Sailing Holiday in the Marlborough Sounds in New Zealand.

Imagine what it feels like to have a yacht to yourselves, a skipper to sail it for you and the stunning scenery of the Marlborough Sounds in New Zealand.

yacht marlborough sounds

Yacht Marlborough Sounds

Hello, hello. . . . .oh I thought I lost you for a moment there!

You were on the deck of that yacht weren’t you? With a Gin & Tonic in one hand and your favourite holiday in the other. Book is open at the last page you were reading before the dolphins playing alongside you caught your attention.

dolphins marlborough sounds

Dolphins Marlborough Sounds

There are a number of companies who offer sailing holidays around the Marlborough Sounds. They offer short sailing daytrips, sunset cruises and harbour cruises up to week long relaxing breaks.

map marlborough sounds new zealand

Marlborough and Tasman

At the Northern end of the South Island of New Zealand you will find The Marlborough Sounds. The area includes 4000km2 of sounds, islands and peninsulas. The three main sounds are Pelorus Sound, Queen Charlotte Sound and Kenepuru Sound. The sounds are drowned valleys creating inlets and secluded beaches to explore.

jamarh by beach marlborough sounds

There are 5 charter options for sailing in the Marlborough Sounds area. We learned to sail on a monohull in Lyttelton Harbour in New Zealand. So, when it came time for a short break we decided to try a catamaran. We have never looked back and not keen for a monohull sail again. We just love the stability and level sailing that comes with a catamaran. Pictured above is the beautiful Jamarh we had the pleasure of sailing on with Catamaran Sailing Charters. There is plenty of room on Jamarh for more than one couple or a large family or friends to share.

Follow the links (click images) for more information.


Jamarh layout

Martin and Jane-Maree Holmes are the owners of Catamaran Sailing Charters and we  had the pleasure of Martin’s company as our skipper for our 3 night trip from Havelock Marina through the Sounds and back along the coast to Nelson. During our sail we had plenty of time to sail slowly with no fixed agenda. I have fond memories of sitting on the foredeck with a book and a glass of wine listening to the wind in the sails and feeling the sun and breeze on my face.  We had the whole catamaran to ourselves it was so peaceful. We fished for blue cod off the swim platform – they make delicious fish pie. (Check local regulations for recreational fishing). I took the kayak for a paddle while the two men dove for paua (free dive, no scuba gear allowed) – they made great sandwiches! We thoroughly enjoyed the scenery and the experience. We could have had a go at sailing if we wanted to but to be honest I was thankful for the rest and relaxation.

If you prefer mono-hull sailing then there are 3 companies in the Marlborough Sounds area to choose from:

  1. Gourmet Sailing
  2. Steadfast Traditional Sail
  3. Yonder Star

Gourmet Sailing is exactly that as your trip includes gourmet meals! Allow Milo and Kimberly Coldren to tantalise your tastebuds in the stunning Marlborough Sounds. With their commitment to using fresh, local produce you are surely in for a treat. Charters are private and can be tailored to your needs. Team building, day sailing or longer trips. They have 2 yachts: a 65ft ketch (sleeps 10 guests + 2 crew) and a 51ft Beneteau (sleeps 8 guests + crew).

seafood platter gourmet sailing

Seafood platter by Gourmet Sailing

Steadfast Traditional Sail – Steadfast is a 40 tonne 58′ (17m) gaff cutter and looks absolutely stunning under way with traditional sails and rigging of a bygone era! Join them for a day sail, overnight cruises in Queen Charlotte Sound, through French Pass and around D’Urville Island. They operate a day program for schools called the Voyage of Discovery Program catering for 28 children at a time.



Yonder Star is an 87′ luxurious sailing yacht.  Capacity for 6 to 8 overnight guests and 26 guests by day.  Accommodation on overnight cruises is provided in 3 cabins: stateroom plus 2 double beds with singles over.  Yacht available for; corporate functions, special occasions, half and full day hires, wedding and honeymoon packages, overnight and week-long charters.

Master cabin on Yonder Star

Luxury on board Yonder Star

I said there were 5 charter companies – well Windrider Expeditions are something a little bit different and perhaps reserved for the more adventurous. among us or those without very young children. A windrider is basically a kayak with a few extras. Those extras are two outriggers and a sail! No sailing experience required – you are taught the basics on day one and then head off into the beautiful sounds with camping and cooking gear and a guide. Choose forom 3, 5 and 8 day expeditions. Some overnight stays are in lodges but mostly it is camping on beaches.

Windriders on beach

Windriders on beach

Not in to sailing – prefer powered yachts and fishing trips? All of those options and more can be found around the Marlborough Sounds with marinas in Nelson, Havelock and Picton. Whatever your choice of boat the Marlborough Sounds are a stunning mix of breathtaking scenery, wildlife, abundant fishing and diving opportunities, calm seas, idyllic weather and sheltered anchorages.

Marlborough Sounds glorious sunset

Marlborough Sounds glorious sunset

*All images in this post have been linked to their source website.