Guide12 Hours Marlborough
Twelve hours in Marlborough and too many options? We’ve got you. From eating and drinking to shopping and exploring, follow our guide to make sure you get the best out of your trip.
Your guide to the best things to do in Marlborough
Marlborough is located in the northeast of the South Island, and its central location makes it easy to explore the region’s neighbours. While it’s best known for incredible scenery and the revered Sauvignon Blanc wines we all know and love, this locale has even more to offer than you might think.
Whether you’re happiest taking in the stunning vistas from a patio with a glass of wine, or prefer to feed your adventurous spirit with hiking tracks or swimming with the dolphins, you’ll feel right at home in this dynamic destination.
9am: Breakfast at Herb and Olive
62 High Street, Blenheim
The most important meal of the day starts at Herb and Olive, a wholefood café serving up coffee, kombucha, and local seasonal food. These guys bring you a menu full of delicious foods, featuring plenty of vegetarian and vegan options and a cosy rustic atmosphere. They’re also involved with the initiative UYO (use your own) which encourages customers to bring their own vessel to enjoy coffee and food without harming the environment.
10am: Coffee at 23 Grove Road Coffee House
23 Grove Road, Blenheim
A day of exploring should always begin with a cup of coffee in hand, so head to 23 Grove Road Coffee House for a glorious cup of joe (and a sneaky sweet treat from their selection of baked goods.) If you’re around on a Tuesday or Wednesday night, don’t miss their dessert nights where you can dine in or take away their mouthwatering desserts that are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.
10.30am: Shopping at No.4 Boutique
64 Market Street, Blenheim
Those who live for fashion will find their heaven at No.4 Boutique, where you’ll find affordable fashion ranges from NZ and Australia, including a large selection of knitwear, denim, accessories, shoes, and more. Stocking brands like La Tribe, P.E Nation and Assembly—best known for their effortlessly cool and versatile pieces—their clothes will feel right at home in anyone’s wardrobe.
11.00am: Dabble in wine tasting in Wairau Valley
Hop in the car and drive the 30 minutes to Wairau Valley, a township on State Highway 63, chock full of mountain ranges, rivers, valleys, and (best of all!) wineries.
Start your wine tasting journey at Wairau River Wines. Since Phil and Chris Rose founded the winery in 1978, each of their children have played a part in the family business. Located at the edge of the Wairau River, the soil, terrain and Marlborough climate makes it a very special place to make wine. There’s also an incredible restaurant and ‘cellar door’ wine tasting available for you to tickle your taste buds and decide which wine you want to bring home.
12pm: Framingham Wines
19 Conders Bend Road
Framingham Winery is an environmentally sustainable vineyard that “makes wine by their own rules.” Their process combines small batches of fruit from different parts of the vineyard, allowing them to build depth of flavour and texture. (These small batches also mean small quantities, so get in quick if you want a bottle to take home!) Another highlight? Their uniquely creative space Framingham Underground is home to the Framingham Harvest Concert hosts a variety of music gigs and events throughout the year.
1.30pm: Take a Detour to Picton and explore Diversion Gallery
10 London Quay, Picton
Picton is a wee town links the main islands of NZ and is home to many a coffee shop, gallery and neat restaurants. Cruising, fishing, dolphin watching, sea kayaking and mountain biking are also options for the adventure-seeker.
Barbara Speedy took over an existing gallery in 1999—renaming it after a commission painting titled ‘The Diversion’—with the objective of exhibiting leading New Zealand artists, who could previously only be seen by locals travelling long distances to other centres. Take a peek at which exhibits are showing and immerse yourself in gorgeous NZ contemporary art.
3.00pm: Walk on the Picton Foreshore Reserve
Whether you opt to walk along the Foreshore Reserve, sunbathe on the beach, ride on the model railway, or watch the kiddies play on the playground, there’s always something to do in this scenic spot. Grab an afternoon coffee to go and park yourself on the lawn to catch your breath before carrying on with the rest of your afternoon.
Drive back to Blenheim.
4.30pm: Pre-Dinner Drinks at Wine Station
Blenheim Railway Station, Sinclair Street
Make your way back to Blenheim and stop for a wee drink at Wine Station, an unpretentious and inviting spot that also serves up barista-made coffee, cold beverages, and craft beer. Curb your appetite with a cheese, bread and dip platter before dinner, and make sure to follow them on Facebook to stay updated on upcoming events while you’re in town!
6.00pm: Dinner at Arbour
36 Godfrey Road, Fairhall, Blenheim
This award-winning restaurant serves sample menus from an extensive range of ever-changing local producers, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Sample the ‘Eat Local’ option for a smaller, more curated menu, or opt for ‘The Many’ to try a bit of everything. The stunning interior serves as the perfect backdrop for any special occasion or “just because” night on the town.
Image credit: David James
8.00pm: Nightcap at Scotch Bar
26 Maxwell Road, Blenheim
Indulge in a nightcap at Scotch Bar, a locally owned and operated restaurant, wine bar, and wine shop where the ambiance is as good as the wine list. If you’ve got room for a few more nibbles, they also offer a weekly curated menu, which was recently awarded One Hat by Cuisine Magazine.
Have more time? Explore these Weekend Markets in Marlborough
Marlborough Artisan Market
42a Alfred Street
If you’re spending the weekend in Marlborough between October and February, you can’t leave without experiencing the Marlborough Artisan Markets. Grab a coffee and a bite to eat while listening to music and browse locally crafted children’s toys, clothes, jewelry, soaps, and much more. Admission is free but make sure to bring some cash with you so you can take your goodies home with you!
Marlborough Farmers Market
24 Maxwell Road
Delight in the market’s takeaway brunch options created by local food producers and send your little ones off to enjoy the children's play area while you indulge in a cup of locally roasted coffee. With plenty of picnic tables and chairs, you’ll have no trouble finding a place to relax. Bonus tip: Take some time to chat directly with the award-winning stallholders, and you just might walk away with some of their favourite recipes!