Sun-soaked Marlborough is located on the north-eastern tip of the South Island and it is one of the most popular tourist regions in New Zealand. 

Many visitors flock to the vineyards to sample artfully prepared local produce matched with award-winning wines. Others come for hiking, shopping, historic tours of early gold-mining settlements and scenic boat cruises through the iconic sea-downed valleys of the Marlborough Sounds.

The lush emerald green coves and hidden lagoons of the nearby Marlborough Sounds are best explored by boat. Charter a luxury yacht, rent a kayak or go on a fishing excursion. You can even take a boat trip to D’Urville Island, a fishing paradise where you’ll be very likely to catch a blue cod.

Consider basing yourself in Blenheim, which is the largest town in the region and offers a range of accommodation and dining options. From there, it’s a short drive to any of the gorgeous walking trails, peaceful bays, delicious winery restaurants, scenic reserves and other attractions in the area.

Activities & Attractions


Pair a crisp Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc with some of the best cuisine of the region, from fresh seafood to ripe local produce.

In the towns of Picton, Havelock, Renwick and Blenheim you’ll find excellent eateries lining the main streets, serving up everything from Thai to Chinese to Mexican cuisine.

Or, you can head out to the Marlborough countryside for a quintessential winery tasting experience.

Dining is usually a leisurely affair, where you can savour your meal and wine pairing on a sunny patio while overlooking a vineyard and enjoying the fresh air.

Picture: Destination Marlborough

dining in the vines


Getting out and enjoying the outdoors is a must while you are in Marlborough. There are so many great walking trails – from short hikes to day-long adventures. Check out the Snout Track, which ascends to a lookout point with stunning views of Queen Charlotte Sound.

There’s also the beautiful Waikakaho/Cullen Creek Walkway, which will take you through beautiful forests and historic gold mining sites. The Black Jack Track is another local favourite. It will take you up from Whites Bay to a gorgeous viewpoint on the edge of a bluff, with views of Port Underwood.


The town of Blenheim is one of the best places in the region to enjoy a bit of shopping. In the pretty town centre you’ll find artisan food shops, creative souvenir stores, local boutiques and much more.

The town of Picton also has many excellent boutique and independent shops, where you can find unique New Zealand made gifts. Picton is also a great place to pick up what you need for your outdoor adventures, as there are several shops that offer outdoor wear, fishing and camping equipment, clothing and shoes.


If you’re interested in a glimpse into Marlborough’s past, there are many great museums in the region to explore. The Picton Museum has an impressive collection of over 2000 Maori artefacts, whaling items and antique textiles. The Marlborough Museum is also a great local historical museum, known for a comprehensive exhibit on Wine, a stunning pottery collection and displays about whaling, gold mining and Captain James Cook.

If you’re into classic cars, you’ll want to visit Omaka Classic Car Museum in Blenheim to see the impressive collection. Plus, the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre has a fascinating display of planes throughout history, designed by Sir Peter Jackson.

Wine Tasting

The Marlborough wine region is responsible for the production of 77% of New Zealand’s wine, making this a dream destination for wine enthusiasts. The climate here is ideal for wine production, with hot and sunny days and cool nights that allow the grapes a longer ripening process.

The Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough is especially praised, as it has wonderfully delicate flavours and aromas. Take a wine tasting tour through Renwick, Blenheim and Cloudy Bay to enjoy some of the best vintages this region has to offer (picture from MarlboroughNZ):

wine tasting

History & Culture

The first Polynesian settlers in Marlborough arrived at Wairau Bay in 1300 AD. This was a desirable location, due to the abundance of fresh seafood and fertile land.

Abel Tasman arrived in the area in 1642 and spent a week at Cook Strait.

Captain Cook first visited Marlborough Sounds and Ship’s Cove in 1770, returning again in 1774 and 1777.

From the late 18th century, European miners and sawmillers began to settle in the area. Captain John Guard establishes the first land based whaling station in the South Island, located at Cloudy Bay.

Other major industries at the time were flax milling, gold mining and timber milling. A major conflict over land ownership lead to the death of 22 Pakeha and 4 Maori in 1843, as Ngati Toa warriors and European settlers clashed.

In the 1970s, grapes were planted in Marlborough for winemaking. Wine has become one of the major industries in this region and Marlborough wines are praised around the world, in particular, Sauvignon Blanc.

Key Facts

  • Blenheim has a local bus service, but it’s somewhat limited and not very useful for travellers. The good news is that the town itself is small enough that everything is within easy walking distance.
  • When it comes to visiting vineyards and other countryside attractions, the best options are to take a taxi, rent a car or join an organised group tour.
  • Marlborough is the sunniest region in New Zealand, sheltered by high country on the west, south and east sides.
  • Motuara Island Sanctuary is a fascinating place to see native birds – just wait at the seating area near the watering hole and they will come to you.
  • While boating in Marlborough Sound keep an eye out for dolphins – they can often be seen swimming alongside your boat.
  • Visit Ship Cove to see where Captain James Cook first arrived.
  • Sculptures, memorials and an interpretive trail tell the story of this historical location.

Marlborough with MoaTrek

MoaTrek tours that visit Marlborough include the following:

  • Arrive in Marlborough from Wellington via the Cook Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound on the Interislander ferry.
  • Enjoy a lunch with a local chef and a wine tasting at Forrest Wines.
    Explore the heart of the world-famous Marlborough sauvignon blanc region.
  • Tour across the Pelorus River bridge, famous from the scene of the Barrel Run in the Hobbit movies.

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