The Marlborough Sounds are undeniably picturesque, a stimulating filigree of bays, inlets, islands and peninsulas rising abruptly from the water to rugged, lush green wilderness and open farmland. Large parts are only accessible by sea, which also provides the ideal vantage point for witnessing its splendour. The area is part working farms, including salmon or mussel farms, and part given over to some fifty-odd reserve areas – a mixture of islands, sections of coast and land-bound tracts. The Sounds’ nexus, Picton, is the jumping-off point for Queen Charlotte Sound where cruises and water taxis provide access to the undemanding, varied and scenic Queen Charlotte Track. Heading west, Queen Charlotte Drive winds precipitously to the small community of Havelock, New Zealand’s green-lipped mussel capital, before exploring the spectacular vistas of Pelorus Sound and perhaps taking the backroads or a boat to view the rich swirling waters of French Pass.