Marlborough Day Trip from Nelson
When you really want to see as much of the Nelson and Marlborough regions as possible, but your schedule only allows a minuscule time frame, in an area as beautiful and diverse as this, it’s quite a dilemma.
We wanted the best local food, wine and scenery, and we wanted it all in one day, without rushing and in comfort.
With that in mind – and the question if our requests could even be filled - we decided this was a job for some local experts.
Enter the Marlborough Tour Company, who came to the party with a private day trip from Nelson to Marlborough that covered all of our wants, and more.
Shortly after breakfast we were collected from our Nelson accommodation by our driver and guide for the day, Allen, in a very well-appointed luxury sedan. It was a good start and it only got better. Allen whisked us straight to some pretty incredible scenery – and that was just on the highway leaving Nelson. Mirror-still water filled the Atawhai estuary, framed by the Boulder Bank and its lighthouse which were in turn backed by snow-capped mountains. Stunning.
By 9am we had traversed a scenic windy road and arrived at Pelorus Bridge amidst ancient beech forest for a quick break at the picturesque little cafe. Takeaway coffees in hand, Allen took us onto the bridge we had just crossed in the car to look down at the emerald-green Pelorus River snaking through the ravine below, where, Allen told us, a scene from The Hobbit movie was filmed.
Back on the road, with Allen providing all sorts of interesting local facts and insights, it was an easy drive among green hills and through quaint seaside village Havelock to Marlborough’s Wairau Plain in time for our wine tour. And it was only 10am!
We visited several wineries on the so-called Golden Mile of wine, where we were offered wine tastings and even got to chat to a couple of winemakers. By the time we had to leave for lunch we really felt like we’d been immersed in the Marlborough wine scene – and as a reminder, we took a few bottles with us.
Allen was ready to take us back to Havelock, where we indulged in a delicious fresh seafood feast at the Slip Inn Cafe which overlooks the Havelock Estuary. The cafe was conveniently located alongside the meeting point for our next tour, the Marlborough Tour Company’s Greenshell Mussel Cruise.
After being welcomed aboard the MV Spirit by the super friendly crew, we glided gently out into the Pelorus Sound and any fears we had of potential sea sickness dissipated when we realised that the tranquil Marlborough Sounds waters produced little more than a surface ripple, which our solid catamaran cut through without a bump.
As we headed into nearby Kenepuru Sounds, our guide and skipper were full of interesting information and while we relaxed on deck drinking in the stunning scenery and spotting seals, we learned plenty about the local history, aquaculture and natural environment.
A highlight was pulling up at a Greenshell mussel farm and – we were on a seafood cruise after all – sampling the freshest mussels I think we’ve ever had, which were steamed to perfection by the onboard crew, right at the source. A glass of Marlborough sauvignon blanc just topped the whole experience off.
On our return to Havelock, the wonderful Allen was waiting for us with the car – and our purchased wine – ready to take us back to Nelson.
Allen and the Marlborough Tour Company team really made sure that we saw, experienced and tasted the best that the Top of the South offered in a very short timeframe. We'll be back for longer next time.