With it’s sunny climate, amazing landscape, great lifestyle and booming economy – why choose anywhere but Marlborough?
Situated at the north-east corner of New Zealand's South Island, Marlborough comprises three main regions: the Marlborough Sounds, the Wairau Plain and the Awatere Valley. Further south, at the southern border of the region, Kaikoura lies mid-way between Blenheim and Christchurch.
Blenheim is the region’s largest town and commercial hub with a population of around 28,700. Originally a provincial service town to the farming community, it is increasingly geared towards urban lifestyle, visitor needs and the dominant wine industry, a mixture of modern sophistication and relaxed ambience. Picton and Havelock are two smaller towns in the region. Picton lies 20 minutes north of Blenheim and has a population of 4,000, while Havelock is situated north-west of Blenheim. Picton is the gateway to the Marlborough Sounds, which are situated on the northern coast.
Marlborough is internationally known for the Sounds – sunken valleys which create a network of tranquil clear waterways amidst regenerating and virgin native forests. Marlborough has a mild, sunny climate. Blenheim averages 2,470 hours of sunshine per year, the highest of any main centre. January is the sunniest month averaging 8.5 hours per day compared with 5.0 hours per day in July. Summer temperatures are among the warmest in the country with an average daily maximum for January and February of 23.5°C, compared with the all year average daily maximum of 18.5°C. The low rainfall on the Wairau Plains and Awatere Valley is similar to Christchurch further south, and contributes to the quality of grapes and other fruit grown in the area.
Centrally located, it has easy access to the other main centres by air, sea and road. Picton is the South Island connection for the inter-island passenger and freight ferries. Main highways head north to Picton and the connections to the North Island, west across to Nelson and the West Coast, and south to Kaikoura, Christchurch and beyond. The main trunk rail line provides passenger and freight connections from Picton to Christchurch and south with the daily Coastal Pacific passenger train. Marlborough’s principal airport sees regular turboprop flights direct to Wellington, Christchurch, Palmerston North, and Auckland.
During the nineteenth century, large-scale sheep farming in the region gave Marlborough its unique identity, significantly different from the neighbouring Nelson province. Since then, farming has been the cornerstone of the regional economy. Over the past 25-30 years there has been diversification into other industries, most notably, wine production and by 1998, the wine industry had grown to become the largest viticultural region in New Zealand, in terms of area and quantity of grapes grown. Marlborough wines have won numerous international awards and the industry continues to grow. It is New Zealand’s largest winemaking region with around 65 wineries and 290 grape growers and over 4000 hectares planted in grapes, mainly Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer.
Forestry is another rapidly expanding industry in Marlborough, a reflection of the area's favourable climatic conditions which produce trees with good form and growth. The presence of the inter-island ferry terminal at Picton has also attracted a number of businesses involved in transport and storage to the port.
In 2000, Port Marlborough opened a deep-water port facility at Shakespeare Bay adjacent bay to the company's existing port facilities at Picton Harbour. The development of the Shakespeare Bay facility reflects the growth in export bulk cargo coming available within the region and the need for storage and shipping facilities capable of handling large volumes of timber, logs, and coal. The local forestry resource is rapidly approaching maturity, and the West Coast coal resource will require access to a deep water export port.
It is anticipated that Marlborough will enjoy continued economic development in wine production, marine farming, forestry, tourism, and defence/aeronautical engineering. This expansion of the primary resource base in Marlborough presents opportunities for value-added industries to develop and to establish.Other large industries include aquaculture (75% of New Zealand’s aquaculture production occurs in Marlborough, tourism, defence/aviation engineering and salt manufacturing (New Zealand’s only salt manufacturing plant operates at Lake Grassmere, south of Blenheim, producing around 60,000 tonnes pa for both domestic and industrial consumption.)
Marlborough Regional Development Trust
Marlborough District Council
Marlborough Chamber of Commerce