1 / 6
Kayak the Pelorus River
Havelock is blessed to have one of New Zealand's most beautiful rivers right on its back door: the Pelorus. As well as seeing stunning scenery and interacting with native wildlife, you can even kayak one particular stretch of it that has appeared on the silver screen. Leaving from Havelock, The Hobbit Kayak Tour from Pelorus Eco Adventures takes you down the same part of the river that Sir Peter Jackson used for filming a memorable scene in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, when Bilbo’s dwarf companions make a dramatic barrel-filled escape from Mirkwood. It's fun for all ages and perfectly safe for first-timers!
Learn about Havelock’s unique past as an important Maori Pa, bustling Gold Rush town, and significant sawmilling port at the Havelock Museum on Main Road. It’s a small museum, easy to navigate, and the old machinery – starting with the train out front – are great for entertaining the kids. Outside the museum every Saturday there’s also a weekly flea market.
Havelock is home to two of the world’s great scientists. Nobel Laureate and father of nuclear physics Ernest Rutherford and Bill Pickering (head of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory between 1954-1976, pioneering unmanned space flights) both went to Havelock School, just along from Bluemoon Lodge.
For a small town, Havelock certainly punches above its weight in terms of art galleries. The Gallery Havelock show many interesting pieces inspired by the local landscape, and Shark Nett Gallery have some impressive Maori wood carvings. If you’re more into pottery than painting, don’t miss checking out the colourful ceramics at Weka Gallery.
Eat Greenshell Mussels
In the ‘Green-lipped Mussel Capital of the World’, as Havelock calls itself, you can’t leave town without trying the local delicacy. Loads of places serve these meaty wee maestros in a number of different ways. If you’re in Marlborough around the end of summer, be sure to visit the world-famous Havelock Mussel Festival!
Enjoy the rich natural beauty of this special region by doing one of the many bush walks that start in Havelock. At Pelorus Bridge, just 15 minutes from Havelock, you’ll find awesome swimming holes and plenty of bushwalking tracks to suit any age or ability. For something a bit more hard-core, get deep into New Zealand’s wildlife on the 2-day Nydia Track.
Boat tours from Havelock Marina all offer something different: the historic Pelorus Mail Boat delivers mail to Marlborough Sounds locals living in hard-to-reach places; the Greenshell Mussel Cruise focuses on Havelock’s globally renowned shellfish, showing how they are grown, harvested and eaten; while Foxylady Cruises cater for a peaceful glide around the Sounds and an evening BBQ.
Red snapper and blue cod are the prized catch among locals, but salmon, trout and kahawai can also be caught in the rich waters of the Pelorus and Kenepuru Sounds – not to mention ample paua, mussels and crayfish for divers. There’s a wide range of charters and fishing tours leaving from Havelock, or you can hire some gear and head out on your own.
The natural ecosystems around Havelock hold an incredibly diverse number of rare and wonderful native species. See native dolphins, seals, and gannets on wildlife boat tours, or take a guided walk through native New Zealand bush to see native birds and learn how different native plants were used by the local Maori before European colonisation.
Havelock Domain (Memorial Park)
The venue for major events like the Havelock Mussel Festival, the Havelock Domain is a huge green space right in the middle of town which is a beautiful place to sit and have lunch on a good day. There are also rugby, soccer, cricket, netball and tennis facilities, as well as a modern skatepark.
Most of these things can be done at any time of the year in Havelock. But bear in mind that things like The Hobbit Kayak Tour can get very busy and booked out in season, so be sure to check it out well ahead of time.