Marlborough Region, South Island of New Zealand

Marlborough is a region of stunning natural beauty located on the northeast corner of the South Island of New Zealand. It is known for its world-class wine industry, especially Sauvignon Blanc, which thrives in the sunny Wairau Valley. This region is home to the Marlborough Sounds, a spectacular coastline with secluded bays, islands and native wildlife. Visitors can enjoy various activities in the region, such as cruising, kayaking and fishing in the sounds, hiking the Queen Charlotte Track, or exploring the charming towns of Blenheim, Picton and Havelock.

An infographic on the best activities and things to do in the Marlborough region of the South Island of New Zealand

An Overview of the Marlborough Region

Marlborough Location:North-East of the South Island of New Zealand
Bordering Regions:Nelson-Tasman, Canterbury
Region Size (km2):12,484.59 km2
Population:52,200 (June 2023)
Main Cities and Towns:Blenheim, Picton, Havelock
Most Popular Tourist Destinations:Marlborough Sounds
Queen Charlotte Track
Marlborough Wine Region
Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve
Omaka Aviation Heritage Center

Highlights of the Marlborough Region

  • It is the largest wine-producing region in New Zealand, with over 140 wineries and 40 cellar doors!
  • It is home to the stunning Marlborough Sounds, a network of waterways, islands, and peninsulas that offer scenic views and wildlife encounters. You can explore the sounds by boat or via the stunning Queen Charlotte Track!
  • It has a mild and sunny climate, with an average temperature of 18°C and rainfall of 655 mm per year – meaning you can enjoy outdoor activities and events all year round!

Marlborough Sounds

Marlborough Sounds, Marlborough Region of New Zealand

The Marlborough Sounds is probably the most popular and well-known area in the Marlborough Region! These Sounds encompass a network of sea-drowned valleys that create a maze of golden coastline, hidden bays, islands and peninsulas.

Two of the largest and most popular sounds are the Queens Charlotte Sound and the Pelorus Sound, which are connected by the scenic Queen Charlotte Drive.

Hiking The Queen Charlotte Track

The Queen Charlotte Track is a 73.5 km long hike that runs along the ridge between the stunning Queen Charlotte Sound and Kenepuru Sound. The track offers spectacular views of the sounds, as well as historic sites, secluded bays, and lush coastal bush. The Queen Charlotte Track takes around 3 to 5 days to complete, depending on your fitness level and time available! You can also choose to do shorter sections of the track, as there are water taxis and accommodation options along the way – making it an awesome day-trip option from Picton!

Queen Charlotte Track, Marlborough Region of New Zealand
Hiking the Queen Charlotte Track!

Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve

Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve, Marlborough Region of New Zealand

Nestled in the lush countryside of the Marlborough region is the Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve. This hidden gem is centered around the incredible Pelorus River, which flows down from the Richmond Ranges and out into the stunning Pelorus Sound.

The reserve is renowned for it’s lush native forest and the crystal-clear Pelorus River that rushes through the heart of the reserve. There are a number of activities for visitors, from exploring the area by foot, to jumping into a kayak and seeing the reserve from a unique and memorable perspective!

Marlborough Wine Region

The Marlborough Wine Region is the largest and most famous wine-producing area in New Zealand, with over 140 wineries! The region is renowned for its award-winning Sauvignon Blanc, as well as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Reisling. One of the best things to do in Marlborough is to take a tour around some of the best cellar doors in the region, and try a glass or two!

Marlborough Wine Subregions infographic, Marlborough Region of New Zealand

Marlborough Wine and Food Festival

The region hosts the annual Marlborough Wine and Food Festival, which is the longest-running wine festival in the country and attracts thousands of visitors every February. The festival features wine tastings, food stalls, live music, and even celebrity chefs!

Marlborough Wine Trail

If you want to explore the wine region at your own pace, you can follow the Marlborough Wine Trail, a self-guided tour that covers 44 wineries and offers scenic views of the vineyeards and the Wairau Valley! You can also join guided tours or bike tours to get the most out of your visit.

Omaka Aviation Heritage Center

The Omaka Aviation Heritage Center is one of the coolest attractions located right in the heart of Marlborough, only 5km from Blenheim. This world-class aviation museum showcases WW1 and WW2 aircraft and artefacts, along with captivating and interactive dioramas built by Weta Workshop, Wingnut Wings and locals!

The museum offers two world-famous exhibitions: Knights of the Sky and Dangerous Skies. Knights of the Sky features one of the world’s largest collections of World War I aircraft and rare memorabilia, including a mix of static displays and flyable planes. Dangerous Skies features stories and aircraft from World War II, including a Stuka replica, a Spitfire, a Hurricane, a Yak-3 and a Ki-43.

Towns in the Marlborough Region

There are several towns in the Marlborough Region that serve as gateways to exploring the fantastic vineyards and the picturesque sounds, as well as offering their own attractions and charm. Some of the main towns in the Marlborough Region are:


Blenheim, Marlborough region of New Zealand

Blenheim is the largest town in the Marlbrough Region, and is fantastic base if you are looking at visiting the Marlborough wineries! It has a sunny climate and a relaxed atmosphere, and is surrounded by the beautiful Wiarau Valley, vineyards, and rolling green hills.

Blenheim is a lovely town to explore, and has a range of boutique shops, cafes, restaurants, and museums, including the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, which displays vintage aircraft and memorabilia from World War I and II.


Havelock, Marlborough region of New Zealand

Havelock is a small, charming town nestled in the Pelorus Sound, and is known as the “Greenshell Mussel capital of the world!”. One of the best things to do when visiting Havelock is to stop at one of the fantastic cafes or restaurants that serve fresh green-lipped mussels – straight from the Marlborough Sounds!

This tiny town is a short drive from Picton, and the marina is the main depature point for water taxis and charter boats that take you around Pelorus Sound and D’Urville Island.


Picton, Marlborough Region of New Zealand

The charming town of Picton is situated at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound, and is the main gateway into the beautiful Marlborough Sounds! It has a picturesque harbour and a lively waterfront, with a number of cafes, bars, galleries, and shops. Picton also offers a range of fantastic accommodation options, from boutique hotels to budget-friendly options!

There are a number of things to do and see in Picton! The beautiful marina is a main departure point for water taxis, charter boats, and ferries that connect to the Queen Charlotte Track and other destinations in the Sounds. There are also several attractions in the heart of town, such as the Edwin Fox Maritime Museum, the beautiful waterfront, and the Kaipupu Wildlife Sanctuary.