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marlborough & nelson regional information | back to regions & attractions

Marlborough Region MapMarlborough and Nelson are at the north end of the South Island and can be attacked from either direction. It's a scenic drive north from Christchurch or a ferry ride south from Wellington.

Marlborough is New Zealand's largest grape growing and wine making region with 65 wineries, 290 grape growers and 4054 hectares in grape production. Nearly all of the wineries welcome visitors for tasting sessions and many have a cafe or restaurant on site.

Before the wine industry came along, Marlborough's fame lay with its sounds - sunken valleys that are home to all kinds of wonderful bird and sea life, including terns, shags, blue penguins, dolphins and seals.

Marlborough - Abel TasmanThe Nelson region is surrounded by sheltering mountain ranges, giving it a mediterranean-type climate. Nelson is known for its year-round sunshine, golden beaches, national parks, boutique wineries, micro breweries and a large creative community of working artists. Add to this locally grown produce, freshly caught seafood, historical streetscapes and waterfront restaurants and you'll see that it offers a thoroughly pleasurable way of life.

From Nelson it's easy to access any of three National Parks, including Abel Tasman National Park which is renown for its fabulous sea kayaking, The Nelson Lakes National Park set amidst the mountains and glaciated valleys south of Nelson city, and Kahurangi, New Zealand's second-largest national park, with magnificent three to four-day hiking trails.

For some suggested itineraries that include Marlborough and Nelson, please click here.

top attractions

  • Nelson Region MapHappy Valley, near Nelson, is a great place to have some fun on 4WD motorbikes.
  • Even non-fitness fanatics should try one of the walks. Especially beautiful are the Queen Charlotte Sound Track and the Abel Tasman walk.
  • Visit Marlborough Sounds for the pristine environment and bird, plant and wildlife (take a water taxi or a cruise to the Sounds from Picton - Picton is where the Cook Strait ferry from Wellington docks and is about 30 minutes from Blenheim and the Marlborough wineries).
  • Hop in for some hops. All of New Zealand's hops are grown here and you'll find some of the country's best boutique breweries, like Mac's.
  • Pick up a copy of Art In Its Own Place guide from a Visitor Information centre and hit the art and craft trail.
  • Take a kayak tour of the Abel Tasman National Park.
  • A 4WD tour will take you to Farewell Spit, 35km of sand on the top northwest corner of the island (the wading bird sanctuary here is of international significance).
  • River fishing in the Nelson area is terrific and there are a couple of exceptional lodges that cater for anglers.
  • Try some mussels or salmon, fresh from the cool, clean waters of the Sounds.
  • Get a group together and charter a yacht - they are surprisingly affordable (especially in peak times).
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