Marlborough New Zealand
The Marlborough Region
Marlborough is a region of diversity and spectacular scenic beauty; from the stunning Marlborough Sounds, a coastal wonderland of winding waterways and sheltered bays, to the magnificent high country and the wild Kaikoura coast. Marlborough is renowned for wine tasting and delicious foods, scenic tours and activities, and significant heritage, cultural and art experiences.
Flavours of Marlborough
In the heart of Marlborough are the Wairau and Awatere valleys - home to world famous Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and more than 120 wineries and 40 cellar doors - ranging from well-known international brands such as iconic Cloudy Bay and Wither Hills, to boutique family producers including Bladen, Mahi and Te Whare Ra.
With a central wine country location, many wineries are easily accessible from Antares Homestay, either by self-drive tour, organised group tours with Bubbly Grape Wine Tours, or personalised luxury car tours with Marlborough Elite Tours.
Enjoy award winning wines with the region's renowned Greenshell Mussels, Pacific Coast seafood, salmon and wild game at a nearby winery restaurant including Herzog Winery & Restaurant, a short stroll from Antares Homestay, Allan Scott Wines & Twelve Trees Restaurant, Wairau River Wines & Restaurant, Cloudy Bay Cellar Door and Hunter's Wines & Restaurant.
If your acquired taste is fine beer, Marlborough has an emergent brewing industry where you can sample award-winning Renaissance and 8 Wired Brewing craft beers at the Dodson Street Bistro and Ale House next door to the Renaissance Brewery.
The climate and growing conditions responsible for the region's celebrated Sauvignon Blanc are ideal also for extra virgin olive oil and around a quarter of New Zealand's olive oil production comes from Marlborough producers including Seresin, Lusatori and the quaintly named Two Short Dogs.
For those with a sweet tooth, a visit to Makana Confections is a must, where you can see how hand-crafted chocolates are made, taste a few samples, and shop for gifts and indulgences. Or you can shop for acclaimed Marlborough Manuka Honey and other honey products at The Honey Company factory shop.
Take a leisurely lunchtime cruise on the Marlborough River Queen, an old-styled, wood-panelled riverboat. Discover scenic Marlborough by river as you wind your way down the Opawa River towards Cloudy Bay. Take your own lunch or dine on a River Queen lunchtime platter while indulging in local wines and beers from the licensed bar.
Each year the region's fine wines and seafood are showcased at the Marlborough Wine & Food Festival held on the second Saturday in February, the Havelock Mussel Festival held on the third Saturday in March, and Kaikoura Seafest held on the first Saturday in October.
Marlborough Heritage, Culture and Art
A must see when visiting Marlborough is the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre - an amazing collection of original and replica Great War aircraft brought to life in a series of dioramas depicting dramatic wartime scenes such as the demise of the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen.
Classic Fighters Omaka air show is held over three days from Good Friday to Easter Sunday every alternate year, as a major fundraising event for the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. The 2013 show runs over the three-day Easter weekend of March 29-31 and feature over 70 aircraft, along with ground theatre and pyrotechnics.
Omaka Classic Cars is a unique collection that gives a special insight into both Marlborough and New Zealand motoring from the 1950's to the 1980's. The collection totals well over 100 cars with more than half on display at any one time.
Brayshaw Heritage Park is a unique park occupying several acres of parkland and is home to several organisations including the Marlborough Museum, the Brayshaw Vintage Tractor Museum, and Vintage Car Museum.
Renwick Museum, although small, preserves the history and memorabilia of Renwick Village and surrounds. Havelock Museum, also small, focuses on the early life of Havelock and a display, largely centred on the region's saw-milling industry.
The Shark Nett Gallery contains the world's largest private collection of contemporary and traditional Maori carvings. Visit the gallery where you will learn the fascinating stories and history told through the carvings from Rangitane iwi in the Marlborough Sounds. Enjoy a relaxed and accessible Maori art experience.
Marlborough has a wealth of public and private, easily accessible art galleries and studios. A short drive from Antares Homestay is Riverlore Gallery where you can see the distinctive work of landscape painter Joanna Dudson Scott and work of guest artists. In the studio you can watch Joanna working or take part in an art workshop.
Near Antares is Clarry Neame Studio located at Hunter's Wines. Self-described as an impressionist painter of light, Clarry Neame believes when you're surrounded by nature's best that's lit with the region's superb clarity of light you cannot do or be otherwise. Watch Clarry at work or browse the numerous original works and print for sale.
The Millennium Art Gallery is the Marlborough region's public gallery located in the centre of Blenheim. Exhibitions feature New Zealand and overseas artists and have included the work of significant artists such as Ralph Hotere and Frances Hodgkins in nationally touring and locally generated exhibitions.
The Yealands Estate Marlborough Gallery, home of the Marlborough Art Society, is modern gallery in the centre of Blenheim, with regular exhibitions featuring local and national artists.
Hunter's Garden Marlborough is one of New Zealand's premier spring garden festivals, a celebration of Marlborough's spectacular landscape, showcasing the very best the region has to offer. Full and half day tours encompass everything from compact, inner town designer gardens to sprawling country estates.
Sport and Recreation
Marlborough is a region with a proud sporting history, producing national representatives in many sports including rugby, cricket, rowing and softball. More recently Marlborough has become recognised has the home of several national recreational cycling and running events.
Forrest GrapeRide is the South Island's biggest and most popular recreational road cycling event traversing a 101km or 42km circuit through some of the most stunning scenery New Zealand. Entries are limited to 2500 and sell out every year so enter and book your accommodation early.
The New World Marlborough Marathon caters for all ages and fitness levels with marathon, half marathon, 10km and 5km runs, half marathon, 10km and 5km walks, and 2km kid's mini marathon over course beside vineyards, along the banks of the Taylor River reserve then on the roads of rural Marlborough.
The Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon is a unique 21km off road running, walking or hybrid (mix of running and walking) journey through the vineyards of Marlborough on the second Saturday of May each year.
For golfers, Marlborough offers two 18-hole public courses, Marlborough Golf Club and Rarangi Golf Club, plus several 9-hole public courses that include Blenheim, RNZAF Base Woodbourne and Picton golf clubs.
The Marlborough Sounds are an adventure playground for the young and not so young, with activities ranging from leisurely scenic cruises to five-day hikes and much much more in between.
Gateway to the Marlborough Sounds is Picton, a seaside town steeped in maritime history, and now a water taxi, cruise boat and adventure tour hub, and terminal for Bluebridge and Interislander Cook Strait ferries linking the North and South Islands.
Each year Picton celebrates its unique maritime history by holding the Picton Maritime Festival on the third Saturday in January. The festival has something for everyone with cooking demonstrations, static displays, lifesaving on the sea, raft races for all age groups, craft market, food stalls, a fabulous free children's programme.
Take time out in Picton to visit the Edwin Fox Museum, the world's ninth oldest wooden ship and only surviving ship to transport convicts to Australia and EcoWorld Aquarium, with hundreds of fish and native fauna, including tuatara, gecko and giant weta. Visit the Picton Museum where a collection of some 2000 Maori, whaling, maritime and heritage pieces offer an insight into Picton and the Marlborough Sounds' historic past.
View the wonders of the Marlborough Sounds by leisurely scenic cruise with Cougar Line or Beachcomber Cruises, take a scenic flight over the Sounds with Picton Float Plane, or fly from Blenheim fly to one of many Sounds lodges for lunch with Precision Helicopters or Windhawk Helicopters.
The Sounds has a wealth of marine mammals including Bottlenose, Dusky, Hector's and Common dolphins, Orca, New Zealand fur seals, and on rare occasions, Humpback and Southern Right whales. Get up close and experience the best of marine mammals and bird life with Dolphin Watch Ecotours dolphin swimming and viewing, scenic wildlife cruises and bird watchers expeditions to Motuara Island reserve.
The Queen Charlotte Track spanning 71km between historic Ship Cove, landing place of Captain Cook and Anakiwa, home to Outward Bound, is one of New Zealand's finest walking tracks, renowned for stunning views, historical landmarks and wide variety of native flora and fauna.
Queen Charlotte Track offers a host of options ranging from Wilderness Guides or Marlborough Sounds Adventure Company fully guided walks over 4-5 days, or freedom walks over 1-5 days at the starting and finishing points of your choosing and freedom ride and guided mountain bike treks.
For the adventure hungry, Go Dive offer dive tours from fish feeding snorkelling, ideal for non-divers and families, to deep penetration scuba diving for experienced divers on the Mikhail Lermontov, a Russian cruise ship that struck rocks near Cape Jackson in 1986, eventually sinking in Port Gore.
Placed under the jurisdiction of Canterbury Regional Council in 1993, Kaikoura district still remains part of Marlborough in the minds of many people. The seaside settlement of Kaikoura, situated midway between Christchurch and Picton on the rugged Pacific coastline and overlooked by often snow-capped mountains, is a major ecotourism destination and stop-off for those travelling north.
South of the town the Kaikoura Peninsula extends into the sea, where upwelling currents bring an abundance of marine life from the depths of the nearby Hikurangi Trench, including some regular visitors, the magnificent Sperm whales and playful Dusky dolphins, and on occasions Southern Right, Humpback and Blue whales, Orca, and Common, Hector's and Risso's dolphins.
You can experience the splendour of Kaikoura's magnificent whales and dolphins, either by sea with Whale Watch Kaikoura; or air with Wings over Whales, Air Kaikoura or Kaikoura Helicopters. If you'd like to get up close and personal with dolphins, you have the option of swimming with Dusky dolphins in their natural environment or watching their acrobatic displays from the comfort of a Dolphin Encounter tour boat.
The Kaikoura coastline is home to several colonies of New Zealand fur seal, and there are areas along the highway north of Kaikoura where you can stop and watch seals basking on the rocks. Seals are wild, unpredictable creatures, capable of inflicting bites; therefore you shouldn't get too close or attempt feed them. If you want to get up close, Seal Swim Kaikoura conduct land and sea based tours where you get to swim with seals under close supervision of experienced guides.
One of Kaikoura's best kept secret is an amazing variety of ocean going birds. Kaikoura is the Albatross capital of New Zealand - if not the world - with five varieties of great albatross, the Wandering, Antipodean, Northern Royal and Southern Royal visiting the area throughout the year along with their smaller cousins (known in NZ as mollymawks) including the Black-browed, Shy, White-capped, Salvin's, Chatham, Buller's and Yellow-nosed albatross, and various species of shearwaters, petrels, prions, shags, blue penguins, gannets, skuas, terns and gulls
You can experience Kaikoura's magnificent birdlife with Albatross Encounter on a specialised bird-watching boat tour or with Kaikoura Marine Tours on a marine wildlife or eco boat tour.
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