Why a visit to Marlborough sounds divine

If you were tasked with designing the perfect vacation destination, what would it entail?

Lots of sunshine, more than 150 wineries, world-famous hiking trails and 4000 km² of coastline that ducks and dives around wonderfully secluded bays?

* The new house and garden look right at home in the Lyttelton heritage area
* Expansive Taranaki Garden filled with color and fun
* The spectacular, art-filled Taranaki house matches its dramatic beachfront location

If you answered yes, then resign because it already exists. Sprawling across the upper right corner of the South Island, Marlborough scores on the holiday bingo map with its pretty tunes.

Here’s what to tick on your next visit to the region.

Cellar door from Cloudy Bay, Marlborough Sounds.


Cellar door from Cloudy Bay, Marlborough Sounds.


Can you visit Marlborough without stopping by a winery? You could, but why would you want to? This is New Zealand‘s premier wine-growing region, home to around 27,000 hectares of vines, or two-thirds of the country’s total wine-growing area. There are also more than 30 cellar doors where you can meet the winemakers and sample their wares, including Cloudy Bay and Framingham. Sign up with a company that will drive you around so you don’t have to slurp and spit.


Wine grabs all the headlines in Marlborough, but craft beer gets a look at Boom Town Beer Garden, Tap Room & Courtyard in Renwick. In addition to tasting Boom Town Brews and Brew Pub Drops on tap, you guessed it local wines are also available. Here you will also find good food, a playroom for the kids and a roaring fireplace.

Marlborough Restaurants Arbor, left, and Frank's Oyster Bar and Eatery.


Marlborough Restaurants Arbor, left, and Frank’s Oyster Bar and Eatery.


Local chef Sam Webb borrowed the name of a relative (and his parents’ winery in Marlborough) for his first restaurant, Frank’s Oyster Bar and Eatery. Don’t be fooled by the name though – as well as delicious oysters, Blenheim also offers contemporary dishes for sharing, using some of Marlborough’s finest ingredients. Try the tempura oyster tartare or, if you’re in the carnivore mood, the confit of lamb shoulder with lots of sumac, red onions and pistachios.

At Arbor in Renwick, owners Liz Buttimore and Bradley Hornby source their seasonal, fresh ingredients almost daily and there’s little that comes close to the joy of dining with food you’ve passed down on the way to the restaurant. That means dishes like hāpuka with pickled celery or whipped caramelized yogurt with sorrel. Everything is of course served with a glass of something local.

Is your sweet tooth gnawing on you? Then Makana Confections is definitely worth a stop. This is home to handcrafted Marlborough Pinot Noir truffles, macadamia caramel corn and macadamia butter toffee crunch, which is sugar-sweet in beauty.

Blenheim luxury boutique Thomas's.


Blenheim luxury boutique Thomas’s.


Enjoy some of the area’s best shopping experiences at Blenheim’s luxury boutique Thomas’s. With jewelry by Karen Walker, framed bird prints by Auckland artist Kirsty Nixon and luxurious linens by Aussie-New Zealand brand Baksana, you’re sure to find something to take home.

Talented antipodes can also be seen at No 4 Boutique in Blenheim, which has curated the best of local and Australian fashion designers since 2012. Brands include Kathryn Wilson, Caitlin Crisp and Aureta Studio.

Garden Marlborough Festival.


Garden Marlborough Festival.


The region’s newest attraction, the Omaka Observatory, opened its doors on July 1st. This crater observatory in the Omaka Valley is perfectly located to take advantage of the region’s exceptionally clear skies.

The purpose built facility has been designed to minimize light pollution and wind effects, all the better for taking advantage of the southern skies. The choice of telescopes allows visitors to discover planets, galaxies, star clusters and the moon. Don’t miss the special Tātai Arorangi sessions with the Te Reo Māori presenters who uncover the tales and legends of heaven.

Want to see how the green-fingered locals do it? Then plan a visit to the Garden Marlborough Festival from November 3rd to 6th, returning for the first time since 2020. Think workshops and take a tour of some of the region’s best gardens.

Bay of Many Bays, Marlborough Sounds.


Bay of Many Bays, Marlborough Sounds.


Want to put your head where Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford and Benedict Cumberbatch have all put it? Then hop on a ferry to the Bay of Many Coves luxury resort. About half an hour’s boat ride from Picton in the Marlborough Sounds, this small five-star establishment is an unabashed celebration of good food, wine and style.

In addition to the stylish rooms and insanely beautiful water views from every room, there are 120 acres of private bush to explore, two restaurants and all the privacy a Hollywood star (or you) could ever ask for.

You don’t have to like golf to stay at The Nineteenth, the sleek black self-catering guest accommodation next to the Marlborough Golf Course – but if you do, you’ll feel like you’re in heaven. The architecturally designed two bedroom cottage will delight you with its stylish simplicity and 50 tones of green views over the golf course, Wither Hills and surrounding farmland.

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