As New Zealand’s largest grape-growing region, Marlborough is home to numerous well-known boutique wineries producing internationally acclaimed wines, as well as the pristine and wildlife-filled waterways of the beautiful Marlborough Sounds, which are fantastic to explore. Further along the coastline you’ll reach Nelson, renowned for its arts, crafts and fine food, as well as spectacular scenery.
Marlborough Sounds and Blenheim
Marlborough is blessed with the combination of perfect soil and perfect climate, and makes the most of it with a range of award-winning wines, particularly the Sauvignon Blanc. Blenheim makes an ideal base to visit the numerous wineries nearby – which produce famous names like Brancott, Cloudy Bay and Wither Hills, along with some smaller, boutique vineyards. Ditch the car and hire a bike for a leisurely day visiting the vineyards and local gourmet food producers. Tuck into some fresh seafood as you take in the views, and visit the tempting food and handicrafts markets.
Nearby Picton is the gateway to the Marlborough Sounds, a mountainous region that has sunk over time, allowing the sea to flood in and create a drowned valley. This process has left behind a stunning patchwork of waterways, forested ridges and isolated coves, which makes up a fifth of New Zealand’s coastline. Explore this pristine maritime playground by boat or kayak, keeping an eye out for the wildlife living in and around the Sounds, such as seals, little blue penguins, dolphins, tuatara (native reptiles), weka (native flightless birds) and the rare Rowi kiwi - and swim with dolphins for a memorable once-in-lifetime experience. On land, there are numerous walking and bike tracks, the most famous being the scenic Queen Charlotte Track.
The Nelson region at the top of South Island is just a two-hour drive from Marlborough, and with golden-sand beaches, panoramic scenery, the verdant forests of the Nelson Lakes National Park, and a vibrant arts and crafts scene, it’s a hugely diverse and popular destination.