While it is easier to cover more ground in a vehicle, you only get to know the true spirit of a region if you explore it by foot. It's the little details, the small but amazing sights that many may miss, but remain tattooed on the brains of those lucky enough to spot them.
These days we are spoilt for choice with the sheer amount of sights and technology available to us but occasionally it's nice to simply put on some comfortable shoes, grab a map and explore the world around us.
The Marlborough Region is the perfect place to do just that. There are plenty of places to indulge an inquisitive nature, hiking enthusiast or avid explorer. The best walks are scattered around the region and many areas boost several choices from hard to easy, and short to long.
• Wairau Lagoons Walkway
Situated about 7.5km south-east of Blenheim at the mouth of the Wairau river, this three-hour loop includes Maori archaeological sites, more than 70 species of birds and other wildlife, and the Waverly shipwreck. In the past this area was used by moa hunters to herd the now-extinct bird from the Wairau Plain and neighbouring hills.
The walk is flat and is a loop from the car park, alongside the shore of the upper lagoon and continues past Budges and Moerepo Islands to the lagoons' main waterway, where the Waverly shipwreck rests, decaying in the mud. The ship was originally towed from Wellington to the mouth of the Wairau River in the 1920's in order to form a breakwater. However, before she was sunk she was swept up the waterway in a flood and dumped where her hull now rests in the lagoons. You have a few options for return, either backtrack, head across the saltmarsh, or you can continue beyond the shipwreck for a view of the river. This walk will be particularly enjoyable for those interested in ornithology as there are many types of birds to check out.
• Whites Bay Tracks
For a hike and a swim head to Whites Bay which sits 15km from Tuamarina. There a several choices of walks which range from short easy tramps to more advanced and demanding routes. There are plenty of activities and sights at Whites Bay including a scenic shoreline which incorporates stony areas for rock-hopping and a safe and sandy beach for swimming. This notable bay was originally named after Black Jack White, an American, who in 1828 abandoned his whaling ship to move in with the local Maori.
Hikers can take the Black Jack Track, an hour and a half loop, from the bay uphill to a bluff vista to see the Cook Straight, Port Underwood, and Cape Campbell. For a slightly shorter, one-way trip, take the Rarangi Bay - Whites Bay Track. This hour-long hike meanders from Whites Bay through to Port Underwood Rd, amidst a pine plantation to Rarangi. For a small jaunt along the coast, take the 20 minute Monkey Bay Walk. Starting from the north end of Rarangi Beach, the track heads around a rocky point to Monkey Bay and the beach. The track provides beautiful views and the history of formation of the ever-changing coastline. The Mount Robertson Track is certainly the most ambitious, taking an estimated nine hours, return. Get to the track via the Loop Track, climbing through the forest to a linkup where the Mt Robertson Track begins. The track follows a ridge to the peak over the beech forest. The summit is 1036 meters above sea level, and rewards hikers with stunning views.
• Queen Charlotte Track
This popular track runs almost the length of the Queen Charlotte Sound, stretching from Ship Cove to Anakiwa. The 71km of walking track rambles through historic sites, isolated bays and dense coastal forest. There are several hiking options along the track, which is made up of mainly clay soil. The lengthy track heads over major streams and can be completed one-way in about three to five days. The track is maintained by the Department of Conservation and there are several camp grounds and huts to stay in overnight.
For just a day walk, hikers can choose access the track a variety of points along the way, however, walkers will have to make sure they arrange transportation at their end point. The stunning track is made up of coastal forest, remarkable bays and ridge top panoramic views of both the Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds. This track is extremely popular all year round and is not particularly steep. The hills range from sea level to a maximum of 400 meters, with reasonably wide tracks and well-maintained bridges over the tracks many streams. For those looking for a little more than just a hike, the area also boasts swimming, fishing, sailing diving and sea kayaking.
As you can see, the Marlborough region has many spectacular hikes and walks through lush landscape. Have we included your favourite walk? If you know of any we haven't mentioned above, please comment below - we'd love to hear from you!