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Things to do in

Marlborough, New Zealand

Our most recommended things to do in Marlborough, New Zealand

Queen Charlotte Sound Mail Boat Cruise from Picton

1. Queen Charlotte Sound Mail Boat Cruise from Picton

Climb aboard the only official licensed New Zealand Post Rural Delivery Service by water in the Queen Charlotte Sound for a truly unique and interesting tour! Join in the excitement of Mail Day as the skipper delivers the New Zealand Rural post bags, groceries and freight to the residents that call the Queen Charlotte Sound waterways home. The Mail has been delivered by boat for over 150 years in the Queen Charlotte Sounds. Admire Marlborough Sounds' magnificent scenery and take a glimpse into daily life in the remote outposts of this region. Operating from Monday to Saturday, no one day is the same. The route changes daily, covering a different area and delivering the mail. During your cruise your skipper will provide interesting and informative commentary on the history of the Marlborough Sounds and the people who lived there then and now. Feel free to ask questions and keep your camera handy for any wildlife encounters.

Marlborough Full Day Wine Tour

2. Marlborough Full Day Wine Tour

You will be collected from your Blenheim hotel at 10.00 AM (collections from Picton are available at a small surcharge per group). Your guide will discuss the choice of vineyards and your wine preferences to enable him to plan the most suitable route through the winding vineyard roads. Relax in the luxury minibus as your guide describes the enigmatic history of Marlborough and it's world famous wines. Each cellar door in the Wairau Valley is unique, reflecting the rare conditions which make their wines special. The bright Sauvignon Blancs, delectable Pinot Noir and tropical Aromatics have won multiple international wine awards. Not even the French can match the quality of the Sauvignon Blanc. Your tour through the vineyards will visit a variety of famous internationally branded cellar doors to the boutique family-run winery, to illustrate the diversity of wines available.  Join your guide on a stroll through a vineyard to learn about the unique conditions which produce such stunning wines and the challenges that our wine makers must overcome to consistently produce award winning aromas and textures. Smell the wine in the barrel rooms as it matures in the oak casks. We stop for lunch at a stunning vineyard restaurant where you can savor Marlborough delicacies, from simple cheese platters to Royal salmon and Mussels or other regional specialties. Whilst your food is being prepared, you can move through to the tasting room to meet the cellar hosts as they discuss their range of wines on offer. Continue to enjoy the wines at other cellar doors after lunch. Our last stop is at the local Chocolate Factory to taste exquisite hand-made gourmet chocolates and watch the staff demonstrate their mastery of the chocolatier's skills. Your tour will end with your safe delivery back to your hotel in Blenheim or ship in Picton.

Marlborough Sounds and Ship Cove Cruise from Picton

3. Marlborough Sounds and Ship Cove Cruise from Picton

Navigate the magnficent waterways of Marlborough Sounds on a morning boat tour, departing from the Picton waterfront. Cruise up through the Queen Charlotte Sound to historical Ship Cove. Warm up with tea and coffee and listen to live commentary on regional historical and natural landmarks. Keep a lookout for marine life such as little blue penguins and Hector’s dolphins — considered the rarest marine dolphin in the world. After about an hour’s journey, your boat drops anchor at Ship Cove. Step ashore for 30 minutes and discover the inlet named by Captain James Cook on 15 January 1770. The Endeavour was anchored here to replenish supplies and the spot became a favourite anchorage of Captain Cook. Dabble in the creek where Captain Cook made home brew for his crew and share the beach with the resident wildlife. Have your photo taken beside the Captain Cook Monument commemorating his visits to this area. Or, just relax and enjoy the tranquil surrounds.

Picton: Dolphin Watching & Island Wildlife Sanctuary Cruise

4. Picton: Dolphin Watching & Island Wildlife Sanctuary Cruise

Embark on a unique, fully-guided wildlife and dolphin cruise through the Marlborough Sounds. Begin your journey in Picton, where you will meet the expert team who will take you on a conservation-focused, wildlife adventure for your soul. On the journey, you will be encountering a huge variety of rare, wonderful and interesting species along the way. Enjoy the engaging commentary and fantastic viewing areas which allow you to enjoy playful Hector’s, Bottlenose, or Dusky Dolphins with a 90 percent encounter rate. You will also have an opportunity to see New Zealand fur seals and numerous seabirds before landing on Motuara Island for a 1-hour nature lover’s walk to remember, great for adults and kids alike. After returning to the boat, sit back and relax with a hot drink and cookies before making our way back to Picton and stopping to check out any extra species you can discover.

Queen Charlotte Sound: Scenic Cruise & Lunch

5. Queen Charlotte Sound: Scenic Cruise & Lunch

Meet your local guide in the morning before boarding your cruise and setting off. Admire the views of Queen Charlotte Sound, or Tōtaranui, as you travel through the ancient, drowned valley. Catch a glimpse of the local marine wildlife before arriving at Endeavour Inlet just in time for lunch. Choose your food from the set menu, which includes stone-baked pizzas. Eat outside on the jetty overlooking the inlet, or inside the cosy café for colder days. Explore the grounds with a short walk, or sit on the beach and drink in the views until it’s time to meet the local supplier back at the jetty for your scenic cruise home at around 3.15 pm.

Marlborough Full-Day Self-Guided Biking Wine Tour

6. Marlborough Full-Day Self-Guided Biking Wine Tour

Discover the beauty of Marlborough your way and enjoy a self-guided wine tour. You will be set up with a bike, helmet, and a wine map before being sent on your way with all the insights you need to craft your own unforgettable Marlborough wine adventure. The terrain is flat, the biking is easy, and the scenery is stunning. Spending the day cycling between vineyards is one of the best ways to take in the beauty of Marlborough. The bike rental base is within 3 kilometers of over a dozen wineries. There are off-road parking and an on-site café where you can pick up a picnic lunch or a drink before your adventure begins. Free transport to the Vines Village from Blenheim and Renwick accommodation is included with all full day bike hire, meaning you can just relax and enjoy your day. Pick-up from Picton can be arranged for an additional cost. 

Marlborough Wine, Gourmet and Scenic Tour from Blenheim

7. Marlborough Wine, Gourmet and Scenic Tour from Blenheim

Enjoy a gourmet tour of the Marlborough Region of New Zealand's South Island on an itinerary that can be customized to suit your interests. Visit wine cellars offering a variety of unique styles, and experience stunning landscapes that are a treat for the eyes.  Depart Blenheim at 10:00, and embark on a journey through the award-winning wines of the region. Meet the wine makers and exceptional hosts at wineries that stay open all year round for your convenience. Benefit from the services of a local chauffeur/guide with extensive knowledge of the region. Venture through the Wairau Valley, and fall in love with the wines as you experience new varietals. Get spectacular views of the rolling hills and see how they contrast with the vineyards, market gardens and farms. Stop for seasonal produce (December through February) of juicy strawberries, cherries, apricots and nectarines, along with local cheeses, oils, liqueurs, Manuka honey, peanut butter and black garlic. Make a special stop at the Makana Confections Boutique Chocolate Factory for some divine chocolate treats! As wine is the main attraction of the Marlborough Region (it's New Zealand's largest wine producer), you will want to taste the produce. Acclaimed for its Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wines, the region is also home to wineries that specialize in Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Viognier, Gruener Veltliner, Arneis and even Malbec wines. Relax in a picturesque winery garden café or at a chateau on the hill with magnificent views of the valley and vineyards. Enjoy a cheese, meat and seafood platter or tapas. Then, as you near the end of the day, benefit from beautiful views that create a perfect ambiance for a dinner with your favorite wine of the day. Get the chance to include a trip to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Center to see Peter Jackson's amazing displays of classic World War I and World War II aircraft and the most life-like scenic backdrops of the era. Your guide can drop you off at the center and continue with the rest of the group to return within 1-5 hours if you prefer. This would be the minimum time to really take advantage of the exhibition, and a café and memorabilia store are available for your comfort and convenience.

Queen Charlotte Sound Cruise with Lunch

8. Queen Charlotte Sound Cruise with Lunch

Board your boat in the morning to take a relaxing cruise through Queen Charlotte Sound, or Tōtaranui. Take in the stunning views of the ancient, drowned valley and catch a glimpse of the local marine wildlife. Arrive at Endeavour Inlet just in time for lunch at a 3-star Marlborough Sounds resort. Choose from the set menu and enjoy your lunch on the sweeping lawn overlooking the sound or inside the cosy, historic, homestead restaurant. Explore the grounds with a short walk, or simply drink in the views before meeting the local supplier at the jetty for your scenic cruise home at approximately 3 pm.

From Havelock: Marlborough Sounds Mail Boat Full-Day Cruise

9. From Havelock: Marlborough Sounds Mail Boat Full-Day Cruise

Embark on a truly unique marine experience on a Kiwi mail boat cruise. See what it’s like to deliver mail in a remote part of the world by sea in the Marlborough Sounds on a full-day cruise. Set sail on the Pelorus Mail Boat, which has been operating for more than a century. As a sea postie for a day, cruise through the largest, quietest and most remote part of the Marlborough Sounds, Pelorus (Te Hoiere) Sound, and Kenepuru Sound. Relax on the spacious catamaran between mail, parcel, and supply deliveries and pick-ups. Marvel at the stunning scenery of clear blue water in tranquil coves and bush-clad hillsides. Weather-permitting, even get to take a sneak peek at Greenshell Mussel Farm on an informative tour. Meet some of the residents who await the Pelorus Mail Boat on far-flung jetties, unspoilt beaches, or even on their boats. Even meet a variety of 4-footed furry residents who accompany their owners to collect their mail. Benefit from a fun local crew will provide informative and entertainment commentary about life in this isolated part of the Marlborough Sounds. You’ll learn what life far away from the nearest road is really like, along with some of the area’s fascinating history. The crew will also keep an expert eye for local marine wildlife including dolphins, seals, penguins and stingrays. As an added bonus, even enjoy some free tea, coffee, and biscuits onboard.

Queen Charlotte Track: Cruise & Self-Guided Hike from Picton

10. Queen Charlotte Track: Cruise & Self-Guided Hike from Picton

Cruise through the Queen Charlotte Sound to walk part of the Queen Charlotte Track, one of the top ten coastal walking tracks in New Zealand. Your self-guided adventure starts with a cruise north from Picton to the historic Ship Cove. Here you can learn about the local area from your skipper, whilst on the lookout for marine wildlife. You will be able to choose between the following two hikes: Furneaux Lodge to Punga Cove Your first hike opportunity will be from Furneaux Lodge to Punga Cove, a 12.7-kilometer hike. You can enjoy 30-minutes ashore at the historic Ship Cove before rejoining the vessel and cruising around to Furneaux Lodge where you can grab a coffee or even brunch. Begin your self-guided hike along the Queen Charlotte Track, where you will learn that this area is rich in history and follows the coastline around the Endeavour Inlet through regenerating native bush to the Punga Cove Resort.  Ship Cove to Furneaux Lodge This hike provides you with the opportunity to hike from Ship Cove to Furneaux Lodge, a trail of 15 kilometers. You will arrive at Ship Cove where you'll begin your self-guided hike of the Queen Charlotte Track. You can climb away from the beach as you pass through native forest regenerating beneath a high canopy of trees. You will then be able to admire stunning views of the sound when you reach Tawa Saddle. The track then drops into Resolution Bay and follows an old bridle path into Endeavour Inlet to Furneaux Lodge. After your walk, you'll have time to relax before boarding your cruise vessel around 4:00 PM for your return boat journey to Picton with an estimated arrival time of 5:30-6:00 PM.

Top sights in Marlborough, New Zealand

Frequently asked questions about Marlborough, New Zealand

What top attractions are a must-see in Marlborough, New Zealand?

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What people are saying about Marlborough, New Zealand

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 306 reviews

on the ride out to ship cove we saw dolphins and the guide gave us plenty of time to see them and managed to position the boat so we could all get amazing photos.

The most wonderful experience. The skipper had so much knowledge, it made for an incredibly interesting journey. Thanks Beachcombers

Very knowledgeable skipper. Taking in the scenery from a different point of view was great.

Most amazing experience the guides were top notch Thanku Andy and courtney

we saw dolphin. ,any sea birds and rare birds on the island