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Top 10 things to do in Marlborough

  • 4 minutes

Molesworth Station, South Island

Marlborough, New Zealand is a brilliant holiday destination. The top of the South Island is sunshine, fabulous coastal spots for a beach towel and abundant produce particularly grapes producing world class wine. Outstanding natural scenery is a drawcard with Queen Charlotte Sound the star attraction. Rest, revive and recharge in lodges nestled among pristine native bush.

Omaka Vintage planes, Omaka Aviation Centre, Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk aircraft Royal New Zealand air force, Marlborough, New Zealand
Omaka Vintage planes
  1. Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre & classic fighter show

Discover the magic created by Peter Jackson, Hollywood director, New Zealand local whose passion for vintage airplanes has evolved into an amazing exhibition space. Plan your trip with the Marlborough Yealand Classic Fighter Show in mind. Enjoy an action packed family friendly event where it mostly happens sky high… Read more about Top Attractions for families in Marlborough.

  1. Marlborough wine trail

A classic wine trail experience more than matching any European equivalent. The rural views, the quiet backwaters where vineyards flourish and the sense of getting away from it all makes the Marlborough wine trail brilliant. Who needs a medieval castle to gawp at when you have snow capped mountains framing the fertile plains of Marlborough. Get on the road, the shared cycle trail and find a vineyard (or two). Sip a glass of award-winning Sauvignon Blanc chilled wine as you chat to planters and growers of the region. Flat easy trails led to family owned boutique wineries where passionate locals tell their stories. Take a wine tour by bike or hire your own and do a self-guided tour around the 120 wineries and 30 cellar doors in the region. Download the wine trail from the travel pack section and check online Wine Marlborough for the official trail info.

Row of beautiful grape yard before sunset with mountain in Blenheim, New Zealand
Row of beautiful grape yard before sunset with mountain in Blenheim, New Zealand
Picton, Queen Charlotte Sounds, Marlborough, New Zealand
Picton, Queen Charlotte Sounds
  1. Queen Charlotte Sounds & track

An underrated brilliant multiple-day walking track along the ridges, the beaches, and valleys of the Marlborough Sounds. Discover striking scenery from rolling farmland framed by coastal views, quiet beaches where access is either by boat or walking in, and panoramic views of the Marlborough Sounds. The best bit is absolutely brilliant for nature lovers who do not want to tramp long distances. Due to shared ownership between private property owners and the state there are a number of comfortable lodges dotted along the walk. Kayak, boat or simply relax in one of the lodges watching the world go by.

  1. Havelock mussel and seafood festival

Foodie buffs delight, ocean to plate experience where you mingle with the locals. Live music, entertainment, and pop-up stalls offering deli treats, snacks, creative goodies add to the carnival atmosphere. Havelock is an unpreposing small town readily identifiable with a slightly faded truly enormous mussel as the town’s symbol. Yet the area has plenty to offer discerning visitors with the western end of the Marlborough Sounds worth a further exploration … read more about what to see and do … What’s so great about Havelock?

Kaipupu Point Mainland Island sanctuary, NZ
Kaipupu Point Mainland Island sanctuary, NZ
  1. Visit a conservation sanctuary for wildlife

Encounters with dolphins and fur seals. Cruise the stunning scenery of the Marlborough Sounds to sanctuaries where endangered blue penguins nest. Visit Kaipupu Wildlife Sanctuary keeping pesky predators out with a sturdy predator proof fence protecting New Zealand endangered birds and wildlife with public access via a ten-minute boat ride from Picton.

  1. Set sail in the Marlborough sounds

Within a labyrinth of waterways, there are many secluded bays and inlets to explore from the comfort of a luxury 32ft Beneteau yacht. Whether you’ve been sailing for years, or are a first-timer, indulge in a chance to sail the Marlborough Sounds. Both skippered and self-drive charters are available. Sounds By Sail – is managed by locals providing a uniquely personal experience. This is a brilliant way to view the Sounds. Join a cruise of the Marlborough Sounds with lunch and local wines complimenting the scenery. Chat to the tour operator about the option of swimming with the dolphins remembering that marine life sets the rules of behaviour.

Marlborough Sounds South Island New Zealand
Marlborough Sounds, South Island, New Zealand
Cruising in The Marlborough Sounds on a mail boat catermeran, Picton, New Zealand
Cruising in The Marlborough Sounds on a mail boat catermeran, Picton, New Zealand
  1. Mail boat cruise – Marlborough Sounds

Delve into the daily lives of locals. From Picton or Havelock, wharf catch the mail boat and enjoy visiting places only accessible by boat. Be part of the day dropping off supplies and collecting the mail. Listen to commentary about the lives of people living on the water’s edge as you look out for dolphins and other marine life. There are limited capacity numbers on the mail boat creating a personal experience for lucky ticket holders. This very popular excursion is often fully booked out weeks in advance. Plan accordingly.

  1. Pelorus River Scenic Reserve

Discover a reserve of towering podocarp forest. The Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve offers visitors the opportunity to relax and enjoy forest and river scenery, in one of the last stands of river flat forest in Marlborough. Swim in the deep cool green water of the Pelorus River and walk the Nydia track. A truly beautiful part of Marlborough with an accessible river gorge surrounded by ancient forest. “Pelorus Bridge is a tiny locality in Marlborough, New Zealand where the Rai River meets Pelorus River.

Rai river swing bridge over the Rai river below, at Pelorus, Marlborough, New Zealand.
Pelorus Bridge
Misty morning at Sedgemere Lakes, Molesworth Station, South Island, New Zealand
Molesworth Station
  1. Molesworth station

Remote high country tussock landscape is a complete contrast to the vineyards and Marlborough Sounds. The sweep of mountainous ranges is where the intrepid pastorals farmed the merino sheep renowned for their finely spun wool. The Awatere Valley is starkly beautiful and the setting for the Molesworth Station.


For further information about Marlborough’s charms check out Marlborough guide things to do.

  1. Marlborough gardens & parks

Amble through outstanding rural farm gardens, town parks and gardens. Places to go range from high country gardens to urban gems. Marlborough’s public parks and reserves offer visitors a chance to relax from the stunning Pollard Park in Blenheim to Wither Hills Farm Park on the outskirts of town. Delve into Marlborough’s hidden gems such as a park where visitors are invited to harvest the fruit from a heritage orchard.

Rose garden in Pollard Park in Blenheim, New Zealand
Rose garden in Pollard Park in Blenheim, New Zealand


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