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Marlborough Sounds, Nelson, Kaikoura and Christchurch

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Poole, Dorset
posts: 56
reviews: 28
Marlborough Sounds, Nelson, Kaikoura and Christchurch

As part of a two month trip to Oz and NZ and after perusing the LP and Rough Guides, we've decided that we want to concentrate on the north-east of the sound island despite advice from friends who've been to Milford & Doubtful Sounds, FJ, QT etc. Any comments on this decision? This is our first draft itinerary. We're staying with Aucklanders and will explore NI for a few days first and then return to spend Xmas with them. Were young 55s,like walking (rather than real tramping!), scenic views, the sea, cafes, townlife, boat trips and would like to try kayaking.

10 Dec Fly to Wellington, stay overnight

11 Ferry to Picton, stay MS

12 Sat Marlborough Sounds

13 Sun Marlborough Sounds

14 Depart MS/Arrive Nelson

15 Nelson

16 Nelson

17 Depart Nelson/Arrive Kaikoura

18 Boat trip/Depart Kaikoura/Arrive Christchurch

19 Sat Christchurch

20 Sun Christchurch & nearby peninsula

21 Depart Christchurch/Fly to Auckland

Do you think that one afternoon, evening and a morning approx will be enough time in Wellington? As we want to explore the Sounds, would it be best to stay in Picton or Havelock or could we explore easily from, say, the Bay of Many Coves? We'll hire a car but may leave it until after we leave the Sounds perhaps getting one from Picton.

We normally visit France and Italy so we're well out of our comfort zone!

Thanks in anticipation.


Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for Zhuhai, Macau
posts: 20,704
reviews: 204
1. Re: Marlborough Sounds, Nelson, Kaikoura and Christchurch

This sounds like a very relaxed trip, however I wonder if you will get bored with 3 nights in the Sounds unless you plan to walk the Queen Charlotte track? The best places to stay in the Sounds are water-access only. Perhaps 2 nights would do here.

When in the Nelson region I suggest you stay closer to Abel Tasman NP for 2 nights and do a full day kayaking/water taxi trip from there (Kaiteriteri or Marahau are the usual starting points)

To continue the leisurely flow you could catch up the extra night by staying in Hanmer Springs the night you do the whale or dolphin trip (17th Dec). This would give you time to do sme wine-tasting & a nice winery lunch in Waipara enroute to Chch on the 18th.

Mooloolaba Australia
Destination Expert
for Sunshine Coast, Umbria
posts: 4,453
reviews: 63
2. Re: Marlborough Sounds, Nelson, Kaikoura and Christchurch

The Sounds are as mentioned away from anywhere really trafficable.... Try this site.


so walk one day from Ship Cove if only wanting an easy tramp....or two days .....as you can get picked up any time.

Havelock you must get organised to catch boats as well.

You are going to Nelson so if staying in Picton take the Queen Charlotte drive road to Havelock as an alternative route ... you are driving back on some of the same roads later.

Do what we do on returning to Chch via blenheim take a route thu the Nelson Lakes and go down the wairau Valley to the vineyards. About 30 mins longer but sensational variation.

You must not miss the Golden bay area of Nelson so a big day trip over the Takaka Hill is mandatory.... pick a part of Able Tasman and do a sector.

Pick the eyes out of my NZ notes I give to Ozzies it is a lttle reverse of what you are doing but has good connections and some touring ideas


posts: 1
3. Re: Marlborough Sounds, Nelson, Kaikoura and Christchurch

The Queen Charlotte Track in the Marlborough Sounds is the main popular walk. Picton or Havelock are actually guite some distance from the track and you cannot walk to the track from these locations.

Consider renting a car in Picton and staying in Anakiwa (a 30min drive) for a couple of days. The track is easily accessible from Anakiwa.

There are several accommodation options which offer both kayaks and boat transfers up to Mistletoe Bay, a 3 hr 40 min walk back to Anakiwa in some of the best scenery on the track. The walk is relatively easy, suitable for all ages 10 - 80, so you don't need to be a super fit tramper.

Nelson is 1hr 15 min by road to contimue your travels.

Marlborough Sounds
posts: 1
4. Re: Marlborough Sounds, Nelson, Kaikoura and Christchurch

Your itinerary looks great! Good choice to explore the top of the South Island. Either Havelock or Picton are great starting points to explore the Marlborough Sounds. Queen Charlotte Sound is where the ferry comes into Picton whilst Havelock is the gateway to the Pelorus, Mahau and Kenepuru Sounds. Lots of walking tracks and scenic views along the Queen Charlotte Drive which is the scenic route between Picton and Havelock. From Havelock it is about a one hour drive through to Nelson, passing through the Pelorus River valley. Make it a relaxed drive through so you can enjoy the views. Enjoy your trip

posts: 4
5. Re: Marlborough Sounds, Nelson, Kaikoura and Christchurch

Wow what an itinerary - we have a lovely motel in Waikawa Bay 5 minutes drive from picton. All rooms overlook the bay and the Marina and there are 2 restaurants a 5 minute stroll away at the Marina also. I used to stay here for years before i worked here but if you want to relax and have a car its easy to drive to blenheim in 15 - 20 minutes and only 5 minute drive from picton if you wanted to head out on a cruise for the day. If you are looking for peace and quiet with great views visit www.bayvistapicton.co.nz - the rooms have now been painted and refurbed and are great :)

6. Re: Marlborough Sounds, Nelson, Kaikoura and Christchurch

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