Hot sun by day and cool skies by night, the Marlborough region sits on the northeast of New Zealand’s South Island. It is known for its dry climate and, as a result, it is also famous for being the center of the country’s wine industry. If that’s not enough to impress you, what if I told you the land also gave birth to rocket scientist William Pickering and Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ernest Rutherford.

Marlborough Vacation Rentals and Boutique Hotels

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Timara Lodge
B&B Sleeps 8
Rates 800 - 1300 NZD
Waikawa Bay
Apartment Sleeps 6
Rates 130 - 285 NZD
Sennen House
B&B Sleeps 12
Rates 269 - 475 NZD

Marlborough Vacations: Things to see while on vacation in New Zealand

Marlborough Geography

Blenheim is the capital of this picturesque region, and is home to the region’s council. While the towns and cities of Marlborough are gorgeous, quaint and are filled with the friendliest people, the outskirts are what you’ve come for. You can find a New Zealand vacation rental in a main hub and make day trips, or camp out in the wilderness for a real escape.

The Marlborough Sounds is the most popular New Zealand vacation destination for nature lovers. It is made up of four different Sounds - Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru, Pelorus, and Mahau. Hop on a tour cruise and wind down the ocean-filled valleys, or take your own boat or kayak to explore at a more leisurely pace. The Marlborough Sounds is perfect for fishing, diving, boating and wildlife viewing, including dolphin watching. If you’re lucky you’ll also spot gannets, seals, blue penguins and even orca!

For a different perspective, you can hike or mountain bike the Queen Charlotte Track. This 70KM track is relatively easy and can be completed in 5 days by walking or 3 via bike. If you’re strapped for time, take a water taxi across the sounds and walk for just a few hours. The track stretches from Ship Cove to Anakiwa and is dotted with a range of accommodation along on the way. Here you’ll spot native birds, weka and tuatara.

Marlborough Culture

Marlborough is responsible for 77% of New Zealand’s wine production, with its most popular variety being Sauvignon Blanc. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay make a close second and third. Call it fate or coincidence, but the region boasts the finest assortment of seafood as well. 70% of New Zealand’s famous greenshell mussels and 75% of New Zealand’s farmed salmon come from this generous region.

And what could be a better pairing than a glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc with fresh seafood? Another activity in the Marlborough Sounds is a seafood cruise. Jump on board a boat and cruise down the bright blue waters while being served king salmon, mussels and clams straight from the sounds! I’d call that a good catch.

Marlborough has more than 30 cellar doors, which can be explored by driving, cycling or joining a guided wine tour. Some of the world-renowned artisanal vineyards include Allan Scott Wines, Brancott Estate Heritage Centre and Wither Hills. If you prefer beer, you’ll be relieved to hear Marlborough also serves craft beers from the local Renaissance and Moa breweries.

However, if you do love wine, one of New Zealand's most widely recognized vineyards is Villa Maria Estate. It is New Zealand's most awarded winery and can be found in Blenheim. It began in 1961 and is now one of the most iconic and admired wineries in the world. George Fistonich, the founder of the vineyard, was knighted in 2009 for his services to the New Zealand wine industry. He was the first to be knighted in the country.


Marlborough Landmarks

Another place to put on your list is the internationally acclaimed Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. It has theatrical displays of WW1 and WW2 aircraft and memorabilia - in fact, the WW1 exhibition is Peter Jackson’s own collection! For those who don’t know, Peter Jackson is the director of Lord of the Rings and the founder of Weta Workshop. Weta Workshop helped bring the scenes in this heritage centre to life.

Another cultural spot is Edwin Fox Maritime Museum. The Edwin Fox ship is 161 years old and is currently listed as the 9th oldest ship in the world. It is the oldest surviving merchant ship, and the last surviving convict ship that used to take convicts to Australia. It was also the last wooden NZ immigrant ship and was used to transport troops to the Crimean war!

So we’ve discovered museums dedicated to the sky and the sea, but what about land? Omaka Classic Cars is a showcasing of 60 beautiful vehicles from the 1950s to 1990s. This museum in Blenheim offers an insight into the New Zealand motor history.

EcoWorld Aquarium in Picton is a great indoors alternative on a rainy day. Here you can see and learn about some of the animals that makes New Zealand unique. See protected ancient tuatara, blue penguins, seahorses, giant weta, giant squid, hundreds of fish and much more. Don't blame the weather - there's always something to do!

If you’d rather hide away somewhere beautiful and recharge, escape to D’Urville Island. Tucked away in Catherine Cove of the Marlborough Sounds, you can only access this tranquil place by boat. This beautiful oasis has walking trails and activities such as mountain biking, diving and fishing. Stay for a day or a week - there are plenty of accommodation options and places to eat.

Make the most of the open waters and take a look at the list of cruises departing daily from Picton and Havelock town wharfs. There are scenic cruises, kid friendly cruises, cruises that will take you to wildlife sanctuaries, luxury cruises, eco cruises and much more. There’s something to suit every personality and every budget.

While you’re on your special New Zealand vacation, don’t forget to explore the many local markets. Try out the locally-grown saffron, honey, olives, chocolates, sea salt and much more. Marlborough is home to very talented artisan producers who are sure to inspire you and put a smile on your face. At the markets you’ll also find handcrafted woodwork, pottery, soaps and other unique souvenirs.

To make your Marlborough vacation truly restful and memorable, book the perfect Marlborough vacation rental. Check out our range of accommodation - we have something for everyone.