Exploring the Marlborough Sound with Beachcomber Cruises

No visit to New Zealand’s South Island would be complete without enjoying a Marlborough Sound cruise through the region’s intricate mazes of spectacular coastal valleys. Beachcomber Cruises operate seven vessels of varying sizes within the Queen Charlotte Sound and have many great cruise options available. If you’re heading to the upper South Island, let these Picton cruise experts take you on an adventure to remember. 

keys on Omega keytag sml

Keytag Bonus:

Receive a 10% discount on cruises and day walks upon presentation of your Omega keytag - see full details below!

Beachcomber Cruises

Explore the Marlborough Sound’s world famous scenery on a Beachcomber Cruise (Photo credit: Beachcomber Cruises)

There are lots of amazing Marlborough Sound tours to choose from, and one of the most popular options is the Ship Cove to Furneaux Lodge full day trip. The adventure begins with a thrilling cruise from Picton to Ship Cove. Along the way one of Beachcomber Cruises’ experienced skippers will point out interesting sights, provide some historical information and perhaps even take the boat up close to passing dolphins. On dry land visitors can climb up through an impressive forest which is home to many different species of native birds. At the top, the views from Tawa Saddle are truly breath-taking, and with good reason, this is one of the favourite Marlborough Sound walks. The descent follows an old bridle path down to the Furneaux Lodge at the head of the Endeavour Inlet where visitors can relax and enjoy a drink or a meal before boarding the boat for the 1½-hour cruise back to Picton. This 15-km walk forms the first part of the famous Queen Charlotte Track (QCT) which covers a total of 70-km and which is one of New Zealand's leading hiking trails. Beachcomber cruises also offer options for Marlborough Sound hikes along the QCT.

The afternoon Beachcomber Mail Boat excursion is one of the most remarkable tours from Picton. Passengers have the opportunity to travel on the only licensed New Zealand Post rural delivery service, and to deliver the mail and groceries to the families who live along the bays and inlets of the Queen Charlotte Sound. This is really a great way to understand the area and the people who inhabit here, both in the past and in the present. Every day is different, as the boat covers different parts of the Sound each day, and there are countless photo opportunities and the chance to converse with some interesting locals. A short stop at Ship Cove provides the opportunity to learn about the history of the area and to marvel at the beauty of the traditional Māori carvings on display.

Marlborough Sounds Cruises

Beachcomber offer a huge range of great Marlborough Sound Cruises (Photo credit: Beachcomber Cruises)

Another popular option is morning tea at Punga Cove, which operates from October through April. The vessel leaves from Picton each morning at 8am to take visitors on a picturesque cruise through the Queen Charlotte Sound, passing the Motuara Bird Island and Captain Cook's favourite spot to anchor at Ship Cove. The local captain provides an interesting commentary along the way and then drops passengers off for an hour at the Punga Cove Resort. Here visitors can enjoy a hot drink and a muffin/slice (which are included) and sit back, relax and take in the spectacular views across the Endeavour Inlet before re-boarding the boat for the cruise home.

Beachcomber Cruises operate many other exciting Marlborough sound scenic cruises including a visit to the Paua Perl Farm or to the bird sanctuary.Trips run throughout the year and this family-run business is proud of its perfect safety record.  The experienced local captains know and love this amazingly beautiful area and are delighted to share their knowledge with visitors.

For visitors to Marlborough who have finished exploring this incredible region from the sea, collect a rental car from Omega’s Picton or Nelson hire car depots, and set-off on some of the world’s most scenic driving roads.

Keytag Bonus:

Receive a 10% discount on cruises and day walks upon presentation of your Omega keytag:


The Mailboat Cruise         Departs 1:30pm

Ship Cove Cruise             Departs 9:00am

Day walks:

Ship Cove to Furneaux lodge      Departs 9:00am year round, Summer 8:00am (Oct –April)

Furneaux Lodge to Punga Cove   Departs 9:00am year round,  Summer 8:00am (Oct- April)

image panel bottom