Queen Charlotte Sound & Marlborough Wineries | A Complete Guide
The Marlborough region is a firm favourite amongst Kiwis and travellers alike to holiday in. The sunshine spot is home to Queen Charlotte Sound and several world-renowned Marlborough wineries. Basically, it’s the perfect place to combine your love of adventure with your fondness for a little luxury. Base yourself out of the quaint port town of Picton and go seek out the wildlife sanctuaries and hidden bays by hiking, biking or kayaking. Then return to your accommodation for the evening to wine and dine yourself on freshly caught seafood and zesty local Sauvignon Blanc.
Fun facts about Marlborough
- Together, the three Sounds which make up Marlborough Sounds (Queen Charlotte Sound, Kenepuru Sound and Pelorus Sound) make up 20% of New Zealand’s total coastline.
- In 1770, Captain James Cook became the first European to set foot in Queen Charlotte Sound. He named it after King George the Third’s wife, Queen Charlotte.
- The Marlborough region produces about 77% of New Zealand’s total wine production!
Best hikes to do in Marlborough and Queen Charlotte Sound
Marlborough has some stunning hikes to occupy your days. The most famous of all is, of course, the Queen Charlotte Track.
The Queen Charlotte Track
The best way to fully experience Queen Charlotte Sound in all of its glory is to walk the Queen Charlotte Track. At 73km (45 miles), this multi-day hike runs almost the length of the entire Sound. Starting at Ship Cove, the track weaves through bush and bays all the way to Anakiwa. You’ll be entranced by the epic ridgeline views, and the coves you discover along the route.
For a great day walk, there’s a variety of options up Mt Fishtail (1643m). If you’re short on time, you can take a 2km track up to the Pine Valley Hut. A further 7km will get you up to the summit of Mt Fishtail for some incredible panoramic views, and then it’s all the way back down. The walk can easily be split into two days by spending a night in Mt Fishtail hut.
Things to do in Marlborough
Visit Marlborough wineries
Marlborough is the wine capital of New Zealand, most noted for its delicious Sauvignon Blanc. A visit to the area simply would not be complete without a visit to one of Marlborough’s vineyards for a wine tasting session. The region has over 30 cellar doors to choose from, so get sampling some of our world-famous vino!
Spend a night in Lochmara Lodge
If you are a wildlife lover, then a night in Lochmara Lodge will be your idea of paradise. The locally-owned resort is tucked away in a secluded bay in Marlborough Sounds. The remote lodge can only be accessed by water or on foot. So grab a water taxi, kayak over or take on the Queen Charlotte Track, and spend a night off the beaten track in Lochmara Lodge. Spend your evening kayaking or stand up paddleboarding in the bay. Explore the trails and see if you can spot the wandering weka and the pigs. Relax in the bar or restaurant, sip on a glass of wine and enjoy the incredible view.
Kayak Queen Charlotte Sound
For an incredible half-day adventure, we recommend kayaking Queen Charlotte Sound. Follow your expert guides through the smooth water and keep an eye out for stingrays, seals and seabirds of every kind. If you join us on our Masterpiece trip, you’ll kayak back to Picton after a night spent unwinding in Lochmara Lodge.
Best time to visit Marlborough and Marlborough wineries
Marlborough is one of the sunniest places in New Zealand! With a temperate climate year-round, it’s a great place to visit any time of the year. The high season takes place between December through to February - our summer!
Visiting Marlborough with New Zealand Trails
We spend time in the Marlborough region on both our Masterpiece and Kiwi Classic trips. On your Masterpiece, you will spend the night in the incredible and remote eco-sanctuary, Lochmara Lodge. After your night in this tranquil setting (that is only accessible by foot or kayak) you will kayak back to Picton on the iconic Queen Charlotte Sound. From there, it’s just a short spin to the Marlborough wineries to sample some of the local wines.
As for our Kiwi Classic, after a big brunch at Morri Street Café in Nelson (our favourite brunch spot!), it’s time to walk a section of the stunning Queen Charlotte Track. We’ll hike from Anakiwa to Davies Bay. We’ll then visit one of the iconic vineyards of Marlborough, so ready your taste buds to sample some of the finest wines in the country.
If you want to find out more about the incredible 5-14 day hiking tours we run in New Zealand, you can request a free copy of our brochure here.