When you think of Marlborough your first thoughts might be wine and the Marlborough Sounds. But, wonderful as these delights are, did you know that Marlborough has a huge range of amazing walks, all starring some of the best scenery in the country?
From a one hour scenic stroll to a full day hike through to a 5 day serious tramp, there is a walk to suit anyone’s fitness level, time preference and scenery interests.
5 great walks
It’s hard to narrow it down to five, but here are some of the most popular walks in the region.
1. Mt Vernon Lookout (1.5-2 hours)
Mt Vernon forms part of the beautiful Wither Hills that provides the striking ochre backdrop on the southern side of Blenheim. It’s worth the walk to the lookout with 180 degree views from Cloudy Bay, across Blenheim and right up the Wairau Valley.
A steep but rewarding climb that’s great for kids and reasonably fit adults.
Park at Redwood Street Carpark. Take the Mt Vernon Track to the left up the grassy hillside or the Sutherland Stream Track to the right up the shaded valley to the lookout. Do a return trip on your track of choice, or a circuit using both.
2. Sawcut Gorge (3-4 hours return)
In Southern Marlborough, Sawcut Gorge is a unique walk up a river to a narrow two metre wide gorge with 150 metre high towering cliffs.
Be prepared to get wet feet as you walk up through the scenic riverbed. This is a geographically and botanically interesting area.
Turn off State Highway 1 on the north side of the Waima River Bridge 55 km south of Blenheim (72 km north of Kaikoura) into the Waima/Ure Valley and follow the narrow gravel road up to Blue Mountain Station, 12 km from State Highway 1.
3. The Snout Track (3 hours)
Take a leisurely stroll along the bushy hillside track from Picton north to the The Snout peninsula.
Enjoy scenic views across Queen Charlotte Sounds and you walk up to the Queen Charlotte View Lookout then carry on along to The Snout headland, a great spot for a picnic.
From Picton Marina at the east end of the Picton foreshore, head over the high foot bridge to where the track starts. There is paid parking at the Marina, and some free longer term parking spaces within Picton township.
4. Nydia Track (2 days)
The Nydia Track takes you through regenerating forest and farmland with stunning coastal scenery starts at Kaiuma Bay near Havelock and ends at Tennyson Inlet, with Nydia Bay in the middle.
You can stay at the Nydia Bay campsite, the Department of Conservation lodge, local bed and breakfasts or the eco lodge.
You can drive to either end of the track or get there by charter launch or mail boat from Havelock. A popular plan is to organise to go at the same time as another group in opposite directions and swap keys at Nydia Bay.
27km – 9 hours walking, one way.
5. Queen Charlotte Track (up to 5 days)
The Queen Charlotte Track is a spectacular coastal walk stretching from historic Ships Cove in the outer reaches of Queen Charlotte Sound to Anakiwa near Picton.
At 70km in length and relatively easy walking, the full track can be walked in 3-5 days, depending on fitness and experience. All levels of accommodation are available along the track. Your pack can be transferred by water taxi, leaving you to just carry a day pack while walking.
For serious guided walks, including multi-day walks, check out Wilderness Guides or if you’d prefer a shorter sample of the track with a guide see Marlborough Tour Company. Otherwise unguided day walks – or part day walks – are available along every part of the Track to give you a taste.
Ships Cove is accessible only by boat – with lots of options to get you there and to any other part of the track you wish to walk. You may wish to include a seafood tour in your trip. Parts of the track, including Anakiwa, are accessible by road as well as water.
For more info on these Marlborough walks and many more visit MarlboroughNZ.com
Several of these walks are also excellent mountain biking tracks.
Guided walking tours
If you like the idea of having a walking guide to assist and give you more information about the area, Marlborough Tour Company has a range of options that can be tailored to suit you.
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