Tasman Bay, D’Urville Island and the Marlborough Sounds

Trip code: MS2021/2
Expedition Rating: Explorer Travel
Leaving: 11 Dec 2021 Starts: Picton
Returning: 19 Dec 2021 Ends: Nelson

Hiking, Birding, Swimming , Kayaking , Photography, Botany, Cultural, Cetacean watching

Many of the areas we visit on this expedition are accessible by (winding) roads or hiking tracks. But there is something special and very relaxing about cruising along the coastline of the Abel Tasman National Park and the drowned river valley systems of the Marlborough Sounds. The region is synonymous with some of the greatest navigators and explorers the world has known, the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman, the French explorer Jules Sébastien Dumont d'Urville and the great British naval Captain James Cook.  On this Expedition we will explore the exploration and exploitation of the region. We will pay special attention to the unique natural history its geology, geography, its botany, birds and marine environment and we will ensure there is plenty of time to simply relax and enjoy each day.

Day 1  Joining the Expedition 

Our team will meet you in Picton (you will be advised in your pre-departure info a time and a place). You will be welcomed aboard the Strannik where you will be introduced to the crew and the vessel before we get underway. We will start our exploration of the Queen Charlotte Sound this afternoon where there are a myriad of things to do and see.

Day 2 – 8

Today we continue our exploration of Queen Charlotte Sound, including Ships Cove made famous by Captain James Cook who made multiple visits in the late 1700’s, Motuara Island, recently declared predator free and restocked with some of our country’s rare native birds. There are also the remains of the old whaling station near Tory Channel to explore. If you enjoy walking there are a huge range of walks to choose from, including sections of the iconic Queen Charlotte Track. Expect some great sheltered anchorages at night. 

We will depart  after a couple days for Pelorus and Kenepuru Sounds, rounding Cape Jackson and crossing Gore Bay to explore the outer reaches and islands of Pelorus Sound before finding an anchorage for the night. Our goal is to spend the next few days exploring the upper reaches of Pelorus and Kenepuru Sounds, searching out the history of the exploration and exploitation. There will be multiple opportunities for, short or long walks, or fossicking on the beaches. There is a labyrinth of water ways to explore in this ancient drowned river valley system where there are also some beautiful anchorages to enjoy. 

We will depart Pelorus Sound via Admiralty Bay to transit French Pass where we will pause before going through the passage so you can go ashore at Elmslie Bay and see the Pass from the nearby lighthouse. We plan to spend some time exploring D’Urville Island, especially the Port Hardy and Greville Harbour areas on the west coast of the Island. 

We will cruise from here across Tasman Bay to the Astrolabe Roadstead behind Adele Island in the Abel Tasman National Park. It was here in 1827 that the French Explorer Jules Dumont d’Urville anchored and replenished his water and food supplies; from here we will explore the coast of the Abel Tasman National Park. You will have many opportunities for and choices of short or longer walks, swimming, canoeing; or simply lying on the beach.  

Day 9 – Farewells 

We would have likely crossed Tasman Bay to arrive in Nelson Harbour early this morning and, after breakfast, it will be time for farewells. We will arrange a private shuttle to transfer you and other members of the expedition to either your accommodation that you have pre booked, or to the airport. 

Please note, we do not publish a day to day itinerary, except for first and the last days because these are expeditions. However each of our expeditions has a clear goal or objective and you have a role in both defining and achieving those. That, in our opinion, is the spirit of genuine expedition travel. Also please note, these are not “guided” trips, but the crew on board know the areas we are visiting intimately. There will be significant resources on board for your use.  


$4669.00 NZDpp
Price Includes:

GST, all meals and accommodation, complimentary wine and soft drinks (limited selection available), Internet access for Email, transfers from Picton to the Strannik and to Nelson accommodation or airport. 

Trip Info

Proposed expedition leader: Rodney Russ
Visas required: New Zealand

Requirements may vary depending on what passport you are travelling with. It is your responsibility to check to ensure you are compliant.

Trip Map

Map for trip: Tasman Bay, D’Urville Island and the Marlborough Sounds

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