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Marlborough things to do, attractions, places to go

“Brilliant every day” Marlborough travel guide

Discover the Marlborough Sounds maze of waterways and things to do from cruising, swimming with dolphins, kayaking and snorkeling. Outdoors is where to go with lush native forest woven around bays and inlets. Walk along secluded beaches on the Queen Charlotte Track and delve into the history where Captain Cook once rested. Places to go include the gateway towns of Picton and Havelock. Find out what to do from vineyard tours sipping award winning Sauvignon Blanc to sampling ocean to plate seafood cuisine. Families don’t miss out either. Enjoy stunning aerial displays at Omaka Aviation Show’s annual festival or Pelorus river kayaking trips into the world of movie magic and Lord of the Rings. Find out what the regional hub Blenheim offers from the Wairau Lagoon with its evocative rusting wreck and the Wairau Bar where Maori history is documented. Marlborough is a year round destination, the best time to go is every day, it’s brilliant.

For an overview of Aotearoa New Zealand attractions, things to do and places to visit check out the definitive New Zealand travel guide.

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Check out Amazing 12 New Zealand Attractions and pop them on your bucket list.

Travel guides

What to do
Where to stay
Kiwi Towns
Where to stay in Marlborough

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French Pass & D’Urville Island, Marlborough Sounds road trip

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Port Underwood, an itinerary between Blenheim to Picton

Discover Heritage trail ghosts and summer hot spots, beaches and walks. The winding Port Underwood road offers phenomenal views of the Sounds and coastal New Zealand capturing a glimpse of how ...

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BEST TIME TO GO

The slogan brilliant every day is apt. The best times to be in and around Marlborough is every day.

WEATHER

Marlborough Weather Forecasts and Observations – MetService New Zealand

Summer (December to early March) consistent sunny weather with temperatures between 20c to 28c. The coldest month is July with an average temperature of 12c. May is the month recording the most rain.

LOCATION

Marlborough is a region of New Zealand, at the northeastern tip of the South Island.

TOP SIGHTS & THINGS TO DO IN MARLBOROUGH, NEW ZEALAND

Must-dos include summer outdoors exploring Queen Charlotte Track and Sounds or lingering in cellar doors on the Marlborough wine trail. Marlborough offers amazing attractions from vintage fighter planes to kayaking the Pelorus River through the fantasy world of the Lord of Rings movie set. Find Marlborough’s Wairau Lagoon home to endangered shorebirds and a place of mystical beauty. Delve into local galleries and museums discovering stories about East Polynesian voyages, 19th-century whalers, and the impact of pastoral leases on fragile high country landscapes. Enjoy Marlborough festivals where the harvest of the ocean is celebrated at mussel and seafood festivals in Havelock and the Picton maritime festival. Relax in the cool of winter with a glass of award-winning Sauvignon Blanc and enjoy brilliant Marlborough every day.

  • Mail Boat Cruise of the Marlborough Sounds and find out what it’s like to live on the water’s edge. A great thing to do for families and friends
  • Omaka Aviation Centre is immersive. Visitors enter the world of vintage aircraft. The story of flight is told with interactive visual encounters and exhibits. This is a must-do for kids of all ages and heritage trail buffs
  • Marlborough wine trail discovering the secrets of award winning sauvignon blanc wine. Find out what makes Marlborough wine world class on this must-go excursion
  • Join the Havelock Mussel and Seafood Festival with live entertainment. The greenlipped mussel is the star of the show.
Havelock Mussel Festival offerings, Marlborough, New Zealand
Havelock Mussel Festival offerings
Picton, Queen Charlotte Sounds, Marlborough, New Zealand
Picton, Queen Charlotte Sounds
  • Visit a mussel farm on a guided tour and learn about the ecology of the Marlborough Sounds. A fascinating insight into how the marine aquaculture industry manages sustainability questions.
  • Wairau Lagoon is magical with the earth, estuary and water creating a perfect place for royal spoonbills and other birds to congregate. Outdoors top destination combining an interest in nature with the extraordinary place Wairau Lagoon & Bar play in NZ history.
  • Queen Charlotte track is a must-do destination with lush forest, water views and kayaking the way to explore the Sounds waterways. There are short walks to multiple day treks following the Marlborough coastline.
  • Pelorus River Scenic Reserve is a pocket sized gem offering suspension bridge walks to beautiful waterfalls, one of New Zealand’s top river swimming holes and a chance to kayak through a movie set. A perfect place for couples, family and friends and a must-go place that is easily accessible. In fact it’s on the main highway between Blenheim and Nelson.
  • Discover remote high country where few have been on the pastoral lease Molesworth Station. Take in the panoramic views of mountains, tussock and the sweep of surrounding foothills. This is a summer only attraction and the place to go for visitors interested in what happens in the remote Marlborough high country.
Beautiful green and clear pelorus river, known from the movie hobit. South Island, New Zealand
Pelorus river
Dolphins Marlborough Sounds, Marlborough, New Zealand
Dolphins Marlborough Sounds
  • Set sail in the Marlborough Sounds and swim with the dolphins. Dolphins, orcas and whales together with a myriad of marine life are natural ambassadors for The Sounds. Meet and greet the locals in the water, while on the water. Brilliant attraction and a must-do for visitors.

 

Read more about TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN MARLBOROUGH.

Best places to visit

@TeWhareRaWines Marlborough and Blenheim

Nz`s best kept wine trail secrets are out. 4 of the best places to be the cork master

Blenheim @Bigstock Blenheim

Is a gourmet treat tantalizing the senses encouraging visitors to linger

Renwick Museum, Renwick, Marlborough Region, South Island, New Zealand Renwick

A quiet town where the traffic swirls around the corners of the local shops

@Smiths Farm Holiday Park Marlborough

Ten awesome places to camp

QUEEN CHARLOTTE TRACK ATTRACTIONS, THINGS TO DO, PLACES TO GO

Enjoy one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s classic walks and an official Great Ride (mountain bikes). This must-do walk is from historic Ship Cove to Anakiwa, Queen Charlotte Sound. The track’s charms include scenic vistas of dense emerald bush clad hills wrapped around sparkling crystal waterways, inlets and coves. The joy of comfortable accommodation during the walk is the bonus of a shared private and public land ownership of the track’s route. Weary feet can easily locate soft bedding and gourmet meals as part of the track experience.

Queen Charlotte Track, New Zealand @ingekaman
Queen Charlotte Track @ingekaman

SCENIC ATTRACTIONS

  • Drowned river valleys creating sharp drops into the Marlborough Sounds. The valleys dropping into the sea are covered with dense bush and forest. The scenery is largely unchanged by human hand. Visitors have the luxury of traversing a landscape where nature is in ascendancy
Anakiwa Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound, Marlborough, New Zealand @Cruise Guide
Anakiwa Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound @Cruise Guide
  • Uncrowded paths, in part due to the lack of golden sandy beaches. The Queen Charlotte Track is not the rock star of its neighbour Abel Tasman National Park. The sound in the bush is summer chorus of cicadas, bird song and your footsteps
  • Scenic surprises around every wiggly corner of the winding trail. One minute you are above the valley with the graphic outline of islands, the Marlborough Sounds and the sea and the next you are walking through a small cove. Possibly there are boats at anchor enjoying the quiet of the Queen Charlotte Track
  • The Marlborough Sounds are convoluted waterways. The original river geography created a wriggling snake outline of islands, bays and coves. Pelorus Sound is 42 km in length however it has over 374 km of shoreline. This is a feast for the eyes as you survey nature’s beautiful Marlborough Sounds jigsaw from the vantage points on the Queen Charlotte Track

MARLBOROUGH SOUNDS ACCESS POINTS

The access points for the Queen Charlotte Track are:

  • Havelock with its marina and entrance to the Queen Charlotte Drive (road trip through the Marlborough Sounds). Havelock is located at the base of Pelorus Sound
  • Picton, the interisland ferry (road/rail/passenger) docks here, state highway one South Island terminates in Picton the busy port is a hive of visitors intent on enjoying time in the South Island
  • Water taxis and private boats provide the option of curated pick up and drop off points within the Marlborough Sounds

TIP: You have heard about a drive around Queen Charlotte Sound, check out Queen Charlotte Sound day trip for those of you who are short on time or what to check out the place first.

TIP: Check out details about What to do in Havelock and Picton and getting around Marlborough.

Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand @Marlborough Marinas
Queen Charlotte Sound @Marlborough Marinas

WALKING DISTANCES ON THE QUEEN CHARLOTTE TRACK

The Queen Charlotte Track stretches 70 km from historic Meretoto/Ship Cove through to Anakiwa in the Grove Arm of Queen Charlotte Sound. For many visitors this is several steps too far or you are short on time. The track is a superb example of a curated walk that falls into six sections; within each section there are short easy walks to sample the best bits of the Marlborough Sounds.

Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand @noemie_diana
Queen Charlotte Sound @noemie_diana

QUEEN CHARLOTTE TRACK SHORT EASY WALKS

Never fear you will not miss the glorious scenery as there are several short walks giving everyone an opportunity to relish the outdoors. It’s brilliant and definitely not cheating.

  • Want to enjoy the Queen Charlotte Track and you are not comfortable with the distances?
  • Short on time or the multiple day trek on the Queen Charlotte track is a step (or two) too much?

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Sturdy footwear is recommended. Another brilliant track experience is the flexibility of the journey. Visitors can effortlessly combine water taxis, kayaking and day trips into a customised package. The Queen Charlotte Track is a walk where you definitely do not need to carry your bags.

  • Meretoto Ship Cove explores the historic reserve, picnic and walk 30 minutes (return) to a waterfall. A must-do for heritage buffs.
  • At the head of Endeavour Inlet the Antimony Tramping Track leads up to a saddle and passes through an area that was extensively mined for antimony in the late 1880s. This walk has steep sections and is 2 hours (return). This is a popular short side track on the Queen Charlotte Track.
  • Mistletoe Bay has several walks from the Mistletoe Bay Peninsula walk (30 minutes return)to stunning panoramic views. James Vogel Nature Track introduces visitors to the native forest behind the beach and campgrounds (45 minutes return). These are great family friendly, easy for kids to navigate Queen Charlotte Track walks.
Mistletoe Bay Eco Village, Marlborough, New Zealand @Phillip Webby
Mistletoe Bay Eco Village @Phillip Webby

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Frequently asked questions about Queen Charlotte Track?

I don’t know if I can walk that far every day?

What does the grade of the walk mean?

Check out the helpful guide Walking track categories by the Department of Conservation on required fitness levels for graded walks.

 

NEW ZEALAND DAY WALKS WHAT TO WEAR AND CARRY

What is suitable clothing on the Queen Charlotte Track?

What to wear is important as New Zealand is an island country with a deserved reputation for uncertain weather. New Zealand’s geography and exposure to the Pacific Ocean creates unpredictable weather conditions. Remember to check the local weather forecast BEFORE departing and wear appropriate clothing. Watch the Department of Conservation for helpful tips on what to wear and carry with you.

INTERESTING FACT

Queen Charlotte Track is located in the Marlborough Sounds at the top of the South Island, New Zealand. There are four distinctly different Sounds – Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru, Pelorus, and Mahau. Sounds are ancient rivers drowned by rising sea levels creating an intricate web of waterways with an extraordinary long coastline. According to Maori legend the Sounds are the prow of the sunken waka Aoraki and its accompanying craft.

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Check out Queen Charlotte Track Pack Transfers terms and conditions of service.

INTERESTING FACT

QUEEN CHARLOTTE DRIVE

Queen Charlotte Drive is the ‘secret’ way to enjoy the Marlborough Sounds from a vehicle. It is one of those short magical road trips where you want to turn around and repeat the journey …

Marlborough Sounds highlights, top attractions, must-does

Marlborough Sounds highlights, top attractions and must-dos are often overlooked in the rush of visitors to the well known Abel Tasman National Park and Nelson. Yet the Marlborough Sounds are a place to go packed with awesome attractions on land and on water. Marlborough, with its sunny climate is a mecca for outdoor activities and attractions. The extraordinarily long coastline has some of New Zealand’s best coastal scenery from sheltered bays to virgin forest plunging down steep slopes to small beaches. Whether it’s tramping, swimming, kayaking, mountain biking, wildlife watching or simply relaxing and enjoying being pampered, the Marlborough Sounds is brilliant.

learn more
@ekotoursdolphinwatch
Sheep at the Marlborough Sounds (Okuri Bay), South Island, New Zealand
@CougarLine

MARLBOROUGH WINE REGION

Marlborough’s most well known visitor attraction is the wine industry. Tasting the award winning Sauvignon Blanc wine is an essential part of the visitor experience in Marlborough. Marlborough is the colossus in New Zealand’s wine production with over three-quarters of total wine production happening in Marlborough. Approximately 70% of planted vineyards are in Marlborough. Brilliant sunny days, cool evenings and ideal soil conditions create world-class wines.

Combine the sheer charm of an international wine region nestled in the quiet South Island of New Zealand with the nearby beauty of the sheltered water of the Marlborough Sounds is brilliant. You have winning ingredients for a holiday of a lifetime.

Marlborough Vineyard, Marlborough, New Zealand
Marlborough Vineyard
Falcon Brancott Estate, New Zealand
Falcon Brancott Estate

BEST WAY TO EXPLORE MARLBOROUGH WINE TRAIL

There are over 30 cellar doors offering tastings and the best way to get around the Marlborough vineyards is on a guided tour. Your tour could be a private luxury experience or a small group tour in a comfortable minivan. Cycling the vineyards is an option for independent travellers with the option of a local expert accompanying you. You will sip local wines from grapes right next to the cellar door and learn about the sub-regions of Marlborough and their distinctive flavours.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Marlborough Wine Tours

  • Short on time in Marlborough consider combining a Marlborough Sounds cruise with a half-day wine tour
  • Want to get behind the scenes and become a winemaker for a day. It’s a lot of fun
  • Want to stay overnight in a vineyard, there are plenty of options from historic cottages to luxury pads where you are pampered

These questions and more are answered in the Marlborough wine trail guide, check for further details.

@BrancottEstate
@BrancottEstate
Vineyards near Blenheim, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand
Vineyards near Blenheim

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In Blenheim, Marlborough for a short time and want a taste of Marlborough liquid brilliance, check out The Wine Station to sample the best the region has to offer. Located at the newly renovated heritage building – the Blenheim Railway Station. Barista coffee and craft beers are also available. Grab a gourmet platter to accompany over 80 wines available for tastings.

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The Wine Station is a great place to start getting acquainted with Marlborough wines for independent wine enthusiasts.

Best things for families to do in Marlborough, NZ

Marlborough is one of New Zealand’s great family holiday destinations. There is not a shopping mall in sight however for families who enjoy browsing the farmers markets Marlborough will not disappoint. The outdoors and Marlborough is a marriage made in holiday heaven. Teenagers will enjoy SUP on the calm waters of the Sounds keeping their eyes peeled for seals and dolphins. The conservation efforts in the Marlborough Sounds will resonate. Then who can resist the charms of New Zealand’s falcons …

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Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
Wither Hills, working farm, open to public, Marlborough, New Zealand
Momorangi Bay, Marlborough, New Zealand @beansprout_twiglet_and_noodle

CYCLE, MOUNTAIN BIKE IN MARLBOROUGH

WHITEHAVEN GRAPE RIDE

Over the years the event has earned numerous accolades and has been awarded the supreme “Best Established Event” award by the NZ Event Industry. The addition of mountain bikes and e-bikes to the event over recent years along with distances to provide a worthwhile challenge makes the Whitehaven GrapeRide a special event.

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QUEEN CHARLOTTE TRACK GREAT RIDE (MOUNTAIN BIKING)

Combine the event with a ‘GREAT RIDE’ Queen Charlotte Track. Renowned for its stunning scenery and challenging terrain the Queen Charlotte Track is a mountain biking experience like no other, and the best part of all your pack is transferred for you, by one of the water transport operators, to your destination so all you have to do is ride.

While the Queen Charlotte Track is regarded as a classic New Zealand walk, the 73.5 km track is now also regarded as one of New Zealand’s best single track mountain bike rides and became the 21st Great Ride on the Nga Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trail in March 2013.

Queen Charlotte Track, Marlborough, New Zealand
Queen Charlotte Track

As described by

Track Section Distance Bike times
MERETOTO / SHIP COVE to CAMP BAY 28.5 kms 5 hrs
CAMP BAY to TOREA SADDLE 24.5 kms 4 hrs
TOREA SADDLE to ANAKIWA 20.5 kms 4 hrs

Mountain Bike Queen Charlotte Track

Nature, wildlife & conservation in Marlborough places to go

Wildlife encounters, places to go, attractions and things to do in Marlborough range from endangered kiwi and native birds to marine experiences with dolphins. Observe King Shag on predator free islands in the Marlborough Sounds and kayak among shorebirds in the Wairau Lagoon. For your bucket list wildlife encounters check out Marlborough Travel Guide for how to get around, tour operators and stay options.

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Royal Spoonbill New Zealand bird resident Wairau Lagoon
Dolphins Marlborough Sounds, Marlborough, New Zealand
Long-tailed bat at Pelorus, Marlborough, New Zealand @Stuff

MARLBOROUGH ART & CULTURE & HERITAGE

Take a road trip and discover the heritage of Marlborough.  Find the location of the first documented landing of people in Aotearoa New Zealand. Delve into the murky waters of whaling. Listen to intriguing stories about Molesworth pastoral farming in the alpine high country. Spend time lingering in regional museums uncovering interesting facts and absorbing the photographs of a bygone era. Marlborough is Aotearoa New Zealand’s story teller. From early East Polynesian navigation story in the late 1200’s to the arrival of Captain James Cook and 19th century European settlement. Today the landscape narrates the past with objects and archeological remains.

Blenheim, Picton and Havelock are home to a number of commercial galleries and souvenir shops. The local markets are also a rich treasure trove for collectables and objects.

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A touch of nostalgia in our lives, find out about the Marlborough Flyer, a vintage train which occasionally steams its way past vineyards, rolling farmland and the coast. Glorious.

@marlboroughmuseum
@marlboroughmuseum

Marlborough Museum Blenheim

An innovative, contemporary museum space that actively engages audiences. A great place on a rainy day. The landmark museum is a significant drawcard to Blenheim and Marlborough. Check for up to date opening hours. Admission fees apply

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Museum is located in BRAYSHAW HERITAGE COMPLEX with its extensive outdoor exhibitions of industrial and domestic machinery and objects.

INTERESTING FACT

Need to understand more about the wine industry in Marlborough. This is the place to go with its permanent Wine Exhibition providing plenty of facts and figures.

Picton History and Whaling Museum

Visit someone’s collection with a very personal feel to the plethora of documents, textiles and photographs gracing the museum’s collection. The collection’s focus is pre-European Maori , settler activities and the maritime activities in the Marlborough Sounds including whaling. Check for up to date opening hours. Admission fees apply.

Picton Heritage & Whaling Museum, New Zealand @VisitPicton
Picton Heritage & Whaling Museum @VisitPicton
The Havelock Museum on the main street of the small town, Havelock, Marlborough, New Zealand
The Havelock Museum

Havelock Museum

A memorabilia collection for the district narrating the daily lives of settlers as well as pre-European history. The museum is a rich repository for people interested in the district’s happenings. The former Methodist Church of St. John is an attractive premise and the saw milling history tells the story of the loss of trees on a tremendous scale. The beautifully restored church and adjoining hall are a pleasure to enter. And there are always the cafes specialising in greenlipped mussels, a Pelorus Sound cruise to contemplate or an exploration of the Queen Charlotte Track. Check for up to date opening hours. Admission fees apply

The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre – TRENDING

  • Joy flights are a must-do for couples, friends and family after a lifetime thrill in a vintage plane
  • Internationally renowned film director Sir Peter Jackson’s creative talent has sculptured an immersive exhibition space for enthusiasts of aircraft or anyone interested in the story of aviation and the narrative of World War I and II
  • Yealands Classic Fighters Omaka. Omaka is home to the internationally famous Classic Fighters airshow. This is a 3-day biennial event held every second year.
Omaka Vintage planes, Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk aircraft Royal New Zealand air force, Marlborough, New Zealand
Omaka Vintage planes
@DriftwoodEcoTours
@DriftwoodEcoTours

MOLESWORTH STATION TOUR

Explore the vast, historic high country stations of Marlborough with Driftwood Eco-Tours and experience farm life on isolated Muzzle Station in Kaikoura, or witness the iconic, unique biennial wild horse sale at St James Station.

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The only way to enter Molesworth is with an authorised tour operator.

MARLBOROUGH FLYER VINTAGE TRAIN – TRENDING

Marvellous nostalgia on a steam train and Marlborough vintage flyer is a gem. The historic World War I Memorial Locomotive, Passchendaele (1915) steams its way through Marlborough. Marlborough Flyer is very popular and usually booked out well in advance. Check the website for up to date departure dates and get your seat. For train buffs a visit to Marlborough is arranged around the train.

Marlborough Flyer Tourist Steam Train climbs a steep hill out of Picton, Marlborough, New Zealand
Marlborough Flyer

FOLLOW GOLD MINING TRAIL CULLENSVILLE

Discover an abandoned gold mining town, once the home of several hundred miners with two hotels, school and church. The Waikakaho/Cullen Creek Walkway follows an old gold miners’ trail across the range between the Wairau Valley and Linkwater. It can be walked or ridden in one day but you will need to arrange transport between the road ends. It is best to begin at the Waikakaho end to avoid the steep climb on the Cullen Creek side. Both the Waikakaho and Cullen Valleys provide historically interesting half-day return trips. The walkway is classified as a tramping track; a reasonable level of fitness and strong footwear is recommended.

Check the travel pack section for a Department of Conservation Mt Richmond Forest Park brochure.

The gold mining era is aptly narrated in The Prow, ‘The Wakamarina was proclaimed a goldfield on 11 June 1864 and the gold rush transformed Havelock into a bustling boomtown in the space of two months. Tents sprang up at Havelock, Canvastown and settlements up the Wakamarina River. Publicans and merchants  arrived to assess business prospects and accommodation houses and stores mushroomed. The All Nations sluicing claim in the Wakamarina, 1900 Shareholders watch the operation in action. Marlborough Historical Society – Marlborough Museum Archives. 2009.067.0013

Gold mining claim, Marlborough region, Marlborough, New Zealand @Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Gold mining claim, Marlborough @Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand

The Wakamarina yielded 5000oz of gold in the first four to five weeks. Gold was steadily recovered from the river claims, mostly using sluice boxes. However, while miners continued to arrive during the winter, many failed to secure claims, some left disillusioned, and floods drove others away. On 16 January, 1865, the Havelock Mail reported: “It cannot be concealed that the thousands who visited us in the last eight months have left the province altogether. The people of Havelock are now at their wits end about what to do. Source: Wakamarina Gold.

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Check out Canvastown, a turnoff shortly before the Rai Valley on SH6

WALKS IN MARLBOROUGH, NZ

QUEEN CHARLOTTE TRACK

The well known walk Queen Charlotte Track is a shared walking / mountain bike multiple day affair. Read about the FAQs and other relevant details in Queen Charlotte Track attractions, 10 things to do.

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The majority of visitors do not walk the entire track rather pick up the section that interests them or is easily accessible.

Pick up ideas for short walks from Top 10 Short Walks in Marlborough and at the same time think about summer holidays, picnics and swimming at the beach or a river swimming hole. Brilliant sunny weather is the perfect recipe for a picnic. Marlborough offers a beautiful Edwardian-inspired public park, several river spots with deep crystal clear water and beaches for a classic summer day to picnic under shady trees.

View of Pelorus Sound from Cullen Point Lookout on Queen Charlotte Drive, Marlborough Region on South Island of New Zealand
View of Pelorus Sound from Cullen Point Lookout on Queen Charlotte Drive

For suggestions where to go check out Swim, picnic places to go in Marlborough. For some families a summer holiday rite of passage is water bombing / diving from a wharf. Marlborough has several perfect spots for this activity, check out Anakiwa jetty for starters. Included is a handy tool for visitors who wonder where the locals cool off with a SWIMMING GUIDE TO WAIRAU RIVER.

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Remember to check the official websites for water quality and monitoring. Links are in the Swim, picnic places to go in Marlborough.

Nydia Track, Marlborough, New Zealand @MarlboroughNZ
Nydia Track @MarlboroughNZ

NYDIA TRACK SHORT WALK

A walk perhaps you’ve heard about … A tramp for experienced hikers who’ve done most of New Zealand’s great walks. The DOC rated advanced walk is the 27 km Nydia Track. The entrance is Pelorus Sounds, Duncan Bay. You will ascend and descend two steep sided saddles through virgin native forests with only sound birdsong as a deafening chorus. The 27 km Nydia Track offers walkers and cyclists great views and varied track conditions. Plan on an overnight stop at Nydia Bay where you can explore the history and coastline.

Getting there sets the tone for the tramp: Tennyson Inlet end. Turn off State Highway 6 just north of Rai Valley, then right onto Opouri Road and follow to the end. It is 27 km to Tennyson Inlet; the last section is windy, with beautiful bush and wonderful views from Opouri Saddle. The track starts at the road end and carpark at Duncan Bay. For further information check out Nydia Track: Pelorus & Kenepuru Sounds area, Marlborough region.

MOUNTAIN BIKING

A year round invitation with a temperate climate and plenty of biking options:

  • Mountain bike Wither Hills Mountain Bike Park with great views from the top of the track. Wither Hills Farm Park is one of those hidden gems. The Farm Park is a working farm spread over 1100 hectares of walking tracks and mountain bike routes catering for every level of fitness and ability. The Mount Vernon lookout provides some of the finest vantage points in Marlborough, looking out over Cloudy bay, the Richmond Ranges and Wairau Valley.
  • Link pathway between Havelock and Picton, over 42 kms with plenty of exits and entrances. Linkwater pathway is located on the iconic Queen Charlotte Drive.
  • Marlborough local council initiative to get outdoors, outside and cycle on gravel grinds and cyclocross, consider Blenheim to Spring Creek pathway. Over 4.6 of the shared pathway.
  • Conders Bend Mountain Bike Park is a family biking destination with 6 km of trails through forested tracks beside the Wairau River near Renwick
  • Essons Valley Tracks in Picton with upper and lower dams
  • Riverside Park Blenheim to Taylor Dam is approximately 10 km with tempting river stops for a dip in a swimming hole.
Cyclists on the Link Pathway, Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand
Cyclists on the Link Pathway

GARDENS & PARKS

Brilliant every day Marlborough delivers stunning garden settings, gourmet food options, and reliable weather. Marlborough has several notable garden festivals from the GARDEN MARLBOROUGH FESTIVAL to the MARLBOROUGH HOME & GARDEN SHOW.

Discover Marlborough’s garden delights. From sprawling rural gardens to urban gems Marlborough is a great place for outdoor enthusiasts. Marlborough 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. Discover a park where visitors are invited to harvest the fruit from a heritage orchard … read more Marlborough Gardens & Parks.

INTERESTING FACT – FREE FRUIT

MCKENDRY RESERVE, MARLBOROUGH

A gem of a public reserve with spring daffodil massed blooms and extensive heritage fruit tree plantings in a former commercial orchard in Springlands. The council online resource invites visitors to visit the former plum orchard bounded by Murphys Creek on one side and by walnut trees on the other three. The orchard has been under-planted with a large collection of daffodils. Please help yourself to the fruit. Check out McKendry Park – Marlborough District Council for details.

McKendry Park, Marlborough, New Zealand @Marlborough District Council
McKendry Park @Marlborough District Council

FESTIVALS

Nothing like free entertainment in the streets and vineyards of Marlborough. Combined with excellent foodie treats, artisan goods and live entertainment the Marlborough festival season is well known for bringing people together in the wide open spaces of Marlborough.

@marlboroughwinefestival
@marlboroughwinefestival
  • MARLBOROUGH WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL a must-go event for all lovers of artisan food, wine and craft beer with live entertainment, popup stalls and shows
  • MARLBOROUGH BOOK FESTIVAL, An annual weekend of wonderful writers, curious audiences and beautiful Marlborough vistas.
  • GARDEN MARLBOROUGH, a superb garden festival over several weekends showcasing many private gardens and hidden corners of Marlborough.
  • HAVELOCK MUSSEL & SEAFOOD FESTIVAL a focus on mussels naturally, cooked, fritters, decorative shells plus other seafood treats, stalls and live entertainment.

MARLBOROUGH ROMANCE, PLACES TO GO FOR COUPLES

Marlborough competes with Nelson’s offering romantic ingredients from beautiful coastal scenery, gourmet food treats, wineries, and unique attractions to suit any taste. There is the quiet beauty of the Queen Charlotte track with luxurious lodges where your bags are seamlessly transported and gourmet meals await your arrival… Read more Marlborough Romantic Places for adventures and ideas where to go and what to do.

Photograph special moments

  • Queen Charlotte Sound sunset by the water
  • Sailing the Sounds
  • Brancott Estate tastings and falcon encounters
  • Sailing the Sounds on your own personal yacht

Special moments

  • Enjoy a festive atmosphere, check the festival calendar and get ready to enjoy yourselves
  • Vineyards, riverbanks where the bush meets crystal clear water are the stuff of romance. All you need is a hamper for an impromptu picnic
  • A thread of Marlborough Sounds waterways with a luxury resort or camping ground sets the mood for a getaway Marlborough style. Brilliant every day.
@pungacoveresort
@pungacoveresort

SHOPPING AND FARMERS MARKETS

The three regional towns of Blenheim, Picton and Havelock support galleries and local weekend markets.

Marlborough Sunday Farmers Market, New Zealand @Krista Rossow
Marlborough Sunday Farmers Market @Krista Rossow

Marlborough Artisan Market

If you’re spending the weekend in Marlborough between October and February, you can’t leave without experiencing the Marlborough Artisan Markets. Grab a coffee and a bite to eat while listening to music and browse locally crafted children’s toys, clothes, jewelry, soaps, and much more. Admission is free but make sure to bring some cash with you so you can take some goodies home.

Marlborough Farmers Market

Delight in the market’s takeaway brunch options created by local food producers and send your little ones off to enjoy the children’s play area while you indulge in a cup of locally roasted coffee. With plenty of picnic tables and chairs, you’ll have no trouble finding a place to relax. Bonus tip: Take some time to chat directly with the award-winning stallholders, and you just might walk away with some of their favourite recipes.

EAT & DRINK

Hold this space … more content coming soon.

Renwick’s Boomtown Brewing Company is where a former wine vendor decided to up the ante and showcase local craft beers. The perfect place to visit after a few local vineyards, Hang out with a Marlborough Lager and pizza at the Dodson Street Beer Garden. The brew pub has an extensive selection of New Zealand craft beers on tap.

@BoomTownBrewing
@BoomTownBrewing

MARLBOROUGH TOWNS & VILLAGES – THINGS TO DO

Seymour Square. Blenheim, Marlborough, New Zealand
Seymour Square. Blenheim

BLENHEIM

Blenheim is an ideal hub for a Marlborough holiday offering convenient transport links to key attractions, cafes and shops for visitors staying in motels or campgrounds and several museums and galleries to pop into on rainy days.

Blenheim highlights:

  • Omaka Aviation Museum and Interactive Centre
  • Proximity to wineries, wine trails
  • Marlborough Museum
  • Village atmosphere with a great weekend market

Top 10 things to do in Blenheim

distinctive chic feel. Perhaps it is the cellar doors (over 30) or the superb museum and galleries or the glorious outdoors personified by the Marlborough Sounds … the place is memorable and brilliant…

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Upton Oaks Garden and Accommodation, Marlborough, New Zealand @MarlboroughNZ
@makanaconfections
The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, New Zealand @Triposo

PICTON

Discover Picton’s charms and don’t rush off the interisland ferry intent on getting to Nelson. The harbourside town has a main street with shops, galleries and a supermarket creating an easy option to stay in Picton as you further explore Marlborough. Picton’s magic is QUEEN CHARLOTTE TRACK & DRIVE.

Sunset view of Picton memorial park in New Zealand
Sunset view of Picton memorial park in New Zealand

Top 12 family friendly things to do in Picton

From waterfront playgrounds, walks, swimming with dolphins and wildlife encounters are food for thought about where to stay on your Marlborough holiday.

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@ekotoursdolphinwatch
Sea Kayaking - Marlborough Sounds, Picton, Marlborough, New Zealand @Marlborough Sounds
Picton Waterfront playground, Picton, Marlborough, New Zealand @Heyworth R&F

MARLBOROUGH STAY / ACCOMMODATION

WHERE TO STAY IN THE MARLBOROUGH SOUNDS

Birdsong, glorious waterways to wake up to and the tranquil surroundings (it is likely your mobile has no coverage) create a magical holiday experience of getting away from it all. Most of the private accommodation providers are based near or on the Queen Charlotte Track making the end of the day a breeze. Simply collapse into the comfort of a soft bed and delicious meals a heartbeat away in the onsite cafe / restaurant. A unique transport option for some stays as the only access is by boat or helicopter.

@Smiths Farm Holliday Park
@Smiths Farm Holliday Park

BUDGET – STANDARD

SMITH FARM HOLIDAY PARK

A working beef farm is the location for a holiday park offering standard motel units, chalets, powered and non-powered sites. The owners / managers are veteran hospitality providers with an extensive network of operators at their fingertips to organise sea kayaking, guided bush walks, wine tours and there is even a mini-golf course on site. The park practices active eco-management with low flush toilets, tap flow limiters and more. It is an outstanding facility worthy of the awards it has garnered over the years.

MID-RANGE

MISTLETOE BAY LODGE

What a find on the Queen Charlotte Track, A lodge with a number of short walks starting from its beachfront location, complimentary water sport equipment and the fun of getting there by boat.

INTERESTING FACT

Mistletoe Bay is named after the native mistletoe which once flourished around the bay. They are a semi-parasitic plant which photosynthesise themselves but rely on a host plant for water and nutrients. The two main species are Ileostylus micranthus and Tupeia antarctica, which display crimson flowers. Honeyeaters love their nectar. Since the introduction of possums, mistletoe has declined dramatically. The possums gorge on the tender green leaves and one species, Trilepidea adamsii, is extinct. Survey work and recovery programmes by DoC are aimed at re-establishing plants in the light and airy forest margins they prefer. One day the hope is mistletoe can be re-introduced to its namesake bay.

@mistletoebay
@mistletoebay

TE MAHIA BAY RESORT

LOCHMARA LODGE

@Lochmara
@Lochmara

A great place for family and friends. If you are worried the kids will be bored in a remote location then Lochmara Lodge is the answer you are looking for with plenty of options the kids will love. Lochmara Lodge is a short water taxi from Picton. There are complimentary kayaks, SUP, outdoor play areas, feeding farm animals, and an underwater observatory captures views of the Sounds marine world.

ANAKIWA

Accommodation ranges from budget backpackers to luxury lodges nested in the Sounds.

BUDGET

  • Anakiwa Lodge
  • 9 Lady Cobham Grove, Anakiwa, New Zealand
  • stay@anakiwa.co.nz

MID-RANGE

Hopewell Lodge is framed by native bush and sheltered water encouraging visitors to wind down and grab a hammock to lazily relax into the surroundings. Located in Kenepuru Sound the remote setting is ideal for bush walking, kayaking or exploring the Queen Charlotte Track. Check out the getting there, it’s inspired and the stuff of a dream starts to your special time together.

PUNGA COVE

A bit of everything … from hillside accommodation featuring scenic views of Endeavor Inlet in premium suites and chalets perfect for couples, to family and group apartments or basic rooms for those on a budget. Another option for couples wishing to explore Marlborough Sounds. Queen Charlotte track day exploration is a great way to dip your toes into what is on offer. Walk or bike to Furneaux Lodge for lunch ( 11 km of easy track) and hop onboard a scheduled Cougar Line water taxi back to Punga Cove… Bike hire is available by advance booking.

NOTE Walks at Furneaux Lodge – Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand is a sister lodge to Punga Cove.

@pungacoveresort
@pungacoveresort

LUXURY

@baymanycoves
@baymanycoves

THE SOUNDS

The Sounds Retreat Luxury Lodge is a spectacular paradise showcasing nature and luxury living at its finest. With a focus on unparalleled service and exquisite creature comforts, this award-winning private lodge is pampering plus. Who needs to walk for 5 minutes to the Queen Charlotte Track when the retreat is equipped with a full gymnasium for fitness enthusiasts, housing cardio machines, free weights, and strength training facilities. A continental breakfast is part of the package.

BAY OF MANY COVES

A jewel in the Marlborough Sounds offering a five star luxury retreat. The setting is accessible only by boat and is nestled in its own private bay. Perhaps you want to whisked by helicopter in style sweeping over the picturesque Sounds on your way in. Gourmet food, superb views of the water, pools and spa and active visitors are encouraged to use complimentary kayaks, paddleboards and to go fishing.

REMOTE MARLBOROUGH SOUNDS ACCOMMODATION

d’Urville Island Wilderness Resort is located in the stunning Catherine Cover, D’Urville Island. Getting there is an adventure in itself on a road that winds its way through the hills and valleys of French Pass. Although you can take the shortcut to the island and catch a boat from Havelock / Picton. The resort has a bar, restaurant so gourmet Marlborough cuisine is part of the deal of decamping to the island sanctuary. The island’s walking trails, fishing charters offer the chance to truly escape to an island in the middle of the Sounds. Perfect for couples wanting time together, families who relish the outdoors and guests who simply want to soak up the atmosphere of the great outdoors.

D'Urville Island, Marlborough, New Zealand @Stuff
D'Urville Island @Stuff
@Arapawa-Homestead-Accommodation
@Arapawa-Homestead-Accommodation

OUTER MARLBOROUGH SOUNDS – TORY CHANNEL ARAPAOA ISLAND

Don’t worry about the stiff breeze coming in from the Tory Channel. On Arapaoa Island the historic Arapawa Homestead has been immaculately restored to its full vintage glory complete with floral prints and dark wood finishings. Known as Gunyah, the homestead has 13 beds, including a glamping sleep-out. But the first thing you’ll notice is the view of the entrance to the Tory Channel. It’s constantly amazing watching the massive ferries negotiate their way into the Sounds marine waterways through the Tory Channel.

BLENHEIM STAY, ACCOMMODATION

A hub for many visitors with a number of motels to choose from.

BUDGET TO MID-RANGE

Chateau Marlborough – situated within a 5 min walk of central Blenheim as well as the Taylor river walk. Modern rooms with a pool and on site restaurant and bar.

  • Phone: +6435780064

Scenic Hotel – across from the lovely Seymour Square gardens, only minutes from town and across the road from the river. Onsite pool, restaurant and bar.

  • Phone: +6435206187
@ChateauMarlboroughNZ
@ChateauMarlboroughNZ
@Blenheimpalmsmotel
@Blenheimpalmsmotel

Blenheim Palms – located approximately 100 metres to the central Blenheim restaurants, bars, cafes, supermarket and shops and only 5 minutes from the start of the vineyards.

  • Phone: +6435778845

171 on High – centrally located motel accommodation on High Street, Blenheim. Comfortable, clean and economical option.

  • Phone: +6435795098

Knightsbridge – this is a simple but comfortable motel option, conveniently located for supermarket shopping.

  • Phone: +6435780818

Blenheim’s luxury boutique escape

14th Lane Urban Hotel is a luxury boutique option. You will be impressed with the massive mound of pillows on the bed and soft as silk dressing gowns. The enormous bedrooms have luxury amenities and a well-stocked personal bar.

  • Phone: +6439722727

 

@14th Lane Urban Hotel
@14th Lane Urban Hotel
@hansherzogestate
@hansherzogestate

RETREAT AMONG THE VINES

Flanked by vines on all sides, the Hans Herzog Vineyard cottage is about as Marlborough as you can get. With a complimentary tasting included with the stay, the Wairau River running along the edge of the property and bikes on-hand for gentle exploring, you can get the full experience without even leaving the grounds. Each stay starts with a tour of the vines and winery. Currently the onsite restaurant is in hibernation yet you are close to cafes and restaurants with the option of a continental breakfast you will not suffer. Think about a private tasting tour, complete with gourmet meals as a once in a lifetime treat.

  • Phone: +6439722727

BLENHEIM A TOUCH OF ROMANCE – LAURELLA COTTAGE

A glorious garden is the setting for a romantic cottage nestled among the summer blooms. What a wonderful cottage. The magic moment is the sound of cooing white pigeons. Guests are greeted with home baked cake, biscuits and fruit. Laurella Cottage, and invite you to experience the ambience of a fully restored NZ 1850’s, colonial cottage. The only cottage accommodation in Marlborough, in a 5 Star Garden of National Significance. Self contained boutique accommodation.

  • Phone: +6435793316
@Laurella Cottage
@Laurella Cottage
@thenineteenthnz
@thenineteenthnz

New Zealand’s SELF-CATERING LUXURY RESORT

A gorgeous luxury feel to the retreat with the idea of self-catering in Marlborough is a winner. There is yummy food at your fingertips in the province. The place has stunning views of the countryside from its hilltop location. Located just 10 minutes drive from central Blenheim, The Nineteenth is set on a private vineyard and features expansive views over surrounding vineyards, farmland and Marlborough Golf Course. There is a boutique and then there is The Nineteenth with only two bedrooms, two bathrooms, extensive kitchen and facilities. It is fun, slightly quirky as though you turned up at your relatives luxury pad and stayed for several days.

  • Phone: +642102284591

Getting there

Marlborough Camping

Marlborough is a perfect family holiday location with its consistently warm summer temperatures. Ok, it’s New Zealand, and similar to Tasmania the weather is changeable (this is an excuse for a cool brisk shower) yet Marlborough in January and February is an excellent outdoor activities destination. Choose between a rural farm stay, river camping grounds, iconic beach locations and camps near to the vineyards and the local cafe.

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Havelock Holiday Park @Pelorus
@Smiths Farm Holiday Park
@marlboroughnz

GETTING THERE AND AROUND IN MARLBOROUGH

Marlborough is easily accessible with the interisland ferry docking several times a day in Picton. The national road network terminates in the South Island in Picton. The best way to get around is by private vehicle due to the distances between various activities. For some gravel roads check beforehand vehicle hire policy.

KiwiRail, Marlborough, New Zealand @NZHerald
KiwiRail @NZHerald

TRAIN

KiwiRail Scenic from October to May runs a daily coastal Pacific service.

Kiwi train’s great journey, ‘Coastal Pacific’’ stops at Blenheim train station in central Blenheim, a great location to start your Marlborough journey. Most of Blenheim’s central district can be explored on foot. Check out the local visitor centre. You can travel around the region on a  Hop on Hop off with pick up at the Blenheim Visitor Centre.

BY AIR

  • Auckland to Blenheim: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Wellington to Blenheim: 25 minutes
  • Wellington to Picton: 25 minutes
  • Christchurch to Blenheim: 50 minutes

The local airport is 15 minutes drive from Blenheim’s CBD. There are rental car agencies and vehicles at the airport. Cycle hire companies will greet passengers for pick up and drop off if arranged prior to departure. There is a shuttle service between the airport and various tourist destinations in the province.

Air NZ over Marlborough
Air NZ over Marlborough
@CougarLine
@CougarLine

BY ROAD

Driving times to Blenheim

  • From Christchurch: 4 hours 30 minutes
  • From Nelson: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • From Kaikoura: 1 hour 45 minutes

BY SEA

From Wellington to Picton: 3 hours 30 minutes

Source: Marlborough tourism

INTERCITY BUS

A daily service connecting Nelson City and Christchurch with stops in Blenheim, Picton and Havelock.

GETTING AROUND

Cycle the flat countryside

 

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