Marlborough Scenic Highlights
Revel in the big sky freedom of inland Marlborough, New Zealand as the mountainous high country is bleached by the summer sun.
Marlborough Scenic Highlights Overview
Marlborough is a region of picturesque contrasts: broad river valleys dotted with wineries, soaring mountains, historic buildings, native forest, isolated beaches, rivers and idyllic waterways.
The Magic of the Marlborough Sounds
Reaching out into the Pacific Ocean like the fingers of a welcoming hand, the Marlborough Sounds area is made up of three main bodies of water—the Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru and Pelorus Sounds. This collection of drowned river valleys is a natural wonder unparalleled in New Zealand.
Bordered by forested hills rising almost vertically from the water's edge, the Marlborough Sounds is a true scenic highlight and is easily explored from either Picton or Havelock. Sail, paddle, kayak or motor through this picturesque maritime area. Fine restaurants and accommodation lodges are scattered throughout to make your stay a comfortable one.
The Boutique Wineries of the Wairau Plain
Traditionally a farming landscape, this expansive plain is now home to the largest grape growing area in New Zealand. The region's soil types, abundant sunshine, long autumns and crisp, cool winters have proved to be the ingredients needed to produce world class wines.
One of the most popular ways to see and sample what Marlborough has to offer is a wine trail, which might also encompass boutique breweries, olive groves and distilleries.
There are a variety of operators able to tailor a trail to your tastes. Many of the wineries have restaurant and cafe facilities on site—an ideal opportunity to experience alfresco dining amongst the vines.
The Treasured Pathway Driving Route
The Treasured Pathway is a heritage driving route (well signposted) that links historical sites along 680 kilometres or 422 miles of roads from Picton in the Marlborough region to Farewell Spit in the Nelson region. We recommend you get the guidebook, which contains details on well-known and not-so-well-known attractions along the way, including the Marlborough Sounds Information, Abel Tasman National Park and Waikoropupu Springs.
Mount Richmond Forest Park
Along the southern side of the Richmond Range, from the north bank of the Wairua River, several tracks lead up into the Mount Richmond Forest Park. To find the park, head north on State Highway 6, from the wine growing area of Blenheim and Renwick, cross the Wairua River and turn west onto North Bank Road.
First up is the Onamalutu Scenic Reserve offering various short walks through native forest by the river, and flat grassy areas for picnics and overnight camping.
Further up the Wairua River, turn into Pine Valley Road. From the car park at the end of the road a pleasant 20-minute walk follows the Pine Valley stream through native forest. A five-hour walk up to Fishtail Mountain hut also leaves from here.
Further west along North Bank Road there are several one to two hour walks. For more experienced hikers there are tracks leading high into the ranges.
On the other side of the ranges, starting just south of Nelson, the Alpine Route is a challenging track above the bushline. It offers outstanding views over the Waimea Plans, toward Kahurangi and Abel Tasman National Parks, and to the rugged hills of South Marlborough and the Inland Kaikoura Ranges. It is only suitable for experienced and well-equipped groups. There is little or no formed track in many places, the terrain is steep and rugged and good fitness and navigation skills are needed.
Lake Grassmere Saltworks
Down the coast from Blenheim, a large shallow lake has ponds that develop a deepening pink colour during the summer months. At the same time, huge white mounds appear on the shore. What on earth is going on here?
This fascinating and rather alien landscape is the result of natural salt production. Seawater, fresh from the Pacific Ocean, is pumped into Lake Grassmere. Warm north-west winds blow across the exposed lake, evaporating water and increasing the concentration of salt. The very salty water is pumped into deep holding pens, then into shallow crystallisation ponds. As the water continues to evaporate, salt forms as a crust on the bottom of the ponds. The remaining water is pumped out and the dried salt is harvested, crushed, washed and moved by giant conveyor belts to form huge mounds of sparkling white crystals.
The pink to purple colour of the crystallisation ponds is caused by natural microscopic green algae that change to pink in the high salt concentration. The same phenomena gives the Red Sea its name. There are also small pink shrimps in the water that thrive in this salty environment.
Other salt works in the world are generally much closer to the equator, but Marlborough's abundance of warm north-westerly winds, long hours of sunshine and low summer rainfall provide the evaporation needed to extract salt from the sea at this latitude.
Useful Marlborough Links
To help plan your Marlborough holiday choose from the main categories below:
- Marlborough Accommodation
- Marlborough Tours
- Marlborough Attractions and Activities
- Marlborough Transport
- Marlborough Dining
- Marlborough Shopping
- Marlborough Visitor Information
Marlborough Region Information
Key information and facts about the Marlborough region.
Major activities and attractions in the Marlborough region.