Outdoor activities in the Marlborough Sounds

Country: New Zealand
Outdoor Activity: swimming with dolphins, snorkelling, hiking, diving
Location: Picton
Duration: 4h
Sustainable tourism rating:écotourisme-4-SOL

Swimming with dolphins is a childhood dream that can become reality. New Zealand’s waters have one of the richest dolphin and marine mammals’ sanctuary. Knowing this, one of our first activities was to embark on a boat ride in the majestic scenery of the Marlborough Sounds in a fantastic escapade in search of dolphins

First we put on our wetsuits and carefully listened to the safety instructions, then despite the cloudy sky we embarked with a great smile! From the beginning, we were impressed by the landscape of these mountains piercing the blue water and sheltering in their forests countless species of birds.



Unfortunately, after several stops, we still haven’t seen a shadow of a dolphin. Clinging to our binoculars, we carry on scrutinizing the slightest movement of the water with the hope of seeing a dolphin rise.

We were beginning to lose faith when one of our companions asked the captain to head for a little sheltered bay. Suddenly, dolphins began to jump a few meters from the boat.

dolphins-swimming-surfonaleaf dolphins-picton

They stayed with us for a good fifteen minutes, playing around, jumping and swimming in front of the boat. Unfortunately they are Hector dolphins, a protected species with whom you cannot swim.

dolphins-sporttroters 3-dolphins-sounds
While continuing on our quest, we came across a colony of seals on the coast. We were magnetically drawn to their encounter. There they were, sunbathing on the beach in funny postures. As a stingray streaked across the clear blue waters, we all clambered with haste to put on our diving gear to join the welcoming seals.


Unfortunately, there were not so many fish and our guides decided to end this snorkelling stint too soon.

We drove back to Picton a bit disappointed not to have been able to swim with dolphins but were delighted to see dolphins as closely as we did.

If you are visiting Picton, you can also enjoy many walks along the Sounds. A nice hike starts from the main harbor. You cross the bridge that passes over the harbor to reach the path on the right and continue straight for a few hours.

If you have more time, we advise you to go hiking in the Queen Charlotte Track. You will have nice tramping spots (entrance fee but the first part is free) or you can rent a kayak and spend several days in the lovely Sounds (cost: NZD 100 per person for 2 days).

map-queen-charlotte-track track-picton-surfonaleaf queen-charlotte-track-surfonaleaf
What better than to obtain your diving certificate in this beautiful spot! Indeed, the wreck of the famous Rainbow Warrior was moved here and Picton Diving School offers attractive packages for PADI. You can have the accommodation included in the price.

The cons:
– You cannot always be lucky enough to see the dolphins.
The pros:
– Many opportunities abound for outdoor sports in the area: hiking, diving …
– If there are no dolphins, you can at least make a boat trip in beautiful scenery and see many birds….

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