It’s not unusual for South Island scenery to impress, and with vast areas of unspoiled nature reserves and gorgeous coastlines Marlborough is no exception. Full of dramatic peaks, superb vineyards and the pristine Marlborough Sounds, this part of the country is renowned for a top-quality wine making industry that exports all over the world.
Exploring the Kaikoura ranges is a worthwhile experience whether on foot or on horseback, and many people descend on the area to do just that. Marlborough has often been referred to as an outdoor paradise, with trout filled rivers, glorious native forests, wonderful coastal tracks, sheltered bays and towering mountain ranges.
At the beginning of February each year the region throws a huge party, celebrating 30 years of wine production in the area with the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival that attracts crowds from all over New Zealand and around the world.
If it’s the sea that attracts you, then head for the shoreline and waters around Marlborough. There are some great cruises to go on around the sounds, including the tranquil areas of the inner Pelorus and Kenepuru Sounds.
Kayaking and hiking (tramping) are popular pastimes in Marlborough, with vast tracts of gorgeous coastal forest to hike through and secluded coves and inlets to explore in the Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds.
For those people who want to follow in the footsteps of Sir Edmund Hillary, Mt Tapuae-O-Uenuku in the Awatere Valley is the place to go. This is Marlborough’s highest peak, where the famous mountaineer started the preparations for his epic Everest climb.
A slightly easier option is the Cape Campbell walkway, a four day hike that finishes at a historic 150 year old lighthouse with plenty of stunning photo opportunities along the way.
Distances (to Blenheim): 114km from Nelson, 310km from Christchurch
Best time to visit: Summer is a fantastic time to visit the region, especially the long lazy days from January to March. If you can time your visit for the Wine and Food festival, even better.
How long to spend there: It would be easy to spend two or three days in the Marlborough region, using a base in Blenheim to explore the surrounding area. Allow longer if you plan to do any of the multi-day hikes or kayak trips.