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Marlborough Sounds

Discover Marlborough Sounds: An In-Depth Exploration of the Marlborough Sounds

Example 7 Day Cruise aboard Heritage Explorer
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Spend a week exploring the 1,500-kilometer-long Marlborough Sounds, which were carved out by submerged valleys 10,000 years ago. These destinations are renowned for their breathtaking natural beauty, which includes beautiful cobalt streams, classic vistas, thick indigenous forests, wildlife, and quiet coastlines. Marlborough Sounds is the confluence of three major bodies of water - Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru, and Pelorus - and is home to over 50 Department of Conservation-managed reserves and many predator-free animal sanctuaries.
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Highlights
  • Explore the waterways and islands of scenic Queen Charlotte Sound.
  • Visit the whaling history of the Perano Whalers of Tory Channel.
  • Sail through the iconic French Pass of d’Urville.
  • Discover the picturesque Pelorus Sound.
Places Visited
Activity Level: Variable
Activity options vary depending on destination and operator. Activity level is determined by the range and intensity of activities you choose to participate in. Discuss with your Trip Planner which options are best for you.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Blenheim | Embark

Make your way to the designated meeting point in Blenheim for your transfer to Heritage Explorer in Picton (times and meeting point will be confirmed with your voyage documents). The captain and expedition team will be waiting to welcome you aboard Heritage Explorer and show you to your cabin. You will have the opportunity to familiarize yourself on board then join the captain on the bridge or fellow travelers on deck as we set sail along Queen Charlotte Sound this afternoon.
***Note: Some voyages will operate the itinerary in reverse.***

Day 2-3: Queen Charlotte Sound

First sighted in 1642 by Abel Janszoon Tasman while seeking shelter for his ships Heemskerck and Zeehaen from a storm near d’Urville Island, it was Captain James Cook who would first set foot here aboard the Endeavour during his five visits to Ship Cove, his New Zealand base between 1770 and 1777, in what he would call Queen Charlotte Sound. We spend two full days exploring the waterways and islands of scenic Queen Charlotte Sound with opportunities to head ashore and walk a section of the Queen Charlotte Walkway as well as search for birdlife on the predator free islands. A visit to Tory Channel brings the whaling history of the Perano Whalers to life. We also plan to visit Ship Cove and learn of its history, exploring the region and visiting Captain Cook’s memorial inaugurated in 1913. Another conservation success story, Blumine Island has seen the translocation of several rare bird species including the once widespread Orange-fronted Parakeet, now New Zealand’s rarest parakeet, which were translocated to the island between 2011 and 2012. Also thriving on the island are South Island Saddleback, brought back from the brink of extinction last century from just 36 birds rescued in 1964, descendants of these birds were translocated to Blumine Island in 2009.

Day 4: d’Urville island

Today we sail through the iconic French Pass and the wake of French Explorer Dumont d’Urville and then explore the island named in his honour. The outermost island in the Marlborough Sounds, d’Urville Island features imposing sea cliffs along its west coast, a high mountainous backbone and the fastest moving tidal flows in New Zealand between the French Pass tempered by some of the country’s finest peninsula scenery. Dolphins and New Zealand Fur Seals are frequently seen in the waters surround the island and it was here that Pelorus Jack, the endearing Risso’s Dolphin who famously stole the nation’s heart, guided ships across the dangerous waters of Cook Strait between 1888 and 1912.

Day 5-6: Pelorus Sound

The largest in the Marlborough Sounds, Pelorus Sound’s main channel winds some picturesque 55 kilometers south between steep verdant hills from Cook Strait to Havelock. Boasting 380 kilometers of shoreline, the endless bays and sheltered coves of Pelorus Sound are perfect for exploration. Venturing into Pelorus Sound we head to Ngawhakawhiti Bay where nature surrounds us and it’s possible to get a glimpse of what the sounds would have been like before the native forest was cleared. The more active are able to enjoy the walking part of the Nydia Track before we explore Nydia Bay. On the final night we will enjoy a farewell dinner.

Day 7: Blenheim | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
We arrive into the inner reaches of Pelorous Sound this morning. After a final breakfast and farewells, a Zodiac tender takes you ashore at Havelock where a transfer to a central Blenheim drop off point or the airport waits. In case of unexpected delays we ask you not to book any onward travel from Blenheim until after midday today. During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include poor weather and opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed.

Ship/Hotel

Heritage Explorer

Heritage Explorer
Heritage Explorer
Heritage Explorer

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$3,650 2-3 travelers

Please confirm embark/disembark locations before reserving flights, as this itinerary operates in reverse on alternating departures.
Heritage Explorer Buller's cabin
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Buller's
Located on the Lower Deck, the Buller's cabin features one bunk (one upper and one lower berth), ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a porthole.
Heritage Explorer Salvin's cabin
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Salvin's
Located on the Lower Deck, Salvin’s Double cabins feature a double bed, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a picture porthole.
Heritage Explorer Wandering cabin
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Wandering
Located on the Lower Deck, Wandering cabins feature one lower single berth, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a porthole.
Heritage Explorer Royal cabin
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Royal
Located on the Bridge Deck, our Master Suite features a spacious bedroom with a queen-sized bed, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, mirror and washbasin, private en suite, personal climate control, TV, PABX satellite telephone, window and French doors opening out on to the covered Bridge Deck.

Notes

- Single clients are matched with a sharer of the same sex in a twin-share cabin. Payment of a single supplement guarantees a single cabin. The single supplement is 1.8 times the price of the voyage with the exception of the suites which are double the single rate.
-Emergency medical evacuation coverage for a minimum of US$100,000 per person required. Contact us for details on arranging travel insurance.

TECHNICAL SPECS
Vessel Type; Expedition Yacht
Expedition Staff & Crew: 5
Guests: 18
Cabins: 10
Length: 30m
Breadth: 7.8m
Draft: 1.93m
Gross Tonnage: 76.1gt
Engine: 653 horsepower
Cruising Speed: 10 knots
Tenders: 2
Included
  • 6 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 6 Dinners
  • 6 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • House beer, wine and soft drinks with lunch and dinner
  • Landing fees
  • All expedition shore excursions
  • Programme of lectures by noted naturalists
  • Pre- & Post- Cruise Transfers
Excluded
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Required Visas if applicable
  • Laundry 
  • Mandatory medical evacuation insurance

Map

When to Go

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.

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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen
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