Discover Marlborough Sounds

Discover Marlborough Sounds

7 Days Starting and ending in Blenheim

Visiting: New Zealand

Tour operator:

Heritage Expeditions

Ship Name:
Heritage Explorer
Ship Capacity:

Tour operated in:
English
From:
$3650
$3468 (USD) The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$183

This tour is no longer available, please see similar tours below or send an enquiry

Tour Overview

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Discover the tranquil waterways, wildlife and rich history of New Zealand's Marlborough Sounds on an unforgettable 7-day Kiwi adventure exploring Queen Charlotte and Pelorus Sounds, French Pass and d'Urville Island.

Famed for the breath-taking beauty of their winding cobalt waterways, iconic landscapes, lush native forests, wildlife and remote coastlines these regions are also rich in early New Zealand history and the location of some of the country's most important conservation efforts.

Formed by a system of submerged valleys carved out following the last ice age around 10,000 years ago, the scenic playground of Marlborough Sounds encompasses some 1,500-kilometres of forested coastline, sheltered inlets and bays awaiting exploration, many only accessible by sea. The union of three main bodies of water - Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru and Pelorus Sounds - Marlborough Sounds has more than 50 Department of Conservation managed reserves and several predatorfree wildlife sanctuaries.

Just 500 treacherous metres from the mainland, d'Urville Island was named after French admiral Jules Sebastien Cesar Dumont d'Urville and his ill fated passage of the infamous French Pass in January 1827. After several near misses while seeking passage inside the island, he came close to losing his ship Astrolabe after hitting the reef. Now a possum, rat and weasel-free conservation reserve, d'Urville Island is one of the last strongholds of the critically endangered Long-tailed Bat and provides a respite for the world's rarest shag - the King Shag - and several other species of rare birds and geckos.

A voyage of adventure and discovery awaits in the Marlborough Sounds.

Highlights

  • Discover the tranquil waterways

  • wildlife and rich history of New Zealand's Marlborough Sounds on an unforgettable 7-day Kiwi adventure exploring Queen Charlotte and Pelorus Sounds

  • French Pass and d'Urville Island.

Itinerary

Expand All
Day 1: Blenheim

Make your way to the designated meeting point in Blenheim for your transfer to Heritage Explorer in Picton (times and meeting point will be confirmed with your voyage documents).

The captain and expedition team will be waiting to welcome you aboard Heritage Explorer and show you to your cabin. You will have the opportunity to familiarise yourself on board then join fellow travellers and your expedition team as we set sail along Queen Charlotte Sound this afternoon. ***Note: Some voyages will operate the itinerary in reverse.***

Day 2 : Days 2 To 3: Queen Charlotte Sound

First sighted in 1642 by Abel Janszoon Tasman while seeking shelter for his ships Heemskerck and Zeehaen from a storm near d’Urville Island, it was Captain James Cook who would first set foot here aboard the Endeavour during his five visits to Ship Cove, his New Zealand base between 1770 and 1777, in what he would call Queen Charlotte Sound.

We spend two full days exploring the waterways and islands of scenic Queen Charlotte Sound with opportunities to head ashore and walk a section of the Queen Charlotte Walkway as well as search for
birdlife on the predator-free islands. A visit to Tory Channel brings the whaling history of the Perano Whalers to life. We also plan to visit Ship Cove and learn of its history, exploring the region and visiting
Captain Cook’s memorial inaugurated in 1913.

Another conservation success story, Blumine Island has seen the translocation of several rare bird species including the once widespread Orange-fronted Parakeet, now New Zealand’s rarest parakeet, which were translocated to the island between 2011 and 2012. Also thriving on the island are South Island Saddleback, brought back from the brink of extinction last century from just 36 birds rescued in 1964, descendants of these birds were translocated to Blumine Island in 2009.

Day 4: D’Urville Island

Today we sail through the iconic French Pass and the wake of French Explorer Dumont d’Urville and then explore the island named in his honour. The outermost island in the Marlborough Sounds, d’Urville Island features imposing sea cliffs along its west coast, a high mountainous backbone and the fastest moving tidal flows in New Zealand between the French Pass tempered by some of the country’s finest peninsula scenery.

Dolphins and New Zealand Fur Seals are frequently seen in the waters surrounding the island and it was here that Pelorus Jack, the endearing Risso’s Dolphin who famously stole the nation’s heart, guided ships across the dangerous waters of Cook Strait between 1888 and 1912.

Day 4 : Days 5 To 6: Pelorus Sound

The largest in the Marlborough Sounds, Pelorus Sound’s main channel winds some picturesque 55-kilometres south between steep verdant hills from Cook Strait to Havelock. Boasting 380-kilometres of shoreline, the endless bays and sheltered coves of Pelorus Sound are perfect for exploration.

Venturing into Pelorus Sound we head to Ngawhakawhiti Bay where nature surrounds us and it’s possible to get a glimpse of what the sounds would have been like before the native forest was cleared. The more active are able to enjoy the walking part of the Nydia Track before we explore Nydia Bay. Tonight we will enjoy a farewell dinner and celebrate our adventure.

Day 7: Blenheim

We arrive into the inner reaches of Pelorous Sound this morning. After a final breakfast and farewells, a Zodiac tender takes you ashore at Havelock where a transfer to a central Blenheim drop off point or the airport waits. In case of unexpected delays we ask you not to book any onward travel from Blenheim until after midday today.

During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include poor weather and opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed.

Ship Details

Heritage Explorer

Image Of Ship

New Zealand-built expedition yacht Heritage Explorer joins Heritage Expedition's small ship fleet creating new opportunities of discovery around the shores of New Zealand. Setting a new standard for discovery travel in New Zealand, Heritage Explorer combines the ultimate in comfort with unique itineraries and a personalised experience with a maximum of just 18 guests on board.

Heritage Explorer is a 30-metre, 4-deck New Zealand flagged vessel built in 2004 by the renowned wooden boat building family Carey's Boatyard in Picton. It features a contemporary wood-finished interior, 10 well-appointed cabins across three decks, dining room boasting spectacular 180-degree panoramas and theatre capabilities; lounge and bar featuring a flight of inclusive regional New Zealand wines and beers; and a well-stocked local library.

Outside, guests can enjoy plenty of covered space on the Bridge Deck, or ajourn to the Sun Deck perfect for wildlife
spotting, sunrises and sunsets, or simply enjoying watch your voyage unfold. Kayaks and fishing equipment are available for use during the voyage, while two tenders allow for deeper exploration and the unforgettable wildlife encounters synonymous with all Heritage Expeditions adventures.

As with our other vessels, Heritage Explorer has an open bridge policy and a full commercial kitchen helmed by a talented chef focused on highlighting local produce and any guest catches of the day, as well as an enthusiastic and passionate expedition team, and will be shipped by a New Zealand captain and crew.

The expedition yacht features state-of-the-art technology to provide a comfortable expedition with high performance dual Scania 653 horsepower engines, bow thrusters, fin stabilisers, full air-conditioning, sound attenuated twin generators and a hydraulic aft ramp, while a comprehensive navigation package ensures the ultimate Kiwi adventure awaits all guests.

Accommodation Details

Royal: Located on the Bridge Deck, our Master Suite features a spacious bedroom with a queen-sized bed, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, mirror and washbasin, private en suite, personal climate control, TV, window and French doors opening out on to the covered Bridge Deck.

Salvin's: Located on the Lower Deck, Salvin's cabins have the option of either a double bed or two lower berths. Both feature ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, private en suite and a picture porthole.

Wandering: Located on the Lower Deck, Wandering cabins feature one lower single berth, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, private en suite and a porthole.

Buller's: Located on the Lower Deck, the Buller's cabin features one bunk (one upper and one lower berth), ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, private en suite and a porthole.

Ship Name:

Heritage Explorer

Cabins:

10

Expedition Staff & Crew:

5

Breadth:

7.8m

Cruising Speed:

10 knots

Length:

30m

Tenders:

2

Draft:

1.93m

Guests:

18

Gross Tonnage:

76.1gt

Engine:

653 horsepower

Vessel Type:

Expedition Yacht

Deck Plan

Deck Plan

Salvin's Double

Located on the Lower Deck, Salvin’s Double cabins feature a double bed, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a picture porthole.

Royal

Located on the Bridge Deck, our Master Suite features a spacious bedroom with a queen-sized bed, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, mirror and washbasin, private en suite, personal climate control, TV, PABX satellite telephone, window and French doors opening out on to the covered Bridge Deck.

Wandering

Located on the Lower Deck, Wandering cabins feature one lower single berth, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a porthole.

Buller's

Located on the Lower Deck, the Buller’s cabin features one bunk (one upper and one lower berth), ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a porthole.

Salvin's Twin

Located on the Lower Deck, Salvin’s Twin cabins feature two lower berths, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a picture porthole.

What's Included

  • Landing fees

  • pre and post cruise transfers

  • all on board ship accommodation with meals and all shore excursions and activities. GST

  • house drinks and expert on board naturalist guides.

What's Not Included

  • All items of a personal nature

  • laundry

  • domestic flights

  • extensions and travel insurance.

Check out our Q&As

  • What fitness level is required?

    Guests are required to have a reasonable level of fitness in order to participate in landings. While not strenuous, travellers who participate on excursions must be able to climb a ship-side gangway, get in and out of Zodiacs and be able to stand unaided. Each landing and excursion caters to all fitness levels ranging from easy to challenging, ultimately each guest is able to decide how active or relaxing their voyage is.

  • Is any clothing included?

    Thermally-insulated Muck Boots are provided for use on all our Southern Ocean voyages while guests travelling to the Ross Sea are supplied with an Antarctic grade jacket during their time in Antarctica.

  • What policies are in place for Covid-19?

    Please contact us for our latest Covid-19 policies

  • Is there a doctor on board?

    Yes, on Heritage Adventurer there is an on board doctor with a small infirmary and on many voyages a First Responder will travel with guests on excursions. Heritage Explorer does not have a doctor on board, however our crew are trained in first aid.

  • Are drinks included?

    Yes, house wine, beer and soft drinks are included with lunch and dinner on all Heritage Expeditions voyages. Complimentary drinks can also be enjoyed during special events on board while bar purchases can also be charged to your stateroom.

  • What Ethical Travel credentials does the tour company have?

    Travelling with Heritage Expeditions is to travel responsibly. As biologists and ornithologists, we are intimately aware of the many issues that confront animals and their habitats, the world's oceans and isolated ethnic groups. We also take action: we actively contribute to the conservation of the places we visit in several ways; we 'buy local' and employ locally; we make sure that travellers are respectful of local customs and traditions; and we dispose of waste responsibly.

  • Is there a gym on board?

    Yes, Heritage Adventurer has a gym, pool, sauna, Jacuzzi and Spa on Deck 7. While there is no gym on Heritage Explorer, guests have plenty of opportunity to stretch their legs on shore or take the kayaks out, weather permitting.

  • What is the onboard currency?

    Heritage Adventurer operates in US$ while Heritage Explorer is NZ$.

  • Does a single supplement apply?

    Heritage Adventurer has 20 dedicated single cabins (12 x Main Deck Single Staterooms on Deck 3 and 8 x Superior Single Staterooms on Deck 5). Heritage Adventurer also has the option of guests sharing in our Main Deck Triple (Deck 3) and Superior Triple (Deck 5) Staterooms. There may also be the option to share a Deck 4 or Deck 5 Superior Stateroom with another solo-travelling guest of the same gender. Heritage Explorer has 2 dedicated single cabins, Wandering, and if these are booked there may be availability to book a Salvin’s Twin/Double or Buller’s as a single at 1.8 times the published per person rate.

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    Heritage Expeditions was formed in 1985.

  • Is there Wi-Fi on board?

    Yes, there is Wi-Fi available on both ships. Heritage Adventurer has a connection via satellite and vouchers can be purchased from reception. Wi-Fi is included on Heritage Explorer.

  • Are all excursions included?

    Yes, all standard excursions are included in the voyage cost. All you will need to pay for on board is anything of a personal nature, laundry, drinks and gratuities.

Reviews of this Operator

Anne Carroll (Google Reviewer)  

I’ve just returned to Canada...

06-Sep-2023

I’ve just returned to Canada after an absolutely stupendous trip to the Kimberley region of Western Australia aboard the Heritage Adventurer. Everything from booking the trip to exiting the ship on our last day was first class and run like a well-oiled machine. The guides were informed, interesting, interested, enthusiastic, friendly, and made us guests feel like we were part of the ship family. Every day I wondered how they could top the daily activities, and the next day was another mind-blowing experience. The daily recaps were well-presented and always so interesting. We always knew what was coming up next - everything was very well organized. The camaraderie amongst the guides was obvious and that translated into a truly remarkable experience for me and the many other guests I met and befriended on board. The ship crew were always smiling and quickly learned our names and preferences. To a person, they were delightful and couldn’t have done more to ensure a fabulous experience for all. Great staff, lovely ship and absolutely amazing daily experiences. Wildlife, stunning landscapes, ancient art sites, and guides who explain in detail what we are seeing whether it’s insects, birds, rocks, whales, crocodiles, plants, fish and so much more. I came away with a much deeper appreciation for nature and how we humans are affected by and have an effect on nature. The cruise was ten days, but it felt like I had a month worth of experiences. I’d jump at the chance to explore any place with this company. I’m now hooked on the small ship cruise experience! Thank you Heritage Expeditions!

Sally Adams  

In the Wake of Scott & Shackleton: Ross Sea Antarctica “A Fantastic Voyage!”

01-Mar-2023

It was a fantastic voyage! The weather was amazing, the ship was stable, all the staff were terrific, the lectures were really interesting the food was excellent & I met many wonderful fellow travellers, some of whom I am keeping in touch with. And now I am belatedly reading a book about the Antarctic explorers it means a lot more, having been to the area, seen the huts etc. So thank you very much for a memorable experience.

Heritage Expeditions Customer
Emily P  

The Best of New Zealand: An Intimate Exploration Cruise of New Zealand's Islands “One of the greatest experiences of my life!”

01-Mar-2023

“The expedition was one of the greatest experiences of my life. We journeyed to many incredible parts of Aotearoa that I wouldn't have otherwise sailed to, hiked, or photographed. I loved how the daily itinerary responded to the weather conditions and different abilities so that we could all have a meaningful time in each place. The vessel is stunning and the crew took excellent care of us, as did the expedition team. Getting to know them and our fellow adventurers was a special part of the trip. It still feels like a dream!”

Heritage Expeditions Customer
Graham Barrie (Google Reviewer)  

Have just booked a trip...

28-May-2021

Have just booked a trip later in the year and the service I had with the staff and Emma in particular has been wonderful. Thank you 😊

Lorraine Knowles (Google Reviewer)  

Our trip on Hertiage Explorer...

10-Oct-2022

Our trip on Hertiage Explorer to the Southern Fiords was awesome. There was not one aspect that we could fault. The food, crew, expeditions ashore, fellow passengers and the knowledge of our guides was A+. We will definately book with you again - 2024 around the Bay of Islands.

Kita Williams  

Galapagos of the Southern Ocean: New Zealand and Australia's Subantarctic Islands “This was a Fantastic Trip - I Enjoyed Every Moment”

01-Mar-2023

This was a fantastic trip! From the glorious king penguins, to the sweet young elephant seal pups with their huge eyes, to the breathtakingly beautiful albatrosses on Campbell Island, and the colourful megaherbs, I enjoyed every moment. The sub-Antarctic islands are all very different, with unique landscapes and characteristics that were wonderful to experience. It was great to watch the lectures on board the ship, and our guides were very knowledgeable, helpful, fun and organised. We were so spoiled with the delicious meals and almost endless choices on board as well! The ship became a very cozy, familiar place and I enjoyed meeting some wonderful guests and exploring or cruising around in Zodiacs together. This trip really was a photographer's paradise, the wildlife and landscapes were incredible. Thank you Heritage Expeditions, I hope to join you again in the future!

Heritage Expeditions Customer
Chris Verstappen (Google Reviewer)  

A travel company that makes...

04-Oct-2017

A travel company that makes expedition cruising available to remote places on earth. I had the opportunity to go on a trip to the South Pacific in April 2017. A truly remarkable and well organized expedition and for sure a company I will come back to for more of their trips.

Brent Narbey (Google Reviewer)  

I had the trip of...

21-Dec-2017

I had the trip of a lifetime, the boat, crew and expedition leaders were WORLD CLASS! We cruised from Papua New Guinea through the Solomon Islands (Melanesia) for two weeks. The wildlife was wonderful as the indigenous peoples were friendly - Cant wait to do another one of their trips. Thanks for everything!

Dates & Availability

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Wednesday - Tuesday

May 01, 2024 - May 07, 2024
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The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$183 (USD)

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May 07, 2024 - May 13, 2024
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May 19, 2024 - May 25, 2024
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Nov 14, 2024 - Nov 20, 2024
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Nov 29, 2024 - Dec 05, 2024
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Dec 09, 2024 - Dec 15, 2024
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Thursday - Wednesday

May 01, 2025 - May 07, 2025
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The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$183 (USD)

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Wednesday - Tuesday

May 07, 2025 - May 13, 2025
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The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$183 (USD)

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May 17, 2025 - May 23, 2025
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Nov 21, 2025 - Nov 27, 2025
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Thursday - Wednesday

Nov 27, 2025 - Dec 03, 2025
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The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$183 (USD)

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Wednesday - Tuesday

Dec 03, 2025 - Dec 09, 2025
$3650 $3468 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$183 (USD)

Book with Confidence

  • Low Deposit

    Heritage Expeditions requires a minimum deposit of 25% or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 90 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of heritage expeditions charges.

    Up to 91 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 90 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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