Experience Marlborough’s Natural Attractions
Secluded bays, 1,500km (932 miles) of coastline, rugged islands, mountainous regions, crystal clear rivers, a haven for wildlife, fertile soils and plenty of sunshine, Marlborough has plenty to offer nature-lovers! Whether you want to hike, bike, kayak or take a relaxing cruise, there are many awesome ways to experience the natural attractions in Marlborough.
The marine natural attractions are the obvious must-visit in Marlborough. With a complex coastline making up the Marlborough Sound, this creates sheltered waters for marine wildlife and isolated island for birds to thrive. Walking tracks and boat tours allow you to make the most of this pristine landscape.
Travel inland and you’ll discover natural attractions in Marlborough, such as the iconic Pelorus River featured in The Hobbit, as well as some mountainous landscapes in the Awatere Valley and Mt Richmond Forest Park.
So add these natural attractions in Marlborough to your bucket list for a truly wild and wonderful visit to the South Island’s northernmost region!
1. Marine Wildlife in the Marlborough Sounds
If you don’t get excited when you see a dolphin leap out of the water then you just don’t have a soul. The Marlborough Sounds will certainly fuel this excitement, as bottlenose dolphins are regular visitors to the sounds. Not only can you see and swim with dolphins in the Marlborough Sounds with E-Ko Tours (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor), but you can kayak with seals, and snorkel with stingrays and an array of fish species at Lochmara (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor). For more ways to experience in the Marlborough Sounds, check out 10 Awesome Activities in the Marlborough Sounds.
Location: Marlborough Sounds
2. Motuara and Kaipupu Islands
On the subject of wildlife, the land wildlife in Picton and the Marlborough Sounds is well worth discovering. Check out Kaipupu Island with its predator-proof fence allowing native birds to thrive here. It’s an easy way to get close encounters with some of New Zealand’s fascinating birds. To mix a wildlife experience with a trip out into the Marlborough Sounds by boat, head to Motuara Island. This island bird sanctuary is alive with the sound of melodic bird calls. Plus, the views from the top of the walking track are breathtaking.
Location: Motuara Island can be accessed by boat from the Picton Wharf with E-Ko Tours (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) and Beachcomber Cruises (on Viator and Tripadvisor). Kaipupu Island can also be accessed from Picton.
3. The Queen Charlotte Track
For a multi-day wilderness experience, check out the Queen Charlotte Track. The 71km (44-mile) Queen Charlotte Track in the Marlborough Sounds takes 3-5 days to walk/2-3 days to cycle. The journey is worth the effort with stunning ridgeline views, awesome bush walks and opportunity to see heaps of birds! For more information on biking the trail, check out Mountain Biking in Marlborough.
Location: Marlborough Sounds
4. The Pelorus River
Want to see a river so majestic that it was featured in The Hobbit movies? The Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve is the entrance to a dramatic river gorge with crystal clear waters. Either make use of the many walking trails around the area, go camping or go kayaking down the very same part of the river that the dwarfs did in barrels! Find out more about the kayaking tour on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve, Havelock
5. French Pass Whirlpools
Watch as tides collide to create ferocious whirlpools between French Pass and D’Urville Island. The journey down the French Pass Road is an adventure in itself but worth the twists and turns to get to this lookout over an unusual ocean sight. Find out how to see the whirlpools at French Pass and D’Urville Island – Guide for Backpackers.
Location: French Pass
6. D’Urville Island
From French Pass, take a water taxi over to the rugged D’Urville Island. The island is not your usual island getaway, with opportunity for mountain biking, hunting, fishing and hiking. However, you will get your time to relax in peaceful bays on this quiet island. For information on how to get to D’Urville Island, check out French Pass and D’Urville Island – Guide for Backpackers
Location: D’Urville Island
7. Mt Richmond Forest Park
Get a dose of mountain nature in the Mt Richmond Forest Park. Hiking tracks can bring you to some sensation views over valleys and tranquil lakes, such as Lake chalice. If you love mountain biking, then you’ll love the downhill thrills and wilderness rides in the Mt Richmond Forest Park. Find out more in Mountain Biking in Marlborough.
Location: Mt Richmond Forest Park, Havelock
8. Awatere Valley
A valley of extreme landscapes will keep your camera busy as you discover the beauty of Marlborough’s high-country. One moment, you’re driving past rows and rows of grapevines, the next you’ll travel along winding rivers. A popular spot to visit is Molesworth Station, New Zealand’s largest high-country farm, to check out the mountainous tussock scenery, take a historical tour of the old farm, or bike, hike and hunt through the open landscape.
Location: Awatere Valley
9. The Bays and Inlets of the Marlborough Sounds
With 1,500km (932 miles) of coastline, the Marlborough Sounds have many secluded bays and hidden inlets to discover. Boat trips from Picton and Havelock are a good way to see them from the water, whereas staying in one of the affordable resorts allows you to embrace them. Resorts like Lochmara, Anakiwa Lodge and Punga Cove Resort all have kayaks, places to relax, walks and more!
Location: Marlborough Sounds
10. Marlborough’s Vineyards
Ok, so the vineyards aren’t exactly a “natural attraction” in Marlborough, but nature helped them to grow and shape a mesmerising landscape. Where there are vineyards, there’s usually a cellar door for wine tastings, so join a driving tour (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) or hop on a bike (on Viator and Tripadvisor) and enjoy going from winery to winery tasting some world-famous Marlborough wines! Learn more about wineries in the area using the 10 Best Wineries in Marlborough.
Location: Vineyard can be found around Blenheim and Renwick.