South Island Travels

There’s a lot to do in and around Blenheim

By Sandra Smith

We recently took a couple of weeks break in the South Island. When we looked at the weather map, the only place that showed sunshine was Blenheim. Blenheim? What was there to do in Blenheim?

Not much, we thought but as we have had a non-existent summer this year we opted for the sunshine and a bit of warmth.

We ended up spending 7 days there and found heaps to do!

Biking around to vineyards and museums

We had taken our bikes so we cycled everywhere we could. Of course you are spoiled with vineyards in the Marlborough area and as they are a fair way out of town a visit was always a good workout.

There are also a couple of really good museums – one is the Marlborough Museum which gives an interesting overview of the local history and another is the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.

Here, we found an amazing collection of old aircraft dating from the First World War. It’s interesting to note that the Wright brother’s first flight was in 1903; Louis Bleriot first flew the English Channel in 1909 and by 1914 flight was perfected in these flimsy machines enough to fight a war.

Film maker Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop has created lifelike scenes settings for the planes and makes the whole experience quite thought provoking and informative.

Swimming, walking and pies!

Rarangi: a beautiful area

Beaches are not one of Blenheim’s drawcards but just north west of the town is the settlement of Rarangi which does have a sweeping beach – a bit gravely but nice for swimming.

There is a good bush walk between here and Whites Bay just over the hill which has a lovely beach and it was from here that the first Telegraph Cable was laid across Cook Strait in 1866 connecting communications between the North and South Islands.  The old Cable Station has been refurbished and there is also a picturesque DOC camp.

Another great find was the Burleigh Pie Shop – world famous in Blenheim and undeniably the best pies ever tasted by us!

Reefton: the epitome of small town New Zealand

After 7 days we thought we had better move on in an attempt to fit in some of our original itinerary which was the West Coast.

Could be a DIY bargain!

So many small towns to enjoy on the way – Murchison, Inangahua, Berlins – well, just a pub and a camp ground here but sitting pretty by the Buller River.

After a couple of days on the coast we came home via Reefton, first town in New Zealand to have electric street lighting; where there is a great covered swimming pool and where one of the locals releases a mass of water bubbles every day from his first floor window on the main street. Very cute!

We also found this piece of prime real estate nearby.

Ah, small town New Zealand – you just can’t beat it and in every one you will find a more than decent cup of coffee! 


(A promo for a very useful product for active people.  Prevent blisters with Hikerswool –  a 100% pure New Zealand wool product for runners, walkers, trampers, shoppers, bowlers, dancers etc. For information on how to use and where to buy visit