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Outdoor Adventures In The Marlborough Sounds

24th Jun 13

Legend has it that if you throw a stone into the waters of the Marlborough Sounds on a clear night, the water turns green. Whether you believe it or not, there is only one sure fire way to find out.

The Marlborough Sounds is a vast landscape of drowned valleys nestled on the tip of New Zealand's South Island. The sound makes up 1,500 kms of New Zealand's coastline, and is home to a myriad of wildlife, including seals, penguins and dolphins - perfect for the amateur photographer and animal enthusiast.

Within, it holds the history of Captain Cook, a Russian ship wreck and a multitude of water based adventures for travellers looking for something other than the requisite shopping and dining. However, if you are that way inclined, there is more than enough to keep the taste buds and closet duly satiated.

At the top of the list is a cruise through the labyrinth of waterways which make up the sounds. Whether it is simply the simple act of taking the ferry from Wellington in the North Island through the Cook Straight to Picton, or one of the many scheduled cruises available, you will be sure to see some breathtaking views, as well as perhaps a dolphin or two.

If you are keen on checking out Queen Charlotte Sounds by boat, heading to the area in the warmer months is a better bet if you want to stand on the deck of the ship, as the wind chill can be brutal in the winter.

History buffs keen on following the footsteps of Captain James Cook, the explorer who made the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand in the 1700s, can pull on their walking shoes and head to the Queen Charlotte Track in Picton.

Hikers begin the track at Ship Cove, once a safe harbour for Captain Cook, and now a reserve and monument to the famous explorer. The cove can only be reached by boat and is flanked by a waterfall, nestled amongst native bush.

Heading south from Ship Cove walkers hit the Queen Charlotte Track, with a two hour walk to Resolution Bay. En route is a lookout with screensaver-worthy views of Motuara Island and the outer Queen Charlotte Sound. Beyond, are Kapiti Island and the North Island. From there you scale the Ship Cove and Resolution Bay Saddle and descend into Resolution Bay itself. This hike offers significant views of the sounds, as well as the North Island on a clear day and is well worth the trip.

For some adventure under the sea, the Marlborough Sounds is the site of Russian ship wreck Mikhail Lermontov. The cruise ship sunk in 1986 after hitting rocks near Port Gore, killing one crew member. Today it lies at a depth of 38m and is one of the world's largest diveable ship wrecks. Divers can plunge to different depth levels and even go down inside the ship, checking out its history and the sea creatures who now call it home. It is highly recommended that people take care and enlist the help of experts and guides familiar with the wreck.

If you prefer to see be on the water rather than under it, renting a kayak is a great way to see the sounds. Paddlers can stop off in one of the many secluded bays and complete their sightseeing at their own pace.

Back on land the Marlborough Region boasts some of the best wineries in the world, most, specialising in Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. The countryside is literally littered with thousands of vineyards, growing grapes that are begging to be plucked and bottled. There are several wine tasting tours offered throughout the region, most run by wine enthusiasts and all keen on sharing the tasty Kiwi grapes. Most wineries are equipped with tasting rooms and wines available for purchase. Whether you want to hit the wineries by bike or chaffered van, even those not keen on the swish and spit part of wine tasting are in for an enjoyable time.

And at the end of your trip to the majestic Marlborough Sounds, don't forget to throw a pebble into the water and see if the legends are true.

Filed under Local Attractions

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