Owing to the fact that much of New Zealand’s Marlborough region is sheltered by high country to the west and south and in parts to the east, it’s the country’s sunniest region. Throughout summer, the weather is predominantly warm, dry and settled. Typically, day temperatures will range from 20°C to 26°C, occasionally rising above 30°C.
All this makes Marlborough the perfect place to head to in summer to experience the great outdoors. And there really is a huge range of activities to fill your days there. From the mesmerizing Marlborough Sounds to the award-winning wineries of the region – and the hiking and biking trails, spectacular flora and fauna, historic sites, pleasant towns, great food, awesome scenery and a whole lot more in between – there is something for everyone in Marlborough.
Here’s a short list of Marlborough ‘must dos’ to inspire your plans for a visit to Marlborough this summer.
Get on your bike
From mountain biking all or part of the 70km Queen Charlotte Track, with opportunities to stay in a wide range of accommodations along the way, to biking a variety of other tracks throughout the region, there are cycling options for every level of skill. You can opt for a slower, less strenuous cycle, and go exploring the vineyards on your bike, making your own way or joining a guided tour of cellar doors. Or you can grab a road bike and hit the winding Queen Charlotte Drive, with native bush on one side of the road and the sparkling Marlborough Sounds on the other.
Take to the water
Summer is the perfect season for doing anything on the water in the Marlborough Sounds – and there are plenty of options, from sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, diving and snorkelling to plain old splashing around in the water.
There’s no better way to get up close and personal with the Marlborough Sounds than to rent a kayak and paddle your own way or join a guided tour from bay to bay – for more kayaking inspiration, read our kayaking blog. Why not head out to one of the myriads of coves with a packed lunch and have a picnic on a secluded beach? Or head inland and do exactly the same along the banks of one of the many rivers and streams – you can even kayak down the Wairau and Pelorus rivers – where you’ll be entertained by the amazing local birdlife.
Or how about going swimming with dolphins? There are a number of companies that operate tours to see and even swim with dolphins. The Marlborough Sounds is a favourite spot for a number of dolphin species. You could also take a tour boat to one of the mussel, oyster or salmon farms dotted around the Marlborough Sounds and find out how this wonderful seafood is grown.
There’s also heaps on offer for the fishing enthusiast – with both salt and fresh water fishing options. For more fishing inspiration, read our blog about why you haven’t fished until you’ve fished in the Marlborough Sounds. Whether it’s spin or fly fishing that takes your fancy, the rivers of Marlborough are also a great place to have a go at hooking a tasty trout.
Visit some of the predator-free islands in the Marlborough Sounds, such as Motuara Island in the Queen Charlotte Sound, where kiwi and a multitude of other bird and wildlife range free and safe. You may even be lucky enough to get a glimpse of the king shag, the second rarest bird in the world.
Take a step back in time to discover the history of this remarkable part of New Zealand. In Picton, visit the National Whale Centre or explore a historic ship at the Edwin Fox Maritime Museum. If you time it right, you can enjoy all things maritime at the Picton Maritime Festival on 21 January.
Why not take a tour to Ship Cove in the Queen Charlotte Sound, where Captain James Cook spent so much time. Further afield, there’s the historic gold mining township of Canvastown where you can learn more about Marlborough’s history of gold mining.
Taste the bounty of Marlborough
If you have a passion for matching great food with premium wines or craft beers, then Marlborough is the place to take your taste buds on holiday.
The region is bursting with delicious fruits in the summer. You could stop at one of the many roadside stalls to experience a taste of Marlborough or find a location that lets you pick your own. And don’t forget the delectably fresh Marlborough oysters and mussels – there’s nothing nicer than eating them straight from the shell.
At the height of summer, there’s also the renowned Marlborough Wine and Food Festival on 11 February, which no-one who is serious about food would think of missing.
Sample the wines of Marlborough
You can’t really say you’ve experienced Marlborough until you’ve sampled its world famous wines. Visit well-known cellar doors and small boutique wineries in the Wairau, Waihopai, Awatere and Omaka valleys, where you can have lunch or dinner in one of the winery restaurants, while you indulge in the wines of Marlborough amid the very vines that grew them.
Walk just about everywhere
Marlborough is made for walking – there are walking and hiking trails everywhere. If you have more time to spare, you could easily spend three to five days walking the world-famous Queen Charlotte Track. Or you can just do parts of it – the choice is yours. You can carry your own pack or have it transferred for you each day. There are a number of other tracks through the region, including a number in the nearby Nelson Lakes National Park, where you could even encounter the world-famous Blue Lake. Hiking and camping go hand in hand, and if you’re a camping enthusiast, then Marlborough will not disappoint, with plenty of spectacular camping sites.
Relax in luxurious comfort
On the other hand, if you just want to sit back and chill then Tigers Den luxury lodge is the place to do so. Perched on a hillside above beautiful Waikawa Bay overlooking an ever-changing vista, Tigers Den offers exceptional comfort and convenience in a spectacular setting. Tigers Den is only two minutes from Picton, making it conveniently located for accessing all that the Marlborough Sounds and the wider region has to offer.
So, will you come plunge into Marlborough this summer?