10 Marlborough Must-Dos© NZPocketGuide.com
10 Marlborough Must-Dos

10 Marlborough Must-Dos

© NZPocketGuide.com
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
NZ Pocket Guide is 10 years old. Thank you for trusting us with your trip for over a decade!

The Must-do Activities in Marlborough!

Welcome to the sunny side of the South Island! World-class wineries, top mountain bike trails, lush scenery and breathtaking coastline await in the Marlborough. The small region is packed with things to do both out on the water and on land. We’ve managed to whittle the wealth of options to a few Marlborough must-dos.

Get out on the water to spot dolphins, see an array of fish and stingray. Travel through the history and soak in the scenery of the Marlborough Sounds. For the adventurous, it’s well worth getting off the beaten track to explore French Pass and D’Urville Island. Inland, check out famous filming locations on the Pelorus River and cycle between wineries tasting the countries best wines.

So don’t miss a thing off this list of Marlborough must-dos!

1. Explore the Marlborough Sounds

It’s likely that you will have cruised through the Marlborough Sounds when taking the ferry to the South Island. Well, that was just a taste of it. The mountainous coastal region has much to explore in a variety of different ways. Take in the scenery and look out for dolphins on a scenic boat cruise (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) or hit the popular Queen Charlotte Track, which can be either walked or biked. Why not take a day trip to one of the Sounds’ hidden gems, like swimming with stingrays at Lochmara (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor), immersing in the history at Ship Cove, or watching the native birds on the pest-free Motuara Island (on Viator and Tripadvisor)?

Location: Marlborough Sounds

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

2. Go On a Winery Crawl

The Marlborough region is New Zealand’s largest wine-making region, so it should go without saying that hopping from cellar door to cellar door is a Marlborough must-do! Renwick is surrounded by 17 winery cellar doors all within a 5km (3-mile) radius, so hire a bike (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) or jump on a mini-bus tour (on Viator and Tripadvisor) and treat yourself to some of the world’s finest Sauvignon Blanc! Pick-ups from tour operators can often be organised from Picton and Blenheim. (And don’t forget to check out the 10 Blenheim Must-Dos too!)

Location: Renwick

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

3. Go Mountain Biking

Marlborough is a seriously bike-friendly region. Not only is biking one of the most popular ways to get between wineries (see above), there are plenty of mountain biking thrills to be had. The Queen Charlotte Track, open to bikers between March and November, is a must-do three-day wilderness trail. The Link Pathway is a day wilderness trail with some spectacular views between Picton and Havelock. Finally, Wither Hills Farm Park in Blenheim has a dedicated mountain bike park to experience those downhill thrills! Learn more in Mountain Biking in Marlborough.

Location: Picton, Marlborough Sounds and Blenheim.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

4. Explore Okiwi Bay

Getting to Okiwi Bay is just part of the adventure when driving through the beautiful Rai Valley. Once you get “over the hill” you are greeted with stunning views overlooking the quiet bay. Check out the stunning coastal views from the Goat Hill Track or hire a kayak and paddle in the bay. To extend your stay longer, take the scenic road to French Pass (see below).

Location: Okiwi Bay

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

5. Visit the Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve

That’s right, it’s not just about the coast in Marlborough! The Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve is located on the Pelorus River, a clear-water river lined with majestic rock faces. The area is so stunning that it appeared in the barrel scene in The Hobbit movies. Either make use of the walks, the campground or go kayaking with Pelorus Eco Adventures to really explore this beautiful area. Find out more about Pelorus Eco Adventures on Viator and Tripadvisor.

Location: Havelock

10 Marlborough Must-Dos© NZPocketGuide.com

6. Take the Scenic Drive Down French Pass

If winding gravel roads don’t scare you, then you are in for a treat with the French Pass Road! Starting from Okiwi Bay, the road takes you through a tract of native forest before emerging with open views across the French Pass Peninsula and out to D’Urville Island. Short walks along the way take you to viewpoints overlooking some whirlpools, as well as some quiet hidden beaches. For more information, check out French Pass and D’Urville Island – Guide for Backpackers.

Location: Okiwi Bay

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

7. Fish, Hike and Relax on D’urville Island

Get a water taxi from French Pass to the island paradise of D’Urville Island. Fishing is a popular sport to do around its coast (you’re almost guaranteed to catch a blue cod), and you’re likely to spot dolphins and seals along the way. Once you’ve arrived on the forested island alive with the sound of native birds, go for a hike, mountain bike, kayak or just relax. Check out more information at French Pass and D’Urville Island – Guide for Backpackers.

Location: D’Urville Island

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

8. Check Out the Museums

Culture yourself at one of Marlborough’s many educative museums. The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre (79 Aerodrome Road, Blenheim) holds some action-packed displays of planes throughout history designed and put together by Sir Peter Jackson. Another museum worth checking out is the Marlborough Museum, (26 Arthur Baker Place, Blenheim), to get a rounded perspective on the Marlborough region, from Maori history to wine-making. Find out more about the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre on Viator and Tripadvisor.

Location: Blenheim

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

9. Embrace the Landscape of the Awatere Valley

The Awatere Valley is a place of extremes. Drive along golden hills, pink solar salt ponds, vineyards, wide river valleys and tussock-covered hills. The Awatere Valley is also the entrance to New Zealand’s largest high-country farm, Molesworth Station. The high-country farm is open to the public for hiking, mountain biking and camping. Access is via Acheron Road, but check that the road is open on the Department of Conservation website.

Location: Awatere Valley

© NZPocketGuide.com

10. Treat Your Taste Buds

At NZPocketGuide.com, we are all about saving money on food so you can afford to travel longer and do epic activities. Well, that’s with the exception of Marlborough. If you were to have one foodie experience in New Zealand, it has to be in Marlborough. Tasting greenshell mussels in Havelock is a must-do in Marlborough! Check out a tour where you can partake in mussel-munching on Viator and Tripadvisor. Otherwise, try your luck at fishing, visit the King Salmon farm, and try one of the many eateries and wineries in Picton and Blenheim. Makana chocolate factory and the Dodson Street “Biergarten” are some of our favourites.

Location: Picton, Blenheim and Havelock

Pixabay© Pixabay


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Laura S.

This article has been reviewed and published by Laura, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Laura is a first-class honours journalism graduate and a travel journalist with expertise in New Zealand and South Pacific tourism for over 10 years. She also runs travel guides for five of the top destinations in the South Pacific and is the co-host of over 250 episodes of the NZ Travel Show on YouTube.

Was this article useful?