Often overlooked by visitors rushing off the Picton ferry on their way to Nelson. Marlborough, with its vineyards, vibrant artisan community, wide open spaces and iconic Queen Charlotte Sounds is a world class destination tucked into the hills and rivers of the South Island. Marlborough is worth the detour.
What to see and do in Marlborough:
- Explore Polynesian and early Maori history / culture in the region
- Historic ship Edwin Fox exploration
- Wine trails, largest wine growing region in New Zealand
- Art and craft markets, reflecting the vineyards, fruit and produce of the area.
- Explore the walking network linking waterways, peninsulas and islands of the Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru and Pelorus Sounds.
- Meet the native falcon, Karearea, New Zealand’s pinup girl on the $20 dollar note
Best time to visit:
Between November to April (Spring to Autumn) the weather is temperate. Marlborough is a great winter destination, wear layers and enjoy the great outdoors without the crowds.
Marlborough is at the northeastern tip of the South Island. Picton is the South Island terminus for the interisland ferry. There is a domestic airport in Blenheim with rental car facilities based at the airport.
You will need a vehicle.
Must do highlights:
- Omaka Aviation Centre interactive centre appealing to all age groups
- Brancott Estate Kareara or native falcon
- Queen Charlotte Sound mail boat cruise
- Walk or cycle Marlborough’s tracks through vineyards & coastal sounds
- Pelorus River kayaking adventure for all age groups
CULTURE & HERITAGE
The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centrelearn more
Edwin Fox Museumlearn more
Marlborough Museumlearn more
Wairau Barlearn more
Cob Cottage In Marlboroughlearn more
Picton Heritage & Whaling Museumlearn more
A good place to start is the Marlborough Art Society rooms where information about opening hours and galleries is available. Do not forget to check with the Marlborough Visitor Centre as well for brochures and up and coming artist installations and exhibits.
VINEYARDS, FOOD & FEAST
Explore over 30 cellar doors at your own pace, self-drive, cycle or join a guided wine tour. Or if you prefer a cold beer, then don’t worry Marlborough has you covered with the local Renaissance and Moa craft breweries producing quality brews. A number of wineries have attached cafes which is a perfect antidote to a busy week. Marlborough guide to wineries. Check online for up to date information as circumstances have forced some venues to close.
SHOPPING & MARKETS
Marlborough Sunday Farmers Market. The choice of deli products reflects Malborough’s role as one of New Zealand’s fruit bowls. Make sure you have enough room in your suitcase as you are sure to acquaire a special treat for the road. For veteran market attendees Marlborough’s Sunday Farmers Market A&P showgrounds is a must do activity. For vintage and second hand clothing Blenheim is worth a detour to check out the latest finds.
Estuaries, lagoons, sweeping views of coast and harbour, vineyard trails complete with restaurants and cafes, heritage trails through towns and countryside Marlborough covers about everything. Walk Marlborough and discover regional New Zealand.
Family-friendly walks and trams in Marlborough: Walking and tramping. Department of Conservation has helpfully listed family friendly walks for all ages groups including Lake Chalice, Wairau Lagoon, Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve and White’s Bay Tracks complete with length of the walk, duration and grade of the walk.
SCENERY & LANDSCAPES
Day trip from Blenheim or you’re passing through to Nelson. The Pelorus River reserve is not strictly Blenheim & Picton however it is a favourite destination for many New Zealanders who stopped for an ice cream or to use the toilet and then looked over the Pelorus River Bridge and went for a walk. Kayak or walk Pelorus River Reserve. Spend a day exploring the river. There is a camp site as well as a general store. Check our guided tours section for more information.
Vineyard Tourslearn more
The Mail Boat Cruiselearn more
Pelorus River raftinglearn more
Dolphin Watching and Wildlife Tour to Motuara Island Santuarylearn more
D’Urville Island in the Marlborough Sounds is a place to get away from it all. Hike, bike, fish and dive. The island is home to original forest making for a cool aerial cover on a hot summer day. Sweeping views are a reward for those who climb to the peaks. There is accommodation on the island.D’Urville Island Holiday Rentals & Homes – Marlborough, New Zealand. D’Urville is possum-free, so the native forest is home to tui, bellbirds, native robins, weka and kaka. You will enjoy a dawn chorus during your stay on D’Urville Island.
Why the Kayak Marlborough Sounds? – Sea Kayak Adventures, Anakiwa, Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand. For families who wish to spend either a half day or full day independently exploring the sounds, sea kayaks are an adventure. Guided tour options are also available.
- Marlborough’s Official Guide | Marlborough, NZ
- About The Prow. A collaborative venture to bring you stories from the Top of the South. For dedicated history buffs The Prow The Prow is a collaborative venture between the Nelson Public, Tasman and Marlborough District Libraries, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, and The Nelson Provincial Museum.
- Coastal Walks Marlborough PDF
- Visitor Information Nelson _ Marlborough Department of Conservation
- Marlborough winter wine trail 2020 PD
- White Bluffs, Wairau lagoons and boulder bank – Marlborough places – Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand
- BirdLife Data Zone Fact sheet on Wairua Lagoon bird life by BirdLife Data ZoneNZ046.
Heritage and history in the wetlands of Marlborough
The area is the first known archaeological site of early human settlement in New Zealand. It is dated approximately 800 years ago. It is called Moa Hunter society and was Polynesian. The shallow tidal channels, sand spits and boulder bars make for a great place for fish traps and hunting the Moa. The remains of these fish traps are visible. While it looks just like an uneven indentation in the ground 800 years ago people devised a method to trap fish using flax nets. The islands are shore birds and water loving birds nesting grounds, black swan and the majestic royal spoonbill.
As you walk on the boardwalk you are in the footsteps of human endeanvor. It’s a special place where we can visualise the impact of humans on an environment that for thousands of years had no people at all.
The area around the northern area of the spit is evidence of Mao Hunter burial sites. This area is treated with respect as is all archeological evidence. To the south of the Wairua lagoon are White Cliffs reaching heights of 270 metres.
The journey is worth it.