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Blenheim (New Zealand)

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Blenheim is the largest town in the Marlborough wine growing region in the northeast of the South Island of New Zealand.

Blenheim is always in the hunt for the title of New Zealand's sunniest town but is often pipped at the post by its close neighbour Nelson. It has a population of around 27,000 and is situated on the Taylor and Opawa rivers.

Get in[edit]

By train[edit]

TranzCoastal, +64 4 495-0775 (email bookings@tranzscenic.co.nz , fax +64 4 472 8903 , Freephone 0800 TRAINS (0800 872 467) (NZ only)), [1]. Daily 7AM-7PM. The railway station is on Grove Road. Train service operates daily between Christchurch and Picton via Blenheim and Kaikoura. There are stunning views with the Kaikoura mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. It leaves Christchurch at 07:30, arrives at Blenheim 12:20 and Picton 12:50P. The train leaves Picton at 13:40, arrives Blenheim at 14:10 and Christchurch at 19:00.

By bus[edit]

The bus company[2] and two shuttle bus companies[3][4] travel Picton-Christchurch return or Picton-Nelson return and all these services also pass through Blenheim.

The bus will drop you off in the railway station, which is also the information centre. The centre of town is south-west from the railway station. If you want to walk into town from the station, cross State Highway 1 at the southern end of the car park. The river 40m further marks the beginning of the central business district.

Nelson Lakes Shuttles[5] specialise in providing transport for trampers, hikers, climbers, mountain bikers and skiers. They run on demand and schedule services to St Arnaud, Nelson Lakes National Park, Kahurangi National Park, the Richmond Ranges as well as other tramping destinations further afield.

By car[edit]

A short 20 minute drive south on State Highway 1 from Picton which is the home of the terminal for the inter-island ferry service from Wellington.

From Nelson, Blenheim is 1.5 hr east, travelling via Havelock (30 minutes) and Renwick (10 minutes) on State Highway 6. State Highway 62 runs north east from St Arnaud (1.25 hr), Murchison (2 hr) and Westport (3.5 hr) From the south, State Highway 1 takes you from Christchurch (4 hr), Kaikoura (1.5 hr) and Seddon (15 min)

By plane[edit]

Blenheim has a small airport at Woodbourne that has regular services from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch[6], and by commuter aircraft to Wellington and Paraparaumu (just north of Wellington)[7]. The airport is 10 minutes from Blenheim and 4 minutes from Renwick. Commuter aircraft also fly from Picton airport[8], 15 minutes from town.

Get around[edit]

There is limited public transport in Blenheim which is of no real use to travelers[9]. The centre of town and most accommodation is within easy walking distance. Vineyards and other attractions further afield will require transport. For those without the inclination to bike or without a car, taxis or a tour are the most practical options.

  • Neal Shuttle Bus, +64 3 577-5277. Often meets planes at the airport and are happy to arrange a winery tour. Seats 10 (but takes single rides too).  edit
  • Marlborough Taxis Ltd, +64 3 577-5511.  edit
  • Gateway Taxis, +64 3 577-2072.  edit
  • Wine Tours By Bike, Argrove Lodge, 191 Bells Rd (Pick-up can be arranged from your accommodation), +64 3 577-6954 (), [10]. $42 (4 hours), $58 (8 hours).  edit

See[edit][add listing]

  • Marlborough Information Center, Blenheim Railway Station, SH1, +64 3 577-8080 (, fax: +64 3 577-8079), [11].  edit
  • Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, Aerodrome Rd (5 km from town, route sign-posted off SH6), +64 3 579-1305 (), [12]. Daily 10:00-16:00. Collection of World War I planes lovingly restored and captured in realistic settings. Part of the attraction is the association of Peter Jackson (of Lord of the Rings fame) and Weta Workshop with the display. His team has turned what could be just a collection of planes into a drama which those with no interest in aviation or military history can enjoy. Worth it. $18 (Concessions available).  edit
  • Marlborough Provincial Museum (Brayshaw Museum Park), Arthur Baker Pl (off New Renwick Rd), 03 578 1712 (, fax: 03 578 1739), [13]. Daily 10AM-4PM (except Good Friday & 25 Dec). There is a huge amount of artifacts and many displays which relate to the local history. Also houses "Beavertown" a replica "early Blenheim" village. Visit the audiovisual theater which shows both local and international history-oriented films.  edit
  • Millennium Public Art Gallery, Seymour Sq, 03 579 2001 (, fax: 03 579 2162), [14]. M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa Su noon-4:30PM and some public holidays. Entry by gold coin ($1 or $2) donation. Children free.  edit
  • Catch the rugby at Landsdowne Park (one of the Tasman Makos stadiums), Landsdowne St, 03 578 4070 (), [15]. $12-35.  edit
  • Pollard Park, off Parker St. Beautiful landscaping. Don't miss the roses and camellias.  edit
  • Seymour Sq, cnr High and Seymour Sts. See the formal gardens.  edit
  • Marlborough Travel.co.nz, Central Blenheim (Collections), 035779997, [16]. Offering a range of private transport options, wine tours, transfers for individuals, couples, and groups. The company owns and operates cars, vans, buses and coaches as well as launches in the Marlborough Sounds  edit
  • THE LOCAL LOOP TOUR, 02102581352. The full day tour of eight hours takes in all the major highlights and sighteeing attractions in and around Blenheim. Daily from 9am to 5pm. Driver guide speaks English, French, Spanish and German. On request. Book by phone on 02102581352 or through the internet site: www.blenheimlocalloop.co.nz guided tour.  edit


Do[edit][add listing]

  • Walk in the Wither Hills. Blenheim is framed to the south by a farm park which is open to the public. A great spot for a view over the Wairau valley. Popular with runners and walkers of all fitness levels. Accessible from the end of Scott St, Redwood St and Maxwell Rd.
  • Mountain bike the various river and road trails, including the Wither Hills Bike Park (Wither Hills Bike Park), [17]. .  edit
  • Wine Tours by Bike, 191 Bells Rd, 03 577 6954 (), [18]. Enjoy the scenery and take a tranquil tour around the wineries by bike. There are around 30 wineries within a 10 km radius of Blenheim that can be explored by bike. Half Day Bike Rental $42, full day $58.  edit
  • Mud House Village, 193 Rapaura Rd, 03 572 7170 (), [19]. Daily from 10AM. Offers wine and coffee tasting. Liqueurs, fruit brandies, infused olive oils etc for sale. Visit the Olive Shop and Quilters Barn (art and craft).  edit
  • Marlborough Aero Club, 03 578 5073, [20]. Daily. Go on a scenic flight or learn to fly  edit
  • Blenheim Golf Club, Parker St, 021 811 573 (). 9 holes. Great little course close to town. $20 Green fees.  edit
  • Marlborough Golf Club (Fairhall), Paynters Rd, 03 578 7646 (). 18 Holes.  edit
  • Rarangi Golf Club, Rarangi Beach Rd, 03 570 5709 (). 18 Hole.  edit
  • Hedgerows Strawberry Farm, Cnr Old Renwick Rd and Rene St (Between Blenheim and Renwick), 03 578 52 68. Daily 9AM-5PM, closed M. A fun destination for locals and tourists. Sales of fresh strawberries and strawberry products. Real fruit ice-cream and refreshments. Mini petanque court, picnic areas. Parking for camper vans, mini tour buses and bikes. free entry.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Marlborough Farmers Market, A&P Park, cnr Maxwell and Alabama Rds, 03 579 3599 or 03 575 7697 (, fax: 03 579 3598 or 03 575 7698), [21]. Nov-May Su 9AM-noon. Boutique local growers, live music and $7 breakfasts cooked by local chefs. Quality coffee.  edit
  • Bookworld, 67 Market St, 03 578 4909, [22]. Independent retailer with good selection of novels, non-fiction titles and travel literature. Good selection of local books. Carries the Guardian Weekly and Die Spiegel.  edit
  • Perrys Book & Map Shop, 4 Arthur St, 03 578 3195. Another good option for books.  edit
  • Thomas's, 54 Market St, 03 578 6369 (, fax: 03 578 6367), [23]. A department store, almost incongruous for a smaller town. Large selection of quality (and highly priced) men's, woman's and homewear.  edit
  • New World Supermarket, 1 Freswick St (From the post office walk west, past the police station, over the roundabout/railway tracks. On your right), 03 520 9030 (), [24]. Daily 7AM-10PM. Notable for a selection of local wines priced right.  edit
  • Gillan Gallery, Grove Rd (Diagonally opposite the Blenheim Railway Station), 03 579 4604.  edit
  • Blenheim Rotary Car Boot Sale, Grove Road (Public carpark by railway station), 03 578 5735. Sa 8AM-noon. Cheap and cheerful  edit
  • Redwood Market, Redwood Tavern carpark, Cleghorn St, 03 578 9486. Sa 8AM-noon. Fruit, vegetables, flowers, plants, arts & crafts, Organised by the Rotary Club of Blenheim South  edit
  • Wines of Marlborough Tour, (Will collect from accommodation), 03 577 9997, [25]. Select from half day and full day wine tours. Join a scheduled tour or take your very own private tour. Enjoy the very best of the Marlborough wine region.  edit


Eat[edit][add listing]

  • ChiChi restaurant (Thai&chinese), 35 High st (Beside the Farmer), 03-5775188. 7days. Authentic Chinese&Thai food From $18. (11.30PM-2PM lunch,5PM-9PM) edit

Formal Dining[edit]

  • Herzog Winery and Restaurant, 81 Jeffries Rd, 03 572 8770, [26]. Oct-May Tu-Su from 7PM. A 5 star experience. Multi-award winning dining.  edit
  • Hotel d’Urville, 52 Queen St, 03 577 9945, [27]. Fine dining in central Blenheim. Contemporary cuisine in a classic building.  edit

Casual Dining[edit]

  • Raupo Riverside Cafe, 2 Symons St, 03 577 8822 (), [28].  edit
  • Secret Garden, 30 Maxwell Rd (between Bin Inn and Endeavour Homes), 03 579 5025. Courtyard garden in a green oasis. Wild food pies a specialty but will cater for all tastes. Great range of beer and wine.  edit

Lunch[edit]

  • Figaro's, 8 Scott St, 03 577 7277. Contemporary and stylish.  edit
  • Giorgio's, cnr High and Seymour Sts, 03 579 1458. Park views from upstairs windows.  edit

Ethnic food[edit]

  • Maharaja India, 57 Seymour St, 03 579 4060, [29]. Small $11.49, Standard $ 17.49, Large $24.49  edit
  • Sagai Japanese Restaurant, 35a High St, 03 579 4404.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

Marlborough is one of the top wine growing areas in New Zealand. A free map [30] is available from visitor information centres.

Wineries[edit]

Most of the tastings are free and the service is very friendly. A biking wine tour in Blenheim is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. You can bring home a bottle from each in your rented bike's haversack. As not all vineyards offer tasting plates, we like to pack our own chocolate or cheese and nibble as we go. Be warned that most New Zealand wineries focus on white wines, with many of the wineries providing only one red variety plus a blush variety.

  • Cloudy Bay, Jacksons Rd, +64 3 520 9140, (email info@cloudybay.co.nz, fax + 64 3 520 9040), [31]. Daily (except Good Friday and 25 Dec) 10AM-4:30PM for tastings and cellar door sales. Known for its Sauvignon Blanc and sparkling wines.
  • Highfield Estate, Brookby Rd, 03 572 9244 (, fax: 03 572 9257), [32]. Daily 10:30AM-5PM. The tower at the winery has a commanding view over the lower Wairau River. A great place to get your bearings.  edit
  • Hunters Wines, Rapaura Rd, +64 3 572-8489, (email wine@hunters.co.nz, fax +64 3 572-8457, FreePhone 0800 486 837 (NZ only)), [33]. Won over 80 gold medals including the Marquis de Goulaine Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc in the World at the 1992 International Wine & Spirit Competition. There is also a restaurant and a native garden.
  • Montana (Brancott Winery), RD4 Riverlands (State Hwy One), +64 3 578 2099, (email marlwinery@montanawines.co.nz, fax +64 3 578 0463), [34]. Numerous awards including gold at the London International Wine Challenge 2003. Number one selling NZ wine company. The multi-million dollar visitor facility has a restaurant, retail store and the Brancott Theater. Winery tours 10AM to 3PM daily. Cellar door sales daily 9AM-5PM.
  • Nautilus, 12 Rapaura Rd, +64 3 572 9364, (email sales@nautilusestate.com, fax +64 3 572 9374), [35]. Cellar door sales and tasting Summer 10AM-5PM. Winter 10:30AM-4:30PM. Known for its Cuvee NV.
  • Seresin Estate, Bedford Rd (Travel west of Renwick on State Hwy 6 for a short distance, turn right (N) into Bedford Rd and then left (W) into the vineyard), 03 572 9408 (, fax: 03 572 9850), [36]. On a terrace with views over Condors Bend and the Richmond Ranges beyond, this organic vineyard produces premium quality wine and olive oil.  edit
  • Villa Maria, corner of Paynters & New Renwick Roads, +64 3 577 9530, (email enquiries@villamaria.co.nz, fax +64 3 577 9585), [37]. Daily 10AM-5PM; May-Oct 11AM-5PM. One of NZ's top award winning wineries. Complimentary wine tasting. Winery tours by appointment.

Bars[edit]

In recent years, Blenheim's drinking scene has diversified:

  • The Cornerstone Restaurant & Bar, 70 Queen St, 03 577 7555. M-Sa 10AM-1AM, Su 10AM-midnight. All things to all people?  edit
  • Dolce Bar and Restaurant, 11 Market St (Upstairs in the Forum), 03 577 8238. Pizza restaurant by day. Live DJs by night some weekends  edit
  • Kokomo Beach Bar (formerly Goat's Don't Shave/Level 42), 4/76 Market St, 03 578 0941. The only night club. Still a cultural experience.  edit
  • Paddy Barry's Irish Bar, 51 Scott St, 03 578 7470. Every town has one. Quiz nights on Wednesdays.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Budget[edit]

Mid Range[edit]

Splurge[edit]

  • Argrove Lodge Bed & Breakfast, 191, Bells Rd, 03 577 6951, [44]. Luxurious, casual and friendly accommodation, stunning vineyard and mountain views. $215-235.  edit
  • Hotel d'Urville, 52 Queen St, 03 577 9945 (, fax: 03 577 9946), [45]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. Stylish central accommodation with high quality restaurant attached. (Tastefully) themed rooms. $195-335 inc breakfast.  edit
  • Marlborough Bed & Breakfast, Bush Rd, Tuamarina, 03 570 5430, [46]. Delicious food, stunning location, friendly hospitable hosts. $245.  edit
  • Vintners Retreat Hotel and Villas, 190 & 55 Rapaura Rd, 03 572 5094 (), [47]. Located in the heart of the wine growing district. Rural vistas.  edit

Splurge[edit]

  • Argrove Lodge Bed & Breakfast, 191, Bells Rd, 03 577 6951, [48]. Luxurious, casual and friendly accommodation, stunning vineyard and mountain views. $215-235.  edit
  • Hotel d'Urville, 52 Queen St, 03 577 9945 (, fax: 03 577 9946), [49]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. Stylish central accommodation with high quality restaurant attached. (Tastefully) themed rooms. $195-335 inc breakfast.  edit
  • Marlborough Bed & Breakfast, Bush Rd, Tuamarina, 03 570 5430, [50]. Delicious food, stunning location, friendly hospitable hosts. $245.  edit
  • Ryland Estate - Bed & Breakfast, Paul’s Road, RD3, Blenheim, +64 3 572 8892 (), [51]. Set on a working orchard amongst some of Marlboroughs finest vineyards. Ryland Estate provides 2 accommodation choices. $200 Ryland Cottage, $350 The Barn inc breakfast.  edit
  • Vintners Retreat Hotel and Villas, 190 & 55 Rapaura Rd, 03 572 5094 (), [52]. Located in the heart of the wine growing district. Rural vistas.  edit

Get out[edit]

  • Blenheim is a gateway to the Marlborough Sounds, sunken valleys offering yachting, fishing and dolphin watching.
  • The Wairau Bar won't be to everybody's taste, but there is beauty if you look. Located at the mouth of the Wairau river (hence the name), the site allows sweeping views of the Wairau Lagoons, Cloudy Bay and over to the North Island. Above the stony beach (not good for swimming) are collections of coastal plants, salty dunes and Māori pits. The Waiau Bar was the site of shipwrecks when it was a major transport hub in the 1920's. To enjoy the area you will have to ignore the vehicle access to seemingly everywhere. Access from Blenheim is taking State Highway 1 north, and turning right (east) into the township of Spring Creek. After passing the township and crossing the Wairau River, turn right onto Wairau Bar Rd. The Wairau Bar is at the end of the road.
  • The best sea swimming in the region can be found at White's Bay. The horseshoe shaped bay protects the sandy beach from the worst weather. The Surf Club and a Department of Conservation campground have basic facilities only. Bush walks run up behind the beach and take from 10 minutes to all day. The walk over the ridge from Rarangi takes approximately one hour. The historic telegraph office which linked the North and South Island provides interest although it is not currently open to the public. To drive to White's Bay drive north from Blenheim on State Highway 1 and turn right (east) at Tuamarina. Travel through the seaside settlement of Rarangi and continue to follow the Port Underwood Rd. Spectular views over the lower Wairau from the ridgeline. The turn into White's Bay is just before the end of the tar-seal.
  • The Port Underwood Rd can be followed through to Picton. This, for the most part, gravel road twists around the coast passing Robin Hood Bay, the site of an early missionary settlement featuring a stud and mud cottage built in 1854 by the whaler Captain Jackson and the pits of a kumura (sweet potato) garden are evident just off the foreshore. The road takes 1 1/4 hours from Rarangi to Picton giving periodically spectacular views over Port Underwood and points south.
  • Nelson Lakes National Park and its gateway village St Arnaud, offering bush walking, fresh water fishing and beautiful mountain scenery. Is about an hour away by car.
  • Ski Rainbow. 1 1/4 hours to the bottom of the access road, Rainbow Skifield [53] is the northern most skifield in the South Island, is close to the village of St Arnaud.
  • Pelorus Bridge on the road towards Nelson is an excellent day picnic destination during summer. The area is very scenic and the river surreal. Plus the opportunity to have a swim during a hot summers day and stay overnight at the campground.
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