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Marlborough has much to offer. Delight in cruising pretty waterways, hiking through pristine native forest and sampling the Sauvignon Blanc at internationally renowned wineries in a very special corner of New Zealand’s South Island.
From the forests and inlets of the Marlborough Sounds to plains criss-crossed with grape vines further south, Marlborough is a region blessed with natural abundance. Bathed in sunshine, it invites exploration year-round, whether your tastes run to swimming with dolphins or the laid-back pleasure of selecting a favourite among more than 100 wineries. For visitors arriving by ferry, the Marlborough Sounds are their first glimpse of the South Island, and what a first impression it is! Forest-cloaked hills surround tranquil Queen Charlotte Sound, and the town of Picton nestles against the shore.
Havelock The village of Havelock is the gateway to Pelorus and Keneperu sounds – charter boats and water taxis leave from the marina. It’s famous for its Greenshell Mussels.
Renwick Heart of the Sauvignon Blanc wine industry and an ideal place for a winery tour by bike.
Portage Tiny outpost on Kenepuru Sound. There’s a hotel, and boats and bikes to rent. Portage is accessible by road – take the turnoff at Linkwater on Queen Charlotte Drive.
Picton The main centre in the Marlborough Sounds, Picton is an excellent base for beginning an exploration of the region. Situated at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound, it’s a departure point for inter-island ferries across the Cook Strait to Wellington, as well as boat cruises and kayak adventures.
Blenheim The region’s main centre, Blenheim has a big reputation for beautiful wines – particularly Sauvignon Blanc – but it is also the gateway to outdoor adventure. The town is the commercial hub of the region and offers a range of eateries and accommodation. Surrounded by vineyards, it enjoys a beautiful setting and sunny climate.
Anakiwa This small settlement at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound is popular for swimming and water sports. For most people, it marks the end of the Queen Charlotte Track.
Take a cycle tour around the famous local wineries. Tour a remote high country station by 4WD. Indulge in a vineyard lunch in the Blenheim sunshine. Visit Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. Walk a section of the Queen Charlotte Track and stop for a swim. Join a dolphin-watching boat cruise in tranquil waterways. Feast on Greenshell Mussels after visiting a mussel farm in Havelock. Experience a sea kayaking adventure around hidden coves. Mountain bike along the Queen Charlotte Track.
No, they’re not actually fiords – a clue to the origin of the fiord-like waterways of the Marlborough Sounds lies in the steep, bush-clad hills surrounding them. The Sounds are essentially drowned river valleys, a mountainous region that slowly sank over thousands of years due to geological activity, allowing the sea to gradually flood the once-forested valleys.