The pristine waters of the tranquil Marlborough Sounds are the perfect place to farm some of the world’s most coveted seafood, not to mention sampling it paired with a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
Oysters, mussels and salmon grown in the Marlborough Sounds are served at some of the most prestigious restaurants around the world, by top international chefs.
The delectable taste of this seafood smorgasbord is pure Marlborough Sounds and the health benefits of an Omega-3 ladden seafood fest are enormous.
Not only is seafood good for you, it’s also good for the local economy; according to Aquaculture New Zealand New Zealand’s aquaculture sector generated over $400 million in revenue in 2011, employed over 3000 Kiwis and has a target goal of reaching $1 billion in sales by 2025.
Greenshell mussels have been farmed since the 1970s with many innovations along the way including the most recent long-line method of growing mussels on suspended ropes. This has resulted in a plump, juicy mussel much bigger than its wild cousin.
Like mussels, oysters have been farmed in New Zealand waters for over 40 years. Tio Point oysters, grown on ropes at 9 farms in the Marlborough Sounds, are cold water flat oysters characterised by plump and firm meat, and a sweet salty flavour.
King salmon has been farmed in the Marlborough Sounds for over 30 years. Because of New Zealand farming practices, strict bio-security procedures and absence of any native salmon species, King salmon grown here doesn’t need any vaccines or antibiotics.
The very best way to enjoy local Marlborough seafood is to head out on a Seafood Cruise in the Marlborough Sounds. Sample fresh local seafood to your heart’s content in the stunning surroundings it was farmed. As an added bonus, a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is paired with your seafood feast.
As well as tasting the seafood on the cruise you will also head to a salmon, oyster or mussel farm to find out how they are grown and so that you can ask any questions.
When you think of Marlborough your first thoughts might be wine and the Marlborough Sounds. But, wonderful as these delights are, did you know that Marlborough has a huge range of amazing walks, all starring some of the best scenery in the country?
From a one hour scenic stroll to a full day hike through to a 5 day serious tramp, there is a walk to suit anyone’s fitness level, time preferences and scenery interests.
It’s hard to narrow it down to five, but here are some of the most popular walks in the region.
1. Mt Vernon Lookout
Mt Vernon forms part of the beautiful Wither Hills that provides the striking ochre backdrop on the southern side of Blenheim. It’s worth the walk to the lookout with 180 degree views from Cloudy Bay, across Blenheim and right up the Wairau Valley.
A steep but rewarding climb that’s great for kids and reasonably fit adults.
Park at Redwood Street Carpark. Take the Mt Vernon Track to the left up the grassy hillside or the Sutherland Stream Track to the right up the shaded valley to the lookout. Do a return trip on your track of choice, or a circuit using both.
2. Sawcut Gorge
(3-4 hours return)
In Southern Marlborough, Sawcut Gorge is a unique walk up a river to a narrow two metre wide gorge with 150 metre high towering cliffs.
Be prepared to get wet feet as you walk up through the scenic riverbed. This is a geographically and botanically interesting area.
Turn off State Highway 1 on the north side of the Waima River Bridge 55 km south of Blenheim (72 km north of Kaikoura) into the Waima/Ure Valley and follow the narrow gravel road up to Blue Mountain Station, 12 km from State Highway 1.
NOTE: THIS WALK IS CURRENTLY INACCESSIBLE - CHECK WITH DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION
3. The Snout Track
Take a leisurely stroll along the bushy hillside track from Picton north to the The Snout peninsula.
Enjoy scenic views across Queen Charlotte Sounds and you walk up to the Queen Charlotte View Lookout then carry on along to The Snout headland, a great spot for a picnic.
From Picton Marina at the east end of the Picton foreshore, head over the high foot bridge to where the track starts. There is paid parking at the Marina, and some free longer term parking spaces within Picton township.
4. Nydia Track
The Nydia Track takes you through regenerating forest and farmland with stunning coastal scenery starts at Kaiuma Bay near Havelock and ends at Tennyson Inlet, with Nydia Bay in the middle.
You can stay at the Nydia Bay campsite, the Department of Conservation lodge, local bed and breakfasts or the eco lodge.
You can drive to either end of the track or get there by charter launch or mail boat from Havelock. A popular plan is to organise to go at the same time as another group in opposite directions and swap keys at Nydia Bay.
27km – 9 hours walking, one way.
5. Queen Charlotte Track
(up to 5 days)
The Queen Charlotte Track is a spectacular coastal walk stretching from historic Ships Cove in the outer reaches of Queen Charlotte Sound to Anakiwa near Picton.
At 70km in length and relatively easy walking, the full track can be walked in 3-5 days, depending on fitness and experience. All levels of accommodation are available along the track. Your pack can be transferred by water taxi, leaving you to just carry a day pack while walking.
For serious guided walks, including multi-day walks, check out Wilderness Guides or if you’d prefer a shorter sample of the track with a guide see Marlborough Tour Company. Otherwise unguided day walks – or part day walks – are available along every part of the Track to give you a taste.
Ships Cove is accessible only by boat – with lots of options to get you there and to any other part of the track you wish to walk. You may wish to include a seafood tour in your trip. Parts of the track, including Anakiwa, are accessible by road as well as water.
For more info on these Marlborough walks and many more visit MarlboroughNZ.com
Several of these walks are also mountain biking tracks.
Guided walking tours
If you like the idea of having a walking guide to assist and give you more information about the area, we have a range of options that can be tailored to suit you. Contact us to enquire.
My favourite kind of holiday involves large doses of relaxation, delicious food, gorgeous scenery, a great book and a stylish place to stay. Oh, and fine company of course.
So, it was with great delight that I embarked on Marlborough Tour Company’s ‘Link Series’ tour from Marlborough Airport to Bay of Many Coves Resort. Not only does it tick every box on my dream holiday list, but it added a few extra boxes for future reference.
After being collected at Marlborough Airport, we headed to Cloudy Bay winery for a wine tasting. The knowledgeable host talked us through a range of delicious wines. The settling unbelievably idyllic with deck, expansive lawn, egg chairs hanging from trees, vines beyond and the Richmond Ranges silhouetted as a distant backdrop.
With the sweet taste of wine still lingering about mouths and heads, we travelled for about half an hour to the pretty seaside town of Picton, on the shores of the Queen Charlotte Sound – the largest sound in the Marlborough Sounds family.
We headed to Le Café on the waterfront for lunch, overlooking the picturesque marina and with expansive views out to the stunning sounds. The menu was tempting, focused largely on local produce and mostly organic, we settled for the fresh fish – divine.
Next up was boarding MV Seafood Odyssea. Two levels of lounge-style comfort with plenty of decks for outdoor viewing. Cruising out through the plethora of boats moored, we enjoyed the lively commentary on the Marlborough Sounds with breathtaking vistas in every direction.
Arriving at a salmon farm, complete with resident seals cavorting nearby, looking for a late lunch, our lovely captain talked about salmon farming in the area and we walked onto the farm to view the masses of swirling fish.
Back on board we were treated to a feast of fragrant smoked salmon and heavenly freshly steamed Greenshell mussels, matched with Marlborough sauvignon blanc. As we cruised further up the Queen Charlotte Sound, listening to more of the captain’s fascinating commentary on the area, its history and its marine and birdlife, we came upon a happy pod of dusky dolphins.
We stopped and watched them at play - diving, leaping and generally showing off their Olympic-level synchronised swimming skills. My favourite was one who jumped repeatedly out of the water 12 times in a row, I kid you not - I counted, as I laughed.
After dragging ourselves away from our new marine friends, our next and final stop was Bay of Many Coves Resort, aptly named for the bay it resides in. Its reputation as a luxury retreat was fully evident from the very first glance. Sleekly modern but integrated beautifully in the hillside with wooden features and lush landscaping.
We were given a tour of the resort, then shown to our beautifully appointed room where we relaxed on the deck for a few hours with books – with a massage thrown in for true bliss. Tick, tick, tick!
At the pre-dinner gathering we mingled with the other guests and our host talked us through tasting Marlborough sauvignon blanc from several subregions – fascinatingly unique. Later we ate in fine dining style at the Foredeck Restaurant with fresh local produce the outstanding feature.
Falling asleep with the curtain open to the magical view of stars and moon over the stunning water, I couldn’t help but think holidays would have to step up a notch or two from now on to match this one.
It’s been a busy few months… Along with developing a whole new site, we have refreshed our name from Marlborough Travel to Marlborough Tour Company.
The main reason for the change is that we are a tour company based in Marlborough and tours are what we do, so ‘Marlborough Tour Company’ is the perfect name. We’re pretty to the point like that.
We’re also a great advocate for positive change, because a change is as good as a holiday, and we’re all about awesome holiday experiences. In fact, we add new tours and cruises all the time – you should check out our unique tours and cruises, for the experience of a lifetime.
This isn’t the first time we’ve changed our name over the twenty years we’ve been in the business of Marlborough tours. We began life as ‘Wilderness Express’, then as times changed and Marlborough and the Marlborough Sounds became more of a tourism destination, we changed our name to Marlborough Travel. Now it’s on to the next exciting phase in the Marlborough tour business – watch this space…
Recently voted New Zealand’s 4th best destination and 8th best destination in the South Pacific by Trip Advisor, Marlborough is really starting to shine as a New Zealand travel must-go for travellers – whether local or from overseas. Whether you’re a first time visitor or you just need to return, Marlborough is pure magic.
What’s not to like?
Marlborough is situated smack bang in the middle of Aotearoa at the top of the South Island, boasts the largest wine region in New Zealand and the endless bays of the stunning Marlborough Sounds take up a phenomenal one-fifth of the country’s coastline. Add to that all-day scenic vistas that take your breath away and a gourmet heaven of produce and cuisine, and you have a recipe for a truly magical holiday and not much space on your camera.
So many delights, so easy to get to
Base yourself in Marlborough and you can be on a Marlborough wine tour in the morning, on a seafood Marlborough Sounds cruise in the afternoon and staying at a luxury resort in the Marlborough Sounds that night. While you’re there you could walk or bike the famous Queen Charlotte track, go dolphin watching or kayaking in the Marlborough Sounds, and finish off with a waterfront dinner in Picton.
Then next few days can be filled with all sorts of Marlborough tours, from an art and garden tour through to a Māori cultural tour, a farm tour or a tour for planes, cars and history enthusiasts, sprinkled liberally with award-winning wine and gourmet food.
Once you’ve feasted on the delights of Marlborough, the exciting news is that you’re really close to a whole bunch more activities – 90 minutes drive can have you skiing at Rainbow Ski field, checking out the art scene in Nelson or whale and seal watching in Kaikoura, in 3 hours you could be at the Hanmer Springs hot pools or sunbathing on the golden sands of Golden Bay.
Stick around a while
With a wide range of accommodation to suit your budget and style, you may as well base yourself in Marlborough for a while. Choose from backpackers, motels and hotels in Blenheim, Picton and Havelock, through to cute Marlborough vineyard villas and luxury winery hotels, and holiday houses, lodges and boutique resorts in the Marlborough Sounds.
Simply put, you’d be mad not to make Marlborough your next destination.
We are delighted to announce the arrival of two new exciting additions to the Marlborough Tour Company family.
Luxury for the discerning cruiser
MV Tarquin, docked at Picton Marina, is the ultimate in luxury Marlborough Sounds cruising. Offering understated luxury for the discerning cruiser, Tarquin is modern, beautifully appointed and with three ensuited cabins.
Take a Marlborough Sounds cruise – during the day, overnight or spoil yourself with one of our truly decadent packages including private crew, chef and all meals and beverages. Tarquin takes up to 20 passengers during the day and 6 overnight.
Tarquin is currently undergoing a full refit and will be ready for bookings from February 2015, still plenty of time for endless days of luxurious summer cruising in the Sounds.
Touring in style
We have a new 24-seat luxury touring coach currently being built in Christchurch. Not too big, not too small, we reckon this size is going to be just right for a whole range of luxury tours around Marlborough and the South Island – including Marlborough wine tours, group activities, transfers and incentive groups.
Much anticipated by the team, our new cute wee coach will join our fleet in December, just in time for the busy summer months ahead full of our popular tours and a bunch of exciting new ones.