About Us

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About Us

Marlborough Sounds Adventure Co started with two Outward Bound instructors in 1989 and is the oldest adventure tourism business in Marlborough, and one of the oldest in NZ.  The company is owned and operated by Sara Archdale and Dave Watson who bought the business in August 1995, after 10 years travelling and working in the UK, Europe and Australia.

We have been Marlborough locals for the last 23 years, residing in both Picton and Blenheim, before moving to Christchurch in 2018.  We now operate the business in conjunction with Mina Kingma, our General Manager, and a team of guides and base crew.

Sara and Dave have always had a strong focus on building a sustainable tourism business, understanding that life is never simple and running any business has it challenges.  Over the last 25 years we have experienced the loss of two children, drought, fire, earthquakes and now a global pandemic. We are proud of the fact that through it all we, along with our team, continue to deliver a consistently outstanding adventure holiday in the Marlborough Sounds.   A priority for us is that your holiday is easy to book, comprehensive and complete.  Our experiences can be as adventurous or as restful as you want it to be, in this beautiful place that we have called home for many years.

For 2020, you will see more of Sara & Dave as they return to the business, and work with Mina to deliver outstanding adventures under the ever changing environment created by Covid19.  We can’t wait to show you around a place that is very dear to our hearts, and we know you will enjoy this adventurers paradise as much as we do.



We took a great company and made it even better. Marlborough Sounds Adventure Company was originally founded in 1989 by two Outward Bound instructors operating out of Anakiwa. Later, Bruce Maunsell and Melanie Barton purchased the company and moved the base to Picton. Under their ownership the company quickly gained a reputation for providing quality sea kayaking and walking experiences. Their diligence was rewarded in 1993 with a NZ Tourism Award for Best Activity Tourism.


Awards for doing what we do best

Over the years our commitment to ‘getting it right’ has often been recognized by local and national tourism awards. In the past we have won the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Tourism Award and Environment Award. We were also delighted to be the 2007 NZ Tourism Award Winners for Leisure Activity and Small Business.

Dave was also heavily involved in establishing the quality tourism standards for sea kayaking that are being utilised today and we have been involved over the years with many local committees including the Queen Charlotte Track committee and Picton Business Group.

Quality Tourism Standards

We are holders of the Qualmark Visitor Endorsed accreditation and are also Outdoors Mark accredited.  We are now members of the Trip Advisor Hall of Fame, an award only provided to those businesses who achieve 5 years of consistently excellent ratings.

You can be assured that we have endeavoured to consider every element of your adventure holiday in the Marlborough Sounds.  We work hard to ensure that right from the first point of contact with us to your arrival, participation on the trip and departure from our office on the last day, you have had a wonderful hassle-free adventure holiday experience that exceeds all your expectations.

We look forward to sharing our beautiful corner of New Zealand with you soon.

Sara, Dave, Mina and the team.

About our Base

Our office is centrally located on the Picton waterfront and we are situated in the same building as the Cougar Line, our preferred water transport provider. Our base is purpose built, which means that from the minute that you walk in the door whether it be for the beginning or the end of your adventure, the entire process is relaxed and efficient.  We have a comfortable reception and meeting room area which allows you to sit comfortably and enjoy the necessary safety briefing before then moving to our operations area where you can pack your sea kayak.  Most of our sea kayak trips are launched from the Picton foreshore, which is a short 2 minute walk with your packed sea kayak across the forecourt.  You can test out your bike or if you are hiking, then it is just a few steps from our door to board the boat for your journey out onto Queen Charlotte Sound.

Before heading out you are welcome to enjoy a delicious coffee or hot drink from our espresso bar, and during the summer months, some basic counter food.

There is plenty of car parking in the public car park just across the lawn from our office.  It is a pay-and-display parking area so you just need to put $5 per day for the duration of your trip, into the parking meter and display the ticket on the dashboard of your vehicle. During peak season (which is 26 December to 2 January) parking can be difficult, therefore please contact us for options during this time.

We have plenty of room to store any excess luggage while you are out adventuring, and when you return you are welcome to use our hot shower and toilet facilities to freshen up, before carrying on with the rest of your journey.

We are more than happy to collect our clients from the Picton bus and ferry terminal or train station, and transfer you to your accommodation during office hours. We are generally only a ten-minute walk from any Picton accommodation house, and we are also happy to collect you from your lodgings if required.