A rare King Shag in the Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand
  • Bird life

    Kiwi, native falcon & rare king shag

  • Marine life

    Dolphins, orca, seals & more

  • Wildlife

    Visit island sanctuaries

  • Coastal Gem

    Long Island Marine Reserve


Wildlife & Conservation

Endangered kiwi and various native birds including the King Shag thrive on predator-free islands in the Marlborough Sounds, as well as tuatara, gecko and native frogs.

The winding waterways of the sounds hold dolphins, stingrays, seals, and even orca and whales on their seasonal migration.

Back on dry land, the Picton Heritage and Whaling Museum hosts interesting rich stories of the region's whaling history.

Other ways to immerse yourself in Marlborough's wildlife and conservation is to Kayak on the Wairau Lagoons, cruise close to a multitude of New Zealand bird species, or visit the rare population of bats being protected at the Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve. Stroll the wildlife trail at Lochmara Lodge, or discover more about the award-winning sustainability practices at Yealands Estate winery.

  1. Maud Island Scientific Reserve
  2. Motuara Island bird sanctuary
  3. Long tailed bats
  4. Blumine Island bird sanctuary
  5. Marlborough Sounds Wildlife Recovery Centre
  6. Kaipupu Wildlife Sanctuary
  7. Wairau Lagoons, including royal spoonbills
  8. Kokomohua Marine Reserve
  9. Mistletoe Bay Eco Village
  10. The Marlborough Falcon Trust
Roy Grose

Roy Grose Director Operations, Northern South Island | Te Tau Ihu

“Marlborough is the mountains to the sea. One day you can be out in the Marlborough Sounds, and the next day be up at Lake Rotoiti. On the way you can stop and pick cherries or have a glass of wine at a cellar door. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

My insider guide to Marlborough

Maud Island Scientific Reserve

Maud Island is a predator-free scientific reserve, home to many rare and endangered native species.


Maud island is home to a full array of wildlife including geckos, skinks and frogs.

Birdlife inhabiting the island include keruru (NZ wood pigeon), tui, bellbird, fantail, pipit, silvereye, shining cuckoo, kingfisher, faclon, kahu/harrier and morepork. Around the island's coast you could encounter gulls, king shags, fluttering shearwater, caspian and white-fronted terns, black-fronted terns and arctic skua.


A remnant of 15 hectares in Home Bay is an example of the original native forest that used to cover Maud island. Trees include kohokohe, tawa, pukatea, mahoe and tawa. 

Visiting Maud Island

Trips to Maud Island only run a few days per year. Contact one of the Marlborough i-SITEs for information on the next excursion, and get yourself a seat before they book out. Boats must have permission to land from the Department of Conservation.

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