By: Christopher Cookson
It seems to be fashionable to publish lists, and every so often there seems to be a bit of a misconception that circulates that there isn't much to do in Blenheim if you're not in town to drink wine, so without further ado, here is a list of seven things to do in Blenheim that have very little to do with wine, and are all family friendly.
- Wither Hills Farm Park
Covering over 1100 hectares on Blenheim's southern boundary, with over 60km of walking and cycling tracks, you'll need to be very fit to explore all of the park in a single day, and despite the fairly barren look from a distance, you might be surprised at how much diversity there is in the park. On a good day, you can get great views of the North Island.
- Taylor River Reserve
From Riverside Park in central Blenheim to the Taylor Dam is about 10km, and much of it is paved with walking/cycling tracks. Attractive riverside plantings of native flora, and stands of mature trees along the course of the river make for a pleasant walk or ride without ever having to venture onto the road. There are even spots along the river where it's deeper, where it's possible to catch a trout, but if you're going to try that, make sure you have a licence, and be careful, because there's a section of the river in town that's for kids fishing only.
- Taylor Dam
Although the Taylor Dam was built as flood protection, it has resulted in a great recreational reserve. It's a great place for a picnic, and the lake that has formed behind the dam has attracted a great deal of wildlife, particularly waterfowl, making the lake a must-do for any birder.
- Pollard Park
With its chattering stream, extensive formal and informal gardens and mature trees, Pollard Park is a favourite location for wedding photos, and kids aren't forgotten either with a playground with equipment to suit ages from toddlers up. For gym bunnies who like their green space, there's also an outdoor exercise circuit with a variety of apparatus. After dark, the park offers a different attraction with many of the large trees illuminated with coloured lights.
- Art Galleries
For a small town, Blenheim is well endowed with art galleries. The council funded Millennium Gallery exhibits a range of local, national and international works, while the Marlborough Art Society gallery showcases local talent.
- Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
Marlborough has had a long association with aviation with its Air Force base, and was the departure location for the first ever NZ-Australia trans-Tasman flight when Kingsford-Smith completed the return leg of his record-setting initial trans-Tasman crossing. It's only fitting that Blenheim has the world class Aviation Heritage Centre just out of town at Omaka Aerodrome. It also happens to be the site of the biennial Classic Fighters airshow.
- Marlborough Museum
From the story of the first humans to arrive in New Zealand to the wine exhibition, tracing the history of how Marlborough became famous as a wine region, the museum has a variety of interesting exhibits, and while you're there it's worth checking out Brayshaw Park with its vintage farm machinery, Beavertown recreation of a historic street, and if you're fortunate enough to be there on the right Sundays of the month, the model trains and larger Riverside Railway in action.