Marlborough (New Zealand)
Marlborough is a region at the north-eastern end of the South Island of New Zealand chock full of great food to eat and intriguing sights to see. It is renowned for its high sunshine hours, New Zealand's largest wine growing area, whale and fur seal watching off the Kaikoura Coast and the sunken valleys of the Marlborough Sounds where most of the world's green lipped mussels are harvested.
Our visitor region of Marlborough is a relatively natural amalgam of the whole area of the unitary local authority of Marlborough District Council together with the adjacent area, immediately to the south, of Kaikoura District Council (formally part of Canterbury Regional Council)
- Blenheim – the largest town and transport hub for this region
- Havelock – the green lipped mussel capital of the world and jumping off point for the Pelorus Sounds
- Kaikoura – boat trips, fixed wing and helicopter flights to get up close to humpback whales
- Picton – the car ferry gateway from Wellington to the whole South Island and the Marlborough Sounds
- Rai Valley – a rural settlement and link to the western Marlborough Sounds – great bacon!
- Renwick – a satellite town to Blenheim
- Seddon – a small town south of the Awatea river
- Ward – a small town in the heart of the Flaxbourne District
Marlborough-Kaikoura is on the east coast of the South Island. The long Wairau Valley divides Marlborough. To the north are the Richmond Ranges and, beyond, the drowned valleys of the Marlborough Sounds. To the south is Lake Rotorua (not to be confused with the much larger Lake Rotoiti in the neighbouring Nelson Lakes National Park), Kaikoura Flat and then the Kaikoura Ranges and coast. As the prevailing wind is westerly, Marlborough-Kaikoura's climate is hot and dry in summer and generally dry all year round.
Marlborough-Kaikoura has been settled by Maori for a millennium. Like all parts of Aotearoa (New Zealand), Marlborough-Kaikoura was contested amongst various iwi (tribes). Of those tribes recognized as being in existence today, Marlborough-Kaikoura was a Rangitane, Ngati Apa, Ngati Kuia and Ngai Tahu stronghold up until the musket wars of 1806-1845 when invading iwi from Taranaki (Ngati Toa, Ngati Rarua, Ngati Tama, Ngati Koata and Te Atiawa) used the musket against the defenders armed only with spears and clubs. While Rangitane, Ngati Apa, Ngati Kuia and Ngai Tahu were to a greater or lesser extent routed, it is argued that conquest is only part of the customary land acquisition process and accordingly the defending iwi retained rights to the land. Even the nature of the customary relationships between tribes in boundary areas is disputed with one view being that determined boundary lines were a European construct unknown to Maori.
Today all the iwi named above are recognized as having influence in Te Tau Ihu (the top of the South Island). Ngai Tahu is recognized as having a sphere of influence emanating from Kaikoura and points south. Rangitane are recognized as having influence in the Wairau Valley. Ngati Toa and Ngati Rarua have shared influence over all of Marlborough-Kaikoura but especially concentrated on Port Underwood. Te Atiawa are recognized as having influence in Queen Charlotte Sound. Ngati Apa retained influence in Port Gore and towards the West Coast. Ngati Koata had influence on Rangitoto (D'Urville Is). Ngati Kuia has influence in the inner Pelorus Sound, with Ngati Tama having influence closer to Nelson.
The Crown went about purchasing and taking land which they required for settlers in the 1850's. Settlement continued apace. The first major industry of the region was flax. Today the remnants of the flax milling industry can be seen on the road between Spring Creek and Rarangi. Until the grape boom in the late 1980's, Marlborough sheep and beef farmers struggled with drought on stony country. The change to the province brought by grapes has been substantial.
In 1770, Captain Cook discovered the Kaikoura peninsula, believing it to be an island at first. Early European settlers used Kaikoura as a whaling station and the remains of pots used to render the whale blubber can be seen on the town foreshore.
The claim brought by Ngai Tahu against the historical actions of the Crown was controversially settled in the late 1990's. The Te Tau Ihu claim is being settled at present.
Ferries which link the North and South Islands travel between from Wellington to Picton. The ferry journey takes 3 hr to 3.5 hours with either BlueBridge or the interislander, the southern portion of which is through the Marlborough Sounds. The ferries take both vehicles and passengers.
InterCity coaches and smaller shuttle buses (Atomic Travel, Southern Link) run Picton - Christchurch and Picton - Blenheim - Nelson. Nelson Lakes Shuttles specialise in providing transport for trampers, hikers, climbers, mountain bikers and skiers. They run on demand and scheduled services to St Arnaud, Nelson Lakes National Park, Kahurangi National Park, the Richmond Ranges as well as other tramping destinations further afield.
The TranzCoastal  stops in Blenheim, Picton, Seddon and Kaikoura (The station itself is on Whaleway Station Road (presumably named because Whale Watch Kaikoura operate out of the station). A fantastic way to see the Kaikoura coast and Marlborough.
- Blenheim Airport at Woodbourne, 10 minutes from Blenheim and 4 minutes from Renwick on State Highway 6. Blenheim Airport is serviced by the Air New Zealand with flights to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The commuter airline Air2there flies to Wellington and Paraparaumu (north of Wellington). Sounds Air, mainly based out of Picton Airport, also has one return flight to Wellington from Woodbourne.
- Kaikoura Airport is a one of New Zealand's smaller airports. It's not an airstrip, as the runway is sealed for a smoother landing. Don't expect to join crowds of other passengers filing aboard a wide bodied jet, or even a narrow bodied one. You'll fly in a plane the size of a compact car, where every seat has a window, or two, and a door as well. You might even get to sit alongside the pilot, so don't play with the controls! Oh, and you will have to carry your own bags, so pack well and don't have too much luggage; excess baggage doesn't fly.
- Picton Airport, located 5 minutes south of Picton and 15 minutes north of Blenheim off State Highway 1, is the base for Sounds Air. This commuter airline flies to Wellington as well as offering scenic flights around the Marlborough Sounds. Picton is also used by Skydive the Sounds
State Highway 1 runs from Picton south to Blenheim (20 minutes), Seddon (40 min from Picton), Kaikoura (2 hours) and Christchurch (4.5 hr). Travel to Nelson is either via State Highway 6 from Blenheim (1.5 hr) or from Picton via the scenic and windy Queen Charlotte Drive. Travel to the West Coast is from Renwick via St Arnaud (1.3 hr).
Public Transport is limited. The main routes through the region are serviced by buses and trains (see above). Blenheim, Picton and Kaikoura have a taxi and shuttle service. Water taxis and scheduled water transport are available from Picton for the Queen Charlotte Sound and Havelock for the Pelorus Sound.
- The Marlborough Sounds, an aquatic playground with bird and dolphin watching, walking, kayaking and sailing.
- Vineyards stretching as far as the eye can see in the Wairau and Awatere Valleys.
- Lake Grassmere - where seawater is turned into huge piles of salt by the sun and evaporation as well as being a birdwatcher's paradise. Between Seddon and Ward on State Highway 1.
- Sperm Whales
- New Zealand fur seals
- Wandering Albatross
- The Kaikoura Webcam .
Depending on the season you may also see migrating Humpback Whales, Pilot Whales, Blue Whales and Southern Right Whales. Kaikoura often hosts the world's largest dolphin, the Orca or Killer Whale and is home to the world's smallest and rarest dolphin: Hector's. Kaikoura also attracts the largest concentration and variety of seabirds on mainland New Zealand including 13 species of Albatross, 14 varieties of Petrels and 7 types of Shearwater.
- The Marlborough Wine Festival is held in February each year. Experience over 200 wines from around 40 wineries and gourmet food. It is NZ's longest running wine and food festival.
- Garden Marlborough, an annual event running in the last week of October/first week of November showcases Marlborough's finest gardens.
- Marlborough-Kaikoura is an outdoors paradise. It can be used as a base for tramping (treking or rambling) in the Nelson Lakes National Park, the Marlborough Sounds, the Richmond Ranges, the Kaikoura Ranges. One of Marlborough-Kaikoura's secrets is the Sawcut Gorge.
- Ski Rainbow. 1 1/4 hours to the bottom of the access road, Rainbow Skifield  is the northern most skifield in the South Island, close to the village of St Arnaud.
- Driftwood Eco-tours , ☎ +64 3 577 7651. Bird watching and eco-tours. Leisurely Kayak on the Wairau lagoons to get close to rare New Zealand wading birds. High country exploration. Walking guide.
- Whale watching, .
- Surf - reef breaks and point breaks. Two surf shops in Kaikoura plus local surfboard manufacturer Surge Surfboards, .
- Take a fishing trip.
- Kaikoura Kayaks, . Kayak with seals and dolphins.
- Swim With Dolphins, .
- Swim With Seals, .
- Kaikoura Wilderness Walks, PO Box 177, Kaikoura, ☎ 64 3 319 6966. 2 & 3 day all-inclusive guided hikes through the privately owned Puhi Peaks Nature Reserve near Kaikoura. Upmarket lodge accommodation, untamed wilderness, dramatic alpine terrain, expert local guides
- South Pacific Safaris, Glencree Station, RD2, Kaikoura, ☎ +64 3 319 5189. Experienced, professional hunting guides offering deer hunting trips and other trophy hunts amongst New Zealand’s magnificent mountains near Kaikoura plus luxury hunting lodge accommodation.
- Riverlore Art Gallery, 1494 State Highway 6 (Between Renwick and Havelock south of the Wairau River bridge), ☎ +64 3 572-8755. M-F 12:00–16:00, weekends by appointment; May-Aug: please phone.
- Most of New Zealand's Greenshell mussels are farmed in the Marlborough Sounds. These mussels, a native species with Sauvignon Blanc would be a Marlborough signature match. Blenheim, Picton and Kaikoura have a good range of eating establishments.
- Eat Crayfish - Fresh crayfish are on sale at Waipapa Bay Lobsters 32 km north of Kaikoura - Crays here are always fresh and are never frozen. There are outdoor tables where you are welcome to eat, or you can have them packed on ice should you want to eat them later in the day. In Maori, kai means "eat" and koura is "crayfish' (rock lobster). So Kaikoura is a place to eat crayfish!
Marlborough-Kaikoura is New Zealand's largest grape growing region with the Wairau plains near Blenheim being the home of a number of major wineries. Vineyard tours are a significant attraction. The main varieties of grape grown are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
- Kaikoura Winery, .
- South to Canterbury. From Kaikoura, the inland route through to Hanmer Springs is off the usual tourist trail and rewards the traveller with mountain views and a soak in the hot springs.
- West to the Nelson Bays district.