The glorious beaches and glistening waters of the Marlborough Sounds are made for boating and diving.

Combine this with a warm, sunny climate and you have one of the best recreation and holiday areas in the country.

Picton is the gateway to the South Island and to the labyrinth of sinuous waterways, bush clad hills and sheltered bays that make up the Marlborough Sounds.

Dive shops in Blenheim and Picton can organise trips on purpose-built dive boats throughout the area, including the shipwrecked luxury passenger liner, Mikhail Lermontov and a host of pinnacles and drop-offs in Cook Strait.

D’Urville Island

This island and nearby Stephens, Rangitoto and Trio islands are accessed from launching ramps at French Pass and Okiwi Bay. There is good diving on shallow reefs, which support ample marine life for sport fishing and crayfish (lobster) gathering.

Pelorus Sound

Good diving can be had at the entrance of the sound and around the Chetwode and Forsyth islands. Duffer’s Reef is a wildlife sanctuary replete with kelp beds that conceal butterfish, blue moki, tarakihi and blue cod.

Port Gore

Dive charter boats leave from Picton for the last resting place of the Mikhail Lermontov, one of the world’s largest, most accessible and most recent shipwrecks. Guiding is essential as the 1986 wreck is in 30m of water and divers can become disoriented inside the hull, which lies on its starboard side.

Port Underwood

This is an ideal diving locality with many sheltered bays, exciting underwater scenery and plentiful sea life on little-known reefs.

Golden Bay

Over the hill from Marlborough are two unique dive sites, which are worth a visit. Waikoropupu Springs are bubbling freshwater springs which provide an exhilarating dive in a Garden of Eden of almost unlimited visibility. Tonga Island Marine Reserve, off the Abel Tasman coast, has superb reef diving to 15m where crevices conceal crayfish and conger eels. Dolphins, seals and penguins play in the open water.