Marlborough is always out to impress. With its high sunshine hours and world-renowned sauvignon blanc, it’s hard to turn down. A visit to one of the 37 winery cellar doors is a must to sample the vibrant, fruit, crisp herbaceous characters wine from the region is known for. Pick up a wine trail map from any i-SITE visitor centre, join a tour or hire a bike, and set off on your journey.
In addition to vineyards, the region is known for the Marlborough SOunds. One-fifth of New Zealand's coastline weaves it's way around the waterways of the Sounds (Queen Charlotte, Pelorus, Kenepuru and Mahau), making the area a haven for boaties. It's also a natural habitat for many of New Zealand's native animals including the Rowi kiwi, Stephens Island tuatara, fur seal, the rare King Cormorant, little blue penguin and up to five species of dolphin.
Half-day and day cruises are popular ways to explore the Marlborough Sounds, with cruises departing daily from Picton and Havelock town wharfs. Or, take to the water on a sea kayaking trip, staying in lodges or camping on secluded beaches and waking to the dawn chorus of native birdlife.
The Queen Charlotte Track, stretching nearly the length of Queen Charlotte Sound from Ship Cove to Anakiwa, is one of New Zealand's most popular walks and a Great Ride for mountain bikers, with expansive views over the Marlborough Sounds. The 70km track can be sampled in bite-sized half day or full-day sections, or walk the full track in 3 – 5 days or bike it (grades 4-5) in 2-3 days. With accommodation ranging from luxury lodges to conservation campsites along the way, and daily luggage transfers transferring your bags to your next night's accommodation, celebrate each day's journey with a hot shower (or well-earned swim), delicious local wine and food, and a comfortable bed with million dollar views.
Other scenic spots to explore in the Marlborough region include the Nydia Track which offers panoramic views of the Marlborough Sounds and an overnight stop at historic Nydia Bay. The Long Island-Kokomohua Marine Reserve, nestled in the entrance to Queen Charlotte Sound, is home to a range of protected marine life from crayfish and seals to penguins.
Follow the paths of dwarves along the Pelorus River, which was the filming location for the barrel scene from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
Then head to Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre to see film director Sir Peter Jackson's priceless collection of WW1 aircraft and memorabilia, bringing human stories from the Great War to life in captivating scenes created by the creative team behind The Hobbit.
Between October and Easter, journey by bike or 4WD vehicle through New Zealand's largest high country farm, Molesworth Station, with glacial geology and a rich history of Maori explorers, hardy settlers and modern farming.