Almost all visitors to the region pass through the pretty seaside village of Picton. The bustling port is home to the Interislander ferry and gateway to the Marlborough Sounds, a vast network of water-filled valleys that make up one fifth of New Zealand’s coastline.
Stop in at the Edwin Fox Museum on Dunbar Wharf, home to the world’s 9th oldest ship and full of fascinating maritime stories. Cruise operators along the foreshore offer a variety of trips, including the famous Mail Run; delivering post to coastal communities inaccessible by road. Water-taxis will shuttle passengers to any point in the beautiful Sounds, including Ship Cove, at the northern end of the Queen Charlotte Track; the recommended spot to begin your walking adventure.
Interislander Ferry, Marlborough Sounds
OUT AND ABOUT
The coastal road from Picton winds its way slowly to Anikiwa, home of Outward Bound and the southern entry to the Queen Charlotte Track. Continue on for lunch in Havelock, famous for mussels cultivated in nearby waters. The best place to eat them has to be at The Mussel Pot; an iconic, bustling restaurant that is always packed for lunch. A statue in the main street commemorates Sir Ernest Rutherford, the first man to split the atom, who went to primary school here.
Heading inland, the Marlborough region’s largest town Blenheim sits amidst an endless sea of vineyards; famous for producing Sauvignon Blanc wines the region boasts over 140 registered wineries, 40 of which welcome you to visit for tastings and lunch.
Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, 5km from Blenheim, is a must see. They have recently opened a brand new ‘Dangerous Skies’ exhibition featuring aircraft and memorabilia from World War 2 to complement their original ‘Knights of the Sky’ World War 1 exhibit. Thanks to the involvement of Sir Peter Jackson and Weta Workshop the displays are ultra-realistic. The rare memorabilia is worthy of any national collection and ranges from beautifully crafted ‘trench art’ through to personal items belonging to the famous Red Baron himself.
Biking Queen Charlotte Track
QUEEN CHARLOTTE TRACK
Stretching between the Queen Charlotte and Keneperu Sound is the Queen Charlotte Track. A 70km track renowned for its stunning views and contrasting landscape, historical landmarks and wonderful variety of native bush and wildlife.
You will find this a unique walk as it passes through lush coastal forest, historic bays, and along skyline ridges with unsurpassed views of Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds. It is as much about a walking holiday as it is an environmental, cultural experience. The 70km trip can be completed in 3-5 days if you’re walking, or biking the track takes approximately 13 hours; although completing this over 2-3 days is ideal.