Places and Values

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Places and Values

A view down the Marlborough Sounds (L).  People sitting on a bench enjoying the bay view (R).

The Marlborough Sounds are a unique combination of land, sea and human history. The Sounds were originally river valleys but under the pressure of tectonic forces were submerged and filled in by the sea to create steep hillsides, a huge length of coastline and a rich variety of habitats.

The Sounds run from Cape Soucis in the west to Robin Hood Bay in the east.

Within this area the seafloor takes many forms, including habitats made by living organisms, deep mud, coarse sand, shell and bedrock with reefs and rocky outcrops.

This supports a huge range of marine plants and animals, from rare bryozoan corals, king shag and dusky dolphin to common mussels and blue cod.

The Sounds have supported people for at least 800 years, with Maori continuing to value their ancestral links to the area and the rich mahinga kai.

The first Europeans were whalers, loggers and farmers and the commercial use of the Sounds continues today with aquaculture, fishing and tourism. But to most people the Sounds are the place for a memorable holiday or fishing trip and the chance to swim, kayak and enjoy the protected coastal waters.

There are several websites that will provide you with more information on the tourism aspect of the Sounds (Destination Marlborough) and the history of the Sounds (the Prow website).

Go to the Destination Marlborough website

Go to the Prow website

Marlborough has two distinct coastal areas – the Marlborough East Coast and the Marlborough Sounds. Find out more about these special places.

  • Marlborough East Coast

    Marlborough East Coast’s gravel beaches, exposed shores and large ocean swells are a stark contrast to the enclosed Marlborough Sounds.

  • Marlborough Sounds

    The Marlborough Sounds are a unique combination of land, sea and human history.

  • Natural Character

    The Council and Department of Conservation have produced a report that defines and maps the natural character of coastal Marlborough.