Cycling NZ’s South Island: Marlborough trails

Marlborough’s reputation as New Zealand’s sunniest region makes for brilliant cycling experiences on roads and trails.

Renowned as New Zealand’s largest wine region, Marlborough’s reputation as New Zealand’s sunniest region makes for brilliant cycling experiences on roads and trails.

Marlborough has a great choice of on- and off-road cycling tracks and events catering for all abilities.

Mountain bike the Queen Charlotte Track, cycle the Wither Hills or ride between the vines amid Marlborough’s rural scenery.

Queen Charlotte Track

The 70km Queen Charlotte Track – best known as a walking trail – is now a Great Ride as part of the New Zealand Cycle Trails network. Purpose built, it’s one of the longest continuous tracks in the country and suitable for intermediate to experienced mountain bikers.

The track is open for mountain biking from March-November, with full-day and multi-day experiences available. The trail begins with a scenic cruise through the Marlborough Sounds – a series of waterways at the top of the South Island that makes up one-fifth of New Zealand’s coastline – to historic Ship Cove, reputedly British explorer Captain James Cook’s favourite anchorage. 

The track experience is made exceptional by its easy access, luggage transfers, delicious local food, wine and craft beers, and a broad variety of accommodation from luxury lodges to conservation campsites along the way.

The Grade 3 - 4 track is best explored by mountain bike over two to three days, celebrating each day’s journey with a hot shower, tasty local cuisine and a comfortable bed with million dollar sea views. 

A daily water taxi luggage transfer service lets you lighten the load for each day’s ride, with your luggage already at your next night’s accommodation before you get there. Guided and independent mountain bike hire options are available.

Molesworth Muster Trail

The Molesworth Muster Trail runs through Molesworth Station – the largest and most remote working farm in New Zealand. The 207 kilometre journey from Blenheim to Hanmer Springs follows the Awatere River, crosses Ward Pass to follow the Acheron River to join the Clarence.

This is an unforgettable journey through high country scenery and wide-open landscapes, with camp sites along the way.

Four-day fully supported biking tours into the high country of Molesworth and Rainbow Stations incorporate cycling, meeting the local farming community and staying in true back-country accommodation.

Mountain biking

Closer to Blenheim, the Wither Hills Farm Park features 1100 hectares of rolling hill country and is home to numerous tracks for mountain bikers with excellent views of Blenheim and beyond. Or explore some of the many trails around the region including the Nydia Track, Whites Bay Loop, the Wakamarina Track, and Picton’s Victoria Domain Mountain Bike Park.

Wine tasting with a difference

Marlborough is New Zealand’s largest wine-growing region, producing more than 75% of the country’s wine.

With more than 150 wineries and 37 cellar doors, cycling the Marlborough Wine Trail is a brilliant way to sample the region’s world-renowned sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, chardonnay, methode traditionelle and aromatics.

Enjoy cycling along quiet rural roads through picturesque countryside, stopping to taste the latest wine vintages or relax over a vineyard lunch. Cycle hire and guided tours operate year-round.

Forrest GrapeRide

The South Island’s biggest and most popular recreational road cycling event, held in Marlborough, is also a journey through some of New Zealand’s nest vineyard scenery.

The Forrest Graperide is held in April each year. The main race takes you on a spectacular 101km journey past some the region’s vineyards and along the edge of the Marlborough Sounds, finishing at the Forrest Estate Winery cellar door. Do the whole thing or join a team to share the load. The best part is, there’s a party at the end to celebrate.

Other races include the 42km Taster and the Gourmet Grape Graze – mixing great riding with gourmet food and wine.

Travel Tips
Air New Zealand has daily flights to Blenheim from major centres. The region is famous for its sauvignon blanc vineyards as well as its beaches. The Queen Charlotte walking track, one of New Zealand’s best, runs through the Marlborough Sounds.