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Top of the South Marlborough Sounds /Abel Tasman

Trip code: MS 2022/1
Expedition Rating: Adventure Travel
Leaving: 08 Jan 2022 Starts: Nelson
Returning: 16 Jan 2022 Ends: Picton

Hiking, Birding, Swimming , Kayaking , Photography, Botany, Cultural, History, 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


We will arrange a private transfer for you and other members of the expedition from your accommodation to the Strannik which will be moored in picturesque Nelson harbour. Once you are welcomes on board, we will introduce you to our team and the vessel. You will want to be on deck as we sail out through the cut between Haula shore Island and the Boulder Bank out into Tasman Bay.

We will cruise 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, and named the Island after his wife.


Day 2 – 8

We continue our exploration of the Abel Tasman National Park where you will have many choices and opportunities, including short walks, longer walks, swimming, canoeing or simply lying on the beach. We will have a couple days here before heading back across Tasman Bay to D’Urville Island where we want to spend some time visiting Port Hardy and Greville Harbour areas before transiting the iconic French Pass into Admiralty Bay. We will pause our journey at Emslie Bay to allow you to get ashore and view French Pass from the nearby lighthouse.

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 as well as some of the exciting conservation work that is currently being done. 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 relocate to Queen Charlotte Sound via the outer reaches and islands of the Sounds, taking in the history and the beauty of the area. Who knows? There might be an opportunity for some fishing along the way – it all depends on the weather.

Our final days of this expedition are spent in the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound. 


There is a myriad of things to do and see here. There is Ships Cove, made famous by Captain James Cook who made multiple visits in the late 1700’s and Motuara Island, recently declared predator free and restocked with some of our countries rare native birds. There is the remains of the old whaling station near Tory Channel to explore. If you enjoy walking, there are a range of walks to choose from, including sections of the iconic Queen Charlotte track.


Day 9 – Farewell

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. We will enjoy breakfast together on board the Strannik before taking you ashore in picturesque Picton. From here you will be able to take the ferry to Wellington or the Coastal Pacific Train to Christchurch, or a coach to Blenheim airport to catch any domestic flights.


$4785.00 NZDpp
There are 4 Double/Twin cabins available on Strannik. "Discovery" and "Resolution" could be twin share (2 lower berths) or it can be configured as a large double bed (it is your choice). "Karluk" and "Endurance" have a bunk-bed with a double lower berth and a top bunk. There is a 3% discount for the top bunk. It is easy to access and does have storm boards if required. All cabins have a private bathroom with a toilet and shower.

Price Includes:

GST, all meals and accomodation, complimentary wine and softdrinks (limited selection availiable), Internet access for Emails, transfer from Nelson to the vessel. 

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: Top of the South Marlborough Sounds /Abel Tasman

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