Marlborough Sounds that he discovered Cooks Scurvy Grass, a plant high in vitamin C that helped cure his crew of scurvy.

So, why not cruise into Ship Cove and relive some of Captain Cook’s experiences in the Marlborough Sounds?

Boating bases

Picton, at the head of the Queen Charlotte Sound, is the main port in the Marlborough Sounds, providing, via the interisland ferry service, the road and rail transport link between the North and South islands. Picton and environs is also where most of the regions cruise and activity operators are located, so it’s the best place to tee up a wide range of excursions and activities, including guided and independent boating trips around the Sounds.

Waikawa Bay, just a short distance from Picton, is the Marlborough Sounds’ main small boat port, providing an excellent base for both visiting and local leisure boats.

Great accommodation

Conveniently central to all this, overlooking the stunning vistas of beautiful Waikawa Bay and just 2 minutes from Picton, you’ll find Tigers Den luxury lodge – the perfect location to base yourself while you explore and discover the wonders of the Marlborough Sounds.

A winning holiday destination

There’s no doubt that the Marlborough Sounds are unique. Factor in elements such as the natural beauty, stunning wildlife, historic sights and the fact that this part of New Zealand has the most sunshine hours in the country, and you’ve got yourself a winning holiday destination with enough things to see and do to fill a lifetime.

So, irrespective of whether you opt for a boating day trip or a few nights away on the water, guided or independent, you’re in for a treat down in the Marlborough Sounds.

Where to stay when you’re not out boating on the Marlborough Sounds

No matter whether you’re visiting the Marlborough Sounds for a few days or longer, Tigers Den Luxury Lodge is the perfect place for you to stay. We offer a luxury holiday home with a beautiful view, a spa pool, barbecue and much more, including complimentary use of our two kayaks to explore the local waters.

At Tigers Den luxury lodge, the pace is easy and the atmosphere is comfortable and relaxed. Relax in our comfortable lounge or simply sit back on the deck or in the spa pool and listen to the native birdsong while you watch the ever changing views over the Waikawa Marina and Queen Charlotte Sound.

If you’re after a Marlborough Sounds experience, then give us a call now for bookings and details.

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