Autumn is a brilliant time to escape to Marlborough for a quick getaway. Cruise across the Cook Strait arriving in wine country, explore cellar doors and immerse yourself in world class wine and food. Adventure out into the Marlborough Sounds and discover secluded bays, stay on the water’s edge and catch the sunrise to the sound of native birdsong. Whether you’re after an escape with your special someone on an adventurous family trip – Marlborough has what you’re looking for.
Marlborough is beautiful all year round, however walking in the forest or getting a vineyard view is particularly impressive during autumn. With the sunshine hours still clinging on from summer, the temperature starts to cool off a bit, yet it’s still comfortable to tackle some of the hiking and biking. Traffic has settled in the Marlborough Sounds and with calm waters and warm days, it’s a brilliant time to explore the coastline by boat or kayak.
If your interest is more water based, NZ’s marine playground the Marlborough Sounds encompasses 1,500km of winding coastline, bays, beaches and native forest. It is a place of incredible natural beauty and a place that needs to be seen to be believed. Grab your fishing or diving gear and gather yourself a feast of fresh seafood. If you’d rather stay above the water take a scenic cruise, spot the local wildlife, taste seafood straight from the source of the Marlborough Sounds paired with a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc on a seafood cruise along the sheltered waters – there are plenty of options.
Take a tour and get up close and personal with native wildlife in the sounds. If swimming with dolphins is on your to do list, with 5 species calling the Marlborough Sounds home there is no better place to do it. Head out from Picton with skilled guides and experience these brilliant creatures up close. There are many wildlife reserves in the Marlborough Sounds. Take a cruise out to Motuara Island, walking the short track to the top you will hear native bird song – keep your eye out for Kereru and Little Blue Penguins. The bird bath at the bottom of the track is the perfect spot to sit and watch birds play.
During autumn the trails and tracks offer the best views of the stunning colours and scenery with brilliant hues of yellow, gold and orange, all set against a sky that seems far too blue to be true. Long, still days lend themselves to the great outdoors – making it the perfect time of year to hike or explore the sounds by boot or bike along the 72km Queen Charlotte Track. Treat yourself to brilliant ridgeline views across both Sounds as you walk the track over 3 – 5 days or break it down into walks of an hour or two.
What sets the Queen Charlotte Track apart from others is the fact that your pack can be carried for you by boat to your next night’s accommodation. Evenings can be spent in accommodation ranging from a tent in a DOC campsite through to a luxury resort, complete with hot tubs and fine dining.
The track, which is a New Zealand Cycle Trails Great Ride, is a must do for keen mountain bikers. Bring your bike on the ferry to enjoy the stunning ridgeline views coupled with exhilarating downhill slopes. For those who like to travel light, there’s only a few metres between bike rentals on the Picton foreshore and a boat that will take you on a scenic one-hour journey to historic Ship Cove. This is where the track begins and start your walk or bike to Furneaux Lodge, enjoy the view through breaks in the bush where the stunning scenery with the colours of the blue water and autumnal coloured bush line meet in contrast.
End the day with a well-deserved beverage and hot meal at Furneaux Lodge before the next day of walking, or just enjoy this day trip and wait for the water taxi to return for you. No matter your preference, whether it’s between 30 minutes and three hours, short walks are everywhere and easily fit into travel itineraries. For something a little longer, day hikes of 4 hours to 8 hours offer an amazing array of landscapes.