Situated on the north eastern corner of the South Island, Marlborough is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the finer things in life. Blessed with a year-round sunny climate, it’s New Zealand's leading wine region, internationally renowned for its Sauvignon Blanc.
Whether swimming with dolphins or boat cruising in the Marlborough Sounds, taking walks along the rugged coastline, or simply relaxing at Marlborough's wineries, there’s something for everyone.
Facinating museums, galleries, crafts, and unique food specialties are all waiting to be explored. The picturesque town of Picton is the transit point for the South Island ferries travelling to and from Wellington. The towns of Blenheim and Renwick provide good bases to explore the wineries. The well-known whale watching hotspot of Kaikoura is situated on the east coast,160 km south of Picton.
Touring the Vineyards
Wine trail maps make it easy to find your way around the 70 plus wineries in the region. Visitors wanting to exercise their taste buds are welcomed in most wineries. Many of them include a restaurant or café, further enhancing the experience. The region is best known for its Sauvignon Blanc, but Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir grapes are gaining popularity and acclaim.
Visitors can explore the wineries on self-guide tours via bicycle or car, or they can participate in guided tours. Blenheim is the main town of the region and a good base to tour the region’s vineyards. In and around Blenheim, visitors will find numerous restaurants, bars, cafés, artisan food outlets, shops and golf courses. More than 20 wineries are within easy driving distance. Renwick, just minutes from Blenheim, is another good starting point to explore the wine region.
The Marlborough Sounds
A sound is a valley drowned by the sea, where forest and water merge to create a dramatic coastal landscape. In Marlborough, there are actually three sounds: Queen Charlotte, Pelorus and Kenepuru. A forest that seems to rise straight from the water’s edge borders the Marlborough Sounds, which is a vast network of secluded waterways, beaches, and deep channels, with bush-clad hills surrounding it all. More than 1500 kilometres of beaches and waterways make the area a perfect spot for kayaking, sailing, diving, cruising, and fishing.
Queen Charlotte Track
The Queen Charlotte Track is a winding 71-kilometre walking track through forests, ridges and peaceful coves. Local guides can provide walkers with information about the habitat, as well as sharing some of the Maori legends of the area. Alternatively, you can embark on the Queen Charlotte Drive. Starting at Picton and ending at Havelock, this charming drive meanders around the coastline, past quiet inlets and bays, along farmland and through the valleys that were once the upper limit of the Sounds.
The Awatere Valley
Stretching from Weld Pass, about 10 km south of Blenheim, south towards to Kekerengu on the coast, the Awatere Valley region offers plenty for visitors to experience. To the east is a striking and imposing coastline. To the west, rising up over the land is the magnificent Mount Tapuae-o-Uenuku, Kaikoura Range’s highest peak. The region offers a range of attractions, including several exceptional gardens in the charming towns of Seddon and Ward, where visitors may want to explore the many craft and gift shops.
Blenheim Airport is reached regularly by Air New Zealand flights from Auckland
. Smaller regional airlines, travelling to and from Paraparaumu and Wellington, service Picton Airport.
The inter-island ferries between Picton and Wellington operate 24 hours a day, making it easy to get to Marlborough from the North Island. The TranzCoastal rail journey, which operates daily to Christchurch, has Picton as its end point. The Marlborough region can be reached by road from anywhere in the South Island.