Blenheim is a small town on the North tip of the South Island that may not seem very exciting in travel books, or online. That's because it's not run down with tour companies or chain hostels. With the lack of information available about the town, travellers are unaware of what it has to offer.
Most travellers stay in Blenheim for a few months to work in the vineyards, but very few people stop here as a tourist destination. If you have the means to get here, even for just a day, it is worth the pit stop. It is a quick 20 minute commute from Picton (the town you enter when taking the ferry from the north island).
Here are 5 activities to convince you, Blenheim doesn’t suck!
1. Try the local wine
Blenheim has a core vineyard trail that can take up at least 2 days of your time. It’s the best vineyard route in New Zealand if you ask me. You’re not a wine connoisseur? Blenheim also has the MOA brewery open for tasting and a chocolate factory. Can't go wrong with that! I was toast by the end of my vineyard tour.
2. Stay and have drinks at the Grovetown Country Hotel and Pub
Just a 2 minute drive outside the city centre on Highway 1, this pub-hostel is perfect for anyone of any age. It also has accommodation facilities for camper vans and tents.
With a bar attached to it, stumbling home at the end of the night is a quick crawl up the stairway. Best night to grab a beer there is on a Friday when all the locals come out for a good feed and cheap beer. It’s also crawling with backpackers who like to take advantage of the free pool table (especially during the warmer months). The pub itself has an immense amount of history and it's regular customers will be more than willing to chat with you. If you're not feeling the pub, peek out back where you can usually find a few backpackers drinking beers or just listening to music and hanging out. BEWARE: There are a lot of awesome people, but there are also a lot of douche bags. Maybe see how good their ‘high five’ is before you make friends.
3. Try fresh mussels
Ask around if anyone knows a fisherman you can buy some fresh mussels off of. Sounds a bit random, but the odds of finding fresh mussels from a local fisherman are high.
If you are a bit shy, another option is to hop a town over to Picton where the mussel factory is and purchase some mouth watering mussels there. Or you could be a wanker and do it the easy way - eat out, as I will mention in my next point, #4.
4. Get your eat on
Don't bother eating in town, most of the places other than Thai take-out, sucked monkeys. Alas, most vineyards have restaurants attached to their tasting area. Sit on the patio, with views of the elongating vineyards and rolling mountains in the background while eating melt in your mouth food and drinking delicious wine! Keep in mind, most places close fairly early, call and make sure they are open if you plan to have dinner there.
5. Go on a trek with phenomenal views
Blenheim is surrounded by lush scenery, mountains, ocean coasts and riversides. The multitudes of hiking trails to choose from are endless. You can also ride a bike down to the river or beach for swimming, surfing or just laying in the sun. If your a lazy bastard, you can also reach most of these spots by car.
Written and contributed by Lindsay Hogg aka HOGGA