Welcome to Marlborough, the home of world-class wineries, craft breweries, gourmet food and the stunning Marlborough Sounds.
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Top ten Marlborough experiences
- Feast on delicious Greenshell Mussels or New Zealand King Salmon farmed locally in the Marlborough Sounds, and match it to a glass of award winning Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
- Cruise, sail or kayak the 1,500km of coastline and stunning coves of the Marlborough Sounds.
- Take a wine or craft brewery tour by car, coach or bike, and enjoy a leisurely vineyard lunch.
- Visit the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre for a visual feast of Sir Peter Jackson’s World War One aircraft and memorabilia.
- Walk or mountain bike the famous Queen Charlotte Track for one day, or four.
- Escape to a luxury lodge tucked away amongst the vineyards or overlooking the Marlborough Sounds.
- Swim or kayak down the Pelorus River in Havelock – the location of the barrel scene from Sir Peter Jackson’s latest film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
- Spend a day in the vibrant seaside town of Picton exploring the foreshore, art galleries, cafes and shops.
- Sample local produce from the farm gate or weekend Farmers Market.
- Experience one of Marlborough’s internationally renowned annual events – the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival, Havelock Mussel Festival, Forrest GrapeRide, Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon, Classic Fighters or Garden Marlborough.
Where is Marlborough and how do I get there?
Located on the eastern side of the top of the South Island of New Zealand, Marlborough is close to New Zealand’s geographical centre, easily accessible by land, sea and air. Marlborough has a temperate climate, with amongst the highest sunshine hours and some of the lowest rainfall annually in New Zealand. It’s the perfect environment, not only for growing award winning wines but also for visitors!
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GETTING TO MARLBOROUGH
Auckland to Blenheim - 1 hour 20 minutes
Wellington to Blenheim - 25 minutes
Wellington to Picton - 25 minutes
Christchurch to Blenheim - 50 minutes
Driving times to Blenheim
From Christchurch - 4 hours 30 minutes
From Nelson – 1 hour 45 minutes
From Kaikoura – 1 hour 45 minutes
From Wellington to Picton - 3 hours 30 minutes
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Marlborough is a region of beauty where water, wine and wilderness combine to create a relaxing escape. Home to the Marlborough Sounds and Queen Charlotte Track, wine and food is a key attraction and with more than 35 winery cellar doors as well as great restaurants and amazing seafood, you are going to love Marlborough.
Marlborough is a region of spectacular scenic beauty from the stunning Marlborough Sounds to the magnificent high country and the wild Kaikoura coast. In the heart of all this are the Wairau and Awatere valleys – home to world famous Marlborough sauvignon blanc, olive groves and cherry orchards. The Marlborough Sounds is a coastal wonderland, with winding waterways, and sheltered bays - cruise, kayak, water-ski, or sail the endless bays. A warm welcome awaits you at the lodges along the way, from where you can hike or mountain bike along the famous Queen Charlotte Track. You are going to love Marlborough.
Marlborough is a region of spectacular scenic beauty from the stunning Marlborough Sounds to the magnificent high country and the wild Kaikoura coast. In the heart of all this are the Wairau and Awatere valleys – home to world famous Marlborough sauvignon blanc not to mention superb aromatics, elegant chardonnays, fine methode traditionelle and rich pinot noirs that make Marlborough, New Zealand’s premier wine region.
The Marlborough Sounds is a coastal wonderland, with winding waterways, sheltered bays and ancient untouched forest. Cruise, kayak, water-ski, or sail the endless bays. A warm welcome awaits you at the lodges and resorts along the way, from where you can hike or mountain bike along breathtaking scenic paths, including the famous Queen Charlotte Track.
Inland, the Wairau Plains and Awatere Valley are carpeted in vineyards, olive groves and cherry orchards. Fine wines matched with fresh seafood and produce of the land will combine to delight your palate. It is little wonder that Marlborough is now rated in the top ten wine tourism destinations on the planet. For a not-to-be missed holiday of scenic beauty, fun and deliciousness you are going to love Marlborough.
Need a comprehensive guide to the activity and accommodation operators in the region? Then the Marlborough Trade Directory is the perfect guide for you.
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Located in the centre of New Zealand, Marlborough is easily accessible by land, sea and air. Wine and food is a key attraction for visitors to Marlborough given it is home to more than 150 wineries and over 35 cellar doors, as well as great restaurants, boutique producers and amazing seafood. The Marlborough Sounds, which makes up one fifth of New Zealand’s coastline, is a playground for those seeking a relaxing escape or an adventure of a lifetime, or anything in between. The combination of what Marlborough has to offer makes it a great destination for all seasons, tastes and budgets.
This itinerary has been designed to fit into a shorter New Zealand itinerary featuring Marlborough's two most well known assets, wine and the Marlborough Sounds.
Day 1 – wine country
Arrive in Marlborough in the morning ready to start your wine tour late morning. Begin your guided tour through Marlborough wine country with Marlborough Travel, Sounds Connection or Explore Marlborough, visiting 4-5 wineries and stopping for lunch along the way. Tours range from daily scheduled departures through to private tours by coach, luxury vehicles or bicycle. Overnight in your choice of Marlborough accommodation whether it be in the heart of Blenheim, amongst the vines or in the seaside town of Picton.Arriving early? Full day wine touring options also available or make time for a guided tour of the amazing Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, or a Maori cultural tour with Maori Experiences.
Day 2 – Marlborough Sounds
Make your way to Picton, a scenic seaside town and gateway to the Marlborough Sounds. Walk, bike or kayak a section of the Queen Charlotte Track with Wilderness Guides, or start the day swimming with the dolphins with Dolphin Watch and Nature Tours. Alternatively, relax in the morning before heading out on Beachcomber’s Magic Mailboat cruise, returning to Picton late afternoon. Taste Marlborough This itinerary is for people who not only love food and wine, but also enjoy the journey from the farmer’s gate to the dinner plate.
Day 1 – wine country
Start your day exploring the vineyards and cellar doors on a wine tour with Marlborough Travel or Sounds Connection. Compare wines from throughout the region, learn about the history of wine in Marlborough and visit boutique family producers as well as recognised brands such as Cloudy Bay. Rest over lunch at a vineyard café or restaurant such as Brancott Estate Heritage Centre or Wither Hills.For those that are wanting something more active, join an Explore Marlborough wine tour by bike and cycle your way around the Marlborough wine region. Finish the day with dinner at Herzog Estate or Gibbs on Godfrey. Overnight in a Blenheim or Picton hotel, or be pampered in one of the many boutique B&Bs or vineyard cottages throughout the wine region.
Day 2 – hidden surprises
Spend the morning with Explore Marlborough visiting some of Marlborough’s boutique food producers. Visit them in their homes and sample their delicious products whether it be olive oil, hazelnuts, herbs, award winning cheeses or summer fruits, there is sure to be something to delight. Lunch at your choice of vineyard restaurant before spending the afternoon learning how to make your own cheese or blending a fine wine, the choices are endless.
Alternatively, explore the Marlborough Sounds with Marlborough Travel’s Seafood Odyssea cruise. Visit a King Salmon farm, feed the fish, learn about mussel farming and finish the day feasting on salmon and mussels matched with a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Overnight in Blenheim or in the seaside town of Picton.
Day 3 – options galore
Continuing on the food and wine theme, visit Yealands Estate in Seddon, a 40 minute drive from Blenheim. Enjoy a complimentary wine tasting and a guided sustainable winery tour, or relax in one of their picnic areas with a hamper. Take in the picturesque views across the vineyards and Cook Strait on a self-guided tour following ‘The White Road’. The route starts from the cellar door where you can collect a map of the property.If in Marlborough on a Sunday, don’t miss the Farmers’ Market for a collection of produce from throughout the region. If a break from food and wine is needed, visit local gardens and artists’ studios.
Be inspired by the heroes of World War One aviation at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre made possible by Peter Jackson’s Wingnut Films and Weta Workshop. Or visit a local marae with Maori Experiences. Here you will experience a traditional welcome, sample Maori food, participate in an interactive cultural activity (such as flax weaving, traditional Maori instruments or Maori weaponry) and learn about the significance of the carved meeting house.
This itinerary is for those wanting a five star experience or romantic escape to indulge in premium food and wine, world class restaurants and luxury accommodation.
Day 1 – private wine tour
Enjoy a private tour of the wineries with Marlborough Travel, Sounds Connection or Explore Marlborough and sample New Zealand’s internationally-acclaimed Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Relax and unwind over a leisurely lunch at one of the many award winning winery restaurants. Stay amongst the vines at Marlborough Vintners Hotel or enjoy the delights of Lake Timara Lodge with their internationally renowned and Michelin experienced chef, Louis Schindler.
Day 2 – Marlborough Sounds
Relax in the morning or for the ultimate indulgence enjoy a massage at Marlborough Day Spa. Get a private transfer to Picton and explore the Marlborough Sounds by charter boat. Catch a fish from the pristine waters of the Marlborough Sounds for the onboard chef to prepare along with other local delicacies – King Salmon, oysters and Greenshell Mussels. Match it was a glass of your favourite Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.If you are wanting something more active, enjoy a guided walking, biking or kayaking tour along the Queen Charlotte Track with Wilderness Guides, stopping at a luxury lodge along the way for lunch. Stay the night in the Marlborough Sounds at Bay of Many Coves or Raetihi Lodge and enjoy watching the sun go down over a glass of local wine.
Day 3 – options galore
Depart your accommodation by boat or helicopter and head back to the wine region for more wining and dining with Marlborough Travel, Sounds Connection or Explore Marlborough. Alternatively, visit local gardens and artists’ studios, or be inspired by the heroes of World War One aviation at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre made possible by Peter Jackson’s Wingnut Films and Weta Workshop.
For those wanting a cultural experience, the following itinerary showcases the best of Marlborough’s art, culture and heritage.
Day 1 – Marlborough Sounds
Start your day touring the Marlborough Sounds with Beachcomber Cruises or Dolphin Watch and Nature Tours. Visit Ship Cove (Captain Cook’s favourite New Zealand anchorage) and Motuara Island, one of four reserve islands in the Queen Charlotte Sounds not inhabited by humans. Look out for dolphins and seals along the way! Stay at Lochmara Lodge and enjoy exploring their indoor and outdoor Arts Centre showcasing New Zealand artists.
Day 2 – art and history
Visit the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre in Blenheim, which brings to life the heroes of World War One aviation with an unparalleled collection and dramatic lifelike scenes. Spend the rest of the day browsing the many art and craft galleries and local gardens. Collect a copy of the Art & Craft Trail map from the local i-SITE Visitor Centres for a self-guided experience.Looking for more? Visit a local Maori marae with Maori Experiences. Here you will experience a traditional welcome, sample Maori food, participate in an interactive cultural activity and learn about the significance of the carved meeting house.
An itinerary for those looking for a fun-filled adventure holiday in Marlborough.
Day 1 – Queen Charlotte Track
Arrive in Marlborough and begin your journey along the Queen Charlotte Track. Walk, cycle or kayak the track with Wilderness Guides for one day or several, and admire the stunning views from the skyline ridges. Enjoy a packed lunch on a remote beach and have your luggage transported to your accommodation by water taxi. Stay the night at one of the many luxury lodges along the Queen Charlotte Track.
Day 2 – Marlborough Sounds
Continue your journey along the Queen Charlotte Track by foot, bike or kayak, or for something different, swim with dolphins in the sheltered waters of the Marlborough Sounds with Dolphin Watch and Nature Tours. Stay overnight at the Park Regis Picton or a luxury lodge in the Marlborough Sounds.
Day 3 – wine tour
Transfer to Blenheim, the largest town in the Marlborough region. Take a wine tour by bike with Explore Marlborough or hire a bike from Vines Village and do a self-guided tour around the cellar doors in the region. Have lunch at one of the many award winning winery restaurants along the way.Brancott Estate Heritage Centre offers bike tours around their vineyard. Learn about the viticulture process that goes into the making of Brancott Estate wines, and taste a selection of premium Brancott Estate wines amongst the vines.
For those feeling particularly active, finish the day with a walk or mountain bike up the Wither Hills and check out the outstanding views from the top.
Stay in Blenheim at Chateau Marlborough or Scenic Hotel, or amongst the vines at Marlborough Vintners Hotel or Vintners Retreat.
Day 1 – Marlborough Sounds
Start your morning in Picton and catch a water taxi out to Lochmara Lodge in the Queen Charlotte Sound. Hand feed kakariki (NZ native parrot), hunt for wild wetas, enjoy the safe swimming beach, kayak around the sheltered coastline, go on the Great New Zealand Art Hunt and enjoy fabulous food in the café. From Lochmara Lodge, head back to Picton in time for a Dolphin Watch and Nature Tours cruise out to Motuara Island bird sanctuary, one of four reserve islands in the Queen Charlotte Sounds, for a guided nature walk. Keep an eye out for dolphins and seals en route!For something a little different, experience Beachcomber Cruises Mailboat Cruise. Help deliver the mail and crucial supplies to those who live in secluded bays throughout the Marlborough Sounds. Stay the night at Park Regis Picton and enjoy Picton's picturesque foreshore with mini golf, children's playground and marina.
Day 2 – Blenheim
Transfer to Blenheim and visit the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, which brings to life the heroes of World War One aviation with an unparalleled collection and dramatic lifelike scenes. World renowned Weta Workshop and Wingnut Films, responsible for Lord of the Rings, created the sets which make this attraction world class and of interest to anyone!
Enjoy a long lunch at local café Raupo and take a walk through Wither Hills Farm Park in the afternoon, a network of walks with views over the vineyard-studded Wairau Plains.If visiting on a Sunday, head down to the A&P Showgrounds for the Marlborough Farmers Market. Taste your way around the stallholders, listen to the sounds of local musicians, see a local chef in action and listen to the resident storyteller.