Marlborough East Coast’s gravel beaches, exposed shores and large ocean swells are a stark contrast to the enclosed Marlborough Sounds.
This coastal area extends from Robin Hood Bay in the north down to Willawa Point near Kekerengu in the south. As well as gravel beaches, there are rocky and mudstone reefs and unique limestone outcrops at Chancet Rocks and the Needles.
Limestone platforms are home to many species including kelp, algae, limpets, periwinkles and paua. Those diving and fishing offshore find crayfish, surf clams, scallops, butterfish, moki and cod.
But the taonga is the Wairau Lagoon, a shallow waterway of channels and islands that covers about 2400 ha near Blenheim. Te Pokohiwi (the Boulder Bank) that forms the eastern side of the Lagoon is a significant archaeological site as the first place Maori landed in New Zealand more than 800 years ago.
The lagoon area is also ecologically and internationally important as a nursery for fish and feeding ground for migrating birds including royal spoonbill, banded dotterel, godwit and pied stilt.
There are several websites that will provide you with more information on the tourism aspect of the Sounds (Destination Marlborough), the history of the Sounds (the Prow website) and anthropology details (University of Otago Anthropology Department website.