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

Wairau Lagoons, including royal spoonbills

The Wairau Lagoons near Blenheim are rich with wildlife, with 90 species of birds. They are also rich with history, with the lagoons first used as a hunting ground by Māori 800 years ago and being the earliest known area in New Zealand to be settled by humans.

In spring, look out for the royal spoonbill showing off their mating plumage and godwits landing from their 12-day, 12,000km (nearly 7,500 mile), annual migration from the Arctic Circle. The best time to spot them is during low tide when they feed on worms, larvae and molluscs.

The lagoons cover 2,000 hectares (nearly 5,000 acres), rest behind an 8km (5 mile) long boulder bank, and feature 19km of canals and channels dug by early Māori to link natural waterways.

Walk Wairau Lagoons

Walk Wairau Lagoons

Find out more about walking tracks around the Wairau Lagoons

Search & book

View My Trip