Commanding the northern-most tip of the country's South Island, New Zealand's Marlborough region is the perfect paradox of wild beauty and manicured human presence. Blessed with year-round sun, landmarks including the epic Marlborough Sounds and (of course) the world-famous winemaking industry, we are struggling to think of a reason not to visit. When travelling from the North Island, a three-hour ferry crossing departing from Wellington will get you to Picton. The town is a gateway to the extensive network of coastal waterways, peninsulas and islands that make up the iconic north coast of the South Island.
Passing Queen Charlotte Sound on your way to the docks is a wonderful induction to the wild beauty of this area. Created through a combination of land subsidence and rising sea levels, Sounds are chains of sea-drowned valleys that create a thrillingly elemental landscape. Don't miss the chance to see Marlborough Sounds, the most famous of the sounds, while you are in the area.
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It might be the reason you choose to venture south of the North Island and if you happen to like your wine, it should be the reason that you do, because Marlborough is best known for its wine-making prowess. 30 minutes in a car from Picton will get you to Blenheim; a gateway to the wineries of the Wairau valley to the west. Blenheim is the region's largest grape growing area, making it the perfect place to explore the many vineyards that call the sunny slopes home. Try the sauvignon blanc, a speciality of the area, in one of the many highly acclaimed wineries that open their gates and allow visitors to meander through grapevines and sample their produce. If you can tear yourself away from the wine tours, Blenheim also boasts an abundance of cafes, restaurants, bars shops and artisan food culture.
Seeing as you are in the area it would be rude not to pop into the Omaka Aviation Heritage centre, if you are at all interested in planes. Located just outside of Blenheim Sir Peter Jackson, of Lord of the Rings directing fame, is responsible for this remarkable collection of WWI aircrafts and artefacts. In a style that only a film director could employ, captivating scenes depict the aircrafts in context, sometimes recreating an incident that happened in the war. Trust us, it is a worth-while pit stop to break up your wine tour of the region.