The Best Activities Across the Marlborough Sounds

Your journey of exploration across the stunning Marlborough Sounds sees you travelling from the port town of Waitohi / Picton, along the coast to Havelock and through the Marlborough Wine Region in TeWaiharakeke / Blenheim. Revel in awe-inspiring views and refreshing sea breezes as you venture into the region, basking in the glorious ambience of the Sounds.  

Picton to Havelock: Luxurious Coastal Drive 

Your luxurious adventure across Te Tau Ihu-o-te-Waka begins in the port town of Waitohi / Picton - ‘The Gateway to the Sounds’. This Māori name for the Marlborough Sounds refers to the top of the South Island as the prow of Māui’s canoe - as according to Māori legend, Māui was the demigod who fished the North Island from the sea from this region. Start your day by indulging in a delicious breakfast at a local eatery in the heart of Picton. Gusto Cafe is a cosy venue serving up breakfast classics with warm service and a friendly atmosphere, while Seabreeze Cafe offers NZ-inspired meals with waterfront views. After dining in style, it’s time to embark on the picturesque Queen Charlotte Drive. The windy 40 km drive from Picton to Havelock boasts awe-inspiring views and local landmarks, while the refreshing sea breeze adds to the invigorating experience. Load up your Hertz rental car and enjoy the hour-long drive along the coast, taking in the serenity of the Tōtaranui / Queen Charlotte Sound. If you’d like to break up the drive, there are many tramping trails and short walks on offer throughout the route. The Governors Bay Track is an easy short walk leading to the pristine Bay Beach where you can relax on the sand or take a dip in the calm blue waters. At the Cullen Point tracks, about five minutes away from Havelock, you can choose to tramp the one-hour Cullen Point Coastal loop track or take a ten-minute return walk to the Cullen Point Lookout. Both tracks offer beautiful views of Te Hoiere / Pelorus Sound and the Havelock township. Before setting off on Queen Charlotte Drive, check the Marlborough District Council Map for any road limitations or restrictions. 

 Queen Charlotte Drive

Marlborough Wine & Gin Tour 

For a unique and flavourful way to tour the Marlborough Sounds, embark on a self-guided tour through the Marlborough Wine Region. The largest in Aotearoa / New Zealand, the wine region is renowned for its Sauvignon Blanc, with most wineries centred around the idyllic town of TeWaiharakeke / Blenheim. From tastings to tours, Cloudy Bay Winery guarantees a premium winery experience, with private bookings also available. Relax amongst the greenery of the Richmond Ranges while tasting Cloudy Bay’s award-winning wines, delve into freshly shucked oysters and Cloudy Bay clams or explore the vineyard on an exclusive tour. Ten minutes south of Blenheim, Wither Hills offers tasting options in the stunning courtyard overlooking the Wairau Valley. Visit the restaurant here to relish in delicious sharing plates, large plates and beautifully crafted desserts and cheese platters. If you prefer gin over wine, the Roots Gin Shack and Tasting Room is nestled between the wineries and vineyards of the Marlborough Wine Region. Here, taste their award-winning Roots Dry Gin with a booking in the tasting room, or elevate your visit with a private distillery tour. Always appoint a designated driver for your Hertz rental car when indulging in alcohol during your road trip. 

 Cloudy Bay

Aerial & Nautical Luxury 

Experience the beauty of the Marlborough Sounds from above with a private helicopter ride. Coast to Coast Helicopters offers scenic flights around the Sounds in a mid-sized helicopter. Soaring above the expansive waterways, sunken valleys and forested hillsides, you’ll be awe-struck by the captivating views in this experience like no other. Choose from a 20-minute, 30-minute or 45-minute flight and luxuriate in the views on your own private trip. If you’d rather take to the seas than the air, consider a luxury cruise to view the splendour of the Sounds up close. Enjoy the scenery onboard a 54-foot yacht with a private cruise with Cloudy Bay Wines. With a gourmet lunch served onboard and an exclusive Cloudy Bay wine-tasting experience, this option exudes elegance. Discover the Sounds through a different lens on a themed cruise - taste the region’s famed Greenshell Mussels on a half-day cruise, sample fresh seafood on the Odyssea Cruise or take a full-day tour of the Sounds on the Marlborough Icons Tour. Whether you choose to view the stunning scenery of the region from the sky or sea, you’re in for a treat. 

 Marlborough wine region

Indulge in Culinary Delights 

Discover the Marlborough Sounds through taste with a sitting at the region’s premier restaurants and bars. The Bay of Many Coves luxury resort is in the heart of Tōtaranui / Queen Charlotte Sound, boasting waterfront views in a sanctuary-like atmosphere. The Foredeck Restaurant is a fine dining establishment, open to visitors and guests of the resort. With a five-course degustation experience that changes daily, there’s always something new and exciting on offer here no matter when you visit. If you are staying at the resort, The Quarterdeck is a casual dining experience with views from an alfresco dining space above the lodge serving up a fine selection of cheese and wine. Further north up the cove, the Punga Cove resort offers small plates and pizzas at the Boatshed Cafe and Bar, packed lunches for those heading on a tramping adventure and a la carte dishes and mouth-watering mains at the Punga Fern Restaurant. 


A holiday spent exploring the Marlborough Sounds promises luxury and indulgence around every corner. From culinary delights to waterfront splendour, experience the unmatched beauty of the Marlborough Sounds by land, air, or sea for a truly memorable trip.