With my daughter visiting us in New Zealand recently, I wanted to go deep into nature with her for a few days. It was an opportunity to create the perfect mother-daughter getaway!
Based in Wellington and a short ferry ride away, we had the perfect launchpad for a three day, two night trip. Whether you’re local or passing through town, plan a travel day on either side to build this little getaway right into any existing New Zealand trip.
Day 1: Getting Started
We took the 9am morning ferry from Wellington to Picton, the first port of call to the South Island.
For the boat ride, the only thing we wish we’d brought were playing cards.
We reached Picton at lunchtime and picked up our car rental, conveniently located just outside the ferry terminal. We stopped for groceries nearby and had lunch at Café Cortado.
The drive took us past dozens of shoreline bays, bathing us in warm evening twilight. The timing was perfect.
Once in Picton, should you drive (2 hours) or take the water taxi (90 minutes) to your accommodation?
For my daughter’s sake, we chose not to do the 90-minute water taxi and were glad. However, the last 15 minutes of the drive is unpaved road. Gorgeous and beautiful as it was, upon our arrival to Punga Cove, we understood why we had been advised to take the 90-minute water taxi trip from Picton. The arrival was quite rustic and pretty ‘back road’, so not your typical guest access path to a resort. Either way works, it just depends on how you want to do it.
In our enthusiasm, we stopped for silly photos and selfies in the twilight of the setting sun. These are the perfect mother-daughter getaway souvenirs!
Our destination was a little place called the Punga Cove Resort, ensconced in the remote and gorgeous Endeavour Inlet on the Marlborough Sounds. We had to do a little off-road driving to get down to the parking lot, but recommend you give it a go if you’re up for a little adventure.
Our evening fun was delicious brick oven pizza, the requisite mother-daughter facial masks and a previously downloaded (no wifi!) rom-com!
In the low season solitude of nature and a vibrant Milky Way night sky, we enjoyed a solid, pollution-free night’s sleep.
Day 2: Explore
It was a risk to have allowed just one full night’s stay in such a remote area of the Sounds, but it paid off. The weather held up and we awoke to a gorgeous sunrise and crisp, clear blue skies. We knew we were in for a treat!
We enjoyed the perfect mother-daughter getaway morning with our breakfast stash and stunning bay views from our balcony breakfast table.
The 3-hour trail walk from Punga Cove to Furneaux Lodge, (another resort across the Inlet), is part of the Queen Charlotte Track. This is part of a network of hiking trails throughout the Marlborough Sounds. It makes up one-fifth of New Zealand’s coastline, and the list of things to do is endless.
Setting off at 10:30am, our waterline trail was well-groomed and lush. It took us past local farms and a constant supply of alternative trail routes. Only our bay-view selfies slowed us down, and we arrived at Furneaux Lodge an hour later than planned!
Distinct from the native and wild setting of Punga Cove we found Furneaux Lodge to be tidy and well-manicured, looking more like a yacht club than a remote woodland resort. The restaurant gave off an English pub vibe with great jazzy music as we enjoyed a delicious, well-earned lunch!
Exhausted but fueled, we hopped in the water taxi, which was a fast and luxurious return to our place. With another delicious brick oven pizza for dinner in the house restaurant, we closed out the day and our last night with a guilty pleasure episode of Gilmore Girls. Also a must for any perfect mother-daughter getaway!
Day 3: The Return
The next morning we woke up to a chilly, low hanging fog in the cove. After checking out of our room, we began the drive back toward Picton to catch the ferry return to Wellington.
Once back in Picton, with a few hour wait ahead, we found an internet connection in the local public library. It was a perfect place to plant ourselves before returning the car rental and boarding the ferry.
With another 3-hour ferry ride back to Wellington, my girl and I were grateful for time away and our precious mother-daughter moments. Our brilliant Kiwi getaway was a rousing success!
It was just as it needed to be and we would do this place again in a Marlborough Sounds minute!
Trip taken June 2019.
Other New Zealand itineraries:
If you’re headed to New Zealand’s Central Plateau, Globalwot author, Di Crawford-Errington offers us this amazing trip for river adventures and biking trails. Or you can try exciting cave hikes and a Hobbiton Movie Set tour during this true North Island Middle Earth itinerary. There’s also a roadtrip from Auckland to Queenstown. Or perhaps a weekend in the Bay of Islands? Whatever your New Zealand plans, we have plenty of ideas to get your trip started!