As the weather hots up, Marlborough is undoubtedly one of the best little spots to be. With endless vines and the Marlborough Sounds, it is the perfect backdrop for festivals and
sporting events throughout the year, and we have no shortage of those. We’ve picked out some of the region’s best events, to give you a taste of the diversity Marlborough has to offer both through the summer, and into the cooler months.
Kicking off the Marlborough festival season this weekend is Nelmac Garden Marlborough 2016, showcasing some of the region’s finest gardens, produce and the opportunity to hear from international gardening experts. Nelmac Garden Marlborough offers world-class workshops, covering everything from creating garden sculptures, medicinal plants, floristry, wildlife and native plants through to growing your own food. Each year it brings something different, and is topped off this Sunday with the Stihl Shop Garden Fete at the picturesque Seymour Square, with over 200 stallholders showcasing some of the country’s very best produce.
Before we had the vines, we had the jewel of Marlborough with the Marlborough Sounds. Each year The Picton Maritime Festival makes the most of our beautiful foreshore, and this season should be no different. Taking place on January 21, the festival is a chance for people to soak up everything marine, with family-friendly activities from a tour of the harbour in a Clinker or Classic Boat, a demonstration from the Rarangi Life Savers, and the opportunity to compete in the annual Raft Race. There’ll be conservation activities for the kids, as well as face painting, balloon creations, bouncy castles and games, topped off with a fireworks display at night. Food stalls will keep you refreshed, while entertainers from all over New Zealand will keep you entertained.
February usually sees the sun get hotter, and thousands making their way to the region for the annual Marlborough Wine & Food Festival. The festival is New Zealand’s original and longest-running wine festival, next year taking place on February 11. Sample Marlborough’s world class wines from more than 40 local wineries, gourmet cuisine from 28 food stalls, and delicious Marlborough produce all in one of the region’s most beautiful locations – Brancott Vineyard. Hollie Smith and Supergroove will keep visitors entertained, as well as other entertainers yet to be announced. For the wine aficionados there are two wine tutorials from the region’s leading winemakers, and for the budding fashionistas the very popular Fashion in the Vines competitions. The very successful Culinary Pavilion will yet again host a range of celebrity chef and cooking demonstrations for the most discerning foodies.
In March, those lucky enough to secure a spot in the 2017 Santa Cruz NZ Enduro race will descend upon the region with their mountain bikes. Limited to 140 competitors, the successful entrants will spend three days completing the multi stage enduro race, cycling tracks at some of the region’s most beautiful spots, including Whites Bay near Blenheim, the Pelorus Sound, and the Wakamarina Track, where cyclists will be shuttled by helicopter to Fosters Hut. The event runs from March 10-12, and allows riders to take in the native bush and wildlife, breathtaking scenery, and bask in the Marlborough sun while challenging themselves on the diverse terrain.
Easter weekend brings with it an extravaganza of the skies, with the biennial Classic Fighters Omaka Airshow drawing crowds of thousands from the world over. The Yealands Classic Fighters Omaka Airshow 2017 should be no different, with over 100 aircraft participating in the three-day show from April 14-16. Mock airfield attacks will be supported by ground theatre and pyrotechnics, and the skies will be brought to life with aircraft from WW-1 and WW-2, as well as aircraft from all eras putting together precision formation displays, aerobatics performances, and a short takeoff and landing flying demonstration. The Royal New Zealand Air Force will be back with some of their aircraft, and there will be something for everyone with musical entertainment, Marlborough wine and food, merchandise stalls, a kid’s fun zone and a grand array of classic cars.
Of course, May sees our very own Saint Clair Vineyard Half take place. Just before the turn of the season, the event is a good chance for people to get their friends together and get off the beaten track, take in beautiful Marlborough scenery and tick something off their bucket list. The course winds its way through the autumn leaves of the iconic Saint Clair Family Estate, Wairau River, Stoneleigh and Cloudy Bay vineyards, offering tempting treats from local producers, live entertainment and friendly locals along the way. Each twist and turn is designed to amaze and delight you on the way, helping you reach the finish line with a smile. Once you make it, collect your celebratory trophy bottle of Saint Clair Family Estate wine, and relax with live music and gourmet Marlborough delights.
For those looking to get further off the beaten track following the big day, Nelson Events offers the chance to run nearly 30 kilometres of the breathtaking Queen Charlotte Track. Captain Cook’s Landing takes runners from Camp Bay to Ship Cove in the Marlborough Sounds, covering about 26km of the renowned track, and ending at Captain James Cook’s Favourite New Zealand base. Established in 1999, the event is run under a concession contract with the Department of Conservation, limiting numbers to 150 competitors, but promises an action-packed day in the beautiful top of the South. Boat transport from Picton to take in the surrounds by water are all part of the package at the event, this season taking place on July 15.
With so much on offer, it’s little wonder we think Marlborough is one of the best places New Zealand has on offer!