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Queen Charlotte Sound

Unseen Queen Charlotte Sound

Picton roundtrip - Example 5 Day Cruise aboard Heritage Explorer
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Embark on a 5-day expedition through Queen Charlotte Sound and its islands, starting with a warm welcome aboard the Heritage Explorer in Blenheim. Sail along the scenic waterways, exploring Tory Channel's whaling history and Ship Cove's rich heritage. Trek through native bush to Ship Cove Waterfall and hike to the lookout on Arapawa Island for stunning views. Delve into New Zealand's famed Queen Charlotte Walkway, experiencing coastal vistas and historic bays. Conservation meets exploration as you visit Motuara and Blumine Islands, home to rare bird species and fascinating WWII ruins. Conclude your journey with farewells in Blenheim after a final breakfast onboard.
BlumineMotuara IslandBlumine IslandQueen Charlotte Sound
  • Learn about Tory Channel's whaling history and Ship Cove's legacy
  • Experience Queen Charlotte Walkway's coastal vistas and historic bays
  • Discover Motuara and Blumine Islands' wildlife and WWII relics
  • Trek to Arapawa Island's lookout for panoramic views
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.

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Blenheim | Embark

Head to the specified meeting point in Blenheim for your transfer to the Heritage Explorer in Picton. Exact meeting times and locations are provided in your voyage documents. Upon arrival, the Captain and Expedition Team eagerly await your arrival to extend a warm welcome and assist you in settling into your cabin. Take the chance to acquaint yourself with the vessel before joining your fellow travelers and the Expedition Team for the voyage along Queen Charlotte Sound this afternoon.

Day 2: Ship Cove & Tory Channel

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Over the next three days, immerse yourselves in the stunning landscapes of Queen Charlotte Sound. Discovered in 1642 by Abel Janszoon Tasman during a storm, this area was later named by Captain James Cook during his explorations in the late 18th century. Today, delve into Tory Channel, where remnants of the Perano Whaling Station harken back to the region's whaling past. You may also hike to the lookout on Arapawa Island for breathtaking views. Additionally, you'll visit Ship Cove to delve into its rich history, paying homage to Captain Cook's legacy at his memorial and perhaps trekking through native bush to Ship Cove Waterfall.

Day 3: Queen Charlotte Walkway

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
A true expedition day, today you look to explore sections of New Zealand’s famed Queen Charlotte Walkway, once a network of pioneer day bridle paths. One of the country’s most diverse coastal tracks, you'll make several stops to experience its peerless coastal views, native bush, historic bays, endless skyline ridges, and unsurpassed views of the stunning Marlborough Sounds. Set your own pace with opportunities for drop-offs and pick-ups at various bays. Enjoy shorter walks and lunch on board or collect a packed lunch and spend the day immersed in nature.

Day 4: Motuara & Blumine Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Conservation and exploration go hand in hand today as you explore the rarely-visited island sanctuaries of Motuara and Blumine Islands. Fascinating history abounds on Blumine Island where WWII military ruins await exploration, native species flourish and stunning views combine along the Oruawairua Track of this former Pilot and Signal Station Reserve, sheep farm, and now scenic reserve. Several rare bird species including the once widespread Orange-fronted Parakeet, now New Zealand’s rarest parakeet, were translocated to the island between 2011 and 2012 which is also home to 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. On Motuara Island journey along the scenic loop track flanked by native bush and accompanied by the soundtrack of flourishing birdlife to the island’s summit for spectacular 360-degree views of the surrounding islands, Cook Strait, and the North Island (on a clear day). Predator-free since the early 1990s, the island is now a haven for Saddleback, South Island Robin, Yellow-crowned parakeet, and Maud Island frogs which have all been relocated here. Motuara also serves as a crèche for Rowi Kiwi.

Day 5: Blenheim | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Sailing into Picton this morning you enjoy a final breakfast and farewells before you are transferred to a central Blenheim drop-off point or the airport. In case of unexpected delays, please do not book any onward travel from Blenheim until after midday.


Heritage Explorer

Heritage Explorer
Heritage Explorer
Heritage Explorer

Dates & Prices

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Per person starting at
$2,595 2-3 travelers
Heritage Explorer Buller's cabin
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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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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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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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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.


- 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.

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
  • 4 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 4 Dinners
  • 4 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
  • 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


When to Go

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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