Marlborough Sounds and Abel Tasman Trails

Marlborough Sounds and Abel Tasman Trails

Trip Highlights

Hiking near Marlborough Sound&#160;-&#160;<i>Photo:&#160;Nick Groves</i>
  • Enjoy full and half day hikes amidst some of NZ's best scenery
  • Marvel in the magnificent scenery of the Marlborough Sounds and the Queen Charlotte Sound
  • Relax in the comfort and hospitality of your own private eco lodge
  • Sail the beautiful coastal waters of the Abel Tasman National Park after the hike to Torrent Bay
  • Take in the panoramic views of Nelson Lakes National Park from the bushline track
  • Climb to the summit of Mt Isobel at 1324 metres

Trip Summary

Group on the Marlborough Sounds & Abel Tasman tour&#160;-&#160;<i>Photo:&#160;Nick Groves</i>

Sample the finest walks in the upper South Island, including the best sections of the Queen Charlotte and Abel Tasman Tracks on this outstanding itinerary. This fully lodge based accommodated walk completes a circuit of the northern South Island, beginning with the stunning Kaikoura Peninsula Walk before taking in the spectacular scenery of the Marlborough Sounds from the Queen Charlotte Track. You'll also nestle into the tranquillity of a remote eco lodge, weave your way through small bays and beautiful bushland along the Abel Tasman Walkway as well as retrace your steps along this magical trail from the decks of a yacht. The amazing scenery isn't finished yet as you divert inland from the coastal trails to Nelson Lakes to complete a circular track that provides wonderful views of craggy mountains and beech forests. Return to Christchurch via Hanmer Springs for a well deserved soak in its therapeutic hot pools.

Trip Grading

To determine the grade of a particular adventure we consider a number of factors. These include the condition of the terrain, the altitude, the number of pass crossings and the length of the trip.

This itinerary utilises formed tracks on all of the walking undertaken. The trekking is as expected for a trip of this introductory grade with no unexpected surprises in steepness. In general the hikes are of a half day duration which usually requires around 4 - 5 hours walking. The tracks are well formed and often have information panels available for additional detail. For you to be able to really enjoy this trip we recommend that you are to walk comfortably for a few hours at a time (with breaks included).

We recommend 90 minutes of aerobic type exercise, (either cycling, jogging or power walking) three times a week for the three months leading up to your trip.


We will collect you from a central city location in Christchurch around 08:00am before we drive north to Kaikoura taking approx 2.5hours. The drive is scenic and we time our arrival for lunch and then walk the Kaikoura peninsula walkway. This will take approximately 1.5 -2 hours before we continue the drive to reach Picton, a further 2 hours away and a final short walk to stretch our legs. Drive to Picton (2 hours) and do short bush walk. Walk time: 1.5 - 2 hours

Meals:  L,D

The nearby Queen Charlotte track is a spectacular ridge top walk above the Sound. We access this via return water taxi and a short climb to the track, from where we spend the rest of the day weaving down through native bush with glimpses into the many bays below. From Te Mahia saddle on the Queen Charlotte track we gradually descend on the walkway to Anakiwa for our return journey to Picton by water taxi. Overnight again at Picton. Walking time: 4 - 6.5 hours

Meals:  B,L,D

Our next two day trek starts out of a secluded bay and involves firstly a scenic drive around the head of the sound and then a backcountry road, to arrive at the start of the track. The old logging trail was cut through the native bush and offers a beautiful benched trail that weaves through regenerating native and exotic forests, steadily rising to a saddle where we break for a picnic lunch. From here we gradually descend into the next Bay and overnight stay at our Lodge. The rest of the afternoon provides a great opportunity to relax on the couches on the porch or to explore the walking tracks and native bush. Walking time: 3 - 4 hours

Meals:  B,L,D

After a hearty breakfast, we pack and depart our beautiful accommodation, and follow the trail that weaves through virgin bush and beachfront. The trail then steadily climbs to a low saddle, and eventually descending to the neighbouring bay and around the shoreline to our waiting coach. Time dependant, we can explore and swim before our mid afternoon departure out to Nelson and onto Motueka and our accommodation for the next two nights. Walking time: 4 - 4.5 hours

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we drive down to the start of the Abel Tasman track and have a half day hike into Torrent Bay on the famous Abel Tasman walkway. The track is well formed and drops into several sheltered bays and beaches. At midday we have lunch overlooking Torrent Bay and then meet our return yacht for an exciting sail around the heads and back to our coach and then our accommodation. Walking time: 3 - 4 hours

Meals:  B,L,D

Leaving Moteuka we have a short 1 hour drive inland into the Nelson Lake National Park and at St Arnaud we have a choice of a shorter 2 hour loop in the Lake Rotoiti Nature Recovery area or a 5 hr circuit to the upper slopes of Mt Roberts. This track climbs steeply to the bushline and the summit of the ridgeline with awesome views over the lake & St Arnaud range, before returning via a loop track back to the coach and our accommodation. The bush is stunning and Lake Rotoiti a magic location. Walking options: 2 hours or 5 hours

Meals:  B,L,D

Intensive pest eradication has meant native bird numbers are increasing in the Nelson Lakes National Park. Early risers this morning will have the chance to take a short bush walk and experience the morning songs of the forest or “dawn chorus.” We then drive via the spectacular Buller Gorge and Lewis Pass to Hanmer, where we detour to Jacks Pass and hike via the subalpine scrub and open grassland to the summit of Mt Isobel (1324 metres) for panoramic views of the Hanmer Basin and beyond. Late afternoon we return to Christchurch and drop you off in central Christchurch around 6-7pm. Walking time: 3 hours

Meals:  B,L

What's Included

  • 6 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 6 dinners
  • 5 nights hotel/motel ensuite accommodation on a twin share basis
  • 1 night in an eco lodge (shared facilities)
  • Professional qualified driver/guide
  • Private vehicle transport
  • Water taxi access to Queen Charlotte walkway
  • Sailing boat on Abel Tasman trek
  • Packs and poles (on request if required) - please let our staff know in advance
  • Water and snacks while trekking
  • Concession fees paid to the Department of Conservation
  • New Zealand Goods and Service Tax (GST)

What's Not Included

  • International or domestic flights and taxes
  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • All beverages, other than breakfast
  • Water bottle (help us save the environment and bring your own drink bottle or hydration system)
  • Optional activities not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Personal expenses (eg. phone calls, internet, laundry, shopping etc.)
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa (if required)
  • Tips


Guides were exceptional, helpful and thoughtful for everyone's personal needs. Very safety conscious, but not overbearing. Contrasting guide personalities - interesting and helpful. My dietary challenged exceptionally well managed/catered for. Thank you!

Rod R, Australia, 12 Dec 2016

Great variety of walks. Yacht ride and Abel Tasman walk beautiful. Nydia track - we made it! Great lodge. Spud can carry everyones pack at once! Great help on Nydia track. Ace driver too, no-one threw up in the van. Chris is lovely. She looked after us all and has great remedies for insomnia. She also has great teeth and is great at sailing.

Pam S, England

Thank you for an incredible tour. I so enjoyed this group! It was fun as well as exhausting. The guides were wonderful, nothing was too much trouble for them. Thank you Spud for carrying my back all day when I was feeling unwell.

Jill R, Australia, 12 Dec 2016

The trip exceeded expectations. Staff were excellent.

David P, Australia, 12 Dec 2016

Great trip, great pace. will certainly be looking at doing another of this composition

Laurey P, Australia, 12 Dec 2016

I had a fantastic time and will be recommending this trip to my friends.

Nathan N, Australia, 12 Dec 2016

Upcoming Travel Dates



Duration:7 Days
Starting Point:Christchurch
Grade:Introductory  Click for more information
Trip Code:MSA
Prices From:NZD$2795
Public Holiday Supplement:NZD$50 
Single Supplement:NZD$675 
Sample the finest walks in New Zealand's upper South Island, including the best sections of the Queen Charlotte and Abel Tasman walking Tracks on this outstanding itinerary.