A winemaker’s guide to Marlborough

Matt Large is Wither Hills’ head winemaker.

Marlborough really has it all. I live on the outskirts of Blenheim and it’s a 20-minute drive to my favourite dive spot where I can get a feed of crayfish and maybe even spear a kingfish on a good day. Thirty minutes in the other direction I can be walking the hills in search of dinner. When you combine that with the fact that we have numerous world-class wineries within a 15-minute drive, and a ski field just over one hour from town, why wouldn’t you visit Marlborough!

What’s special about Marlborough is a combination of the people and the place, Marlborough is about sharing moments with your mates. There are so many secluded beautiful spots for a picnic and when you look around, you can’t see another soul. In the summer I spend time in the Marlborough Sounds and we often enjoy a barbecue lunch and wine in a bay all to ourselves. The people of Marlborough are extremely friendly. I often walk in the Wither Hills and it’s common practice to say hello to every person you pass, and it’s usually more than a head nod or a simple hello.

You can’t go past a boat trip around the Marlborough Sounds, whether it’s your own boat, or on the “Mail Boat” cruise. One of my favourite views is coming back out of the Kenepuru Sound by boat just on dusk. You get a real appreciation that this is one of the best places in the world and it makes you realise how lucky we are. There are so many bays and coves in the Marlborough Sounds and you get lost in the beauty of it all.

A visit to Marlborough isn’t complete without a trip to a winery – at Wither Hills I’d recommend ordering the hāpuka with my favourite wine, Rarangi Single Vineyard sauvignon blanc or the braised beef cheek, matched with the Taylor River pinot noir.

Just behind the winery is the world-class Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. This is well worth a visit, even if planes aren’t your thing. It contains Peter Jackson’s collection of World War 1 aircraft and artefacts, plus a World War II exhibition that is not to be missed.

Without giving away my secrets, the ultimate place to go is below the surface of the sea, about three rocks west of the Chetwoods Islands in the outer Pelorus Sounds. Here you will find dinner (assuming you can catch it) which is perfectly matched with the Rarangi.

Win a luxury getaway with Wither Hills

Wither Hills has launched a new campaign to get Kiwis reconnecting with friends and family, and they’re giving away two luxury weekend getaways valued at up to $8000 each. To enter, go to witherhills.co.nz or visit @witherhills on Instagram.

For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, go to newzealand.com

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