Marlborough Geography


Marlborough covers an extensive area ranging from the drowned valleys of the Marlborough Sounds in the north, through to the high country of Molesworth. A number of fault lines running through the region form valleys through which several major rivers flow, and are divided by a number of mountain ranges. Climate varies considerably from mild and humid in areas such as the Marlborough Sounds through to semi-arid in parts of the east coast and the Awatere Valley. Temperature also varies considerably with some northern coastal areas being virtually frost free, while in the interior, areas such as Molesworth experience frosts almost two thirds of the year.

Natural vegetation ranges from temporate forest mainly in the north to grasslands and scrub in drier areas. A few wetland areas of flax swamp and coastal salt marsh also exist. A number of endangered species are found only in the Marlborough region. Human activity has transformed much of the land, with viticulture, forestry and pastoral farming being major activities.

Population is sparse for the size of the region, with over half being based in and around Blenheim on the Wairau Plain.


Geological Overview


Marlborough is a region shaped by active geological activity, from continuous tectonic plate movement, and from older glacial influences.

Marlborough Coastal Areas


Marlborough boasts an extensive coastline, and numerous islands thanks largely to the spectacular Marlborough Sounds

Marlborough High Country and Mountains


A collection of articles about Marlborough's high country and mountain areas, including Molesworth, NZ's largest farm.

Marlborough Lakes


Although relatively arid, Marlborough has a number of natural and artificial lakes

Marlborough Rivers


Much of Marlborough is semi-arid, however a number of rivers flow through the region, in valleys, many resulting from the numerous fault lines.

Marlborough Towns and Settlements


Marlborough is sparsely populated, with the greater part of the population concentrated on the Wairau plain in and around Blenheim, with other smaller settlements scattered throughout the region.



Onamalutu is a small valley with a magnificent kahikatea forest remnant. The Onamaulutu domain is a popular picnic area.

Para Swamp


The Para swamp is a significant inland wetland situated in the Waitohi Valley between Blenheim and Picton managed by Fish and Game.