Blenheim has changed since I last visited. I remember a quiet town surrounded by a few vineyards with sun-dried, brown hills depleted of any moisture to turn the vegetation green. Well, the drought-ridden hills still remained. But halfway up their heights now stand housing developments. New housing has popped up everywhere. And the vineyards appear to have taken over every acre of agricultural land in the area. Blenheim had definitely changed.
A must-do for almost everyone visiting Blenheim is a stop at Sir Peter Jackson’s inspired museum. This museum with it’s life-size models is incredible. I imagine every kiwi who has been to Blenheim will have visited this site. Or they will have it on their bucket list for sure. I have no interest in aeroplanes, except as vehicles to take me somewhere. Knowing Peter Jackson’s involvement, it wasn’t any surprise to find myself captivated by the displays as most visitors probably are. I found time disappeared as I wandered. I think we were there for the best part of four or five hours. And that didn’t include a visit to the second display area of motor vehicles.
Other Reasons to Visit Blenheim
Another widely acclaimed reason to visit Blenheim is the Marlborough Wine Trail. Being a non-drinker, this did not appeal to me. I believe there are dozens of cellar doors available within a short distance from town. However, a visit to the local museum did improve my understanding of wine growing and its importance to the region. Marlborough is now New Zealand’s largest wine-growing area. Unfortunately, we were too late in the year to catch the Malborough Wine and Food Festival. This is another highlight for many visitors to the region.
Blenheim is close to many tourist attractions and is a great place to centre oneself. Whether looking for peace and quiet, or an adventure, Blenheim can fit the bill. Explore the Marlborough Sounds and you’ll see New Zealand’s natural beauty at its best. Or for the energetic, one could consider walking or biking the Queen Charlotte Track. Blenheim’s restaurants rival any in the world and the regular farmers’ markets are an experience not to be missed. Along with the vineyards and normally pleasant weather, it’s a lovely spot. As a first stop for the beginning of a South Island trip, Blenheim is as good as it gets.