The Marlborough region of New Zealand is blessed with absolutely fantastic scenery, sights and sounds. One of the best ways to see and experience it all is with a good old-fashioned scenic drive. So we thought we’d put together some tips on popular scenic routes to highlight just some of the things you can do from Picton in the Marlborough Sounds.
Picton is where it’s all at in the Marlborough Sounds
As the destination for the inter-island ferry services, Picton is the gateway to the South Island and the main town in the Marlborough Sounds. There are simply too many things to do in and around Picton to mention here – our blogs about summer in Marlborough and the Marlborough Sounds as a mecca for adventure will provide you with some inspiration.
Suffice it to say, Picton is the perfect base for getting up close and personal with the spectacularly unique Marlborough Sounds. It’s also the ideal base from which to explore the upper region of the South Island, as many of the region’s activity operators are based in and around Picton.
Marlborough Sounds accommodation
For great Marlborough Sounds accommodation, you only have to look two minutes from Picton, where you’ll find Tigers Den luxury lodge perched on a hillside above the ever-changing vistas of Waikawa Bay. Offering exceptional comfort and convenience in a spectacular setting for up to 10 people, Tigers Den is perfectly positioned for accessing all that the Marlborough Sounds and the wider region has to offer.
Queen Charlotte Drive
One of the most popular things to do in Picton is the 40km Queen Charlotte Drive, a scenic drive from Picton to Havelock. The winding road will take you along sleepy bays and through a gorgeous native forest, with plenty of places to stop to enjoy secluded beaches and scenic walks.
Continuing on to French Pass
If you’ve made it as far as Havelock, why not continue a little further along SH6 to the popular swimming and picnic spot at Pelorus Bridge? For a truly spectacular drive, carry on to French Pass village. The road from Rai Valley to French Pass was built in 1957 and many visitors rate it as the country’s most scenic drive. Give yourself at least two hours for this stunning drive.
French Pass village sits opposite D’Urville Island and the turbulent stretch of water known as the French Pass Passage, where the water races through on each tide creating awesome whirlpools and currents.
Picton to Blenheim
Although Blenheim is just a 28km or 30-minute drive south from Picton, you’ll still be treated to some fantastic scenery. Once in Blenheim, you’re in the heart of one of New Zealand’s premier wine growing regions and you’ve got a number of scenic directions from which to choose.
Winery road trips
If you’re driving around the Marlborough region soaking up the scenery, there’s really no better way to top it all off than by visiting some world-class wineries along the way. In fact, there are so many top-notch vineyards in the region that you could put together a number of excursions along a variety of routes to sample the produce of this wine-growing mecca of New Zealand. Putting together your very own ‘DIY wine tour’ is one of the most fun things to do in Marlborough – just be sure you always have your designated sober driver with you!
Blenheim to Kaikoura
One of the best scenic routes out of Blenheim is the 128km drive that takes you to the seaside town of Kaikoura. As you leave Blenheim you travel through the Awatere Valley, dominated by vineyards and stunning views, but soon you’ll have a mountain range on one side and the ocean on the other.
Stunning vistas await you when you visit Kaikoura, which is a popular tourist destination in its own right. Famous for its whale watching, seals, and other coastal wildlife, it’s also a great place to sample exquisitely fresh seafood.
Blenheim To St Arnaud
Heading west from Blenheim, SH63 will take you 103km through the Wairau Valley and across Top House saddle to the quaint village of St Arnaud, the gateway to the Nelson Lakes National Park.
If you’re looking for a great place to use as a base from which to explore the Nelson Lakes region, then you’ll definitely want to head down to St Arnaud. Nelson Lakes National Park is also home to the Blue Lake, a blue-violet gem in the crown of New Zealand’s natural treasures and title holder to “the world’s clearest lake” – you can find out more on our blog about the Blue Lake.
Where to stay on your trip?
Tigers Den Luxury Lodge is the perfect place for you to stay, whether you are coming to Marlborough Sounds for a long trip or just for a few days.
At Tigers Den luxury lodge, the pace is easy and the atmosphere is comfortable and relaxed. You can relax in front of the fire in our comfortable lounge, or enjoy complimentary use of our two kayaks to explore the local waters or simply sit back on the deck or in the spa pool and listen to the native birdsong while you watch the ever changing views over the Waikawa Marina and Queen Charlotte Sound.