At the top of the South Island are two of the most exciting regions in New Zealand; Marlborough with its main settlement Blenheim, and a little to the west is Nelson. 

An enjoyable inter-island ferry crossing from Wellington has you disembarking at Picton, with Blenheim  a short 25 kilometres drive inland. The  and is recognised internationally as a significant centre of outstanding wine production. 

Situated to the east of Nelson, Blenheim has an attractive climate well suited to wine growing, which has brought the region international recognition. Approximately 65 wineries service over 4,000 hectares of vines and produce a wide range of varieties including Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. The Marlborough region produces some of the world’s best Sauvignon Blancs and is fast gaining a reputation for method traditionelle wines. 

Marlborough has also become the gourmet centre of New Zealand, where fine dining is expressed in first-class local produce matched with superb Marlborough wines. Many wineries offer tastings and restaurant facilities and a day cruising a selection of the wineries is guaranteed to provide delightful taste and gourmet experiences. 

Blenheim with a population of approximately 23,000 is the principal centre of the region and is recognised as one of New Zealand’s most attractive small towns. The town features many parks and gardens and has a good selection of excellent restaurants. Blenheim is an excellent base for exploration of the Marlborough Sounds, the Kaikoura region and of course, some of the world’s finest wineries. 

Nelson is also the gateway to the intriguing Buller Gorge offering a natural paradise with bush walks, bird-watching, white-water rafting, kayaking and family rafting. The Buller Gorge Swingbridge encompasses all that the region has to offer in a unique highway stop. The Buller Gorge is an opportunity to see New Zealand in its most natural state. 

To the west and a reasonable drive from Blenheim is the stunning centre of Nelson. A city of approximately 55,000 people, with a temperate climate and a creative, vibrant lifestyle, Nelson is a growing area with wide appeal to visitors. The city is home to extensive cultural activities and attractions. It also provides access to the idyllic coastline of the Abel Tasman National Park, Golden Bay and the Nelson Lakes. 

Believed to have been settled by Maori in around 1000AD, the first European settlement occurred in the early 1840s. Maori lived close to the coast where they were able to take advantage of the abundant sea life that still exists and forms the basis of a thriving seafood industry. The port of Nelson is the biggest fishing port in Australasia. 

Nelson has a well-deserved reputation for restaurants and bars of high quality. A wide range of fruit products are grown and local fare forms the basis for local menus. Roadside stalls offer some of Nelson’s finest direct from the producers. 

There are a small number of well-established wineries producing some outstanding varieties and offering the opportunity to not only taste their production but to also enjoy dining among the vines.

The best way to see and explore everything the Marlborough & Nelson region has to offer is to book a self-drive holiday with Budget. 

Other popular destinations include: