While you’re here, you won’t want to miss –
With one of the most diverse landscapes in New Zealand, sunny Marlborough is the gateway to the South Island. Within its boundaries you’ll find a mixture of waterways, inlets, beaches, plains and rivers, all offering an array of water and land-based activities.
Visitors are spoiled with choices for things to do in Marlborough – vineyards, scenic walks, seaside towns and mouth-watering seafood are all within a short distance of each other.
The region is especially renowned for its mussels and Sauvignon Blanc, so keep these on top of your list when touring here on your vacation to New Zealand. Entry to this unique place usually is from Wellington via an inter-island ferry which cruises through a series of stunningly scenic channels called the Marlborough Sounds, before reaching the port town of Picton – or by driving north from Christchurch.
From Picton, you can explore the magic of the Marlborough Sounds – Queen Charlotte Sound & Pelorus Sound are the 2 main channels with the smaller Kenepuru Sound and Mahau Sound in between.
The Queen Charlotte Drive from Picton to Havelock is the scenic route by car and offers many stops along the way for views of secluded beaches, native forest, art studios and wildlife. On a clear day, the panorama from the lookout at Cullens Point, near Havelock, is simply breathtaking.
Walks are plentiful in the Sounds if you’d like to get out and stretch your legs. Choose from a 10 minute stroll to a beach for a swim or longer walks of up to an hour via peninsulas and waterfalls. The 3 to 5-day Queen Charlotte Track is a popular walking and mountain bike route and offers pristine beauty and remoteness.
A visit to Motuara Island is also an option for the island’s bird sanctuary and historic memorial to Captain James Cook. You can catch a water taxi from Picton out to the island and to any other part of the Sounds you’d like to visit.
Pelorus Sound Mail Boat
A fun boat trip where you’ll really experience the local life is the Pelorus Sound Mail Boat Cruise. This is an authentic New Zealand Post mail delivery service that’s been ongoing since the early 1900s. The boat leaves 3 times a week from Havelock Marina and heads to isolated homesteads in the Pelorus Sound. You’ll meet residents when they row out to meet the boat or collect their mail and supplies from small beaches.
Keep an eye out for dolphins and seals as they regularly appear on the mail run. You’ll also get a chance to view the famous Pelorus Sounds mussel farms for a preview of the delicious delicacies available in Havelock.
If you love seafood, then you’ll want to spend some time in Havelock. This is the Greenshell Mussel Capital of the World and The Mussel Pot restaurant is the place to go.
With fresh steamed mussels in a concoction of sauces, as well a variety of other seafood including salmon, whitebait and blue cod, The Mussel Pot is popular all year round. You’ll also be able to sample some of Marlborough’s fine wines with the restaurant’s extensive wine list.
Māori culture is strong in Havelock as you’ll see from the carvings and art of the local tribes that have lived here for centuries. The Shark Nett Gallery in Havelock has a large collection of Māori carvings and Pacific art, as well as tales of local history and souvenirs.
Food & Drink
Just down the road from Havelock, Blenheim is a great base for exploring the nearby wineries or head further out to Renwick.
Organised wine tours are a popular option, as is cycling your way around. Top wines for tasting include the dry, fruity Sauvignon Blanc, sweet Riesling and intense, flavorful Pinot Noir. Where there are wineries you’ll also find restaurants and Marlborough is no exception. Many offer al fresco dining with vineyard views and on warm summer evenings this makes for a memorable and relaxing experience.
Blenheim has numerous choices when it comes to restaurants with choices ranging from Thai, New Zealand Fusion, Seafood, Italian and many more. Since fresh local produce and seafood are available all year round, restaurant menus change constantly with the season and offer some incredible dining.
Food & Wine Festival
You’ll really see the extent to which food and wine is celebrated here during the Marlborough Food & Wine Festival.
Taking place in early February at the Brancott Vineyard – Marlborough’s oldest winery – the festival showcases the best the region has to offer.
As well as the chance to sample some of the local delicacies and best wines, you can enjoy a fashion show, live music and many other events throughout the day.
While you’re in this beautiful area, it makes sense to take full advantage of the range of things to do. A visit to Marlborough is similar to having a glass of its fine wine – one just isn’t enough!