In the small town of Renwick, just outside Blenheim, Arbour offers some very pretty contemporary dishes – think wild fennel butter, crispy duck leg, and whipped cheesecake to finish – as colourful as a tiny work of art.
The Foredeck Restaurant is a fine-dining spot attached to Bay of Many Coves resort. The restaurant is a very romantic spot reserved for adults and insists on a dress code – no polar fleece thank you.
Wairau River is one of Marlborough’s oldest and largest family-owned wineries. The family tradition continues at the Cellar Door restaurant – it is run by one daughter and the other daughter is head chef. Choose between the sunny lawn, a sheltered veranda or the fireside indoors, and dine on local and seasonal bistro fare – as well as the estate’s award-winning wines.
This is the oldest established wine region in New Zealand, so you’re going to be spoilt for choice, with dozens of cellar doors throughout the region.
Scotch Wine Bar is in the middle of Blenheim. There’s a sharing menu, a wine bar and shop, and a huge local wine list to enjoy. They also hold regular tastings to sample regional or vineyard ranges, for which you can buy tickets.
Just outside Blenheim, Wither Hills offers cellar door tastings ($5, refundable with the purchase of a bottle), Marlborough platters and an ever-changing restaurant menu, and cycling tours through the vineyard.
Moa Beer was founded by winemaker Josh Scott (the Scott family planted their first vines in Marlborough in the 1970s), and the business offers a cellar door for craft beer lovers.
You can taste beers and ciders, and there are regular guest food trucks stopping by.
In Picton, Seumus’ is the place for a knees-up – the only Irish pub in town, with a garden to enjoy outside and a dartboard inside. At this time of the year, you may prefer the Irish coffee, mulled wine and the fireside.
Historic Furneaux Lodge, built in the early 1900s, sits at the head of Endeavour Inlet, in 800ha of native bush. There are no roads – you’ll need to catch the boat here if you can’t afford a helicopter. As well as the mixture of rooms to suit many budgets, Furneaux offers access to the water and bush surrounds – there are kayaks to borrow, wildlife cruises, glow-worm caves to explore and the Queen Charlotte Track runs practically past the bottom of the garden.
Picton’s Escape to Picton is a boutique option in a former bank close to the shore. There are just three bedrooms to choose from, and a restaurant and bar downstairs that is usually filled with locals.
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, go to newzealand.com/dosomethingnew