The Marlborough Region, located in the northeast of New Zealand's South Island, is a getaway as picturesque as they come. The area is known for the beautiful Marlborough Sounds and its sprawling, vine-laced wine country that produces some of the world's best sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, and chardonnay. Discover an abundance of things to do in Marlborough, from kayaking on the vivid blue waters of Queen Charlotte Sound to touring cellar doors and tasting the fruits of the country. With so many places to explore, flavors to try, and sights to see, Marlborough is a relaxing escape for families, foodies, and globetrotters alike.
The diversity of scenery in Marlborough ranges from dry valleys of vineyards to forested mountain trails and the azure waters of the sounds. Take your time in exploring the unique landscapes that make the Marlborough Region so beloved.
Marlborough Sounds - The Marlborough Sounds are a sprawling network of sea-drowned valleys. The Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru, and Pelorous sounds are the area's 3 main bodies of water. The sounds are home to more than 50 nature reserves, making it perfect for hikes on the Queen Charlotte Track, kayaking trips to see dolphins in their natural habitat, and excursions out to historic Meretoto (Ship Cove).
d'Urville Island - Also known by the Maori name Rangitoto Ki Te Tonga, d'Urville Island is covered with ancient forests that thrive with endemic animals like tui, bellbirds, weka, and kaka, making it ideal for hikes and bird-watching excursions. To reach the island, take a boat from Kapowai or Catherine Cove across the swift and treacherous French Pass that separates d'Urville from the mainland.
Blenheim - Blenheim is nestled in the heart of Marlborough's wine country and offers easy access to the region's famous cellar doors and wineries. The best way to explore the city is by foot or bike, which allows you to discover the buzzing restaurants, cafes, and galleries along the Taylor River Reserve. A journey into the Wairau Valley rewards you with spectacular views of picture-perfect vineyards, and the Omaka Aviation Heritage Center is just a short ride away.
The Marlborough Region is rich with natural beauty, from the deep and vivid hues of the Marlborough Sounds to the emerald trees of the Mount Richmond Forest Park. Go for a hike on the Snout or Queen Charlotte Tracks, which takes you past fantastic vistas of the vast Marlborough Sounds. The Wither Hills Farm Park is lined with trails overlooking the Wairau Lagoons further inland. For a look at the heritage of New Zealand and the region, visit the Omaka Aviation Heritage Center, where you can learn about the South Island's role during World War I and World War II.
Food and wine are 2 major draws for the Marlborough Region. The dry climate, combined with hot days and cool nights, creates ideal conditions for the vineyards that dot the scenic countryside. The region is best known for its sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, and chardonnay, and many vineyards can be accessed from the towns of Renwick, Blenheim, and Cloudy Bay in the Wairau Valley. Indulge all your senses by biking through the picturesque fields between various vineyards’ tastings. Outdoor activities like walking and hiking are popular pastimes in Marlborough, and cruises or kayaking trips on the Marlborough Sounds offer opportunities to go dolphin-watching right on the water. Take a drive along the Awatere Valley and Pacific coastline to see snow-capped peaks and the blue of the ocean in one amazing vista. Then, see Mount Tapuae-o-Uenuku, the highest peak in the area, rising from the Inland Kaikoura Range. The mountain is sacred to the local Maori iwi, whose culture you can learn about at the Omaka Marae in Blenheim.
Marlborough is a superb place for a family vacation. Take the kids along and enjoy these family friendly experiences together:
Enjoy the weather (and get a little exercise as well) with one or two of these outdoor experiences:
If it's pelting down during your stay, put down your umbrella and dive into a few of these excellent indoor activities:
There are tons of experiences here that are perfect if you're watching your pennies:
Your vacation in Marlborough needn't send you broke with free attractions like these to keep you on the go: