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The Marlborough Region (Māori: Te Tauihu-o-te-waka, or Tauihu), commonly known simply as Marlborough, is one of the regions of New Zealand, located in the northeast of the South Island. Marlborough is a unitary authority, both a region and a district, and its council is located at Blenheim. It has a population of 46,600 (June 2018)[1].


Te Tauihu-o-te-waka
Territorial authority
Region of New Zealand
The Marlborough Sounds seen from the Wellington–Picton ferry
The Marlborough Sounds seen from the Wellington–Picton ferry
Location on South Island
Location on South Island
CountryNew Zealand
Unitary authority1992
Marlborough Sounds
 • MayorJohn Leggett
 • Deputy MayorTerry Sloan
 • Total12,494 km2 (4,824 sq mi)
 (June 2018)[1]
 • Total46,600
 • Density3.7/km2 (9.7/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+12 (NZST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+13 (NZDT)
Area code03
ISO 3166 codeNZ-MBH
HDI (2017)0.919[2]
very high · 6th
WebsiteDistrict Council

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 His Grace General The 1st Duke of Marlborough, an English general and statesman.[3]


Marlborough's geography can be roughly divided into four sections. Two of these sections, in the south and the west, are mountainous. This is particularly true of the southern section, which rises to the peaks of the Kaikoura 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 these two areas 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, enabling 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 located at the southern end of the Pelorus Sound, the Pelorus Sound also feeds into the Kenepuru Sound.



YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: [1]

Statistics New Zealand estimates the population of Marlborough is 46,600 as of June 2018. The region is home to 1.0% of New Zealand's population.[4]

The median age of Marlborough's population is 45.0 years, seven years above the New Zealand median of 38.0 years. Around 20.5 percent of the population is aged 65 or over while 18.7 percent is aged under 15. There are 95.8 males for every hundred females in Marlborough.[5]

Population density of Marlborough as of the 2006 census

Towns and settlementsEdit


Marlborough has three towns with a population over 1,000: Blenheim (26,400), Picton (4,310), and Renwick (2,530). Together they are home to 71.3% of the region's population.[4]

Other towns and settlements in Marlborough include:

Culture and identityEdit

Nearly 9 in 10 (89.2%) Marlborough residents at the 2013 census identified as of European ethnicity. 11.5% of residents identified as of Māori ethnicity, 2.8% as of Asian ethnicity, 2.3% as of Pacific ethnicity, 0.6% as of Middle Eastern, Latin American and/or African ethnicity, and 2.5% as of another ethnicity.[6]

Around 50.5 percent of Marlborough residents affiliate with Christianity and 2.3 percent affiliate with non-Christian religions, while 43.9 percent are irreligious. Anglicanism is the largest Christian denomination in Canterbury with 17.8 percent affiliating, while Catholicism is the second-largest with 11.2 percent affiliating.[7]


The sub-national gross domestic product (GDP) of the Marlborough region was estimated at NZ$3.02 billion in 2017, 1.1% of New Zealand's national GDP. The three largest contributors to the region's GDP in 2018 were manufacturing ($519m), agriculture and horticulture ($357m), and other primary industries ($276m). The regional GDP per capita was estimated at $65,084 in 2017, giving Marlborough the third-highest regional GDP per capita in New Zealand, behind Wellington and Taranaki.[8]

Marlborough has 25,045 hectares 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 planted area.[9]


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

Marlborough is a well-known wine-producing region in New Zealand. Thanks to aggressive growth in the export market, the Marlborough wine region is now responsible for the production of 77% of New Zealand's wine.[10] The most popular varietal is Sauvignon blanc, closely followed by Pinot noir and Chardonnay.

Marlborough's first vines, a small block of Brown Muscat, were planted in 1873 by local David Herd. However, in 1931 his son pulled up the last of his vines and no others were planted in the region until the 1970s. Wine giant Montana Wines (now Brancott Estate) returned wine making to Marlborough with the purchase of 1173 hectares in 1973 (100 years after the first Muscat grapes were planted).[11]

The strong contrast between hot sunny days and cool nights help vintners extend the ripening period of their vines like nowhere else, resulting in unique expressions of their grapes. For example, Sauvignon blanc from Marlborough offer unique aromas and flavors, which earns them much praise from wine lovers around the world.[citation needed]

The majority of Marlborough's extensive vineyard plantings are around Renwick, Blenheim, and Cloudy Bay in the Wairau valley. Further south in the Awatere valley are plantings near Seddon. These are for the most part on old terraces of the Wairau and Awatere rivers.

The area is widely considered by many critics to produce some of the world's best Sauvignon blanc. One wine critic said that "no other region in the world can match Marlborough, the northeastern corner of New Zealand's South Island, which seems to be the best place in the world to grow Sauvignon blanc grapes."[12] Wairau River, Tohu, Forrest Wines, Marisco Vineyards, Brancott Estate, Oyster Bay, Te Pa Wines, Hunters Wines, OTU Wines, Mud House, Cloudy Bay Vineyards, Framingham Wines, Saint Clair Estate Winery, Wither Hills and Grove Mill are notable vineyards in the region. Also important is the production of Methode Traditionelle sparkling wines, particularly near Renwick, from Riesling, Pinot noir and Chardonnay.

Government and politicsEdit

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.[13]

The Marlborough District Council consists of a mayor and 13 councillors. The councillors are elected from three wards: seven from the Blenheim ward, and three each from the Marlborough Sounds and Wairau-Awatere wards. The mayor is elected at-large. Elections are held every three years in conjunction with nationwide local elections, with the next election on 12 October 2019.

As of June 2019, the mayor and councillors are:[14]

  • Mayor: John Leggett
  • Councillors - Blenheim ward: Terry Sloan (deputy mayor), Jenny Andrews, Jamie Arbuckle, Brian Dawson, Michael Fitzpatrick, Mark Peters
  • Councillors - Marlborough Sounds ward: Trevor Hook, David Oddie, Nadine Taylor
  • Councillors - Wairau-Awatere ward: Cynthia Brooks, Geoff Evans, Gerald Hope

Nationally, Marlborough is part of the Kaikōura electorate, which also includes the Canterbury region north of the Ashley River. For the Māori roll, Marlborough is part of the Te Tai Tonga electorate, as is the entire South Island.[15] 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.[16]

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. Rino Tirikatene of the Labour Party is the MP for the Te Tai Tonga electorate.

A combined District and High Court at Blenheim serves the region judicially.[17]


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.[18]


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 Kaikoura. 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 so 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 Kaikoura.[19] 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.[20] Air New Zealand Link operates flights from Woodbourne to Auckland and Wellington and Sounds Air operates flights from Woodbourne to Wellington and Christchurch. 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.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2018 (provisional)". Statistics New Zealand. 23 October 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018. For urban areas, "Subnational population estimates (UA, AU), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996, 2001, 2006-18 (2017 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. 23 October 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  2. ^ "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  3. ^ "Blenheim". New Zealand History. New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2018 (final)". Statistics New Zealand. 15 November 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  5. ^ "2013 Census QuickStats about a place". Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  6. ^ "2013 Census QuickStats about a place: Marlborough Region -- Cultural diversity". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 26 June 2019. As people could identify as more than one ethnicity, these percentages do not add up to 100%.
  7. ^ "2013 Census QuickStats about culture and identity – data tables". Statistics New Zealand. 15 April 2014. Archived from the original on 24 May 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2016. Note some percentages (e.g. ethnicity, language) may add to more than 100 percent as people could give multiple responses.
  8. ^ "Regional gross domestic product: Year ended March 2018 | Stats NZ". Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  9. ^ "Fresh Facts: New Zealand Horticulture" (PDF). Plant & Food Research. 2018. ISSN 1177-2190.
  10. ^ "About Marlborough - Wine Marlborough".
  11. ^ "Marlborough's Wine History - Wine Marlborough".
  12. ^ George M. Taber, Judgment of Paris (New York, Scribner, 2005), p. 244.
  13. ^ "New Zealand provinces 1848-77".
  14. ^ "Councillors - Marlborough District Council". Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  15. ^ "Find my Electorate". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  16. ^ McRobie, Alan (1989). Electoral Atlas of New Zealand. Wellington: GP Books. pp. 87–93. ISBN 0-477-01384-8.
  17. ^ "Contact a court — Courts of New Zealand". Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  18. ^ "Directory of Schools - as at 3 April 2019". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  19. ^ "Geographical Mileage Table 1957" (PDF). New Zealand Railways. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  20. ^ "Home - Marlborough Airport". Retrieved 1 July 2019.

External linksEdit

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