The Breathtaking Beauty of the Marlborough Sounds.
There is no better way to soak up the tranquillity of the Marlborough Sounds than by kayak. Looking up to the hills covered in native bushland, down the length of the Queen Charlotte Sound and feeling like explorers on water, kayaking is an unbelievable way to soak up the sights and feel of the Marlborough Sounds.
My girls and I were lucky enough to be invited by Juliet and Steve and the Wilderness Guides Marlborough Sounds Team out on their half day Queen Charlotte Sound Guided Kayak Tour. Along with six other tourists from around the globe, we headed out to Ngakuta Bay with our two guides by van with the kayak’s in tow. As anyone who has travelled the Queen Charlotte Drive knows, this scenic road is a sight to be seen in itself! At Ngakuta Bay our kayaks were unloaded and our guides fitted us with our wet weather gear and a safety briefing….then out into the sounds we went.
The morning was over-cast and the water was glassy. I spend many hours on the water for sport and pleasure…and glassy is just a dream to kayak on. The kids were happy too J We explored the bay and our knowledgeable guides explained the tree life we could see from our kayaks. As a group we were already relaxed and soaking up the serenity of floating on the water, soaking up nature. We kayaked snuggly along the coast line to the tip of the bay, where we all sat in awe of the view down the Queen Charlotte Sounds. Just breathtaking!
It was then time for us to do our exercise for the day, and as a group paddled across Grove Arm to Bottle Bay. Most of us had paddled before, but even those newbies among us, had no problem keeping up. No pressure on anyone, resting was just fine, while our friendly guides chatted to each of us along the way. We even got to marvel at Australasian Gannets (Morus serrator) plummeting into the water as they were fishing in Grove Arm.
Once at Bottle Bay we floated about together while our guides educated us about the birds and plant life we saw. They told us local stories and about local Māori culture, all extremely interesting. There were a few moments where we were all silent, each of us soaking up the feeling of tranquillity and realising how lucky we all were to experience this special place, while the Bell Birds and Tui’s sang to us. We had a Sting Ray sit long enough for each kayak to get up close and marvel at the wonderful sea creature. We paddled along the shore admiring the trees and birds around to the edge of Umungata Bay where we saw a colony of Spotted Shag (Stictocarbo punctatus punctatus) . Some of the adults had babies they were feeding, they were so fluffy and had a distinct baby sounding call. We were entertained by the birds either bringing home grass and sticks to do some home building, or by them flying down from their nesting rock where they would land on the water in front of us, turn, then fly off skimming along the water. I think we all could have watched them for hours.
The morning was fast disappearing from us, so it was time to head across the Arm back towards Ngakuta Bay. The breeze was picking up, so a few more muscles were needed to get back home. Any tiredness and hungriness was ignored for a little longer as we spotted a New Zealand Fur Seal swimming by. Disappointingly it was not keen to hang around and play, it was obviously on a mission to go fishing! Still, the excitement helped cope with the side wind moving in. Before we knew it, we were on the last section with the wind now directly behind us, pushing us into the bay.
It was a sensational way to spend a morning. Kayaking is my favourite way to get back into nature and relax. It’s easy to feel as though you are the only people out on the water. I think that’s one of the extra special things about the Marlborough Sounds – you can always find a secluded piece of waterway that is out of the sea breeze.
Back on our van heading for Picton, it was obvious we all felt tired, hungry but most of all admiration of this breathtaking beauty called the Marlborough Sounds.