Visit a chosen land where warmth, hospitality, fine wines and gourmet foods delight visitors all year round.

Marlborough has a beautiful varied landscape of golden tussock downland, rich green beech forests, wide braided rivers and stark lofty mountains. Blenheim is a town of sunshine, flowers and wine. Picton is a pretty port and an ideal base for tramping and sea kayaking among the deep, finger-like waterways stretching out to Cook Strait.

This convoluted system of drowned river valleys that form the Marlborough Sounds is matched by an inland water playground on wide braided rivers. The most popular of these inland waterways is the epitome of an accessible, reliable, and entertaining backcountry rafting experience – the Clarence River.

The Clarence River is a classic 200 km, 3 – 4 day, wilderness journey from the mountains to the sea. Road access is from Hanmer Springs over Jack’s Pass to the put in at the Acheron River junction. The river passes alternatively through spectacular gorges and the open valleys of several high country sheep stations, with rapids in the Grade 2 – 3 range. This is an unforgettable long distance whitewater experience, which can be arranged with commercial operators in Hanmer Springs, Blenheim and Murchison.

The Wairau River has a fast, technical section in its upper reaches and is accessed via the private Rainbow Road. The Lower Wairau has Grade 2 rapids with put in points along S.H.63 and a take out at the S.H.1 bridge at Tuamarina. This is a pleasant jaunt for inexperienced paddlers as the river bubbles along its braided shingle bed close to the road.

The Awatere flows parallel with the Inland Kaikoura Range and has a good kayaking section in the lower catchment. Put in at Medway Bridge just above the Medway Stream confluence and take out at S.H.1. The upper Awatere River passes through Molesworth Station, New Zealand’s largest sheep run that can be explored by 4WD tours from Hanmer Springs.

Being on the water is the best way to experience Marlborough’s labyrinth of sounds and its numerous parallel braided river systems. It’s a paddler’s paradise in one of the sunniest corners of New Zealand.