The region is famous for its fjord-like Marlborough Sounds and its vineyards thrive in one of our sunniest spots.

Map showing Marlborough region

  1. Marlborough

Marlborough covers the north-eastern corner of the South Island. The main town, Blenheim (population around 24,000) is 4½ hours by road from Christchurch, 35 minutes by air from Wellington and about 1½ hours by air from Auckland.

Picton at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound is a busy port town, the southern terminus of the Cook Strait ferries which are an integral part of New Zealand’s main trunk road and rail routes.




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Northern Marlborough is mostly hill country. Geographically the most notable features are the Marlborough Sounds, a series of hills separated by valleys drowned since the last ice age. To the south are the spectacularly rugged Kaikoura ranges while the central area around Blenheim is the Wairau plain.

The warm, settled, sunny days that contribute so much to the region’s successful wine industry create an ideal climate for outdoor activities.


Marlborough offers iconic scenery and sheltered inland waterways ideal for fishing and boating. There is excellent cycling, mountain biking, tramping and walks including the renowned Queen Charlotte Track.

Blenheim is mainly a service centre for local farms but has a good selection of designer, boutique, specialty and day-to-day shops. Picton is geared to visitor needs with many cafés offering fresh food and excellent espresso plus several fine craft galleries.

Economy and industry

Aquaculture, specifically green-lipped mussel farming, is an important economic activity. Farming (mainly sheep) is also important but the region’s signature crop is grapes.

In little more than 30 years, Marlborough’s wine industry has led an extraordinary expansion in the production of, and global regard for, New Zealand wines. Marlborough produces well over half of New Zealand’s export wines, and the region is known internationally for the consistent quality and distinctive style of its sauvignon blanc.

Tourism is increasingly important. Alongside its wineries and the playground of the Sounds, visitors are drawn to the excellent whale watching available off the Kaikoura coast to the east.


Summers are typically warm and dry in Marlborough, while winters are normally cool and frosty with clear sunny days to follow.

Average summer maximums range around 22-24°C while in winter the maximums average 13-14°C.

It’s a very sunny region - Blenheim is often in contention for New Zealand’s sunniest town.

Top five migrant populations (2018 Census)

Many migrants have already made Marlborough home. The table below shows where these migrants are moving from and demonstrates the diverse population you can expect to find in Marlborough.

It can be comforting to know there are others, similar to you, who have experienced the move.

Region of origin and no. of migrants from each area

Country of origin

No. of migrants

UK and Ireland

3,353 (6.4%)


1,572 (3%)

Europe (excl. UK and Ireland) 1,153 (2.2%)
Australia 943 (1.8%)
Pacific Islands 838 (1.6%)

Now that you know about what Marlborough has to offer, have a read about everyday life in the region, and services and support you can access.

In this section

Upcoming events in your region

Events for new migrants are regularly held throughout the country. Gain local insight into finding a job and getting setup and settled in New Zealand.

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