Kenepuru Sound is the shallowest and smallest of the Marlborough Sounds in the South Island of New Zealand. In Māori, one of the meanings of ‘kenepuru’ is silt and evidence of this can be seen two-thirds of the way out of shore. Renowned for its aqua or turquoise water colour (due to its shallower waters), the Kenepuru Sound is surrounded by sandy beaches, resorts and holiday houses.
The 25-kilometre (16 miles) long drowned valley is an arm of Pelorus Sound and runs from the northeast to southwest. Pelorus Sound comes out at Cook Strait, and Kenepuru Sound joins it about a quarter of the way from its southern end. Due to the large number of mussel farms in the area, it has been touted the green shell mussel capital of the world.
Kenepuru Sound runs parallel to Queen Charlotte Sound, from which it is separated by a narrow spine of land. At its narrowest sit Te Mahia Bay and Portage Bay, which is named for the simplest method of passing between the two sounds.
The magnificent Queen Charlotte track runs along the tops of the ridge between Kenepuru Sound and Queen Charlotte Sound.
Early road development linking Picton with Kenepuru contributed to Kenepuru Sound becoming a popular holiday destination. Resorts and holiday houses (called baches) are dotted along the coast, with larger concentrations at Te Mahia Bay and Portage Bay. A sealed, but windy and narrow road leads along the southern shore of Kenepuru Sound all the way to Kenepuru Head. From there, unsealed roads continue further and along the less populated northern shore.