We’d been to Marlborough a few times and never taken the road to the coast from Blenheim. The usual route is from Blenheim to either Picton (20 mins) or Nelson, but we decided to take the long way round to Picton and stop off at some of the bays and beaches of the upper east coast. Our first stop was Rarangi, a small beach community around 15 minutes’ drive from Blenheim.
Our first sight of Rarangi Beach was from the southern end, we kinda figured that was it and we’d be driving straight from there to Whites Bay, but we were wrong!
A little way down the road we came to the small settlement of Rarangi. There’s not too much there but it’s a cute little village. The beach there is nice, although it’s one of those rough, stony kind of beaches that you see a lot on the upper east coast. There’s also a track which runs between these two sections.
There are a couple of tracks which start at the northern end of Rarangi Beach. The easiest one takes you up some steps to a viewpoint, and then down to Monkey Bay. The viewpoint is nice enough, but you’ll see better views on the road to Whites Bay.
Monkey Bay is worth a look too, although it was a little dark and the tide was high when we were there.
Rarangi Beach to Whites Bay
The other track at the northern end of the beach takes you over the headland to Whites Bay. We didn’t do this track, as we were driving to Whites Bay next anyway. There’s an awesome view up there by the side of the road – you see Rarangi Beach, the town and a huge lineup of vineyards. Wine is massive in Marlborough and I reckon this is one of the best “vineyard views” you’ll see. By the looks of it the track goes through bush and then up to the road, so I’m not entirely sure you’ll see anything that you wouldn’t see on the drive anyway. But, if you’re staying at Rarangi Beach I reckon it’d be a good thing to do.
There’s a big camping ground at Rarangi Beach, and while it’d be popular in the summer months I’d say it’d be quiet at other times. It’s a nice spot and there are a few cool things to do nearby (and you’re only a short drive from the big city lights of Blenheim). In terms of beaches to camp at, you could do a lot worse! It’ll cost $8 per night (adult) to camp there, and it’s a DOC campsite so don’t expect too much in the way of facilities.
When driving north from Blenheim towards Picton you’ll notice a turnoff (Hunter Road). From there it’s a short drive along vineyard-lined roads to Rarangi, which sits at the northern end of Cloudy Bay. From there you can drive to Whites Bay (10 minutes), and further on towards Port Underwood and eventually Picton. It’s not the most popular driving route in New Zealand but it’s well worth doing.
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