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A great way to experience the Marlborough Sounds is by sea kayak—and the mostly sheltered waters of Queen Charlotte Sound are perfect for it.
Marlborough Sounds Adventure Company. Marlborough Sounds Adventure Company runs guided and self-guided sea kayak trips, from half-day to three-day tours, in either Queen Charlotte or Kenepuru Sound. The bays are ringed by dense native forest, echoing with the trilling calls of native birds. Reservations are essential. The Waterfront, Picton, 7220. 03/573–6078 or 0800/283–283. www.marlboroughsounds.co.nz. Half-day guided trip, NZ$85; three-day guided trip, NZ$545. Kayak rental for self-guided kayaking is available from NZ$60 per person per day.
Wilderness Guides. Wilderness Guides' one-day guided kayak trips include a tasty lunch, and they offer multiday trips of kayaking, or walking or mountain-biking along the Queen Charlotte Track. Accommodations for such excursions are in stylish, boutique lodges. Quality bike and kayak rentals are available if you want to do it on your own (as long as a minimum of two people are paddling together). And there's a special combo day with a guided kayak trip in the morning followed by an independent hike or mountain bike trail along part of the Queen Charlotte Track in the afternoon. Bookings are recommended. Picton Waterfront, Picton, 7220. 03/573–5432 or 0800/266–266. www.wildernessguidesnz.com. From NZ$120.