Marlborough District

Coordinates: 41°53′S 173°40′E / 41.883°S 173.667°E / -41.883; 173.667
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(Redirected from Marlborough Region)

41°53′S 173°40′E / 41.883°S 173.667°E / -41.883; 173.667

Te Tauihu-o-te-waka
The Marlborough Sounds seen from the Wellington–Picton ferry
The Marlborough Sounds seen from the Wellington–Picton ferry
Marlborough District in New Zealand
Marlborough District in New Zealand
CountryNew Zealand
Unitary authority1992
Marlborough Sounds
 • MayorNadine Taylor
 • Deputy MayorDavid Croad
 • Total12,484.59 km2 (4,820.33 sq mi)
 • Land10,457.79 km2 (4,037.78 sq mi)
 (June 2023)[1]
 • Total52,200
 • Density4.2/km2 (11/sq mi)
 • TotalNZ$ 3.466 billion (2021)
 • Per capitaNZ$ 67,045 (2021)
Time zoneUTC+12:00 (NZST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+13:00 (NZDT)
Area code03
ISO 3166 codeNZ-MBH
HDI (2021)0.935[3]
very high · 5th Edit this at Wikidata

Marlborough District or the Marlborough Region (Māori: Te Tauihu-o-te-waka, or Tauihu), commonly known simply as Marlborough, is one of the 16 regions of New Zealand, located on the northeast of the South Island. Marlborough is a unitary authority, both a district and a region. Marlborough District Council is based at Blenheim, the largest town. The unitary region has a population of 52,200 (June 2023)[1].

Marlborough is known for its dry climate, the Marlborough Sounds, and Sauvignon blanc wine. It takes its name from the earlier Marlborough Province, which was named after General The 1st Duke of Marlborough, an English general and statesman.[4]


Marlborough's geography can be roughly divided into four sections. The south and west sections are mountainous, particularly the southern section, which rises to the peaks of the Kaikōura Ranges. These two mountainous regions are the final northern vestiges of the ranges that make up the Southern Alps, although that name is rarely applied to mountains this far north.

Between those two sections is the long, straight valley of the Wairau River. This broadens to wide plains at its eastern end, in the centre of which stands the town of Blenheim. This region has fertile soil and temperate weather, which has enabled it to become the centre of the New Zealand wine industry.

The fourth geographic zone lies along its north coast. Here, the drowned valleys of the Marlborough Sounds make for a convoluted and attractive coastline. The town of Picton is located at the southern end of one of the larger sounds, Queen Charlotte Sound. The town of Havelock is at the southern end of the Pelorus Sound; this sound feeds into Kenepuru Sound.


In line with most of New Zealand, the Marlborough Region has a temperate oceanic climate (Köppen Cfb) with warm summers, cool winters, and rainfall distributed across the year.

Climate data for Blenheim, 1981–2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 24.1
Daily mean °C (°F) 18.0
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 11.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 48.9
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 5.0 5.1 5.5 5.3 6.7 7.9 7.6 8.0 8.5 8.3 6.9 6.7 81.5
Average relative humidity (%) 68.7 74.2 74.9 77.5 81.5 82.3 83.7 80.8 73.3 72.1 67.7 67.5 75.4
Mean monthly sunshine hours 262.2 223.7 230.8 193.7 172.7 151.6 157.1 183.9 189.5 226.7 234.7 248.8 2,475.3
Source: NIWA Climate Data[5]


Marlborough Region covers 10,457.79 km2 (4,037.78 sq mi)[6] and had an estimated population of 52,200 as of June 2023,[1] with a population density of 5.0 people per km2. The region is home to 1.0% of New Zealand's population.[1]

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: [7][8]
Population density of Marlborough as of the 2006 census

Marlborough Region had a population of 47,340 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 3,924 people (9.0%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 4,782 people (11.2%) since the 2006 census. There were 18,675 households, comprising 23,610 males and 23,730 females, giving a sex ratio of 0.99 males per female. The median age was 45.5 years (compared with 37.4 years nationally), with 8,259 people (17.4%) aged under 15 years, 7,158 (15.1%) aged 15 to 29, 21,378 (45.2%) aged 30 to 64, and 10,548 (22.3%) aged 65 or older.

Ethnicities were 87.8% European/Pākehā, 13.3% Māori, 3.1% Pasifika, 4.1% Asian, and 2.5% other ethnicities. People may identify with more than one ethnicity.

The percentage of people born overseas was 17.4, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people chose not to answer the census's question about religious affiliation, 53.2% had no religion, 35.5% were Christian, 0.6% had Māori religious beliefs, 0.5% were Hindu, 0.1% were Muslim, 0.6% were Buddhist and 1.7% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 5,868 (15.0%) people had a bachelor's or higher degree, and 8,454 (21.6%) people had no formal qualifications. The median income was $31,500, compared with $31,800 nationally. 5,445 people (13.9%) earned over $70,000 compared to 17.2% nationally. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 19,530 (50.0%) people were employed full-time, 6,174 (15.8%) were part-time, and 879 (2.2%) were unemployed.[7]

Individual wards
Name Area (km2) Population Density (per km2) Households Median age Median income
Marlborough Sounds Ward 2,606.65 8,433 3.24 3,603 53.8 years $27,500
Wairau-Awatere Ward 7,830.40 11,808 1.51 4,350 43.4 years $38,600
Blenheim Ward 20.69 27,096 1,309.62 10,722 43.6 years $30,200
New Zealand 37.4 years $31,800

Towns and settlements[edit]


Marlborough has three towns with a population over 1,000. Together, they are home to 72.8% of the region's population.[1]

Urban area Population

(June 2023)[1]

% of region
Blenheim 30,500 58.4%
Picton 4,880 9.3%
Renwick 2,630 5.0%

Other towns and settlements include:

Culture and identity[edit]

Ethnicities in the 2018 New Zealand census were 87.8% European/Pākehā, 13.3% Māori, 3.1% Pacific peoples, 4.1% Asian, and 2.5% other ethnicities (totals add to more than 100% since people could identify with multiple ethnicities).

The proportion of Marborough residents born overseas was 17.4%, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people objected to giving their religion, 53.2% had no religion, 35.5% were Christian, 0.5% were Hindu, 0.1% were Muslim, 0.6% were Buddhist and 2.3% had other religions.[7]


Green-lipped mussel farm beside Havelock

The subnational gross domestic product (GDP) of Marlborough was estimated at NZ$3.25 billion in the year to March 2019, 1.1% of New Zealand's national GDP. The regional GDP per capita was estimated at $66,277 in the same period. In the year to March 2018, primary industries contributed $650 million (21.3%) to the regional GDP, goods-producing industries contributed $1.55 billion (37.9%), service industries contributed $1.56 billion (51.2%), and taxes and duties contributed $260 million (8.6%).[9]


Marlborough has 25,045 hectares (61,890 acres) of horticultural land as of 2017, the second-largest area in New Zealand behind Canterbury. Wine grapes make up 23,050 hectares of that area, with sweetcorn and peas being the only other crops with more than 100 hectares of planted area.[10]


View looking north from Blenheim of Marlborough vineyards
Montana Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006

The Marlborough climate has a strong contrast between hot sunny days and cool nights, which extends the ripening period of the vines. This results in more intense flavour and aroma characters in the wine. The first commercial vineyards were planted around Blenheim in 1973, and Marlborough subsequently grew to become New Zealand's largest and most internationally well-known wine-producing region.[11] Due to this growth, particularly in the export market, the Marlborough wine region now produces three quarters of all New Zealand wine.[12] The most important varietal is Sauvignon Blanc, which is recognised as world-class; wine writers Oz Clarke and George Taber have described Marlborough's Sauvignon Blanc as the best in the world.[13][14] Also, important is the production of méthode traditionelle sparkling wine made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which has attracted investment from large Champagne producers Mumm, Deutz, Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot.[15]

Government and defence[edit]

The New Zealand Defence Force operates RNZAF Base Woodbourne, co-located with Woodbourne Airport west of Blenheim.

The Waihopai communications monitoring facility, run by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and part of the ECHELON network, is located in the Waihopai Valley 11 km (7 mi) southwest of Renwick.

Government and politics[edit]

Marlborough is administered by a unitary authority, the Marlborough District Council. Between 1859 and 1876 Marlborough had its own provincial government, and was known as the Marlborough Province, which ended when the Abolition of the Provinces Act came into force on 1 November 1876.[16]

The Marlborough District Council consists of a mayor and 14 councillors. The councillors are elected from three wards: seven from the Blenheim ward, three each from the Marlborough Sounds and Wairau-Awatere wards, and one from the Marlborough Māori ward. The mayor is elected at-large. Elections are held every three years in conjunction with nationwide local elections, with the next election in 2025.

As of October 2022, the mayor and councillors are:[17]

  • Mayor: Nadine Taylor
  • Councillors – Blenheim ward: Jamie Arbuckle, David Croad (deputy mayor), Deborah Dalliessi, Brian Dawson, Matt Flight, Jonathan Rosene, Thelma Sowman
  • Councillors – Marlborough Sounds ward: Barbara Faulls, Raylene Innes, Ben Minehan
  • Councillors – Wairau-Awatere ward: Scott Adams, Sally Arbuckle, Gerald Hope
  • Councillors - Marlborough Māori Ward: Allanah Burgess

Nationally, Marlborough is part of the Kaikōura electorate, which also includes the Canterbury region north of the Ashley River / Rakahuri. For the Māori roll, Marlborough is part of the Te Tai Tonga electorate, as is the entire South Island.[18] The electorate was first contested in the 1996 general election, the first under the new MMP voting system. From 1938 to 1996, the region was covered by the Marlborough electorate.[19]

Marlborough is considered a safe area for the National Party, with the region held continuously by the party since the 1975 general election. Stuart Smith of the National Party has been the MP for the Kaikōura electorate since the 2014 general election. Tākuta Ferris from Te Pāti Māori has been the MP for the Te Tai Tonga electorate since 2023.

A combined District and High Court at Blenheim serves the region judicially.[20]


Marlborough is served by four state highways: State Highway 1, State Highway 6, State Highway 62, and State Highway 63. State Highway 1 is the main highway in the region, connecting Picton and Blenheim, and connecting the region south to Christchurch via Seddon and Kaikōura. State Highway 6 connects Blenheim and Renwick, and connects the region to Nelson and Tasman via Havelock. State Highway 63 leaves State Highway 6 at Renwick and travels via the Wairau Valley and Saint Arnaud to meet SH 6 again at Kawatiri, providing a direct route to the West Coast and bypassing Nelson. State Highway 62 is a short highway linking SH 1 at Spring Creek with SH 6 north of Renwick, providing a direct route between Picton and Nelson and bypassing Blenheim.

The Main North Line railway serves the region, running roughly parallel to State Highway 1. The first section of the line in Marlborough opened on 18 November 1875 between Blenheim and Picton. The line south of Blenheim opened to Seddon in October 1902, to Ward in April 1911, and to Wharanui in December 1915. The line finally opened across the present-day Marlborough border in October 1942 when the line was extended to Clarence. The entire line through to Christchurch opened on 15 December 1945 when the railheads met at Kaikōura.[21] Today, the line is used by the Coastal Pacific passenger train, which operates one return journey per day during the summer months. The line is also heavily used by freight trains between Christchurch and the Cook Strait rail ferry at Picton.

Woodbourne Airport (trading as Marlborough Airport) is the region's main airport.[22] Air New Zealand Link operates flights from Woodbourne to Auckland and Wellington and Sounds Air operates flights from Woodbourne to Wellington and Christchurch Airport. Sounds Air also operates flights from Picton Aerodrome to Wellington.

Port Marlborough at Picton is the region's main seaport. Interislander and Bluebridge both operate roll-on-roll-off ferry services between Picton and Wellington.


There are 29 primary and secondary schools in Marlborough. There are 22 state primary schools, one state intermediate school (Bohally Intermediate in Blenheim), three state secondary schools (Marlborough Boys' College and Marlborough Girls' College in Blenheim, and Queen Charlotte College in Picton), and one state area school (Rai Valley Area School). There are two state-integrated schools, one Catholic primary school and one Christian composite school, both in Blenheim.[23]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Subnational population estimates (RC, SA2), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996-2023 (2023 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2023. (regional councils); "Subnational population estimates (TA, SA2), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996-2023 (2023 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2023. (territorial authorities); "Subnational population estimates (urban rural), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996-2023 (2023 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2023. (urban areas)
  2. ^ "Regional gross domestic product: Year ended March 2022". Statistics New Zealand. 24 March 2023. Retrieved 4 April 2023.
  3. ^ "Sub-national HDI – Area Database – Global Data Lab". Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  4. ^ "Blenheim". New Zealand History. New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  5. ^ "Climate Data and Activities". NIWA. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  6. ^ "ArcGIS Web Application". Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  7. ^ a b c "Statistical area 1 dataset for 2018 Census". Statistics New Zealand. March 2020. Marlborough Region (18). 2018 Census place summary: Marlborough Region
  8. ^ "2001 Census: Regional summary". Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  9. ^ "Regional gross domestic product: Year ended March 2019 | Stats NZ". Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Fresh Facts: New Zealand Horticulture" (PDF). Plant & Food Research. 2018. ISSN 1177-2190.
  11. ^ Nicholson, Tessa. "Marlborough's Wine History". Wine Marlborough. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  12. ^ "Annual Report 2019" (PDF). New Zealand Winegrowers. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  13. ^ Rachman, Gideon (16 December 1999). "The globe in a glass". The Economist. according to Oz Clarke, a respected British critic, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is now 'arguably the best in the world.'
  14. ^ Taber, George (2005). Judgment of Paris: California vs France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine. New York: Scribner. pp. 243. ISBN 978-0-74-324751-1. [Cloudy Bay is ...] what many people consider to be the world's best Sauvignon Blanc
  15. ^ Hooke, Huon (12 September 2015). "New Zealand gets some food for thought from Tom Stevenson". The Real Review. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  16. ^ "New Zealand provinces 1848–77".
  17. ^ "Councillors – Marlborough District Council". Retrieved 2 December 2022.
  18. ^ "Find my Electorate". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  19. ^ McRobie, Alan (1989). Electoral Atlas of New Zealand. Wellington: GP Books. pp. 87–93. ISBN 0-477-01384-8.
  20. ^ "Contact a court — Courts of New Zealand". Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  21. ^ "Geographical Mileage Table 1957" (PDF). New Zealand Railways. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  22. ^ "Home – Marlborough Airport". Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  23. ^ "New Zealand Schools Directory". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 12 December 2022.

External links[edit]