Marlborough is an area in the northeast of New Zealand’s South Island. This area is known for its many wineries and the Marlborough Sound. The Marlborough Sound is an extensive network of valleys sunken by the sea. You can explore the Sound during boat trips, kayak tours or take a hike along the coast. The main towns in this area are Picton and Blenheim.
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Must see & do
84% of New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc grapes are processed in Marlborough, which is why it is also called the Sauvignon Blanc Capital. In addition, there are many Pinor Noir grapes in this area and you will also find tasty Chardonnays and Rieslings here. You can enjoy these wines in one of the many vineyards or in a local restaurant. But this area is not only known for its wines, but also for its delicious food. Many talented chefs from all over the world come to Blenheim for the good quality of the products. Therefore, make sure you enjoy the food and drinks in this area.
Queen Charlotte track
The Queen Charlotte Track is a 70km walking / cycling route in the Marlborough Sound. This route takes you along beautiful coasts and through native forests. Along the way you can also see wildlife such as seals and dolphins. It takes 3 to 5 days on foot. The great thing about this hike is that you can make it as difficult as you want. There are several companies that offer organised hikes, but there are also organisations where you walk on your own but they help with everything else such as arranging accommodation, providing lunches and they can even transport your luggage for you. Click here for more information about the route, accommodation options, transport and much more.
Cruise Marlborough sound
Cruise the 1,500km winding coastline of the Marlborough Sound and discover secluded coves and historic sites. Visit the Marine reserves and natural areas where you can see native animals, including the Kiwi bird. There are many different boat trips, you can, for example go on a Seafood Cruise where you can taste fresh salmon and mussels with local wines. You can also go on boat tours where you look for wild animals such as dolphins, seals and sea birds. You can even go on a Mail Cruise, this is a boat that delivers mail to people who live in remote places.
Blenheim is THE place to visit vineyards in the area. There are more than 30 in the vicinity of this village. You can do a tour that takes you past several vineyards, but you can also rent a bicycle or car and go out on your own. Most of the vineyards offer guided tours where you get the chance to taste the wines. Blenheim is also known for good food, many local dishes are used in the restaurants. There is a river running through the village which gives it a nice view and there are several walking options nearby.
Picton is the city where the North Island ferries arrive and it is the best place to explore the Marlborough Sound. The village itself is very cute with a nice boulevard with many cafes, restaurants, galleries and shops. There are several hikes to do in the area, including the famous Queen Charlotte Track.
Marlborough is located in the northeast of the South Island of New Zealand and can be reached in several ways. You can easily travel to both the west and the east coast of the South Island from here by car and several buses depart from here as well. The nearest international airport can be found in Christchurch, which is about a four and a half hours’ drive away. The nearest airport for domestic flights is in Blenheim. Marlborough can also be reached by ferry from Wellington, arriving in Picton.
Rangitoto Ki Te Tonga (D’Urville island)
D’Urville island is an island in the Marlborough Sound, it is a peaceful place with only 50 inhabitants. This is a great place to enjoy nature in peace. It is a great place to walk, cycle, fish and kayak. This island is free from rats and other pests, which is why many native birds such as the Weka, Tui and Kaka still live there. Dolphins and seals are often spotted on this island. The island can only be reached by water taxi. You can stay overnight on the island, but there is only a limited number of sleeping places, so make sure you book in advance.
Kaikoura is located south of Marlborough, about an hour and a half drive from Blenheim. It is a beautiful drive that takes you through many different landscapes. Kaikoura is known for the ability to spot marine life, so there are many dolphin, whale and seal tours. If you are lucky, it is also possible to see these animals without a tour. There is for example a walking route that goes along the coast, along this track there is a good chance that you can see them from land. There are also a few stops along the way if you drive to Kaikoura where you can usually spot seals on the coast. See my blog post for more information about the marine animals that can be found here.
In 2016 there was an earthquake on the South Island, this caused a lot of damage and Kaikoura suffered a lot from this. Roads were damaged, the train track was broken and many sea creatures left because the coast was destroyed and their food had disappeared. In the meantime, the roads and rail have been restored and most of the animals have returned and so all tours are running again. There are still walking routes closed due to the damage, so keep an eye on the current information before you go out on your own.
Nelson is the closest to Abel Tasman National Park so most people stay there when visiting the park. There is a lot to do in Nelson. The landscape is beautiful and because of the large amount of artists in the area, you will find many galleries and studios here. In addition, you can enjoy beautiful beaches, there are several hikes to do and you can also go kayaking.