Blenheim self-drive holiday
Departing from Wellington, this three-day self-drive package will take you from the coolest little capital to the largest and most famous wine region in New Zealand where you'll quench your thirst and delight your tastebuds.
Discover the highlights of New Zealand's largest and most famous wine region
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2 nights, based on share twin
Enjoy a self-drive break taking your own vehicle (or we can arrange a rental car in Picton for you) to Blenheim.
Depart Wellington aboard an Interislander ferry en route to Picton for your self-drive holiday. You'll be provided with vouchers for enjoying the wide selection of food and beverages available at the on-board outlets as you travel across the Cook Strait. As you cruise through the Sounds in the late morning, you can even enjoy a taste of Marlborough, with our selection of local wine or beer.
After arriving in Picton, you will be all set for your roadie (if you're collecting a rental car as part of this package please follow the instructions in our booking confirmation).
Blenheim is the largest town in Marlborough and the largest grape growing and winemaking region with over 65 wineries. Located just a short drive from the stunning Marlborough Sounds, Blenheim has become very well known for its eating, drinking, biking, and walks alongside its amazing aviation museum. With all that Blenheim has to offer, you'll be spoilt for choice, whether you follow our itinerary or create your own and discover new things along the way.
Departing from Wellington Interislander Terminal, the first leg of your great escape is a voyage of discovery. While cruising through Wellington Harbour, you'll take in the famous sights of Oriental Parade, Matui Island, Eastbourne, and the historic Pencarrow lighthouses.
Heading out onto Cook Strait, you'll be travelling north to where two seas meet. On a clear day, you'll see Cloudy Bay and Blenheim on the far shore with the Kaikoura mountains rising in the distance. On the Wellington side, you'll see the wild hills of Cape Terawhiti.
The hour-long passage through Cook Strait is an ideal opportunity to enjoy our range of food and beverages. During the morning sailing, both cooked and continental breakfasts are available with juices, teas and coffees. There is also a selection of cakes, pastries, hot and cold food available if you're looking for something other than breakfast.
The final chapter of an incredible voyage is spent sailing through the sheltered the Marlborough Sounds - a safe-haven for marine and birdlife. As you cruise through the Tory Channel, there is an excellent chance of seeing dolphins and several native bird species, along with the awe-inspiring scenery of Marlborough.
After a sharp turn around Dieffenbach Point, you will be on the broad Queen Charlotte Sound (known locally as Totaranui) and soon the twinkling town of Picton will be visible in the distance.
Once in Picton, you’ll be all set to start your roadie as you set off en-route to Blenheim. Head out and onto SH1 for the 28km drive south to New Zealand’s wine capital.
Once checked into your accommodation you can either just relax and enjoy the town of Blenheim, or if you want to explore, we recommend the following:
Our tip - Head out to Yealands Wines and enjoy a self-drive through the vineyards. A great spot to stop and have a picnic. There are also wine tastings available.
If wine tasting isn’t your thing, head to Polland Park in town – a great place to wander with a lovely water fountain that changes colour at night-time or visit Marlborough Museum to learn about the history of the region.
For dinner you are spoilt for choice, there are plenty of great places to eat. Try Scotch Wine Bar for Tapas, Gramado’s for Brazilian or The Tamarind 2017 for Indian and Asian food.
Following a great night's sleep, it’s time to explore the best of Blenheim. First up, head off to Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre (tickets can be purchased at the time of booking). Explore the original Knights of the Sky exhibition, which features Sir Peter Jackson’s own collection of WW1 aircraft and artifacts. Created by the famous WingNut Films and Weta Workshop, the story of aviation in the Great War is brought to life in sensational sets throughout the museum.
Our tip – If time permits there is now also a second exhibition ‘Dangerous Skies’ which is well worth seeing. Bringing to life stories and tales from World War II covering the British Isles to the forests of Germany, an embattled but courageous Russia, and the steaming hot jungles of South East Asia.
Across the road is Omaka Classic Cars which displays a collection of more than one hundred cars all built in the second half of the 20th century.
In the afternoon head off to on a guided bike tour (or driven tour) and sample some of the best wineries in New Zealand. As well as tastings you’ll also have the opportunity to purchase any that take your fancy. Tickets for tours can be purchased at the time of booking your self-drive package.
For dinner try one of these; Raupo Cafe, Restaurant and Traiteur for New Zealand, Contemporary food, Bamboo Garden Restaurant for Chinese, Asian, or Wairau River Wines Restaurant for its Wine Bar and New Zealand food offerings.
Enjoy a relaxing start to the day before heading off to Allan Scott for an early lunch. A stunning venue, and a great spot to taste some of their stunning range of wines. The vineyard is still run by the original pioneering Scott family where Allan planted some of the first vines in Marlborough back in the 1970's. Their wine or food will not disappoint.
If you're looking for something else other than vineyards. Head out to Havelock to visit the crystal clear waters of the Pelorus River, and the iconic bridge that was the film location of the barrel scene in The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. The river cuts through a rocky gorge, surrounded by lush green native beech forest.
Our tip – While in Havelock, head to the Greenshell Mussel Capital of the world – the Mills Bay Mussels Tasting Room and Eatery in Havelock. It’s an experience you’ll never forget! Open on Thursdays to Sundays between 11-3pm year-round.
Watch the chef prepare your mussels in a range of ways; grilled, smoked, fried or even shucked raw. Be sure to try out the ever-popular Mixed Mussel Tasting Platter, featuring mussels cooked five ways. The friendly and informed team can answer any questions you might have about mussels or inspire you with new recipes to try at home. Live Greenshell Mussels can also be purchased instore.
Greenshell mussels are sustainably farmed and harvested in The Pelorus Sounds.
With a full stomach and having experienced the best of Blenheim it’s time to start making your way back to Picton for your ferry sailing. It takes approximately an hour to drive to Picton from Havelock, so we suggest you leave by 3pm to arrive in Picton in plenty of time for your afternoon sailing.
We highly recommend taking Queen Charlotte Drive, a stunning 40km scenic drive along winding roads of native forest and sleepy bays as you head to Picton. Make sure you make lots of stops along the way to fully appreciate the drive – one of the best you’ll ever do.
Our tip – just past Havelock on Queen Charlotte Drive, visit the lookout at Cullens Point for a view that will take your breath away and well worth capturing with a photo so you can saviour the moment for years to come.
Board the Interislander ferry for your return journey. We have included food and beverage vouchers in your package to enjoy some of the food and beverages served up on-board (with the option to upgrade to our Plus Lounge with its complimentary food and beverages).
Sit back and relax as you cruise through the Marlborough Sounds and across the Cook Strait back to Wellington.
**Additional accommodation nights can be added to the package as well as pre and post your journey, as well as listed activities. Ask our Travel Consultant when booking this package**
Quality Hotel Marlborough
Bella Vista Blenheim
Room upgrades are available at a surcharge (subject to availability). During times of high demand, if the advertised package room is not available, a substitution of a similar or better room may be made to complete the package and a surcharge may apply.