Picton - Blenheim

Fly total time: 

At a a glance: 

  • 4 Days, Travel in comfort on the Coastal Pacific train 
  • Wake up in the serenity of the Marlborough Sounds
  • Swim with dolphins and seals 
  • Spot sperm whales off the Kaikōura coast
  • Taste sustainably made wines and local delicacies 
  • Day 1: Marlborough Sounds

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    Start your day with a wildlife tour in the scenic Marlborough Sounds, where forested hills rise steeply from sheltered inlets and sandy bays. Several species of dolphins (including the rare Hector’s dolphin) frequent these waters and many islands within the sounds are predator-free sanctuaries. Today’s boat cruise will stop at Motuara – where you are free to explore by yourself, or let your guide point out the rare bird species that inhabit the island. Afterwards, grab a bite to eat on Picton’s waterfront before water taxiing to your overnight nature retreat in the sounds

    Recommended activities:

    • There are several accommodation options in the Marlborough Sounds – from luxury lodge to campsite. Lochmara Lodge is a relaxed family resort complete with its own underwater observatory. 
    • Jump on the local mail boat for a true insight into life in the Marlborough Sounds.  
  • Day 2: Picton to Kaikoura

    Drive Fly 2 hours and 55 minutes by train 156 KMS 96 MI
    Start your day with a short nature walk on the Queen Charlotte Track, a scenic 70-km-long hiking and cycling trail which undulates over forested ridges and alongside sheltered coves. The trail can be easily accessed for short or long walks from most Marlborough Sounds accomodation options. Water taxi back to Picton and rest your legs on the train ride to Kaikōura. The Coastal Pacific travels south between snow-capped mountains and the sweeping Pacific Ocean. Keep your eyes peeled for New Zealand fur seals sunning themselves on the rocks.

    Train depats 2:15pm 

    Recommended activities:

    • The Queen Charlotte Track is one of New Zealand’s most accessible trails. It not only offers a variety of accommodation options, but water taxis can transfer your luggage between these each day.
  • Day 3: Kaikoura

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    The picturesque coastal town of Kaikōura is the perfect place for marine life spotting. Start your day with a dolphin encounter – swim with, or simply watch, playful dusky dolphins in their natural habitat. After lunch, enjoy an unforgettable sighting of one of Kaikōura’s resident sperm whales, either from a boat or the air. Watch them dive deep into the ocean to feed, their tale fluke perfectly framed against jagged mountain ranges. 


    Recommended activities:

    • Swim with playful New Zealand fur seals or go on a bird watching tour to view seabirds, albatross, molly-mawks, petrels and many more.
    • Feast on fresh crayfish from one of the many “seafood caravans” around Kaikōura. 
  • Day 4: Kaikōura – Picton

    Drive Fly 2 hours 55 minutes by train 156 KMS 96 MI
    After breakfast, board the Coastal Pacific back to Picton. This afternoon explore a sustainable vineyard and enjoy a late picnic lunch amongst the vines high above the rugged Marlborough coastline. With its crisp nights and sun-kissed days, Marlborough is New Zealand’s (some say the world’s) Sauvignon Blanc capital. Spend the night in luxury at a boutique hotel set just off the region’s so-called “golden mile” of vineyard cellar doors and restaurants. 

    Train departs: 10:23am

    Recommended activities:

    • If you’re heading North, the ferry offers a great scenic cruise through the sounds. 
    • If you’re heading South then head west to Nelson Tasman and the West Coast for more wildlife & nature encounters.