Spend two nights in Blenheim and two nights in Picton to explore this part of New Zealand and uncover some of its hidden secrets and charms that make this region one of the country’s most unspoilt gems.
Flying into Blenheim the views over huge valleys, sunny slopes and rocky riverbeds laden neatly in rows of vines look like nature’s patchwork quilt spread over the ground. From this angle you see just how big wine is down here – around 75% of all of New Zealand’s wine is produced in Marlborough.
Pick up a car from the airport
You’ll need to pre-book, but upon arrival you can grab your keys and tootle to lunch at one of at least 10 of New Zealand’s most famous wineries all within a cork’s throw of Blenheim airport. Nothing is too far – even Picton is only 25 minutes away.
Have lunch at Highfield TerraVin Vineyard and Restaurant
Sit inside or on the edge of the vineyard with views over the Wairau valley sipping their wines and sampling a tasting platter or go all out and order one of their delicious main courses.
![Highfield TerraVin Vineyard](https://content.skyscnr.com/bdab43454c7bcc1aaf57e8b7a28dfefb/lunch.jpg “Highfield TerraVin Vineyard) Photo Credit: Megan Singleton
Visit Omaka Aviation Centre
Whether you’re a war history buff or not, this museum is remarkable. The WWI Knights of the Sky exhibition is made up of airplanes and artefacts collected by film maker Sir Peter Jackson who donated thousands of items including the Red Baron’s aircraft insignia and silver trophies and German and British uniforms plus everything in between.
But what makes this place really worth visiting (and allowing at least two hours) is the realistic scenes that have been designed by Weta Workshop and Wingnut Films to recreate battles and crashes and even entire aircraft.
In 2017 a new exhibition opened too: the WWII Dangerous Skies featuring classic fighter planes that are still used in air shows and taken out monthly to keep them in good working order. But the best part is the new Stalingrad Experience. It’s an eight-minute film depicting the war from the eastern front between Germany and Russia complete with surround sound, CGI, lasers and lights all set in a bombed out factory where you stand and watch it with 360 degree visuals.
![Omaka Aviation Centre](https://content.skyscnr.com/b1facc488ec3a49205d98571c865c30d/omaka.jpg “Omaka Aviaton Centre”) Photo Credit: Megan Singleton
Dinner at M.I.A
After a little down time for the afternoon, head into town for dinner at Made in Aotearoa and let chef Wayne take you through his choices while sommelier Jetti pours the wine. Order the Chef’s Table and make sure the lentil risotto is sitting under your lamb because it’s to die for! MIA is best described as a fearless marriage of locally sourced ingredients with top quality wine and Wayne and Jetti have always got time for a chat which is a nice touch.
If today is Sunday you could visit the weekly Farmers Market from 9am-12pm at the A&P Showgrounds and stock up on goodies from gate to plate, or just grab breakfast from the stallholders.
Wine tasting cycle tour
Take a half day cycle tour around Blenheim’s “Golden Mile” of wineries, stopping at three or four of them (depending on how long you loiter!) for a taste of their finest wines. This is an easy tour and provides great views of the braided Wairau River and trails along the stopbanks overlooking rows and picturesque vines.
Spend the afternoon taking yourself around more wineries, maybe have lunch at Wither Hills or Saint Clair where you can sit outside on a nice day – and since this is the sunniest region in New Zealand, it’s bound to be a nice day!
![Cycle tour track](https://content.skyscnr.com/4fb37cf8037922a972cb71041cd2e0d8/biketrack.jpg “wine tour bike track”) Photo Credit: Megan Singleton
Dinner at Arbour
Tonight head to Arbour, an award-winning restaurant out of town in the heart of the wine growing region. Owners Liz and Brad take pride in presenting outstanding Instagramable dishes matched with local wine. Order a la carte or try their “Just Feed Me” menu choosing three, four, five (or many!) courses and chef Brad will present his finest fare.
Today marks the beginning of your adventures in Picton! Begin with an early morning cruise across the serene Marlborough Sounds to Lochmara Lodge and spend half a day touring their wildlife recovery sanctuary where at any time they might have native birds, reptiles and livestock. There are kayaks and rope swings, swimming and snorkelling and a lovely restaurant out here so stay for lunch and make sure you tour the new Reef Project: a glass bottom boat that is now moored with fascinating crustaceans, starfish and sealife slowly colonising it, then head back to Picton.
Seafood Odyssea Cruise
On a beautiful afternoon there is nothing more relaxing nor spectacular as a three-hour cruise around the sounds to visit the mussel and salmon farms – and having them served up hot and fresh to sample.
![Mussel farm](https://content.skyscnr.com/5535ff6aa53192c4574d29e7d66bc970/musselfarm.jpg “Mussel Farm”) Photo Credit: Megan Singleton
Dinner at Escape to Picton
Tonight dine at Escape to Picton, a little boutique hotel and restaurant in a wooden villa on Picton’s main street with a reputation for beautiful, freshly sourced food. The deconstructed pavlova with berries in a tall glass is a dessert to behold!
Wander along the main street as the mist rolls over moored boats in the harbour and have breakfast at one of the cafes along the waterfront.
Mountain bike ride or hike
There are several biking and hiking trails through the hills with stunning views of the sounds and around to Havelock ranging from beginners for a few kilometres to three days staying in huts along the way. The Queen Charlotte Track is rated as the best track in New Zealand. Rent a bike and a guide if you want one (I needed one!) from Wilderness Guides at Picton Wharf.
![Mountain biking](https://content.skyscnr.com/00b7adaac18f17c47009ff2a8d3178f9/mountainbike.jpg “Mountain biking”)
And before you pack up and head out of town, make sure you have some tastes packed in your luggage to take home!
Savour a glass of sauvignon as you check out Skyscanner New Zealand for the best deals on flights, hotels and car hire – all without booking fees!
Megan Singleton has been gallivanting the world as a travel writer for 16 years and blogging for 10 at Blogger at Large. She’s nabbed a couple of writing awards along the way and thinks travel is not a luxury, but a necessary ingredient to shape our world view and enhance cultural understanding as we get to see and experience life through the eyes of others.