Set on the shores of a secluded bay in the stunning Marlborough Sounds, Lochmara Lodge is a luxury eco-friendly retreat and an adventure paradise.
The region of Marlborough lies in the northeast of New Zealand’s South Island, like a hand reaching for its North Island brother.
The largest town in the region is foodie capital Blenheim, but Marlborough is better known for its rural landscapes: the peaks and valleys of the Marlborough Sounds, as well as the rolling vineyards which produce world-class sauvignon blanc wine.
If you’ve made the perilous ferry journey across the Cook Strait from windy Wellington on North Island, you might be surprised to discover that the climate is much warmer and drier in sunny Marlborough!
There are coastal holiday retreats, national parks, a multitude of mountains, as well as stretches of fertile countryside which lend themselves well to producing some of the country’s best food and drink.
The ocean valleys and lush peaks of the Marlborough Sounds should be your first port of call. According to Maori mythology, the green hills rising from the sea were formed by the sunken waka boats belonging to Aoraki, who attempted to voyage around Papatuanuku, the Earth Mother.
With such a dramatic and humbling landscape, it’s easy to see how the legend was formed. At the sounds, you can watch pods of leaping dolphins on a boat cruise, hike or cycle along the Queen Charlotte Track and take a day trip to one of the many islands abundant with wildlife.
Other must-do activities in Marlborough include going on a winery crawl to sample some of the world’s finest white wines, kayaking around the tranquil Okiwi Bay and hunting for whirlpools or hidden beaches with a road trip along the winding French Pass Road (be warned, the sheer drops below are not for the faint-hearted).
After a long day of outdoor activities and sightseeing, tuck into a bowl of greenshell mussels in Havelock or attempt to catch your dinner with a spot of fishing at the King Salmon farm. Make sure you leave room for dessert, as a visit to the Makana Chocolate Factory is a delicious guilty pleasure you’re sure to enjoy.
A trip to Marlborough is a feast for all the senses (but, we would argue, particularly the taste buds). Wildlife watchers, rambling hikers and discerning foodies will love a few days exploration here and the epic landscapes will stick around in your memory as well as your photo albums.
Marlborough has a temperature climate, with the period between November and April being the best for weather. However, the summer months (December, January and February) are also the busiest, as schools break up and the festive holidays begin, meaning that visitor numbers and prices increase.
Each region in New Zealand has its own Anniversary Day, which celebrates the founding of the original provinces with agricultural shows, local fayres and novelty events. Marlborough’s official Anniversary Day is 1st November, though it is often observed on the nearest Monday or Friday to create a long weekend. Other events to look out for include the Havelock Mussel & Seafood Festival in March, the Rapaura Springs Garden Marlborough in November and the Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon in May, which is worth the effort just for the tasting stations along the course.
Our trips to Marlborough include stays at the Lochmara Lodge at the Marlborough Sounds, a beautiful wildlife recovery and arts center that also operates as a luxury lodge for guests. The location, which is right on the water’s edge at Queen Charlotte Sound, is unbeatable and the complimentary kayaks and paddle boards mean that you can explore the waves at your leisure.