A placid and swollen river, the easternmost of New Zealand’s South Island sounds is a popular destination for sailors, and anyone who appreciates breathtaking natural scenery.
Explore Marlborough’s Queen Charlotte Sound on foot or by bicycle, boat or car for an accessible and breathtaking natural experience. Queen Charlotte Sound is the furthest east of the Marlborough Sounds and is among the most frequented by visitors, thanks to its regular ferry services to the North Island. Stretching from the peaceful town of Picton in the south to the Cook Strait in the east, Queen Charlotte Sound is gentle, sheltered and surrounded by natural beauty.
Follow the shoreline of the sound on the challenging but incredibly rewarding Queen Charlotte Track to see the sound on foot. The 70-kilometre (43-mile) trail is one of New Zealand’s most famous hikes, winding through lush rainforest, into historic bays and over gushing streams. From March until November the trail opens for mountain bikers. You can rent bicycles from within Picton. The trail can take between 3 and 5 days to complete. If you want to take it easy on your return journey, book a water taxi.
Explore the sound by boat or kayak to get close to its marine life. Embark on a chartered fishing tour to catch salmon or don your wetsuit to go diving for crayfish. Look for dolphins swimming in the sound as you explore its inlets, bays and beaches. While the temperate climate of the Marlborough Region means that conditions on the sound remain pleasant year-round, the best weather is often experienced from November until May.
Travel along the Queen Charlotte Drive towards Havelock for 35 kilometres (22 miles) of winding roads that climb to a lookout at Cullen Point and take you past quiet beaches ideal for swimming.
A range of accommodation can be found throughout the Queen Charlotte Sound area, however Picton is the only substantial township on the water. Make reservations for eco-lodges or hotels with stunning views across the water.