No matter what your passion, there is something exciting for you in Marlborough this autumn. In addition to all the adventure activities, offering countless opportunities to get up close and personal with the region’s magnificent wildlife, there are amazing things to see, do and taste across this vibrant and fascinating region.
The rich food sources in the Marlborough Sounds and the shelter they offered against bad weather meant that early Maori and Europeans found this region to be very welcoming for settlement. As a result, Marlborough is also steeped in history – and there’s much to see and experience among the many museums of Marlborough.
Here are a few to whet your appetite for discovery.
The Picton Museum on London Quay is open daily from 10am to 4pm and houses a display of around 2000 items of Maori, whaling and maritime heritage. The museum is well worth a visit, enabling you to take a peek into the fascinating history of Picton and the Marlborough Sounds.
The Edwin Fox Maritime Museum at Dunbar Wharf holds the hulk of the Edwin Fox, purportedly the world’s ninth-oldest surviving wooden ship, the world’s second oldest surviving merchant sailing ship and the only surviving ship that transported convicts to Australia. How’s that for credentials?!
Built in India in 1853, the Edwin Fox had a checkered history, including carrying troops to the Crimean War, convicts to Australia and immigrants to New Zealand – and she ended her days as a freezer ship. She arrived in Picton on 12 January 1897 and has been here ever since, and is now preserved under cover as a prominent tourist attraction.
The National Whale Centre on London Quay reflects the fact that whales and whaling have featured prominently in New Zealand’s economic and cultural life over the centuries. In fact, the Marlborough Sounds was the epicentre of New Zealand’s 19th and early 20th century whaling enterprises. The area also has the only substantially refurbished whaling station in the country near Tory Channel.
At Ship Cove
The history of Europeans in New Zealand, and Marlborough in particular, has a lot to do with the arrival of intrepid discoverer Captain James Cook. Ship Cove, around 90km by road from Picton (there are also many operators who will take you there by boat) is widely regarded as Captain Cook’s favourite base during his wide-ranging voyages around New Zealand in his ship the Endeavour.
The cove was already valued by Maori as a place of shelter close to the open sea, and it provided Cook with a secure anchorage with good wood, water and fishing to provision his vessel and help his crew recuperate after the many months at sea. Captain Cook spent a total of 170 days in Ship Cove, between his first visit in 1770 and his final one in 1777. In fact, Cook spent more time in these waters than in any other place on earth, other than in his home town of Whitby in England.
There is an informative display at the site covering the stories of the Maori and Captain Cook in the area. So, why not pop up to Ship Cove and get a sense for yourself of what it must have been like for earlier arrivals in the Marlborough Sounds?
Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre Just down the road from Tigers Den luxury lodge, at 79 Aerodrome Rd in Blenheim, you’ll find a truly amazing museum – the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. In fact, The Sydney Morning Herald called it the “Best Museum in the World”.Open daily from 10am to 4pm, the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre is all about man-made things that fly, in particular from the first and second world wars. However, it’s the presentation of this history that is the real clincher, and for good reason.
The displays are visually stunning, thanks in no small part to the fact that Sir Peter Jackson, who is an avid World War I aviation collector, not only lent some of his collection to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre but he also sent experts from his Weta Workshop and Wingnut Films to create the sets that put these displays in a class of their own. You simply have to see them to believe them!
Reviews of the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre on Tripadvisor include statements such as “Simply Excellent – this is a must see museum… The exhibits are absolutely amazing as to be expected given Sir Peter Jackson and Sir Richard Taylor’s input and support. Highly recommended”, and “Located outside of Blenheim this aviation museum is a must see” and “This was a great museum. The displays are cinematic quality and the memorabilia and films make the museum experience come alive.”The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre is definitely one for your Must See list during your visit to Marlborough.
Omaka Classic Cars Situated next to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre on the outskirts of Blenheim, Omaka Classic Cars showcases classic cars from the 1950s to the 1980s, and gives a fascinating glimpse into our motoring history.So, if you’re into large, stylish grilles and lots of chrome, then you’d better add this one to your Must See list too. The collection of around 110 vehicles includes an extensive range, from Austins to Zodiacs, and changes every couple of months. Omaka Classic Cars is open daily from 10am to 4pm.
Marlborough Museum Brayshaw Heritage Park is located just a five minute drive from the centre of Blenheim. Here you’ll find the Marlborough Museum (open daily from 10am to 4pm) with an inspiring collection of items that tell the story of Marlborough, in particular its wine-making history. So it’s a good idea to check it out before you head off to visit the wineries or explore other historic Marlborough sites.
Reviews of the Marlborough Museum on Tripadvisor include statements such as “A museum dedicated to the wine industry – the Marlborough Museum is primarily composed of two sections. The first, which occupies by far the majority of the available space, deals with viticulture, or the local wine industry. This is also its most important feature, as it is probably the only museum in the area to do so, and to relate to the area’s largest industry” and “This is a small museum but the wine making exhibit was very good.”Stepping outside the Museum, there’s also a lot to see and do in Brayshaw Heritage Park itself, including a visit to Beaverton, a replica street scene from the early days of Blenheim.
Discover a new place to stay while in Marlborough
No matter whether you’re visiting for a few days or longer, Tigers Den luxury lodge is the place to base yourself while you make the most of the many museums of Marlborough – and all the other attractions this spectacular part of the world is famous for.
Tigers Den is a luxury holiday home with million dollar views, a spa pool, barbecue and much more, where up to 10 people can relax and unwind in a comfortable setting close to all the action.
Its location just minutes from all the sights of Picton and many of the region’s tour operators, and a short drive from many other attractions in Marlborough, makes Tigers Den the perfect place to stay.