The town of Blenheim is historically an agricultural town, servicing the dairy farms that occupy the surrounding, fertile Wairau River plains. Alongside this it now also provides accommodation and other services to the thousands of annual visitors who base themselves here to explore the wider Marlborough area. The favourable climate has given rise to a thriving wine industry, from the first few vines planted in 1973 to what is now one of the world’s premier wine producing regions; the flagship Marlborough sauvignon blancs are now enjoyed around the globe.
Just north of Blenheim, Picton is the gateway to the South Island for those arriving by ferry from Wellington. It is also the main access point for the glorious Marlborough Sounds, a maze of peaks and inlets created when the sea rose to flood the river valleys in the last ice age. Much of the Sounds is uninhabited and the remote holiday homes and resorts dotted along the pretty shorelines are mainly only accessible by boat. The sheltered waters and hidden bays are a haven for water-based activities whilst the Queen Charlotte Track, which meandres its way along the fold of land between Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds, provides gorgeous coastal scenery for walkers and cyclists alike.
Marlborough Sounds aerial photo courtesy of Rob Suisted.