Consisting of three bodies of water (Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru and Pelorus Sounds), Marlborough Sounds is a network of prehistoric sunken river valleys filled with the Pacific Ocean. These majestic sounds with sandy bays and intricate coastlines can be toured by sea kayak or motor yacht cruise, on a seafood cruise visiting the native green-lipped mussel farms, via the lesser-known Pelorus Mail Boat (one of the last remaining mail boats in the world, still delivering mail and groceries—and also visiting the mussel farms) or by car along the spectacular Queen Charlotte Drive that links Havelock (New Zealand's mussel capital) to Picton.
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Queen Charlotte Track
Hugging the tranquil Marlborough Sounds at the top of the South Island, the Queen Charlotte Track can be explored by bike or foot. Like Captain Cook in the 18th century, you’ll arrive by boat to a haven of unique flora and fauna, and understand why he returned here often. The trail rewards those who conquer its steep and challenging sections with breathtaking bay and forest views. The single-track ride can be tackled by experienced mountain bikers in two to three days, with optional detours along the way. A variety of accommodations make the most of the country air and scenery, from family-friendly working farms to retreats serving the region’s signature green-lipped mussels. While riding west from Ship Cove is an ideal way to explore the train, in the peak summer months water taxis drop off cyclists at nearby Punga Cove.