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Our Marlborough travel tips:

  • Marlborough region - Picton Foreshore ParkGetting there by ferry is scenic enough - the arrival via Queen Charlotte Sound is as good as any cruise
  • Picton is more than a ferry terminal, reserve at least 2 to 3 hours to explore the marina and village
  • Catch the Queen Charlotte Drive to Nelson and your South Island journey starts right there!
  • Marlborough enjoys one of the sunniest climates in New Zealand, check the weather forecast before you rush past it...
  • This is serious wine country, the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail continues - make plans ahead for a delicious tasting experience

Marlborough tips - Picton - New Zealand travel tips

A world of wine and sunshine

For centuries, Marlborough has offered safe harbour to travellers. First to Maori traders and war parties, then to European explorers, such as Captain James Cook and Dumont D’Urville; and now to visitors seeking new landscapes and rejuvenating experiences.

If you arrive in the region by sea or air, the intricate detail of the Marlborough Sounds engages your interest immediately. Maori legend describes the entire South Island as Maui’s waka (canoe), wrecked on a reef during a fishing expedition. The shattered bow of the canoe became the Sounds. Bordered by forest that rises almost vertically from the water’s edge, three drowned river valleys offer 1500 kilometres of sheltered beaches and waterways for sailing, cruising, kayaking, fishing and diving.

Marlborough tips - along the Marlborough sounds - New Zealand travel tipsMarlborough basks in year-round sunshine, providing perfect conditions for walking, mountain biking, sea kayaking and vineyard explorations. It’s a region where you can pick a theme and follow it through. Focus your itinerary on outdoor adventures, vineyards and wineries, arts and crafts, history and gardens or marine pursuits. Better still, mix them up and experience a little of everything this beautiful region has to offer.

Marlborough is New Zealand’s largest grape-growing and wine-making region. The broad, sweeping plains are home to many wineries. Discover and enjoy on a self-drive, bicycle or guided tour.

Queen Charlotte Track: This spectacular walking track winds through 71 kilometres of native forest, along ridges and beside idyllic coves. Travel with a local guide to learn about the habitat and hear the local Maori legends.

See here for hotels in the Marlborough region.

Source: Tourism New Zealand

Highlights of the Marlborough region

  • Marlborough tips - Elaine Bay - New Zealand travel tipsPicton: Often overlooked in a haste to explore the South Island, this is already a great area for bush walks, kayaking, cruises, skydiving etc. At least check out the Picton Foreshore Park with its palm trees, walk across the Coat Hanger Bridge to see the beatiful marina and enjoy the views from the lookout on Queen Charlotte Drive.
  • The Marlborough Sounds: You've already seen Queen Charlotte Sound from the ferry, but good reasons for a cruise back out would be visiting the Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary and Ship Cove, where James Cook spent over 100 days during his expeditions. The Queen Charlotte Track is another great temptation, because this walk is less strenuous than most mountain walks, there is plenty of accommodation on the way and you can always catch a taxi boat back! See how remote and idyllic the locals live and holiday by catching a mail boat from Picton (also at Havelock you can jump on the mail boat that services the Pelorus Sounds). If you have lots of time you can explore the (often unsealed) roads to Kenepuru Bay, French Pass or Waikawa and beyond.
  • Marlborough tips - Pukekos on Queen Charlotte Drive - New Zealand travel tipsQueen Charlotte Drive: It's a great stretch of road towards Nelson, winding itself along scenic bays, over ridges and through wide farmland as well. At Havelock you can access the Mahau and Pelorus Sounds or walk off-the-beaten track. The Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve is a great stop with short walks, another film location for Hobbit fans. Further towards Nelson you can detour to Cable Bay, with a very scenic sandspit that stretches over to an island, but the road is very narrow for campervans.
  • Marlborough wine country: Plenty of sunshine and cool nights are the main ingredients for the premium Sauvignon Blanc wines produced in over 100 vineyards of this region, that is home of over half of the total wine area in New Zealand. Renwick and Raupara Road are the main areas, ideally you'll join a wine tour or get a map of the wineries from your accommodation or the visitor centre in Blenheim, the quiet centre of this region.

The best Marlborough walks

  • Marlborough tips - French Pass - New Zealand travel tipsQueen Charlotte Track - 4 day walk (70 km, also shorter day walks are possible), from Ship Cove to Anakiwa (between Picton and Havelock)
  • Victoria Domain Tracks - a range of walks, for example the Harbour View Track (30 min), Picton Marina
  • Snout Track to The Snout (3 h return), car park on Waikawa Road near Queen Charlotte College, Picton
  • Pelorus Scenic Reserve - a range of walking tracks from 30 min to 4 h, Queen Charlotte Drive, State Highway 6
  • Nydia Track - 2 day walk from Kaiuma Bay near Havelock to Duncan Bay
  • Wither Hills Farm Park - a range of walking tracks, access for example from Forest Park Drive, Blenheim
  • Marfells Beach to Cape Campbell - coastal walk partly or all the way to the lighthouse (a whole day's walk), Marfells Road, 44 kms south of Blenheim

The best Marlborough lookouts

  • Marlborough tips - view from French Pass - New Zealand travel tipsHilltop Viewpoint (45 min one way), access from Garden Terrace or Newgate Street, Picton
  • Lookout above Picton harbour, Queen Charlotte Drive, Picton
  • Harbour View Lookout, short walk from the end of Sussex Street, Picton
  • Karaka Point (10 min one way), Waikawa Road, Waikawa Bay
  • Rotary Lookout (25 min one way), Wither Hills Farm Park, Forest Park Drive, Blenheim

The best Marlborough museums

  • Marlborough Provincial Museum, Arthur Baker Place, Blenheim
  • Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre - with Sir Peter Jackson's 'Knights of the Sky' exhibition, Aerodrome Road, Blenheim

Map of the Marlborough region

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