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The Top Things to do in Marlborough

Looking for things to do in Marlborough, NZ? New Zealand's Marlborough region on the tip of the country's South Island offers a wonderful combination of both sightseeing and culinary delights, with a host of great wineries, a stunning network of pristine Sounds, and one of the county's best hiking tracks. Those who love the outdoors will love Marlborough, as the region's incredible Queen Charlotte Track is one of New Zealand's Great Walks.

If you're looking to get the best of the Marlborough region, browse through our range of things to do and book YOUR Marlborough experience today.

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The Top Things to do in Marlborough

Looking for things to do in Marlborough, NZ? New Zealand's Marlborough region on the tip of the country's South Island offers a wonderful combination of both sightseeing and culinary delights, with a host of great wineries, a stunning network of pristine Sounds, and one of the county's best hiking tracks. Those who love the outdoors will love Marlborough, as the region's incredible Queen Charlotte Track is one of New Zealand's Great Walks.

If you're looking to get the best of the Marlborough region, browse through our range of things to do and book YOUR Marlborough experience today.

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Top 10 Restaurants in Marlborough, NZ

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by Experience Oz + NZ staff
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In many ways, its culinary scene could be viewed as the Marlborough region of New Zealand’s claim to fame; it’s a hotspot for foodies largely as a result of its number of producers of quality raw ingredients, array of high-end wineries, famously fresh seafood and propensity for some excellent restaurants in which chefs combine all of the above to produce their own individual taste delights.

As a result, food is one of the major drawcards for those visiting the region; wine aficionados in particular will be drawn to its 40-some cellar doors which specialise in the production of its world-famous sauvignon blanc, as well as multiple other varieties that thrive in the region’s sunny, temperate climate.

For the aspiring traveller to Marlborough, there are innumerable restaurants, bars, cafes and other eateries from which to choose; in this section, we break down our list of recommendations for the best Marlborough restaurants that cover both the low and high level price spectrums of dining.

1. Gramado's Restaurant & Bar

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Location: 74 Main St, Blenheim, NZ

Cuisine: Brazilian

Named after a small town in Brazil, Gramado’s in Blenheim is a long-time local favourite that’s relatively small in scale but comes with an intimate setting that is always busy but never truly feels “crowded”, which forms a friendly and jovial backdrop to the great and original quality of food served here.

The majority of the restaurant’s dishes are based on traditional Brazillan cookery but given a slight New Zealand fusion element, leading to an original and quite exciting menu where most visitors will be able to find some new and tasty adventure to enjoy.

As a result, coming here always feels refreshing, as regardless of how many times you’ve been, the extensive menu and quirkiness of its dishes ensures you’ll rarely be bored.

The restaurant features a number of standout dishes – particularly excellent versions of meat dishes such as steaks and lamb, while the Brazilian specials such as the Escondido are not only delectable but extremely reasonably priced as well. Clear explanations are provided by the waitstaff on every dish which is a big help to the uninitiated, too.

Coming here always feels refreshing, as regardless of how many times you’ve been, the extensive menu and quirkiness of its dishes ensures you’ll rarely be bored.

Gramado’s offers a number of wonderfully-unique desserts – such as chocolate sauces blended with ground pepper for an extra kick – that you simply won’t encounter at the majority of other Marlborough restaurants, and the blend of fine wine and liberal use of chocolate help to augment the rest of the menu’s offerings nicely.

The restaurant is also great at catering for gluten-free offerings, both in terms of regular menu items and removing ingredients upon request.

Easy to access and with plenty of car parking just outside, this is perhaps Blenheim’s best overall restaurant – and one of Marlborough’s most distinctive dining offerings.

2. The Mussel Pot

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Location: 73 Main Rd, Havelock, NZ

Cuisine: Seafood

The town of Havelock is famed for one major thing that will appeal to culinary aficionados – its green shell mussels – and while there are several choices to sample this local delicacy around town, few can compare to the offerings of the long-running Mussel Pot.

One of the best choices in the entire Marlborough region for seafood lovers, as one may guess from its name the restaurant specialises in all-things-mussel; diners here can experience the shellfish done in steamed, smoked, marinated, grilled, battered and a number of other fashions worthy of a scene from Forrest Gump.

This is a humble dining venue that’s entirely unpretentious: dining is the key focus here, and it definitely shows, with some of the methodology for preparing the mussels and adding additional flavours highly inventive.

Those wanting to try the mussels have an excellent choice of lovely sauces in which they can be cooked, such as being steamed in coconut milk with the likes of green curry or even blue cheese – this flavour then permeates the dish to add an entirely fresh spin on the already substantial flavour of the mussels themselves.

One of the best choices in the entire Marlborough region for seafood lovers, as one may guess from its name the restaurant specialises in all-things-mussel.

Food at The Mussel Pot is beautifully cooked and presented, with even its side dishes – such as the delectable mussel chowder – likewise amazing.

Non-mussel seafood served here is a delight too, with even simple fish and chips a mouth-watering proposition. Everything here plays second-fiddle to the mussels themselves, however, and the mussels served here are huge and succulent without exception.

Very friendly staff and a robust wine and beer list help round things out, as does the lovely outdoor setting dotted with grape vines. While those who aren’t massive fans of shellfish will likely want to look elsewhere, if you’re in search of some of Marlborough’s signature produce of the sea, then the Mussel Pot should be one of your first ports of call.

3. Rock Ferry Wines

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Location: 80 Hannerichs Road, Blenheim, NZ

Cuisine:New Zealand Local

Set amongst a wonderful rural backdrop and emanating a warm and welcoming atmosphere from the moment you arrive, Rock Ferry Wines and its attached restaurant are a family owned and operated venue that’s as enjoyable to dine at as it is to sample its signature wines.

This is more than just a winery – it’s a quality dining establishment in its own right, one that utilises an interesting mixture of flavour combinations along with mostly organic ingredients to produce meals that cover a range of dietary options.

Visitors have the choice of dining either indoors amongst classy yet unpretentious surrounds, or when the weather holds true, outside in a peaceful outdoor setting tucked away amongst the vines.

Rock Ferry specialises in home-style fare done with a professional twist, with even simple options such as the Fish of the Day and more exotic choices including pumpkin pancakes all produced with a level of care and passion that reflects in their tastes.

Visitors have the choice of dining either indoors amongst classy yet unpretentious surrounds, or when the weather holds true, outside in a peaceful outdoor setting tucked away amongst the vines.

While this is a winery, the dining wine menu is not extensive in its own right and instead chooses to focus on providing only the most enjoyable types to compliment the meals accordingly – with its friendly and warm staff always willing to recommend the best possible pairings.

Due to its popularity booking ahead in advance comes recommended – Rock Ferry is almost eternally busy due to its pristine reputation amongst locals and thus getting a table can be a competitive proposition.

4. Cod & Lobster Brasserie

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Location: Trafalgar St, Nelson, NZ

Cuisine: Seafood

Several years since its establishment back in 2015, Nelson's Cod & Lobster has developed a well-deserved reputation for a quality mix of food and drink with some signature Marlborough region flare added in for good measure.

Set within a beautiful historical building at the foot of the colourful gardens of the city's Cathedral Hill, as a venue the restaurant oozes charm along with a hint of Parisian influence to set the scene for the dining experience to come. It's incredibly welcoming, with its bar a focal point of social activities - grab a seat by the bar, watch the imaginative cocktails being mixed, and have a chat with the barman while waiting for your table on busy occasions.

As can be expected from the name, seafood is the signature offering at Cod & Lobster, with the incredibly fresh hauls straight out of the surrounding Marlborough waterways resulting in some top-notch bounty of the sea. If you're thus a fan of seafood, you'll be in your element here - standout dishes such as salmon gravlax, blue cod with lentil salad, and delectable crayfish (when in season) are all both expertly prepared and plated.

Unlike many other mid-to-high-end restaurants, meals at Cod & Lobster are not only great in quality but also generous in size. As a result, while it also ranks on the upper-mid tier of the pricing scale, you'll never leave hungry and surely find dining here definitely a "get what you pay for" proposition.

"If you're a fan of seafood, you'll be in your element here... with incredibly fresh hauls straight out of the surrounding Marlborough waterways."

The menu itself is interesting and inventive, with plenty of choice. For the indecisive, opting for one of the excellent seafood boards serves as a great way to sample a wide cross-section of flavours in one sitting and comes highly recommended.

Food on offer is augmented by a truly great drink selection - particularly spirits - highlighted by an extensive array of gins that you'll find hard to beat in any other establishment in New Zealand. As a result, Cod & Lobster is as just as easy to recommend for its cocktails as it is the food and makes for an ideal venue for celebrations within Nelson.

Expect warm and friendly service from the well-trained staff who are attentive yet never intrusive. They're universally highly knowledgeable about each dish as well as advising for the most appropriate wine pairings, too.

Frequent live music on offer rounds out the proceedings here, and can help set a romantic atmosphere that combines with the decor to make for a pleasant overall experience. Perhaps its one downside is that Cod & Lobster's popularity of an evening makes a prior reservation all but essential - a testament to its high level of regard among Nelson locals.

5. Cafe Cortado

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Location:30 London Quay, Picton

Cuisine: Seafood/European/South American fusion

If you’re after a restaurant that’s both reasonably priced and boasts a staggeringly comprehensive menu with plenty of variety, then Cafe Cortado located on Picton’s main street is hard to beat.

Set in a picturesque location just across the harbour and with outdoor views that create a relaxed and refreshing atmosphere that makes for a great spot to enjoy people-watching, Cafe Cortado is one of the more flexible and versatile dining options you’ll encounter in the Marlborough region.

Oriented around being a casual dining and drinks venue with an outlook that complements the food and drink. Cafe Cortado incorporates a range of elements from both European and South American cookery, with a selection that covers everything from pizza to seafood.

With dishes that come with incredibly generously-sized portions to boot, this is a choice of places to dine that comes with a reasonable price and something to fit all tastes.

"With dishes that come with incredibly generously-sized portions to boot, this is a choice of places to dine that comes with a reasonable price and something to fit all tastes."

There are a number of standout highlights amongst its many offerings, too; the seafood platter is both fresh and filling, there’s a wide range of excellent beers to choose from, and it’s a spot where you can enjoy as magnificent a cup of coffee as can be found anywhere else in New Zealand.

A number of artisan wines populate the menu as well, while cocktails are also available for those looking to kick up their heels a little further.

The restaurant is run by professional staff that are quite efficient given how busy it is – a testament both to Cafe Cortado’s location and quality – while the cookstaff can both be commended on their skill with meal preparation and their willingness to accommodate individual dietary restrictions.

Whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner, Cafe Cortado makes for an enjoyably chaotic spot in Picton for a quality meal that represents great value for money.

6. Speights Ale House

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Location: Middle Renwick Road, Blenheim, NZ

Cuisine: Pub

This popular Blenheim ale house provides everything you might expect in terms of a standard ale house – including a wide selection of award-winning beer and ales – but its dining takes what one might expect of the food on offer to a higher level.

Speights offers “pub food”, but it supersedes the average pub meal in almost every single possible way; as a result, it represents one of the best “bang for your buck” dining options on this list. Prices at Speights are far lower than one may initially imagine, especially given the generous portions in which its meals come.

Speights boasts good menu variety with enough selection to keep everyone happy; think the likes of ribs, chicken wings, pizza, lambsfry and bacon, salt and pepper prawns, and other fairly standard but still delicious fare that will soon fill whatever previous hole in your stomach may have existed.

A case in point of the restaurant’s quality is the fish and chips, which is done with a lovely Blue Cod that carries a premium taste and feel when compared to your local, greasy F&C joint.

Good, solid, no-frills NZ food combined with some top beer make Speights an easy go-to option for a no fuss and budget-friendly meal in Marlborough.

Being an alehouse, beer obviously plays a large role, and Speights is separated into two main sections to reflect this; there’s the restaurant/dining area itself, and an adjoining bar area where beers can be enjoyed as well as lighter meals.

Beer tasting plates are also available for those wanting to try a range of different options, and given the range on offer, if you’re a beer enthusiast this makes for an appealing prospect.

The ale house is laid out and constructed with a slick, minimalist, modern design that still manages to feel warm, and is kept intentionally slightly rustic; it’s got a great atmosphere overall.

Prompt and friendly service is provided via many of the staff who are quite young but extremely positive in nature across the board. Good, solid, no-frills NZ food combined with some top beer make Speights an easy go-to option for a no fuss and budget-friendly meal in Marlborough.

7. Gusto Cafe

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Location: High St, Picton, NZ

Cuisine: Cafe

One of Picton’s best options for breakfast, but also great for lunch and later on in the day, centrally-located cafe Gusto brings together all the elements one could want in a go-to stop for a quick and delicious meal.

Made from fresh and wholesome ingredients, and with food that comes at very reasonable prices given the inherent level of quality, Gusto makes for the perfect stop both for locals and those simply visiting in order to take the Interislander ferry.

Everything on offer at Gusto is generously-sized, and options for both savoury and sweet snacks and full-blown meals are available which makes for a viable all-day dining and takeaway venue.

In particular, Gusto serves as an excellent place to stock up on some gourmet sandwiches for those preparing to hike the famed Queen Charlotte Track nearby, while its complementary snack options also carry their weight – there’s a delectable assortment of cakes and cookies from which to choose, too.

Centrally-located cafe Gusto brings together all the elements one could want in a go-to stop for a quick and delicious meal.

Gusto offers a great mix of freshly-sliced meats and selection of fresh juices with which to turbo-charge your morning, and the coffee here is particularly outstanding; something which is both refreshing and a relative rarity in many parts of New Zealand.

While there’s plenty to choose from in terms of meals, standouts include both the wonderful French Toast, as well as a special country-style omelette done with a hint of pesto that’s brimming with flavour.

Indoor and outdoor dining are both an option here – including a very nice outside seating area on the cafe’s terrace – that offers a lovely view to take in while enjoying a meal.

Top notch service provided by down-to-earth-people that retain their level of decorum despite its buzzing and busy nature are the icing on the proverbial cake at Gusto; if you’ve got a morning craving to eat food out, then Gusto is a perfect go-to choice.

8. Te Waka Restaurant

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Location: 2923 Kenepuru Road, Picton,NZ

Cuisine: A la Carte

For a combination of fresh, modern food with a gorgeous view overlooking the water of the neighbouring bay, Te Weka Restaurant – which is based in the Portage Hotel just off the Queen Charlotte Track – certainly delivers.

It’s situated in a modern building that’s part of the hotel and offers and outlook that’s rather unique amongst offerings on this list, as the vivid blue waters make for a great place to enjoy both dinner or even a simple continental breakfast.

Selections on the menu at Te Weke Restaurant have been intentionally limited to concentrante on providing optimally tasty dishes that come with generous serving sizes – and given the relatively isolated location of the hotel in which it’s based, this turns out to be a positive necessity.

The restaurant offers upscale a la carte dining along with a rather satisfying wine list featuring some of Marlborough’s top standout drops, with dishes done to a high and satisfying level of craftsmanship.

Te Weka Restaurant’s status is solidified as one of the best dining options for those taking part in one of New Zealand’s most epic Great Walks.

Fresh local seafood and produce feature prominently on the menu, particularly region-specialty green-lipped mussels, while fillet steak is also wonderfully done and pasta is of a high quality as well as nicely presented.

Breakfast here is likewise enjoyable, with much of the joy taken from sitting outside and taking in the sweeping view on offer while recharging with a morning coffee.

Attentive and accommodating staff help make the dining experience at Te Weka Restaurant a pleasant one – even during busy times in high season of for hiking the Queen Charlotte Track.

While prices are on the higher end of the scale, Te Weka Restaurant’s status as one of the best dining options for those taking part in one of New Zealand’s most epic Great Walks is a justification that is well warranted.

9. Wairau River Wines

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Location: 11 Rapaura Road, Rapaura

Cuisine: Modern New Zealand

Set in a wonderfully picturesque location and boasting a restaurant that does enough justice to sit alongside its quality wines, Wairau River Wines is one of the more scenic dining venues on this list.

The appeal of the dining experience here all starts with its aspect; the winery is vibrantly green and rolling, and its restaurant sits in a gorgeous setting with a lovely large terraced area overlooking the expansive vineyards.

On colder or busier days, dining inside is a pleasure too, as Wairau boasts a clever and artistic interior incorporating sculptures alongside farm tools for a charming modern-meets rustic effect. This all sets the scene for the dining itself, which does not disappoint.

Wairau River Wines’ restaurant offers visitors a menu with a choice of items that has been intentionally limited to focus on providing a fewer quantities of diving specialties, and in this it succeeds greatly; the menu fully utilises fresh local Marlborough produce as its key ingredients, and this results in a number of standout dishes.

The restaurant’s blue cheese souffle, mussel chowder and signature lamb burger are all delectable in their own way, and come in sizes that will seldom leave you with room for one of their richly enjoyable desserts (of which the coconut pavlova is a highlight.)

Set in a wonderfully picturesque location and boasting a restaurant that does enough justice to sit alongside its quality wines, Wairau River Wines is one of the more scenic dining venues on this list.

Food here is wonderfully presented, and it all goes hand in hand with the wines on offer themselves; as one might expect, Wairau is home to a range of great wines to supplement meals, with Sauvignon Blanc a specialty in particular.

Complimentary wine tastings are offered as part of the dining experience, with guests able to sample several before choosing a favourite to accompany the meal – a wonderful touch.

Friendly and efficient service by the knowledgeable and well-informed staff with an encyclopaedic recall of each of the wines on offer only adds to the experience, and the venue as a whole emits a warm, familial atmosphere despite its often crowded nature.

With plenty of shade outside for enjoying al fresco dining on hot days, and fireplaces adding a cosy aspect during the colder months, Wairau River Wines makes for an essential stop on the Marlborough wine trail and a standout restaurant in its own right.

10. Dodson Street Beer Garden

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Location: 1 Dodson St, Blenheim, NZ

Cuisine: German/ Pub

This charming and spirited little slice of Bavaria in Blenheim is a great venue for multiple reasons, ranging from its quality food, to its wonderful bar and beer garden area, to its live entertainment and family-friendly nature.

The Dodson Street Beer Garden is a solid and always-reliable dining option that orients itself around high-end pub food with some typical Kiwi classics combined with a German-style leaning that makes for a diverse array of options covering everything from quick stops for a light snack, to fully-fledged evening meals.

The restaurant’s pizzas in particular are of a very high quality, and go hand-in-hand with enjoying the range of interesting foreign alcohols on tap; a great value option for those wanting the best of both worlds is the combined pizza-and-beer sampler combo which provides one of Dodson Street’s excellent pizzas with 5 different craft beers served in 70ml sample glasses.

There are a wide selection of craft beers and ciders to choose from here, with over 25 varieties on tap, as well as plenty of quality wines available by-the-glass, which makes for a refreshing change of pace.

This charming and spirited little slice of Bavaria in Blenheim is a great dining venue for multiple reasons.

The German fare on offer at Dodson Street Beer Garden is likewise tasty and represents great value for money, with the meals exceptionally well portioned for their price.

Standouts of the menu include the beef brisket and pork knuckle, which are wonderfully prepared, and even the simple offerings such as chips with aioli are a cut above the same dishes served in many similar venues. Locals will also testify to the restaurant being an ideal go-to option for takeaways, as well.

Dodson Street Beer Garden itself comes with a style and atmosphere that’s relaxed, unpretentious and conducted with a sense of humour, with a wonderfully open and spacious garden eating area and an indoor space that is interesting and vibrant, too.

Families are also catered for; the restaurant has a dedicated outdoor space for kids to keep the little ones occupied as well as a quality children’s menu to accommodate kids’ tastes. Throw in some enjoyable live entertainment, and this is a great weekend afternoon venue to spend with friends enjoying a mixture of fun and food in Blenheim.

The Top 10 Things to do in Marlborough, NZ

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by Experience Oz staff
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Lying on the northern end of New Zealand's South Island, the Marlborough region is provides travellers with an excellent blend of both aquatic scenery and culinary culture, while playing host to a number of unique individual attractions to boot.

Food and dining are the name of the game in Marlborough, with wine in particular playing a key role; as the physically largest wine producing region in all of NZ, Marlborough serves as home to 40 individual cellar doors and over 140 wineries. While each of these facilities has their own speciality, the region is renowned for producing some of the best Sauvignon Blancs in the southern hemisphere.

Famously fresh seafood is also one of the highlights on the food side of things, and when you couple both of the above with the stunning spectacle of Marlborough Sounds, you've got one of the most balanced non-alpine destinations in New Zealand at your fingertips.

If you're planning a visit to this indulgent region, here's our recommendations for the Top 10 Things to do in Marlborough, NZ.

1. Marlborough Sounds

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Location: Marlborough, South Island, NZ

For many the major drawcard to the Marlborough region - particularly for those who love nature (as many people choosing New Zealand as their holiday destination do) – are the Marlborough Sounds themselves.

It's not hard to see why, either; the Sounds offer a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere with some amazing scenery that perfectly blends the blue with the green on all sides, and they're best experienced via a cruise with Marlborough Tour Company that takes you directly through their heart.

While they're not as traditionally or dramatically “alpine” as the sounds of Fiordland further south, Marlborough's sounds allow visitors to take advantage of the warmer weather to enjoy them in a wider number of ways, such as swimming kayaking and camping.

While they're not as traditionally or dramatically “alpine” as the sounds of Fiordland further south, Marlborough's sounds allow visitors to take advantage of the warmer weather to enjoy them in a wider number of ways.

It's cruising, however, that is both the most obvious and impressive way to experience the most that the sounds have to offer in a reasonable time frame while striking a balance between adventure and comfort, and with thousands of kilometres of coastline, beaches, bays, and forest, you'll see far more with a cruise than you could ever hope to experience via kayak no matter how much of an ironman or woman you could ever claim to be.

In accordance with this, there are various different cruise itineraries available throughout the sounds that each have a different purpose for their voyage; some, like the seafood cruise, aim to cover as much ground as possible while providing a delectable sampling of the region's famous ocean produce, while the likes of the iconic Mailboat Cruise follow a course delivering mail to local residents in isolated parts of the Sounds that allows you to literally become part of the region's long-running traditions for a day.

Both types of cruises depart from Picton and provide not only a detailed visual look at the sounds but also in-depth commentary along the way, highlighting all of the region's geographical and environmental features for passengers.

With one-fifth of New Zealand's amazing coastline to explore, a sounds cruise is what we believe to be the single most essential Marlborough experience during your visit to the region.

2. Take a Winery Tour with Explore Marlborough

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Location: Various Locations, South Island, NZ

Marlborough wouldn't quite be Marlborough without its wine, and the number of wineries and vineyards on offer all throughout the region is simply staggering; suffice it to say, if you're a fan of a drop of the good stuff, you'll be in your element here.

From Rieslings to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to its specialty Sauvignon Blancs, there's a wine in Marlborough to suit every palate, and a winery to cater to every travel itinerary, with most wineries each to reach from the civilised centre of Blenheim.

While it's very possible to make your own way to the wineries yourself, tours with company Explore Marlborough are available which can both set you up with a full day's itinerary covering several of the best venues while allowing yourself the chance to indulge and not worry about the drive back after drinking, of which comes highly recommended.

Marlborough wouldn't quite be Marlborough without its wine, and the number of wineries and vineyards on offer all throughout the region is simply staggering; suffice it to say, if you're a fan of a drop of the good stuff, you'll be in your element here.

Marlborough's wines are renowned for their ability to balance purity with intense flavours and attractive aromas with fruity accents, and the sheer variety of these to sample is mind-boggling, owed largely in part to the region's ideal climate and soil quality fit for grape production.

Marlborough's greater wine-growing region is divided up into three separate sub-regions, each of which differ slightly in the kinds of wines they produce; the Southern Valleys' cooler and dryer weather is perfect for Pinot Noir, while the Wairau Valley produces wines with intense fruity characteristics, and the Awatere Valley offers its own array of distinct Sauvignons that have recently gained international attention.

Getting yourself to one of the many wineries is simple if you are basing your trip out of Blenheim as it serves as the departure point for the majority of wine tours, while any of the city's information centres will be happy to provide you with a winery map to allow you to explore the various trails independently (cycling is a favourite way amongst locals to do so).

In addition, wine isn't the only focus of the Marlborough culinary experience; fine dining often goes hand in hand with wine tasting and as a reflection of this the region is home to a large number of great local restaurants and boutique cafes specialising in gourmet cuisine prepared using the best locally-grown produce. Freshly-baked goods along with olives and seafood are big parts of Marlborough's culinary scene, while rich cheeses serve to compliment the wine experience nicely.

In short, if you're wanting to indulge your palate during your trip to New Zealand, there are few other regions in the country that can compare to the broad array of offerings that Marlborough can boast.

3. Queen Charlotte Track

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Location: South Island, NZ

Stretching over an expansive course of roughly 70 kilometres, the Queen Charlotte Track is a journey in the Marlborough region that is famous for providing intrepid visitors with an adventure through its stunning natural scenery.

Visitors looking to explore this wondrous route have the option of either braving it themselves, or booking a guided walk of varying lengths with operator Wilderness Guides who specialise in all aspects of the track.

The track spans the distance between both the Queen Charlotte and Keneperu Sounds - two of the four major sounds that collectively comprise the Marlborough Sounds – and features an epic tableu of different natural features that show off New Zealand's range of scenery to the fullest.

Featuring the likes of lush coastal forest intermingled with the azure blue of some truly historic bays and a range of skyline ridges that grant amazing views of both of the sounds, there's a spectacular photo opportunity waiting around every corner on the Queen Charlotte Track.

Featuring the likes of lush coastal forest intermingled with the azure blue of some truly historic bays and a range of skyline ridges that grant amazing views of both of the sounds, there's a spectacular photo opportunity waiting around every corner on the Queen Charlotte Track.

While it's possible to only hike your own personal day tour of the track, the full journey takes on average 5 days, and as this is a popular course of action for most adventurers there are numerous cafes, accommodation and rest stops along the way to both stay the night and catch a breather.

It's not a particularly steep track compared to some of the other “Great Walks” found elsewhere in New Zealand, but it is long and wide, from Ship Cove on the ocean side to Anakiwa towards the inland, and various parts of the Queen Charlotte Track can be challenging (particularly the section from Ship Cove to Endeavour Inlet typically first encountered on the first day), and weather plays a large role in difficulty so it's wise to take into account the extended forecast before embarking on your trek.

The Queen Charlotte Track covers a variety of different outlooks and conditions, with some sections right alongside the water while others are firmly immersed in the bush, and some days requiring significantly more amounts of walking than others as the track is basically divided up into travelling from one accommodation area to the next.

Both walking and biking the track are equally popular, and during the course of your exploration you'll likely encounter plenty of other friendly fellow trekkers from all over the globe along the way.

If you're up for a journey that's both a great fitness experience and a way to soak in plenty of vegetated New Zealand rainforest with beautiful sea views from lookout points along the way, then the Queen Charlotte Track checks all the boxes for the physically fit and adventurous among you out there.

4. Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre

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Location: 79 Aerodrome Rd, Omaka, Blenheim, Marlborough, NZ

Shifting from the sea to the air, the Omaka Aviation Centre is to the air what the Edwin Fox Maritime Museum is to the ocean; one of the more unique takes on a significant chapter in New Zealand's history, this popular attraction in Blenheim features numerous restored old aircraft and a cavalcade of other historic memorabilia from the pioneering ages of flight.

It's a fascinating place to experience that doesn't necessarily require any particular interest or fascination with aviation to enjoy, as the array of lovingly-recreated World War 1 era planes – the majority owned by Sir Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame – make for an impressive sight on their own.

The Omaka Aviation Heritage Center focuses on presenting the story of how aerial combat was conducted during the first World War, with many of the exhibits showing the aircraft in context to give you a sense of exactly how they were utilised, and the simulated “sets” they are contained within are of a universally world-class quality.

Jackson's influence is easy to see here, as the various dioramas on display are akin to the set of a movie in how real they seem and how well they capture the drama of the period. The center is very well curated too, and combine numerous plaques and information descriptions with a variety of informative documentary-style movies that have the potential to provide hours of entertainment if you're a huge history buff.

It's a fascinating place to experience that doesn't necessarily require any particular interest or fascination with aviation to enjoy, as the array of lovingly-recreated World War 1 era planes – the majority owned by Sir Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame – make for an impressive sight on their own.

Its current exhibit – dubbed “Knights of the Sky” - features planes from Germany to Britain, and even has a diorama depicting the final landing of the famous “Red Baron” Manfred von Richtofen along with some of the personal effects he actually owned, while also featuring a range of moving stories about the trials and tribulations of the pilots of WW1 from both the Axis and Allied perspective.

Guests are welcome to either explore themselves or pay an addition $5 for a guided tour which most feel is well worth it, as the information available around the facility is enough to be overwhelming; the guides, however are able to give you enough interesting insight without it being overwhelming.

Don't allow yourself to be put off and dismiss this spot by your preconceptions of it being a dusty old air museum; if you're in the Marlborough region it's truly worthy of a visit whether you're a fan of planes or not – and after visiting, it may just make you one.

5. Edwin Fox Maritime Museum

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Location: Based around what is currently the world's 9th oldest ship, the Edwin Fox Maritime Museum is a little gem of a museum that captures a slice of New Zealand history in one of the most authentic ways possible.

The physical body of the Edwin Fox – a teak and timber trade ship constructed in India back in 1853 – sits alongside the actual museum, and allows visitors the opportunity to walk through its carefully-maintained innards that provide an intimate look at what life would have been like for both paying customers and convicts alike, with no additional modern updates or embellishments added.

The ship had a colourful and eventful history during its time before being decommissioned in 1897 being involved in everything from war to trade to shipping convicts to Australia, and it's fully documented at the museum with placards at various points outlining their respective items in detail, and a fascinating DVD presentation documenting both the ship's history and its preservation.

There are also various artefacts from the period kept in the museum's upstairs area that, while small, does a good job of giving you a taste of the likes of anchors, shipping keys, ropes, types of timber and all other types of maritime-related historical goodies.

Based around what is currently the world's 9th oldest ship, this gem of a museum captures a slice of New Zealand history in one of the most authentic ways possible.

The actual hull of the ship is the undoubted highlight however, and walking inside will let you experience the likes of sleeping and eating accommodations that passengers had to deal with when crossing the ocean in the 1800's.

The dry dock underneath the ship is also interesting in its own way, and provides an additional perspective on its scale and structure. All of this is, of course, a credit to the fanatically enthusiastic volunteers who have put a ton of effort into the entire project, making for an exhibit that is a must for both Aussies and Kiwis to witness.

Featuring a low admission price ($10 for adults, $4 for kids, most of which goes towards the cost of continued maintenance of the vessel) and one of the most accessible and authentic relics of New Zealand's past – while also being just a short distance from the ferry in Picton's harbour – makes visiting the Edwin Fox for firsthand sampling of how our ancestors used to travel a no-brainer of a decision.

6. Lochmara Lodge & Marlborough Sounds Wildlife Centre

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Location: Lochmara Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound, Marlborough. NZ

Another top wildlife attraction found in the Picton area, the Lochmara Lodge Marlborough Sounds Wildlife Recovery Centre is a regional champion of wildlife conservation just a 20 minute boat ride from Picton that aims to keep New Zealand's delicate fauna and flora thriving both now and into the future.

Hidden away in on the shoreline of the beautiful Lochmara Bay in Queen Charlotte Sound, the Lodge is an attraction in itself that offers a cafe, restaurant, bar and accommodation - however its wildlife centre is a true showcase of genuine wildlife care and protection in action.

The facility serves as a place for the likes of rare parrots, lizards, eels and various other New Zealand wildlife to both observe and interact with, and daily feeding sessions are held for guests to get up close with and feed the cute and colourful native Kakariki parrots (a New Zealand treasure) before they are released back into the wild.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Lodge offers plenty of other opportunities for escapist-oriented enjoyment; its isolated position (it's only accessible by boat) means that it's truly immersed in the midsts of New Zealand's nature, and with both inviting water on one side and vibrant bush on the other, it's entirely up to you how you wish to enjoy your time here.

Nature walks around the lodge are a popular pastime for visitors and there's plenty of signage available that will give you some insight as to the ecology and geology along the way.

Much more than just a luxury accommodation facility, Lochmara Lodge is a worthy attraction in and of itself that provides the ultimate getaway experience for those looking to truly “unplug” for their stay in the Marlborough region.

There's also an Art Centre that is more of a journey than a fixed exhibit, and showcases some outdoor sculptures, paintings from the locals and abroad, and periodic performances of live music and dance.

Visitors are also given complimentary use of kayaks and paddle boards to get out on the calm waters of the Bay and explore at their own pace, which allows for gaining a different perspective on the surrounding hills and mountainsides which encompass the bay.

Much more than just a luxury accommodation facility, Lochmara Lodge is a worthy attraction in and of itself that provides the ultimate getaway experience for those looking to truly “unplug” for their stay in the Marlborough region.

7. Pollard Park

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Location: Mayfield, Blenheim, Marlborough, NZ

Located in the same town from which the River Queen Cruise above plies its trade, Blenheim, Pollard Park makes for a nice combination with the cruise and is one of the most visually pleasant botanical attractions in the Marlborough region.

Situated just a few minutes walk from the town centre, Pollard Park is an immaculate example of a charming city gardens done right, its got everything one could want for a relaxed and carefree day out in wonderful surrounds.

There's a lot packed into a relatively small space, including ducks to feed, a lovely stream running through its midst, well-equipped playground for the kids, barbecue facilities, tennis courts and a wonderful little botanic garden of which the Rose Garden is perpetual highlight with its myriad of colours and strong fragrances which can be smelled from afar.

The varied floral displays of Pollard Park continually change to match the season and feature a range of different species each contained within a variety of gardens showcasing a different theme, from the aforementioned roses to Camellias, Rhododendrons, Perennials and much more all bordered by large, mature trees.

The varied floral displays of Pollard Park continually change to match the season and feature a range of different species each contained within a variety of gardens showcasing a different theme, from the aforementioned roses to Camellias, Rhododendrons, Perennials and much more all bordered by large, mature trees.

Landscaping and contours of the park are designed to lead you along on a journey of discovery without revealing too much all at once, which requires a full tip of the cap to the skilled and careful gardeners who both design and maintain it.

The fact that Pollard Park is, quite frankly, an international-standard public garden area contained within the borders of a smallish town makes it all the more impressive.

Those wanting to get (slightly) more active can even indulge in a round of golf while here too, as the park sits alongside a 9 hole golf course that is almost as pleasant as the park itself.

There's a reason that this relatively unassuming park is a favourite spot for weddings throughout the Marlborough region; and all you'll have to do is pay a visit and take a stroll around before you'll soon see why.

8. Kayaking on Queen Charlotte Sound

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Location: Queen Charlotte Sound, Marlborough, NZ

The Marlborough region's impressive waterways aren't only the domain of cruise ships - more active visitors can also explore this gorgeous region by water with rental of, or joining on with, a guided kayaking tour.

With several kayaking destinations spread over the Marlborough region, this is one of the best ways to see the area from a wholly different perspective.

The Queen Charlotte Sounds and Pelorus River are two great kayaking destinations to choose from with visitors given the chance to explore by themselves or with an experienced guide.

Those who choose Pelorus River can join Pelorus Eco Adventures and will be given the chance to explore one of the most recognisable locations from the iconic film The Hobbit.

Led by a friendly and experienced guide you will be led on an aquatic journey to explore some of these famous movie locations. You will be following the same route as some of your favourite characters did in The Desolation of Smaug, stand on the same rocks as Bilbo Baggins did and pass by some wonderful waterfalls.

This is one of the best tour options for avid Lord of the Rings fans, however those who aren’t interested in the films will also enjoy this option. Pelorus River is one of the most picturesque in New Zealand and well worth the trip, especially via kayak.

While Marlborough's famously beautiful to explore from the water, many scenic offerings are also available via road; the region is home to a range of impressive drives that do a good job of showcasing some of its best features by car.

Everything is included in the price, all you’re asked to bring is your open mind and exciting (and swimmers, suitable footwear, towel, water bottle, change of warm clothes and camera).

If kayaking the Queen Charlotte Sound is on your to-do list, local operator Wilderness Guides can also help you the whole way.

The friendly team will provide you with everything you need to safely explore the area including a map, directions, safety equipment and of course, kayaks. You could spend hours paddling around the large Sounds, finding hidden bays along the way.

If you’d rather see the area with the safety of an experienced guide, you can choose a guided session.

The guides don’t follow a set plan, giving them the ability to, quite literally, go with the wind.

The tour will take you around the area and hopefully get you up close to a range of wildlife including sting rays, little blue penguins, seals, starfish and maybe even some dolphins.

Wilderness Guides offers customers kayak rentals for self-guided paddles around the sounds as well as guided half-day and full-day tours.

9. Scuba Diving

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Location: 66 Wellington St, Picton, Marlborough,NZ

Water plays a key part in what makes Marlborough a naturally-attractive part of New Zealand, and there are few better ways to get an up-close view of all the marvels that these waters contain than taking a dive below them.

Marlborough Sounds (which, as you'll see, feature prominently on this list) offer over 3000 kilometres of diveable cost to choose from, and is home to a range of high-quality dive sites offering generally good visibility levels that you can visit with operator Go Dive Marlborough.

From calm waters featuring a number of intriguing shipwrecks to more open-water adventures to explore reefs and sea caves, there are a range of dives available in the Marlborough Sounds to suit all interests and ability levels.

Perhaps the most famous of these is the wreck of the Mikhail Lermontov, a large Soviet ocean liner which sunk in the sounds back in 1986 and which is still surprisingly intact.

It's now classed as an official reef and serves as a haven for various forms of invertebrate life and schools of fish.

It's also one of the easier and more accessible dive sites in Marlborough and is thus ideal as a starting point for those wanting a fairly stress-free diving experience.

Other popular wrecks include the Rangitoto (a 1873-era steam ship that makes for an interesting and easy dive), the Koi (a Scottish-built passenger ferry 30m in length) and the Lastingham (an 1884 cargo vessel), all of which offer their own unique take on the wreck-diving experience.

From calm waters featuring a number of intriguing shipwrecks to more open-water adventures to explore reefs and sea caves, there are a range of dives available in the Marlborough Sounds to suit all interests and ability levels.

Looking towards the open-water offerings, Wellington Bay is a great choice as it combines good visibility with the chance to take in some different marine species such as Mullet and Mackeral while other creatures like Octopus and Arrow Squid round out the offerings.

Kumototo Point is likewise a popular spot to explore due to its cute local inhabitants – the New Zealand Fur Seal – which can often be found in its waters at various times throughout the year.

Regardless of your choice of destinations, operators such as Go Dive Marlborough depart from Picton and aim to get you out as swiftly into the waters as possible to help maximise your underwater exploration time.

If it's a more natural and organic marine life experience you're looking for, then scuba diving in the Marlborough region is sure to make for a satisfying adventure.

10. EcoWorld Picton Aquarium

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Location: 1 Picton Wharf, Picton Foreshore, Picton, Marlborough

Picton is a charming port town that serves as the gateway connecting New Zealand's south island to the north, and while it's full of plenty of its own highlights if it's wildlife viewing to keep the kids entertained that you're after, then you'll want to head to EcoWorld Picton Aquarium.

This attraction aims to showcase the most famous of New Zealand's wildlife from the Marlborough Sounds and beyond, and is home to many of the region's most recognisable water-dwellers such as Little Blue Penguins, Turtles, Seahorses and more as well as more conventional aquarium fare such as fish.

While the aquarium is fairly small, it offers a rare and intimate chance to get up close to the various kinds of sea life, and its staff are highly knowledgeable and always willing to share detailed information on each of the creatures, their habitats and their diets.

This is particularly emphasised during the regular feeding sessions, as the animals become more active and the staff accompany the process with stories about the animals being fed that leads to a great combined entertainment-and-education experience.

This attraction aims to showcase the most famous of New Zealand's wildlife from the Marlborough Sounds and beyond, and is home to many of the region's most recognisable water-dwellers such as Little Blue Penguins, Turtles, Seahorses and more.

There are also several displays that allow you to get “hands-on” with the wildlife, including a touch pool as well as the chance to pat a rare Tuatara lizard.

EcoWorld Picton Aquarium also provides a number of video/theatrical displays that go into greater detail about each of the creatures and why they need saving that provides further insight into the fragility of the region's ecosystem.

All of the displays here are highly accessible and well-labelled, while the aquarium is well-laid-out for younger children and educates them well on some of the animals who are there as a result of injuries – many of which will soon be rehabilitated enough to be released back into the wild.

Feeding times occur twice daily at 11:00am and 2:00pm, so if you can coincide your visit with either of these times you're likely to get more bang for your buck.

The aquarium is located right near the Picton Interislander Ferry as well, which makes it the ideal way to pass the time if you're stuck with a long wait between ferry trips heading for the north island.

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