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8 of the Best Things to Do in Blenheim

8 of the Best Things to Do in Blenheim

Blenheim’s position on the South Island tourist trial is down to two things: its proximity to the Marlborough Sounds and its wine industry. Vineyards sit on the edges of town and the wider area is a haven for wine tours and long lunches by the vines. There are some other fun things to do in Blenheim too, including beaches, a walk by the river and the scenic road to Picton.

Vineyards

Wine is probably the major reason you’re visiting Blenheim, and you don’t have to venture far from town before you’re amongst the vines. There are dozens of vineyards in Blenheim (or a short drive from town), with many having cellar doors and a few housing cafés and restaurants.

Sauvignon blanc is the specialty wine of the region. We did a tasting at Saint Clair Family Estate  — I’m not a fan of wine at all but Gia (our resident food and drink writer who is currently on maternity leave) enjoyed it.

Other Produce

You’ll find other produce and artisanal food around Blenheim. We visited Makana Confections and bought some delicious chocolate — also keep a look out for things like fruit (mostly berries), gin, olive oil and heaps more.

Rarangi Beach

Rarangi Beach, a popular local day tripping/ holiday spot, is only 15-minutes from Blenheim. It’s a good place to visit if you’re keen on some coastal hiking or a relaxing afternoon at the beach. There’s a big camping ground there too so it could be an option if you’re keen to stay outside of Blenheim.

View of Rarangi Beach

The drive out to Rarangi Beach is pleasant too — some lovely vineyard views along the way.

Whites Bay

Drive for 5-minutes further around the coast from Rarangi Beach and you’ll reach Whites Bay. It’s our favourite beach in the region — it even made our list of the top 12 beaches in the South Island. There are some short walks around Whites Bay and the beach itself it stunning — white sand, calm water and a native bush backdrop.

Whites Bay, Blenheim, New Zealand

Scenic Road to Picton

The main road between Blenheim and Picton only takes 25 minutes, but if you’ve got time to burn and want to see one of the least visited bits of South Island coastline, consider doing the scenic route. You’ll drive past Rarangi Beach and Whites Bay before continuing around the coast to Port Underwood.

READ MORE: 12 of the Best Things to Do in Picton

We also took a detour to Tumbledown Bay — a very quiet stretch of road! The scenic route between Blenheim and Picton should take around two-hours, add time for stops!

Museums

Blenheim is home to a few interesting museums, including Brayshaw Heritage Park, which is a “recreated” old town similar to Ferrymead in Christchurch and Founders Park in Nelson (and is also home to the Marlborough Museum). The Omaka Aviation Museum seems to be the most popular museum in Blenheim — we missed opening hours but there are a few old planes to see outside.

Walks by the River

The Taylor River (as well as a couple of other ones) flows through Blenheim, providing a nice focal point for the city centre. You can walk or cycle by the river or sit and admire it from one of the cafés or restaurants. There’s plenty of art around the riverside tracks as well as a few old buildings — not the most exciting town centre in the South Island but definitely not one of the worst!

Marlborough Wine Region

The wider Marlborough wine region includes Blenheim (Southern Valleys), Awatere Valley and Wairau Valley. You’ll get some good views of the vineyards of the Awatere Valley when driving towards Blenheim from Kaikoura / Christchurch. I’m no wine expert so I can’t give you too many tips except try and organise a tour rather than driving yourself.

READ MORE: Marlborough Travel Guide: Tips for a Fun Trip to Marlborough

Are you planning a trip to Blenheim? Let us know in the comments below!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.