During your visit to the top of New Zealand's South Island, be sure to enjoy some of the many great free things to do in Blenheim and in the surrounding regions. Spectacular coastlines, abundant marine life, a rich history and unspoilt areas of natural beauty can all be enjoyed without charge. Here are our favourite Marlborough, Kaikoura and Blenheim attractions.
Queen Charlotte Sound
Queen Charlotte Sound or Totaranui in the Mauri language, is a flooded river valley and the easternmost of the principal Marlborough Sounds. There are many different walking and tramping tracks around the Sound which will allow you to enjoy some spectacular views, take a refreshing dip in the clear water of a peaceful swimming beach or experience a loop through a regenerating forest. The Queen Charlotte track is one of New Zealand's most famous walking tracks and extends for 71-km. You don't need to do it all however, and there are many clearly marked walks of between 10 and 60-minutes over gentle terrain which are suitable for people of all ages and levels of fitness. These beautiful relaxing walks are some of the most peaceful and enjoyable things to do in Marlborough.
Scale Mount Vernon
Situated outside of Blenheim, the Wither Hills Farm Park offers a great selection of over 60-km’s of mountain biking trails and walking tracks spread over 1100 hectares. Here you can have a picnic or enjoy one of the many walking track options including the Mt Vernon Traverse. From the Mt Vernon lookout, take in spectacular views of Cloudy Bay, the Richmond Ranges and Wairau Valley.
Explore the town of Picton
The charming fishing village of Picton nestled at the head of the Queen Charlotte Sound is one of the principal Marlborough attractions and is home to the Cook Straight Ferry terminals. The sheltered harbour houses many interesting vessels and the town is steeped in maritime history. Enjoy a stroll among the many waterfront restaurants and cafes, and browse through the galleries and shops where local artists display their work. During the summer months free concerts at the Le Café are a pleasant option, and on Tuesday evenings there are yacht races at the Waikawa boat club to which visitors are welcome. Picton is not just where the ferries come and go from, it’s a unique, picturesque, historic town with plenty of great free things to do.
Visit the Kaikoura Coast
Located an hour and a half’s drive down from Blenheim, the Kaikoura Coast is one of New Zealand’s best places to spot whales, dolphins and fur seals. These creatures are one of the most incredible New Zealand attractions and there are many places where you can observe them for free. The Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway is easily accessed form the town of Kaikoura and offers different walking options including a 3 hour roundtrip hike which takes you close to colonies of seals and seabirds and gives you marvellous views of impressive limestone formations. In the Maori language "Kai" means food and "koura" crayfish and the area is famous for this delicious delicacy, a must to try.
Take a walk around Whites Bay
Whites Bay is an important Blenheim tourist attraction. Located 15-km form the town of Tuamarina, the area offers numerous short walks passing through regenerating forest and pine forest crossing over clear streams and offering spectacular views from the edge of a bluff. These short walks join up with the Mount Robertson track which offers more challenging tramping standard options for the more experienced walker. Be sure to visit he almost flat sandy beach which offers the perfect place for a chilly dip, and is the only safe spot for bathing on the Cloudy Bay coast.