Discover Marlborough Sounds

Discover Marlborough Sounds

From NZD $4,200


Discover the tranquil waterways, wildlife and rich history of New Zealand’s Marlborough Sounds on an unforgettable 7-day Kiwi adventure exploring Queen Charlotte and Pelorus Sounds, French Pass and d’Urville Island.

Famed for the breath-taking beauty of their winding cobalt waterways, iconic landscapes, lush native forests, wildlife and remote coastlines these regions are also rich in early New Zealand history and the location of some of the country’s most important conservation efforts.

Formed by a system of submerged valleys carved out following the last ice age around 10,000 years ago, the scenic playground of Marlborough Sounds encompasses some 1,500-kilometres of forested coastline, sheltered inlets and bays awaiting exploration, many only accessible by sea. The union of three main bodies of water – Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru and Pelorus Sounds – Marlborough Sounds has more than 50 Department of Conservation managed reserves and several predatorfree wildlife sanctuaries.

Just 500 treacherous metres from the mainland, d’Urville Island was named after French admiral Jules Sebastian Cesar Dumont d’Urville and his ill fated passage of the infamous French Pass in January 1827.

After several near misses while seeking passage inside the island, he came close to losing his ship Astrolabe after hitting the reef. Now a possum, rat and weasel-free conservation reserve, d’Urville Island is one of the last strongholds of the critically endangered Long-tailed Bat and provides a respite for the world’s rarest shag – the King Shag – and several other species of rare birds and geckos.

A voyage of adventure and discovery awaits in the Marlborough Sounds.

Trip Name
Discover Marlborough Sounds
Vessel Type: Expedition Yacht Length: 30 metres Passenger Capacity: 18 Built: 2004 New Zealand-built expedition yacht Heritage Explorer joins Heritage Expedition's small ship fleet creating new opportunities of discovery around the shores of New Zealand. Setting a new standard for discovery travel in New Zealand, Heritage Explorer combines the ultimate in comfort with unique itineraries and a personalised experience with a maximum of just 18 guests on board.Heritage Explorer is a 30-metre, 4-deck New Zealand flagged vessel built in 2004 by the renowned wooden boat building family Carey's Boatyard in Picton. It features a contemporary wood-finished interior, 10 well-appointed cabins across three decks, dining room boasting spectacular 180-degree panoramas and theatre capabilities; lounge and bar featuring a flight of inclusive regional New Zealand wines, beers and spirits; and a well-stocked local library. Outside, guests can enjoy plenty of covered space on the Bridge Deck, or ajourn to the Sun Deck perfect for wildlife spotting, sunrises and sunsets, or simply enjoying watch your voyage unfold. Kayaks and fishing equipment are available for use during the voyage, while two tenders allow for deeper exploration and the unforgettable wildlife encounters synonymous with all Heritage Expeditions adventures. As with as with our other vessels, Heritage Explorer will have an open bridge policy and a full commercial kitchen helmed by a talented chef focused on highlighting local produce and any guest catches of the day, as well as an enthusiastic and passionate expedition team, and will be shipped by a New Zealand captain and crew. The expedition yacht features state-of-the-art technology to provide a comfortable expedition with high performance dual Scania 653 horsepower engines, bow thrusters, fin stabilisers, full air-conditioning, sound attenuated twin generators and a hydraulic aft ramp, while a comprehensive navigation package ensures the ultimate Kiwi adventure awaits all guests. Accommodation Details 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.Salvin's: Located on the Lower Deck, Salvin's cabins have the option of either a double bed or two lower berths. Both feature ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a picture porthole. 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. 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.


Day 1 - Day 1: Blenheim
Make your way to the designated meeting pointin Blenheim for your transfer to Heritage Explorer inPicton (times and meeting point will be confirmedwith your voyage documents).The captain and expedition team will be waiting towelcome you aboard Heritage Explorer and showyou to your cabin. You will have the opportunity tofamiliarise yourself on board then join the captain onthe bridge or fellow travellers on deck as we set sailalong Queen Charlotte Sound this afternoon.
Day 2 - Days 2 & 3: Queen Charlotte Sound
First sighted in 1642 by Abel Janszoon Tasmanwhile seeking shelter for his ships Heemskerck andZeehaen from a storm near d’Urville Island, it wasCaptain James Cook who would first set foot hereaboard the Endeavour during his five visits to ShipCove, his New Zealand base between 1770 and1777, in what he would call Queen Charlotte Sound.We spend two full days exploring the waterwaysand islands of scenic Queen Charlotte Sound withopportunities to head ashore and walk a section ofthe Queen Charlotte Walkway as well as search forbirdlife on the predator free islands. A visit to ToryChannel brings the whaling history of the PeranoWhalers to life. We also plan to visit Ship Cove andlearn of its history, exploring the region and visitingCaptain Cook’s memorial inaugurated in 1913.Another conservation success story, Blumine Islandhas seen the translocation of several rare birdspecies including the once widespread Orangefronted Parakeet, now New Zealand’s rarestparakeet, which were translocated to the islandbetween 2011 and 2012. Also thriving on the islandare South Island Saddleback, brought back fromthe brink of extinction last century from just 36 birdsrescued in 1964, descendants of these birds weretranslocated to Blumine Island in 2009.
Day 3 - Day 4: d’Urville island
Today we sail through the iconic French Pass andthe wake of French Explorer Dumont d’Urvilleand then explore the island named in his honour.The outermost island in the Marlborough Sounds,d’Urville Island features imposing sea cliffs along itswest coast, a high mountainous backbone and thefastest moving tidal flows in New Zealand betweenthe French Pass tempered by some of the country’sfinest peninsula scenery.Dolphins and New Zealand Fur Seals are frequentlyseen in the waters surround the island and it washere that Pelorus Jack, the endearing Risso’s Dolphinwho famously stole the nation’s heart, guided shipsacross the dangerous waters of Cook Strait between1888 and 1912.
Day 4 - Days 5 & 6: Pelorus Sound
The largest in the Marlborough Sounds, PelorusSound’s main channel winds some picturesque 55kilometres south between steep verdant hills fromCook Strait to Havelock. Boasting 380 kilometres ofshoreline, the endless bays and sheltered coves ofPelorus Sound are perfect for exploration.Venturing into Pelorus Sound we head toNgawhakawhiti Bay where nature surrounds us andit’s possible to get a glimpse of what the sounds wouldhave been like before the native forest was cleared.The more active are able to enjoy the walking part ofthe Nydia Track before we explore Nydia Bay. On thefinal night we will enjoy a farwell dinner
Day 5 - Day 7: Blenheim
We arrive into the inner reaches of Pelorous Soundthis morning. After a final breakfast and farewells, aZodiac tender takes you ashore at Havelock wherea transfer to a central Blenheim drop off point or theairport waits. In case of unexpected delays we askyou not to book any onward travel from Blenheim untilafter midday today.
Day 6 - Please Note:
Some voyages will operate the itinerary inreverse. During our voyage, circumstances maymake it necessary or desirable to deviate from theproposed itinerary. This can include poor weather andopportunities for making unplanned excursions. YourExpedition Leader will keep you fully informed.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
08-05-202114-05-2021NZD $4,200Buller's
08-05-202114-05-2021NZD $4,800Salvin's
08-05-202114-05-2021NZD $5,500Wandering
08-05-202114-05-2021NZD $5,700Royal
14-05-202120-05-2021NZD $4,200Buller's
14-05-202120-05-2021NZD $4,800Salvin's
14-05-202120-05-2021NZD $5,500Wandering
14-05-202120-05-2021NZD $5,700Royal


    • Discover Queen Charlotte Sound
    • Visit d’Urville island
    • Explore Pelorus Sound
    • Visit Blenheim