Stunning Marlborough Sound

We absolutely love spending time here in Marlborough Sound. The truly magnificent scenery combined with the absolute peace and serenity here make this a cruiser’s dream. They say the Bay of Islands is in the top seven cruising destinations in the world and it’s nice, no doubt, but to us, Marlborough Sound if far, far more beautiful and definitely more peaceful. 

What surprises us most is that in all of the reading we done about the world’s top international cruising destinations we never read about this unspoiled gem. Someone needs to tell Cruising World, Sail Magazine and the rest that they are truly missing the boat! Pun intended.

Marlborough Sound Panorama

After a few days at the World’s End we decide it’s time to continue exploring these splendiferous sounds. Lutz and Dan get together the morning of our departure and decide that our next stop will be a little place called Stafford Bay. Here there are moorings for us to use. We’ve joined the Mana Cruising Club which allows us to use moorings free of charge all over the sounds. This is huge as the bays here can be quite deep right up to the shoreline which makes anchoring very difficult.

The one caveat to using their moorings is that if you are on one and another boat comes up you must allow them to raft up to you. Not a big deal if you know the other Captain and trust them but it could be a bit off-putting if you don’t. 

Rafting Up

We arrived at the bay to find two mooring buoys. One is in use by a small fishing type boat and the other is free. Lutz & Gabi grab the ball and get tied up. Now it’s time for us to come up along side and raft to them. Seems like a no brainer until you realize that our sailboats are fully set up for long range cruising. 

This means we have lots of things tied to our rails such as grills, outboard motors for our dinghies etc… We also have masts and spreaders that we must take into account. If we don’t offset the masts and a swell comes our masts and/or spreaders could come crashing together. NOT A GOOD THING!

Rafting at Stafford Bay

Fortunately we have two excellent captains in Lutz & Dan and they have even better crew with Gabi and I. Both crews have lowered fenders to keep us from banging together. Dan slowly pulls up along side of them. I begin tossing lines…first to Gabi, then to Lutz. Dan and Lutz are closely monitoring the spreaders to be sure we are offset enough. Then there’s the issue of their grill and our outboard. They decide we need to back up another five feet or so to keep them from hitting each other. 

In a matter of 15 minutes we are safely rafted together and are sitting in SuAn’s cockpit enjoying an anchor down beer with our dear friends. 

This anchorage is small and very beautiful. The water under us just 30-40 meters from the shore is still more than 30 meters deep. We would not be stopping here if it weren’t for the moorings.

We use this anchorage as a roadstead. Neither of us even launch our dinghy as we only plan to spend one night here and then will move on to Nydia Bay where we will do some more hiking.

Rafting To SuAn
Dazzler & SuAn Rafted Nicely Together At Stafford Bay

It’s actually quite nice being tied up to SuAn. Dan and Lutz are back and forth throughout the day working on Lutz’s project du jour. I spend the day down below editing photos and reading a book. That afternoon we go over to SuAn for a couple of sundowners before making the short step back across to come our home to retire for the evening.

Today we awake to yet another picture perfect day in the sounds. The sun is high and the air is warm and clear. Lutz gets out his drone and takes a few photos and videos before we decide it’s time to move on.

Being that we tied to them and they are the ones tied to the mooring we cast our lines off and leave first. SuAn is quickly following behind us. Next stop….Nydia Bay.

Chart from World's End to Stafford Bay

Nydia Bay in Marlborough Sound

For us this bay is one of those shallow bays that we probably wouldn’t have chosen. Dan and I like to anchor with 6-8 meters under the keel. It’s more of a comfort thing really. We only draw 1.8 meters but if weather comes up or you start to drag anchor it’s always nice to have that extra buffer. Here, however, it’s a shallow bay of generally less than 5 meters throughout. Being the first to arrive we drop our anchor further out and in the deepest water we can find.

Lutz & Gabi arrive just a half hour or so after us and choose to move in a lot closer to shore. They draw a little less water too so that works for them. Also, they have a double keel so they can sit high and dry at low tide and still be okay. 

Within minutes of them dropping their anchor we see 25-30 young kids invade their little piece of heaven in kayaks, on jet skis and other water toys. We both get a huge chuckle out of this because Gabi had made a comment about us running our generator and how it breaks up the peace in the anchorage. She was merely joking with us but now Dan gets on the radio and asks her how she feels about the generator now that there are screaming young boys and jet skis circling their boat. We all get a big laugh.

Camp Snoopy at SuAn

Once settled they come to pick us up so we can head to shore for a little hike. We take SuAn’s dinghy to shore and tie up near what Dan is now affectionately calling the Snoopy Boy’s Camp. Dozens of teenage boys are jumping from the dock, running around and playing in the water. They are having the time of their lives laughing and entertaining themselves with contest like “who can make the biggest splash?”. 

They are also quite respectful of the four aging sailors who have arrived and invaded their space. Many give us kind greetings and they even move clear of us as we come up the stairs where Lutz has dropped us ladies before going to tie up. I ask one boy about the camp and he says they are just there for four days. Sure seems like a long way to come for such a short stay but there’s no doubt these young men are glad to be here.

Hiking Nydia Trail

All tied up we head out on the Nydia Lodge Trail. Ironically enough this is the same trail we walked at World’s End, just another section of it. This part of the trail never gets more than 20 meters above the water’s edge and skirts around the bay to the south. It’s a pretty gentle trail with just a few ups and downs making it perfect for me. The views along the way are quite lovely and we’re all enjoying a little exercise after having never left our boats all day yesterday.

About three quarters of the way down the track we see a sign pointing toward the On The Track Lodge. Hmmm…maybe there’s a restaurant or pub there. We all know it’s highly unlikely out here in the middle of nowhere but hey, you never know right? So we keep on walking.

Lutz Carries Gabi Across The Stream

Before long we come to a stream about 20 meters wide. It’s fairly shallow and we quickly realize we will need to cross it to find this lodge. Lutz, who has on a pair of Crocs, scoops up Gabi and carries her across so she doesn’t have to remove her hiking shoes. I, on the other hand, do not get such a service. Dan tells me I’m on my own so we remove our shoes and walk through the chilly water to the other side. I actually enjoy the cold water on my feet so it’s all good.

No long after crossing the creek we come upon a Jack Russell who is barking up a storm at us. Of course she turns out to be more bark than bite when I reach my hand down for her to sniff it and she rolls over for a belly rub. After sucking some love out of me she darts over to Dan then back to Lutz & Gabi. She’s definitely working it and doing a fine job might I add.

To our left we see a few tiny homes or rather hut type buildings. It appears we’ve reached the lodge. We keep walking around until we find the main building and, of course, we were right….no pub or restaurant here. 

A man comes out to greet us. He’s not the owner, rather he’s watching the property for the owners who live in Blenheim which is across the mountain. He tells us they have moved there because their kids are growing older and putting them on a jet ski to take them 30 minutes into Havelock where they get on a bus for the hour ride to school has become a bit too much for the family. You think??? One thing about the Kiwis…they are some tough ol’ mates. 

We ask this kind man if he’d mind if we took a break and sat at the incredibly sturdy, wooden picnic table. He very kindly agrees and heads back to his work. Not sure what he was doing but we did hear some heavy machinery being used behind the main lodge.

Gabi has brought crackers, cheese, chorizo and an apple for us to have a snack and we each brought a beer. We enjoy our little break at this absolutely adorable lodge. Flower, the Jack Russell, has decided she’d rather stay with us than go to work. I think she’s hoping someone will accidentally or on purpose drop a piece of cheese or chorizo. Unfortunately for her we don’t feed other people’s pets. She doesn’t seem to mind though as she sits sunning herself on the soft green lawn.

Dan & Jilly
The dock at Camp Snoopy! LOL

After a half hour or so we decide it’s time to start making our way back to the anchorage. As it does here in the sounds, the wind picks up quite a bit. The sun is behind the clouds and walking is the only thing keeping us warm. The weather here is lovely when the sun is shining but the minute it goes away it can cool down quite quickly.

Safely back in the anchorage and on board Dazzler Dan and I shower and begin preparing dinner for the four of us. In traveling with our friends we usually eat together every other night alternating who is hosting the dinner. It makes it easy on us all and we don’t have to feel like we are together 24/7 that way. Tonight’s meal is nothing fancy….just some spicy sausage with a side of Mexican beans and rice, but it’s hearty and hot. 

We enjoy a lovely evening chatting about the day and preparing for tomorrow’s journey into Havelock Marina. We plan to stop at this little town for just three days so we can get some provisions. You know, stock up on the essentials like meat, beer and vodka. Oh yeah, we will pick up a few vegetables too I guess. 

Sunset at Nydia Bay
The sunset on Nydia Bay was simply spectacular!

The journey tomorrow is short but it will be a test of my mental strength as the channel into the marina is very narrow and the channel itself is pretty shallow. We must time it just perfectly to get in safely. I’m quite certain Dan can handle it but I’ll be on pins and needles the entire time.

Until next time,


Author: Dan & Jilly

2 thoughts on “Stunning Marlborough Sound

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.