Queen Charlotte Sound Mail Boat Cruise - Picton

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Tour Information

Tour Details

Overview

Enjoy a scenic afternoon boat cruise through Queen Charlotte Sound on a working mail boat that visits Ship Cove and several remote communities. You'll share the excitement of mail day as you travel on board the New Zealand Post Rural Delivery Service boat, which takes different routes through Marlborough Sounds to reach isolated hamlets. Hear stories about the people and history of the region from your captain as you experience the rhythm of life along the waterways of the South Island.

Know More about this tour

Head to the waterfront in Picton to meet the mailboat for your 4-hour tour on Queen Charlotte Sound. Every trip starts along the routes detailed below by day of the week, then wraps up with a 15-minute stop at Ship Cove (1st Oct to 30th April).

The visit to Ship Cove gives you a chance to disembark at the inlet where Captain Cook anchored his ship, The Endeavor, in 1770. Explore the beach and see a memorial to Captain Cook, several large Maori statues carved from wood, and informative displays about the island. Birds such as oyster catchers, weka, and paradise ducks can be spotted here as well.

On Mondays and Thursdays, start by cruising through Queen Charlotte Sound to Kaipapa, a small cove in Kumototo Bay. Continue into Blackwood Bay to drop off mail, then pass a king salmon fish farm en route to Ruakaka Bay where the boat stops at a local residence. Then deliver mail to the Bay of Many Coves Resort and make a few more mail stops at Arapawa Island before pulling into Ship Cove.

On Tuesdays and Fridays, the mail boat heads to Curious Cove and then the Tory Channel, traveling along one side past Te Pangu as far as Whekenui, where the Tory Channel enters Cook Strait. Return along the other side of the channel, making a few mail drops along the way, before heading to Ship Cove.

The Wednesday and Saturday mail deliveries stop first near the East Bay King Salmon Farm on Arapawa Island. Then sail to the top of East Bay for a couple of mail drops. On Saturdays, the run goes to Cape Jackson, a community that only receives deliveries once per week due to the distance. On your return, stop at Ship Cove.

No matter which day of the week you travel, you'll get a glimpse of daily life in the small outposts that dot the Marlborough Sounds, as well as memorable views of the stunning scenery.

During the Winter Months we do not stop at Ship Cove.

Please advise us if you have an evening connection or are visiting from a cruise ship

Please note: This is a sample itinerary that can change based on what time of the year you visit.

Inclusions for Queen Charlotte Sound Mail Boat Cruise

  • Live commentary on board
  • Tea and coffee

Exclusions for Queen Charlotte Sound Mail Boat Cruise

  • Food
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off

Itinerary:

Monday and ThursdayStart by cruising through Queen Charlotte Sound to Kaipapa, a small cove in Kumototo Bay. Continue into Blackwood Bay to drop off mail, then pass a king salmon fish farm en route to Ruakaka Bay where the boat stops at a local residence. Then deliver mail to the Bay of Many Coves Resort and make a few more mail stops at Arapawa Island before pulling into Ship Cove.
Tuesday and FridayThe mail boat heads to Curious Cove and then the Tory Channel, traveling along one side past Te Pangu as far as Whekenui, where the Tory Channel enters Cook Strait. Return along the other side of the channel, making a few mail drops along the way, before heading to Ship Cove. 
Wednesday and Saturday The mail deliveries stop first near the East Bay King Salmon Farm on Arapawa Island. Then sail to the top of East Bay for a couple of mail drops. On Saturdays, the run goes to Cape Jackson, a community that only receives deliveries once per week due to the distance. On your return, stop at Ship Cove.
Please note: This is a sample itinerary that can change based on what time of the year you visit.

Additional Info

Confirmation will be received at time of booking

Guests are welcome to bring their own food and drinks to consume on board

Closed-toe walking shoes suitable for walking are recommended

Not accessible for motorized wheelchairs

Please Note: The stop at Ship Cove only occurs during Summer months of 1st Oct to 30th April

Cancellation Policy
  • If you cancel within 3 calendar days (72 hours) of the scheduled departure time, the cancellation charge will be 100% of the undiscounted tour price.
  • If you cancel between 4 to 7 Calendar days before scheduled tour departure,the cancellation charge will be 50% of the undiscounted tour price.
  • If you cancel at least 8 calendar days in advance of the scheduled departure time, there is no cancellation fee. You will receive Full Refund for the paid amount.
  • Please note that in case of No show, the cancellation charge will be 100% of the listed tour fare.
  • Please note tours booked using discount coupon codes will be non refundable.
Reviews

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  • A fantastic experience. The skipper, Julian, was knowledgeable and a great deal of fun. When we spotted a dolphin pod he took us over and allowed plenty of time for photos and videos. Some of the dolphins then 'surfed' in our wake. It was great learning about how the residents of Charlotte Sound get their mail and 'guest's delivered. We'd recommend this trip.Wendy and Col Melbourne Australia

  • Well worth the time. Great experience.

  • Nice scenic trip

  • Excellent tour. Beautiful scenery, birds, dolphins. Comfortable boat. Good commentary. Easy access from cruise ship..

  • Interesting tour with beautiful scenery.

  • Great experience! Wonderful scenery and a good insight into living in remote and beautiful area of New Zealand while delivering mail and essential supplies.. Friendly staff and boat operator. Also good to support a local family business. Stop at Ship cove also not to be missed.

  • Great trip. Enjoy the commentary by the skipper, lots of,tales to tell plus local history. Also good stories about th people we dropped off mail and supplies to. The boat was very stable, even in some of the rough stuff close to Cook Straight. Well worth doing.

  • Excellent - well worth of doing.

  • A great trip - gives understanding of the size of the Sounds.

  • Excellent. The scenery was beautiful and it was very interesting to visit the outlying places that people lived.

  • See All 27 Reviews

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