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Kayaking Queen Charlotte Sound

The Marlborough Sounds is located at the 'top end' of the South Island and covers an area of 50,825 ha. Unlike many parks, it is not a single unit but rather separated into 104 different reserves, allowing a wide range of activities to occur within the many confines of its watery expanses. Reaching out into the Pacific Ocean like the fingers of a welcoming hand, the Marlborough Sounds is made up of three different sounds - the Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru and Pelorus Sounds. This collection of drowned river valleys is a natural wonder, created when the mountains sank in earth movements and the sea flooded into the valleys. Bordered by forested hills rising almost vertically from the water's edge, the Marlborough Sounds are a true scenic wonder. The water displays a thousand shades of colour, ranging from the deepest green to the brightest turquoise. The backdrop is also a myriad shades of green due to a combination of overhanging native tree ferns, rata vines and beech trees.

Marlborough Sounds Kayaking

Marlborough SoundsMarlborough-Sounds-Kayaking two

It is just waiting to be explored and there is truly no better way than by sea kayak. Our kayak trips specialize in venturing into remote and unspoiled areas of the stunning Marlborough Sounds. Experience is not necessary for our trips as we provide training for beginners & challenges for the experienced! The wildlife is testimony to this magnificent environment with fur seals, dolphins and penguins a common sight and nothing beats cruising around wildlife with the near silence of a sea kayak.

The Sounds are home to a wide variety of bird and marine life, with a number of specific wildlife sanctuaries dotted throughout its waterways and inlets. Seabirds are in abundance and include species such as blue penguins, petrels, shags, gannets, terns and gulls. The local marine life is also varied with fur seals, dolphins and at times whales. Hectors dolphins, gentle creatures are currently endangered and are endemic to New Zealand waters, can also sometimes be found within the sheltered waterways of the Sounds. Throughout the Sounds, there are nature reserves that are open and accessible from the water. You can paddle your kayak up to one of these islands and go and explore the protected worlds they contain.

A 3-day/2-night sea kayaking option is available on the 14-day Ultimate South Island Adventure 'Rimu' tour, see the full itinerary here:

  • Rimu Ultimate South Island Adventure

    • 14 Days
    • South Island
    • From US$5499 + tax

    4.53 out of 5 (from 4912 reviews)

    Rimu

    Nat Geo Logo 2015This is our signature adventure and a great, outdoorsy way to see New Zealand. We’ve been fine-tuning this perennial favourite since 1996 and it’s simply an awesome trip. You’ll explore the most beautiful, famous and little-known places in the South Island – up close and personal – with legendary hospitality and our unsurpassed attention to detail. For a great way to see the North Island too, combine this trip with our 11-day 'Kauri' (5-day 'Kauri' options available).

    Activity level: The ‘Rimu’ is one of our more adventurous trips, but has options to suit a wide range of ages and outdoor experience. Typically, hikes on the ‘Rimu’ trip range between two and five hours to complete, with longer hikes available on the multi-day option. If you think you’d prefer a more relaxed pace and shorter one to three hour hikes, we recommend checking out our ‘Kiwi’ trip. Please get in touch with us if you’d like to chat about the various options.

Visit this page to learn more about Kayaking in New Zealand

Trip Reviews

  4.64 out of 5 (from 560 reviews)

I wasn't ready for the trip to end!

I don't even know where to begin...so let's start at the beginning. I spent the last year dreaming about going to New Zealand, trying to talk just one friend into going with me, and finally, with some encouragement from family, booking this trip as a first time solo traveler. And let me be clear- that was the best decision I could have made! I enjoyed every single minute of my trip and wouldn't change the experience of traveling solo for anything. From the moment I met Gary and Mel, I knew that I had made the right decision. They were welcoming, to all, from the moment they met us. Right away I knew I had nothing to worry about, and worry I did prior to the start of the trip. I could not have asked for a better group of travel mates; it was as if you had hand-picked who should be on the trip together. They were amazing! The experiences on the trip would not have been nearly as amazing if it wasn't for these awesome people with whom I had the good fortune to travel.
Gary and Mel were kind, patient, and so easy to be around. They answered every question a novice like myself asked, without ever making me feel like an idiot. Gary was witty, kept us going, and a super safe driver! ( I am not a big fan of mountain roads with cliffs on the edge that lead to instant death and not once did I fear for my life.) Mel's cooking...holy smokes was it good; so much so that the pounds I was so sure I would lose on the trip didn't happen. She has even inspired me to try to cook a couple of her dishes this winter. She made it look so easy, even with the varied diets of the group. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I had chatting with both Gary and Mel wherever we were: on the bus, hiking, eating or playing cards. They brought us all together.
Now, for the adventures! Every day was different from the day prior. I saw and experienced so many new things that I can't stop talking about it. I loved the really challenging hikes (Sealy Tarns and Alex Knob) and the slower paced treks through the rain forest and valleys. The night sky at Mt. Aspiring Hut is indescribable! While we were unable to go on the second overnight hike due to weather, Gary and Mel didn't miss a beat. We were so busy and had so much fun, even in the rain, that you would never have known that we were doing almost 3 days of alternate activities. Major kudos to them for this! I could keep going on how much I enjoyed every aspect of my trip. This was the first vacation I have been on where I didn't want it to end and it truly was the trip of a lifetime. I can't wait to book my next trip with Active Adventures!
Melissa Munno Review Image
– California, United States
Winter Rimu, August 2016
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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Legendary Kiwi Hospitality

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

Expert LOCAL Guides & Trip Leaders

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

Everything is Included

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

A Sense of Achievement

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

Small Groups

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

Diverse Experiences

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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