We’ve gotta give it to them. If there’s one thing Kiwis well and truly nail, it’s wine (and rugby apparently… but let’s not go there). New Zealand is home to some truly spectacular wine regions, and Marlborough, at the top of the South Island, is one of our faves.
Marlborough is the head honcho of New Zealand’s wine regions, producing a whopping 75% of the country’s vino (yes way, rosé), including the top white wines sold in Australia. And getting there is half the fun—the three-hour ferry ride from Wellington to Marlborough with Interislander is one of the most scenic ferry rides in the world and makes for one heck of a sun-soaked getaway.
From riding bikes through vineyards, joining the revellers at foodie festivals, or visiting Marlborough’s first colonial winery, here’s 5 essential experiences to have when in Marlborough. Cheers to that!
Cycle your way through the Marlborough Wine Trail
Wine lovers, Marlborough is pretty much your mecca. With over 150 wineries, 580 grape growers and 37 cellar doors to discover, Marlborough might seem like a bit of a wine labyrinth, but not to worry—we’ve found the best way to get around.
Brace yourself for helmet hair! Touring Marlborough’s vineyards by bike is one of the best ways to experience the region. One of the many bike tour companies will have you cruising around cellar doors, restaurants, scenic spots, and arty places along the way. The bikes are even kitted with a wine carrier for the bottles you purchase (trust us, the wines of Marlborough are hard to resist).
Explore Marlborough is one of our fave bike tours for getting out and about among the grapes. With half-day and full-day tours on offer, you can choose the wine-dedication level that’s right for you and your crew. Their deluxe full day tour even includes an a la carte lunch!
Riding Marlborough’s Golden Mile is also a must, any time of the year. With 9 wineries, restaurants, art and cold drink stops packed into the 6km trail, you can become a Golden Mile champion by getting a stamp from five Golden Mile stops.
Tipsy cycling? Don’t leave Marlborough without doing it!
Join the festivities at The Marlborough Wine & Food Festival
If you’re visiting Marlborough during February 2016, make sure you pack your appetite—Marlborough Wine & Food Festival will be in full swing on Saturday 13th. Held at the legendary Brancott Vineyard, it’s set to be a cracker of a day. With cooking demos from Kiwi celeb chefs, food and wine matching, master classes, live music, and even a fashion in the vines Instagram comp, you’ll be blown away by what this Marlborough festival has to offer.
Don’t worry if you can’t make it, many of Marlborough’s wineries serve up tasty, seasonal platters and meals all year round.
Day Cruise in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds with seafood and Sauv
While the vineyards and wineries of Marlborough will undoubtedly blow your mind, sometimes the place to be is at sea in the iconic Marlborough Sounds. New Zealand’s waters are home to the best seafood in the world, and as the saying goes—it’s best when it’s fresh…and with a wine or two! If you can get your mind off the food, The Marlborough Sounds are some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world and well worth a looksee. Jump on the Seafood Odyssea Cruise or Greenshell Mussel Cruise for three hours of exploring the Queen Charlotte Sound, while sampling the best of New Zealand seafood and wine. Go on a sea kayak adventure or join a nature, scenic or lunch cruise, and even help to deliver the mail by boat to remote lodges and homes. Or get them to drop you off for a relaxing night or three at a secluded lodge with million dollar views.
Winery hop with Marlborough’s best gourmet wine and food tours
Bar hopping can take the back seat, because winery hopping is where it’s at. As one of the best things to do in Marlborough, enjoy being chauffeured (more wine for you, woo!) to a handful of Marlborough’s top wineries for tastings, tours, and a bistro lunch. You’ll be taught the art of wine and food matching, how to tell your chards from your pinots, and given a chance to try special reserves.
Sounds Connection, Marlborough Tour Company, Bubbly Grape Wine Tours, and Hop n’ Grape Tours have got all your holiday wine (and beer on the latter tour) cravings covered.
Get a taste of history at Marlborough’s first vineyard and winery
Established in 1873, it’s safe to say that the Cowley family of Auntsfield Estate know what they’re doing. Nestled beneath the rolling Southern Hills of Marlborough, Auntsfield Estate makes for some seriously Insta-worthy photo opps, as well as a chance to sample some of the best wine in the region. Their cellar door is open by appointment during the summer months, and Auntsfield’s historic vineyard tour is an absolute must do.
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