Written by Missy Johnston
The Marlborough Sounds, located at the north end of New Zealand’s south island, are a cruising paradise of a network of submerged mountain valleys, tranquil sheltered bays and miles of deep water coastlines. The two major sounds in the area are the Queen Charlotte and the Pelorus Sound; together they form the heart of this cruising area. D’Urville Island is the largest of the islands and is separated from the mainland by the narrow, tidal channel of French Pass. The spectacular scenery ranges from towering forested mountains to quiet coves and bays. West of the rugged shoreline of D’Urville Island is Tasman Bay lined with golden beaches. The area is also home to New Zealand’s famous wineries.
Join your yacht in Nelson, relax and unwind with a glass of crisp New Zealand wine on the aft deck. Review your itinerary before enjoying your first dinner on board. Overnight.
Abel Tasman National Park
After breakfast, sail to the golden sandy beaches of Abel Tasman National Park and relax in the sheltered bay. This smallest of New Zealand’s national parks is also the nation’s most popular, especially with hikers and sea kayakers. This pristine paradise feels distinctly tropical with emerald waters, golden sands, tiny islands, lagoons, crescent coves and abundant marine life. Hike along the coastal track or explore the rugged granite coastline by dinghy.
Tonga Island seals
Explore more of the magnificent bush and beaches of the park. Visit Tonga Island Seal Colony to view the seals sunning, playing and chasing kayakers, as well as strolling penguins and playful dolphins.
Kayaking at Abel Tasman National Park
Relax on the beach before or after breakfast. Then, sail across Tasman Bay to Greville Harbour, D’Urville Island. This area offers outstanding coastal walks, sand dunes and a rain forest. Spend a day exploring Greville Harbour and a second day hiking through the island’s scenic reserve.
Sail through the tidal race of French Pass, which separates D’Urville Island from the mainland. This dangerous pass, known to the Maori as Te Aumiti, has water passing at up to eight knots at each tide. At times you’ll see seals and dolphins, along with terns, gannets, petrels and penguins. Stopover at the Wilderness Resort for dinner and drinks.
Explore the many attractive bays in the Marlborough Sounds, an area of intricate bays, inlets and coves stretching from the top of the South Island out into Cook Strait and the Tasman Sea. This is a stunning area of rugged mountains, secluded beaches and crystal clear water. It’s also the home to New Zealand’s largest winemaking region, with about 65 wineries and 290 grape growers, featuring Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. Take private tours of several of the wineries as you cruise the Sounds.
Sail to Havelock to disembark.