The Marlborough region is one of the most diverse in New Zealand. Comprised of many sunken river valleys known as ‘Sounds’ it offers countless adventure and relaxation opportunities. Surrounded by bush-clad mountains and clear waters, Marlborough is home to an abundance of marine life and seabirds including dolphins, seals, penguins, the fantail, bellbird and wood pigeon.
Spread across 4,000 km² it lies at the South Island's north-easternmost point, between Tasman Bay and Cloudy Bay. Sparsely populated, many of the isolated houses and resorts are only accessible by boats making this an ideal getaway destination. The main sounds are Queen Charlotte, Pelorus, Kenepuru and Tory Channel - a major arm of Queen Charlotte Sound. Between them they isolate the hills of Arapawa Island from the mainland.
Immerse yourself in Sir Peter Jackson's 'The Hobbit' when you take this Hobbit Barrel Run River Kayaking trip. Journeying down the Beautiful Pelorus River you'll see actual filming locations including the rocks where Bilbo Baggins stood, the place where the dwarfs exited the barrels and the exact location where Kili was shot. Not just for Lord of the Rings fans, this spectacular kayaking trip will enthral anyone wanting to experience the beauty of New Zealand's rivers.
The Greenshell Mussel Cruise takes in the highlights of the Pelorus and Kenepuru Sounds, two of the little known and little travelled Sounds that make up the Marlborough Sounds. Enjoy the stunning scenery, the remotely quiet feeling of this area, a visit into a Greenshell Mussel Farm and a wonderful tasting of fresh steamed mussels served with award winning Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Experience this perfect match in a beautiful part of Marlborough.
Join the world famous Pelorus Mail Run in the Marlborough Sounds and visit isolated homesteads nestled in quiet secluded bays, delivering crucial supplies and mail the same way it has been done for decades. View mussel farms and see why Pelorus Sound is the mussel capital of the world. Old timers row out in dinghies to meet the boat, while some receive their supplies on tiny, unspoilt beaches. Mail was first delivered to the Marlborough Sounds by Government Steamer in 1912. The Steamer put the mail ashore at various small Post Offices throughout the area and the residents had to row to these points to pick their mail up. In 1925 the Government decided to put the Service out to Private Operators and the Mail Run, as it is today, was born. In the early years most of the goods carried were farming supplies and a few tourists. These days as most of the farms have ceased operating, tourists are the only passengers as well as the mail.
Marlborough is New Zealand's largest wine growing region and has a global reputation for producing some of the finest Sauvignon Blanc. Mots wineries are centred around the township of Blenheim but the Marlborough regions stretches much further south and grapes are also grown in the Awatere Valley and Kaikoura.
With over 23,000 hectares of grapes planted (around half of New Zealand's entire production) a third is the Sauvignon variety with Chardonnay and Riesling also being produced to high standards.
There are over 40 wineries within a short drive of Blenheim. Some of the best known such as Allan Scott, Montana (Brancott), Cloudy Bay, Forrest Estate, Grove Mill, Hunters Wines, Lawson's Dry Hills, Saint Clair and Spy Valley all have cellar door and tasting facilities.
For more great information on Marlborough wines visit Wine Marlborough. One of the best ways to experience the wineries however is on a wine trail tour with Sounds Connection which offers a great range of tours or can tailor one to suit you.
Understand the unique terroir, climate and why Hans & Therese Herzog settled in Marlborough. Enjoy a short stroll along their organic vineyard and beautiful Mediterranean gardens to learn how great wines are grown. Have the chance to encounter Hans in the vineyard, followed by a Winery Tour and seated in-depth tasting of 4 wines in the exclusive Wine Lounge.
The ultimate combination of all elements that make Hans Herzog wines so special! Explore the vineyards, their winery and the unique selection of grape varieties. One of their knowledgable wine ambassadors will guide you through a seated tasting of 7 different wines, combined with a sumptuous Winemakers Platter of organic and local produce in the exclusive Lounge.
Explore the wines and philosophy of Hanz Herzog, with a tasting at the Cellar Door of 4 handcrafted wines. A perfect way to enjoy Hans’ bold, limited-production cult single varietals and blends. Enjoy a rotating selection of their releases.
Take a look behind the winery doors of this unique estate. Their passionate wine ambassador will lead you on a stroll to the winery for an unveiling of the wine production and a journey to the holy grail - the Barrel Hall and Ageing Cellar. This unique tour culminates with a seated in-depth tasting of 4 handcrafted wines in the exclusive Wine Lounge.
An adventure wilderness awaits when you step 'Off the Mapp' at Spray Point Station. Whether you want to just relax or be more active, this place has it all.
Relax and rejuvenate in our outdoor baths, showers or brave the river for a swim. Explore the property on foot and discover hidden valleys of ecological significance. Horse ride, mountain bike or take a 4WD tour to the tops to marvel at the spectacular views. Take a thrilling helicopter ride, hunt for wild boar, goat or deer (or just observe and photograph them). Enjoy some trout fishing or bird watching. Help us in the conservation and pest eradication programmes. Step back in time as you learn the fascinating history of Spray Point Station and the Waihopai Valley ...
Relaxation and rejuvenation - Savour the isolation for a truly relaxing retreat. Take time out on the deck, find a secluded spot to sit with a book, simply enjoy the views or relax in front of a winter fire. Marvel at the visibility of the stars while soaking in a hot outdoor bath.
Hiking and walking - Explore the property on foot. There are over 20km of tracks through a variety of vegetation unique to Marlborough high country, from open tussock to matagouri and mature bush. Watch out for rarer species such as native broom, miniature kowhai and large tree fuchsias. Keen walkers can also take the track which links Cob Quarters to Boundary Creek Cabin. Those looking for a challenge can take a guided trek to the top of Mt Stronvar (summit 1350m).
River activities - Swim in the crystal clear Waihopai or Spray Rivers. Borrow a tube from the homestead and drift down the river. Rides back upriver are available on request.
Mountain biking - The tracks on the property are suitable for mountain-bikers with a range of experience and skill levels looking for a new challenge. Sample trips range for an easy family ride up the Spray River to more challenging rocky and steep downhill rides. Two bikes are kept at the Cob Quarters for complimentary guest use.
Roland's trapping/hunting museum - Housed in the shearing shed, and now open to the public, is Roland's collection of historical traps, hunting gear, farm implements and other fascinating items gathered over many years.
Conservation and Carbon Farming - Conservation volunteering opportunities are available with Off the Mapp. We are engaged in a range of environmental protection and restoration activities, including a carbon farm. Spend part of your visit helping with this work, and make a lasting difference to the future of this area.
4WD Touring - If you’re looking for a more relaxing option, arrange a 4WD tour of the station taking in the variety of native vegetation and the breathtaking views from ridgeline tracks. Watch for introduced game – red deer are plentiful and can often be seen from the cottage and heard during the roar. Fallow deer, wild pigs and goats are frequently seen from the tracks.
Heli Touring - Explore the high country by helicopter, reaching isolated parts of the Station with magnificent views. Stop for a picnic lunch at the summit of Mt Stronvar (1350m).
Horse Trekking - Sample trips including taking the full day ride between the cottage and the cabin, stopping on the way for a picnic lunch and at some excellent swimming spots. Alternatively, follow a shorter loop road from the Cob Quarters through a steep climb to enjoy a ridge-top ride with wonderful views, then descend through grazing and matagouri covered country into the Cannister Valley. From there, a no-exit track to native beech forest makes an excellent lunch stop.
Hunting and Fishing - Off the Mapp provides guided management hunting trips from Boundary Creek Cabin all year round for meat, and trophy hunting is also possible during the roar in the New Zealand autumn. All hunts are fair chase and all the animals are entirely free ranging. Fly fishing with a professional guide is available in nearby rivers with good supplies of trout. Alternatively, sea fishing/scalloping/diving trips to the outer Marlborough Sounds can be arranged with a guide who has generations of local knowledge.
Guided Wildlife Watching - There are lots of opportunities for bird watching throughout the Station. Keen birdwatchers and photographers will see swallows, kingfishers and terns by the cottage. Listen to the bellbirds; watch for paradise ducks, Californian quail and many other breeds. The river is also home for the elusive and rare New Zealand blue duck (whio). The Waihopai is also a natural habitat for the rare New Zealand falcon and is home to the Falcon Research Centre. In the rock bluffs of the Cannister Valley visitors can often see a nesting pair.
A popular style of touring is to take a preplanned self drive road trip. After a thorough consultation with you we expertly plan and create your self drive tour around New Zealand. These tours allow you the freedom to explore at leisure with the comfort and security of pre-booked activities and accommodations. Route suggestions, APP guidance plus local support mean your New Zealand vacation is in safe hands. See self drive ideas here
If you prefer to let someone else do the work then an escorted small group tour might be for you. Our sister company at New Zealanbd Coach has a range of hand picked small group itineraries are ideal if you prefer to travel in the company of like minded people. Tours are limited to a certain number of participants which means different accommodation options, exclusive activities and of course a knowledgeable guide ensures you get to see the best of New Zealand. See small group tours here.
A private guided tour offers true flexibility and the security of a knowledgeable local guiding you all the way. Well planned itineraries ensure you see exactly what you want to see but with your own driver-guide you can adapt to suit the day or your preference. 100% tailor-made to suit you a private tour is a great option when travelling as a small group. All our self drive itineraries can be replanned and priced using a private driver and guide, so if it is what you fancy just contact us to discuss.
All North Island touring ideas - See here to explore the diverse North Island - itinerary suggestions.
All South Island touring ideas - Iconic scenery and landscapes await on this made for touring island. See itinerary suggestions
All Nationwide touring ideas - See the best of New Zealand on these all encompassing touring itinerary ideas