South IslandInspire Me

This hidden treasure is home to NZ's best hotels...

By , November 23, 2015

#1 Destination New ZealandWant to know where travellers are most satisfied with their hotel experience, or where you should spend your next staycation?

Well, we’ve pulled more than 140 million traveller ratings from trivago to discover the country’s most loved destination: Marlborough. One of New Zealand’s most picturesque regions, Marlborough comes first in New Zealand for having the highest-rated hotels on average – so here’s what to see and where to sleep in the destination.



Located at the northeastern tip of the South Island, the region is abundant with natural coastlines and is home to Marlborough Sounds – a unique cluster of waterways, peninsulas and islands. Famed for its local produce and winemaking industry, the destination is also perfect for a romantic staycation or an action-packed adventure.

Here were the Marlborough towns the best-rated hotels on average:

1. Renwick (92.68)
2. Picton (86.98)
3. Blenheim (86.94)

Renwick: the vineyard escape

Renwick hotels had the highest average user-rating in the country, with Hillsfield House being the best in the town.

Marlborough’s best-rated hotel: Hillsfield House

Hillsfield House is just the thing for couples keen for an intimate escape: nestled within the Wairau Valley, the hotel is surrounded by olive groves and expanses of vineyards. With just two rooms on offer, guests are assured the utmost seclusion with a private entrance and pavilion, as well as the luxury of a Queen sized bed and an ensuite bathroom with locally made soaps and toiletries.


Additionally, guests staying at Hillsfield House can wake up to a generous continental breakfast served within the comfort of their own rooms. Free bike hire is also provided, allowing you to spend the day cycling among vineyards.

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Cycle through vineyards

Wine Tours by Bike
Renwick isn’t just the no.1 destination for hotels in the country, but it also packs a punch for its size. It’s the centre of Marlborough’s grape-growing regions, perfect for those wanting a peaceful weekend with a glass of the local Sauvignon Blanc in hand. With famed wineries Te Whare Ra and Forrest Estate just a stone’s throw away, wine lovers won’t be left thirsty.

With 85% of New Zealand’s Sauv Blanc produced in the region, the best way to get around is by bike: after all, this is an area where a bit of healthy cycling will get you from one vineyard to the next.

Wine Tours by Bike-cycling

Eco-friendly and cost-effective, Wine Tours By Bike promises a fun day of biking whilst ensuring that all guests are well-watered and generously fed. All tours are self-guided, meaning that there’s no pressure to keep up with a group. Instead, you can spend as much time as you like visiting the 17+ cellar doors. The staff can also help you personalise your wine tour: simply let them know how far you want to bike, what types of wines you prefer, and where you fancy stopping for lunch.


2. Picton: a majestic waterfront experience

Picton ranked second for having the best average traveller-ratings in Marlborough, with the best hotel in the town being the Harbour View Motel.

 “Great experience here. Lovely room that overlooked the harbour. Kim (owner/reception staff) greeted us, took us to our room, showed us where everything was & how it worked, and went the extra mile to take us in her car to the ferry terminal early in the morning. Great size room with an exceptional view.” – Char, USA

Harbour View Picton balconyveiw-low

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One of the most majestic waterfronts in the world, Picton is a charming fishing village framed by turquoise water, lush greenery and rolling hills. Not only does it boast the best climate in New Zealand, but its waters are teeming with marine life – including dolphins, orca, humpback whales, fur seals and blue penguins – making it an ideal staycation for families and couples looking for some fun in nature.

[caption id="attachment_2006" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Picton Marina (c) Ghislain Mary Photo by Ghislain Mary (CC BY-SA 2.0)[/caption]

See the Marlborough Sounds by boat

While there are so many things to do in Picton, from snorkelling to walking tours and sea kayaking, one of the most authentic ways to see the Marlborough Sounds is to board the Mail Boat. This is a guided tour as well as a real Royal Mail delivery service departing from Havelock, just a 40-minute drive away.

The Mail Boat - docked

For almost a century, the company has been delivering mail and groceries to the residents of Pelorus Sound three days a week, offering guests a glimpse of life among secluded inlets, pristine beaches and rolling greenery – far away from town.

You’ll even get a chance to meet the locals as well as encounter some cute marine animals, with Little Blue Penguins, New Zealand Fur Seals and dolphins making regular appearances along the journey.

The Mail Boat - birds

Top tip: the Thursday route stops at Jacobs Bay allowing guests to swim in the clear blue waters – so bring your swimmers!

Adult tickets cost $128 per person. Children up to and including 15 years travel free.

3. Blenheim: the town for foodies

Blenheim ranked third for having the best average traveller-ratings in Marlborough, with the best hotel in the town being the Two Tree Lodge.

“This is a lovely wee place… I even got home baked cookies.” – Mieke, Auckland

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Blenheim is a short drive from many of Marlborough’s vineyards, and it’s just 15 minutes away from the aforementioned Renwick. The town not only has great access to the region’s wineries, but also offers museums and shops: vintage car lovers should check out Omaka Classic Cars, whilst those looking to bring home some quality Manuka honey should visit The Honey Collection. For the foodie in you, Blenheim is also a delicious hub for cafés, restaurants and artisan food outlets.

Dine at the Raupo Riverside Café and Bar

Raupo restaurant - lights

At the heart of Blenheim overlooking the Taylor River, foodies will be pleased to find the Raupo Riverside Café and Bar. Lead by French proprietor Stéphane Ughetto and his friendly team, the restaurant delivers fresh, locally-sourced meals. The restaurant’s cuisine of French- and New Zealand-inspired dishes receive rave reviews from satisfied guests, while the impressive wine list and in-house patisserie won’t disappoint wine lovers and sweet tooths alike.

Raupo restaurant - exterior

The restaurant is beautifully set for all seasons; in summer, nothing beats relaxing on the terrace with a cheese platter and a glass of wine, while those visiting in the chillier months can huddle up to the venue’s open fireplace.

What do you love about Marlborough? Let us know below!