Getting to Marlborough
Our New Zeland North Island itinerary begins in Marlborough. If you’re coming from the North Island, take the Picton Interislander ferry to the South Island. When you arrive at the ferry terminal, it’s a 25-minute drive to the middle of Marlbourgh wine country. For those that are flying to the South Island, it’s a longer journey (4.5 hours) up to Marlborough. From Christchurch (airport), we recommend driving the Kaikoura Coast up and then following this itinerary as is. Quick Summary:
- From the Picton Interislander Terminal, it’s a 25-minute drive to Blenheim.
- From Christchurch, it’s a 4-hour 40-minute drive to Blenheim via the Pacific coastal route (Kaikoura Coast). If you’re coming from Christchurch, you can take the coastal route up, and follow the itinerary as is.
Marlborough – New Zealand’s most celebrated wine region
Marlborough is New Zealand’s largest and most well-known wine region. With an international reputation for sauvignon blanc, Marlborough delivers that and so much more. Many winemakers are challenging the region’s reputation by producing interesting varietals that don’t reflect the somewhat aggressive standard. We recommend seeking out small, family-owned wineries during your visit to Marlborough. They’ll offer insight into the making and philosophy behind their wines.
Most of the open cellar doors are concentrated in and between the towns of Renwick and Blenheim. Pop into the i-Site in Blenheim to grab a wine trail map. Cellar doors are usually open between 10:30 a.m. (or 11:00 a.m.) and 4:30 p.m. (5:00 p.m.). Note: winter hours are generally shorter than summer hours.
Cellar Doors to Visit in Marlborough
- Gibson Bridge Vineyard – Boutique family owned vineyard located in Renwick. They’re passionate about what they do and it shows. Their wines will surprise your palate. They don’t add sugar or sulfites.
- Bladen Wines – A glass of their 2017 Gewürztraminer in Palmerston North led us to this family-owned winery. Established in 1989, they have the oldest Pinot Gris vines in the area.
- Spy Valley Wines – a Successful family-owned winery. Though they’re a larger producer, they still make excellent wines. We love their aromatics, especially their Pinot Gris. Excellent cellar door experience – thorough and educational.
- If you have more time in Marlborough, or if you can drink more than us, here are a few other tasting rooms to visit: Te Whare Ra, Framingham, Forrest, Huia, Whitehaven, Saint Clair, Wither Hills, Fromm, and Brancott Estate.
Marlborough Wineries with Food
- Rock Ferry Cellar Door & Cafe – Standout wines. We came here for lunch. The atmosphere is lovely. The food is good, but not great, though it strives to be.
- Wairau River Wines – Our tastebuds were useless by the time we hopped in here, so our opinion is useless. This is a popular winery for lunch. Make sure to make a reservation.
- Brancott Estate Cellar Door & Restaurant – Restaurant is open for lunch.
- Giesen Wines – Grab a platter and a glass of wine and enjoy it in their sunny courtyard.
- Hans Herzog Estate – Bistro and Gourmet restaurant.
- Wither Hills – Restaurant open for lunch. They have platters and mains. Drink wine next to a fireplace.
Stay in Blenheim or Renwick
Camping | Renwick Domain Carpark (Free Campsite) – There are only 10 free camping spots available at this site. Facilities are minimal, but it’s a good location. This is suitable for both NSC and SC vehicles.
Budget | Spring Creek Holiday Park (Blenheim) – If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on accommodation while in New Zealand, this is the place for you. You can expect clean rooms, an outdoor swimming pool, and friendly staff.
Mid-range | Falcon’s Rise Alpaca Farm (Renwick) – This farm guesthouse is located close to many wineries. Falcon’s Rise features a farm tour and free bicycles. A delicious breakfast is included in the room rate.
Luxury | Chateau Marlborough (Blenheim) – Located just 30-minutes from Pickton Ferry Terminal, this boutique-style hotel spoils guests with spacious rooms, great service (tours to the wine region available!), a wine bar, an outdoor swimming pool, and a fitness center. Tasty breakfast and dinner available.
Look for accommodation in Blenheim or Renwick.