Marlborough is a region as rich in entrepreneurial and investment opportunities as it is lifestyle, for those who choose to do business here.
Our shared vision is of growth through innovation, of collaboration between industries to develop previously untapped channels, discover new markets and create exciting future possibilities, while always keeping true to our story, our place and our values.
Marlborough has a diverse innovative business community which drives a robust economy, creating prosperity and competitive advantages, particularly in the face of global economic challenges.
According to Infometric figures, economic growth in Marlborough’s is forecast to remain above 2% p.a. through 2020/2021. Economic activity will continue to be driven largely by wine, aquaculture, tourism, forestry and construction.
For the most part, demand in these markets is likely to remain high, with future growth likely to be limited more by supply side restrictions such as Marlborough's ageing workforce and shortages of potential employees, particularly skilled employees. This challenge is being actively addressed through collaboration between Council, industry, the education sector, community groups and social service agencies.
The strength of our economy is in its great diversity. This, along with our continually developing primary industries, makes Marlborough an excellent place to do business and invest.
Marlborough, well-known as New Zealand's premier wine region, also supports a wide range of other key industries that together underpin a vibrant, progressive and robust economy.
Famous for its sauvignon blanc, Marlborough is the largest wine producing region in the country, a fact reflected in its vast stretches of vineyards dotted with picturesque wineries. New Zealand Winegrowers' vintage statistics for 2019 show that the region accounts for 77% of New Zealand's total wine production.
Traditionally a pastoral farming district, over the last half century much of Marlborough's productive land has been transformed into vineyards, taking advantage of the region's ideal climate and soil types. At the same time, the region continues to produce high quality beef, sheep and lamb products.
The largest contributor to Marlborough's GDP is manufacturing, which includes winemaking (as distinct from grape cultivation) as well as some aspects of the region's thriving aquaculture industry. In this sector, Marlborough is responsible for approximately 60% of total New Zealand production of both Greenshell™ Mussels and Pacific King Salmon.
Apart from grape cultivation and winemaking, Marlborough's vineyards and winery cellar doors form part of a thriving tourism industry, attracting visitors from across the globe to sample New Zealand's finest wine and foods. What's more, the paradise of winding waterways and lush native bush that make up the Marlborough Sounds are home to a range of tourism operators, servicing walking, cycling and ocean-based tourists, both local and international.
The Sounds are also home to a large percentage of Marlborough's forestry resources. The bulk of the region's forestry production is exported, with Port Marlborough being one of the South Island's major export ports.
All these industries are supported by a variety of small and large businesses, professional service providers, retailers, social and healthcare services, construction, trades, education (including teritary education) and many more key industries that together form Marlborough's successful and varied economy.
Marlborough is home to an active business community and has a comprehensive supportive structure for businesses of all types, led by those who know and love our region and our way of life.
Whether you are looking to transfer your existing business to Marlborough or base your start-up here, there are a number of useful support services available to ensure your next move is a success. These include business mentoring, support in the growth and expansion of markets, building business capability or management of upskilling.
Learn more about Marlborough’s business support networks and tap into a wealth of valuable information for your future business decisions.
Smart Business Marlborough
Smart Business Marlborough provides a central hub to facilitate business growth and international partnerships, and increase economic activity in Marlborough.
Marlborough Smart+Connected is an innovative economic and community development approach, employing volunteer effort in local communities and industries in collaboration with the activities of the Marlborough District Council, to lead Marlborough into the future.
Marlborough Chamber of Commerce
The Marlborough Chamber of Commerce has over 350 members and provides a range of programmes and initiatives for businesses, as well as networking opportunities throughout the year.
Business Trust Marlborough
Business Trust Marlborough offers free, confidential advice and information for any type of existing business, or business idea.
Business Trust Marlborough is also associated with Angel Investors Marlborough, a group of locally based seasoned investors, business people and entrepreneurs.
Blenheim Business Association
The Blenheim Business Association (BBA) has a shared vision of creating a central business district which beats as the heart of the region and acts as a hub for Marlborough’s thriving industries, events and recreational activities.
Marlborough’s main industries are represented by active industry bodies that represent the collective interest of their diverse memberships.
Our industry bodies are led by people who know their business, their product, and Marlborough.
Through the sharing of ideas and information, advocacy to government on key issues and organising of world-class events, our industry bodies advance not only their respective sectors, but also Marlborough as a whole.
Marlborough is very well-connected with many national-level industry bodies. These connections open doors to new and exciting opportunities, ensures specific business interests are highlighted and seek to engage those who can drive ongoing growth and innovation for our region.
Marlborough has many options for those looking to grow their business through innovation, and opportunities to invest in cutting edge research and development.
Here, business, science and research meet in a number of highly successful collaborations that enhance our progressive, diverse regional economy.
The Marlborough Research Centre (MRC) hosts a range of scientific research and innovation organisations at its Blenheim campuses, including Plant and Food Research and Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand. MRC has strong links with the Marlborough District Council, Massey University and FoodHQ, and its Food and Beverage Cluster provides funding, specialist and market insights to the region's food producers.
The wine industry is continually at the forefront of exciting research and development, which is brought together at a state of the art research facility, the Bragato Research Institute, New Zealand's national research facility for grape cultivation and wine production. The institute's research winery is located at the Blenheim Campus of the Nelson Marlborough Institue of Technology (NMIT).
Similarly, the aquaculture and pastoral farming sector continue to push the boundaries of innovation and technological advancement. Marlborough's research activities are supported by dedicated facilities and staff at the Marlborough campus of NMIT, where the future players for our main industries are able to learn, experience and immerse themselves among experts in their fields.
There are always opportunities for investment in cultivation – generally, vineyard block and lifestyle properties in the region’s Southern Valleys will be on sale at any point.
Marlborough’s wine technology sector is considered to be one of the most advanced in the world, and major opportunities exist for investment in and export of home-grown wine tech. Local grape growing and winemaking operations are constantly on the lookout for technologies and innovations that improve efficiency, increase automation and reduce their reliance on scarce resources such as labour and water.
Marlborough is home to some of New Zealand’s best purpose-built accommodation for seasonal and short-term contract employees, such as those participating in the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Scheme. As vineyard acreage increases and new plantings come into production, the demand for such purpose-built accommodation is sure to increase.
Major innovation and investment opportunities also exist in various aspects of waste management and mitigation related to the wine industry. Identified opportunities include grape marc (residue from grape processing), vineyard posts and irrigation piping.
The planned expansion of salmon farming into the open ocean in the Cook Straits and other locations, will provide major opportunities for investment in new farms, new technologies and new skills.
Equally, there are significant opportunities for innovation and technology development in real-time monitoring of marine farms, data transfer and internet-of-things applications within the aquaculture sector.
As the industry develops, the demand for support services will grow accordingly – marine engineering, specialised manufacturing and a range of servicing activities all present opportunities for investment.
Similar to the wine industry, high levels of opportunity exist for innovation and investment in waste management and the processing of industry waste streams – an example of a successful innovation in this area is blue mussel processing.
Finally, opportunities exist for diversification of the product mix in the aquaculture industry in the Marlborough Sounds – these might include seaweed farming and bottom dwelling species such as sea cucumbers.
While Marlborough’s forestry sector is relatively small compared to some other regions in New Zealand, the unique terrain in which the industry operates, particularly in the Marlborough Sounds, presents opportunities for innovation in harvesting and transportation techniques, and in mitigation strategies to avoid environmental impacts arising from harvesting activities.
With much of the region’s forestry production being exported as complete logs, major opportunities exist for downstream processing of forestry products for both domestic and export markets, and for complementary industries such as forestry waste-to-energy conversion.
As Marlborough’s visitor economy develops, for example through increases in cruise ship, food and wine tourism, and biking and walking activities, opportunities will continue to develop for investment in businesses that service these markets.
Opportunities also exist for consolidation in the visitor economy sector, with some large operators having made significant acquisitions of properties, brands and service providers over the past several years.
Increasingly, Marlborough is becoming a destination of choice for high-value overseas tour groups. This trend will in the future provide opportunities for investment in new attractions and high-end facilities and experiences.
Marlborough’s success in attracting events and conferences means that opportunities in the hotel and/or high-capacity accommodation segment will become increasingly attractive to potential investors.
Rebuilding activities after the Kaikoura earthquake in November 2016 took up much of the civil construction capacity in Marlborough. Looking forward, a number of major infrastructure upgrades are planned or already in progress, meaning that opportunities will continue to exist for civil construction, and for civil engineering and related services.
Like much of New Zealand, Marlborough has a relatively aged housing stock and a shortage of residential accommodation. Marlborough District Council has zoned a large amount of land for future residential development, but the speed of construction remains limited by a lack of capacity. This translates into significant opportunities for construction services and related skills development.
Major investments are planned in transport infrastructure, including the upgrading of Picton port to accommodate larger ferries and cruise ships.
In addition, KiwiRail will over the next several years continue to upgrade their rail network and road/rail exchange infrastructure in Picton and Spring Creek, outside Blenheim.
Investment will continue to be directed into upgrading telecommunications infrastructure in the Marlborough Sounds and the outlying rural areas of Marlborough.
All these (mainly public sector) investments are sure to create significant opportunities for private investment in associated industries.
The projected growth in the aged segment of Marlborough’s population, from a current level of 23% of the population being over 65, to around 34% in 2034, means that opportunities exist for investment in a range of aged care facilities and services.
These opportunities might include greenfields developments of new aged care facilities or redevelopment of existing facilities, as well as the provision of specialist aged care services and equipment.
Marlborough's infrastructure supports the growth of businesses of all sizes. From the deep-water export port in Picton to reliable land-based transportation links and two dedicated business parks, business owners can be confident that markets are always within easy reach.
Marlborough also boasts all the normal services and facilities required by those who live and work here, from varied retail options to a high standard of health and education, as well as many excellent recreational choices. These facilities, along with the opportunities that Marlborough presents to buisnesses and investors, create a winning formula for an appealing business, work and life balance.
Riverlands Industrial Estate and Cloudy Bay Business Park
This industrial estate and business park is conveniently located in Riverlands, only five minutes south of central Blenheim. The area is home to businesses of all sizes and types, many interconnected, including manufacturing operations, major wine bottling facilities, maintenance service providers and transport operators.
Marlborough’s central location and proximity to other major centres is just one of the reasons why many companies choose to base their operations here.
The region is well-connected by air, road, rail and sea, with all links easily accessed from Marlborough’s towns and settlements. Combined with great local infrastructure and lifestyle options, this makes Marlborough the perfect region for diverse business investments.
Port Marlborough is a deep water port with a 200m wharf at Shakespeare Bay in Waitohi/Picton. This facility, one of the busiest in New Zealand, handles bulk cargo, particularly logs, and is also visited by large cruise ships. With roll-on rail capability, the port is a key part of New Zealand’s inter-island rail network.
Cook Strait ferries
Marlborough is served by two main ferry companies, Interislander and Bluebridge which take passengers and freight on the 3.5 hour journey across Cook Strait between Picton and Wellington several times each day. Marlborough’s rail link with Wellington will be further strengthened from 2024, with KiwiRail planning to introduce two new rail-enabled ferries.
Marlborough is strategically placed on KiwiRail’s main trunkline between Picton/Waitohi, Kaikōura and Christchurch. A number of freight companies have taken advantage of this excellent position by basing distribution depots here. This proves particulary useful for many of Marlborough's major export industries, including wine and seafood.
Marlborough has a choice of daily flights to several New Zealand centres, making attending a meeting in Wellington in the morning and returning to your desk in Marlborough by the afternoon a real possibility.
Air New Zealand flies into and out of Marlborough Airport directly from Wellington and Auckland. Sounds Air flies from both Marlborough and Picton Airports to Christchurch, Wellington, Taupo, Paraparaumu, Nelson and Westport.
Blenheim is located on State Highway 1, which begins in Picton/Waitohi and passes through all Marlborough’s east coast towns and Kaikōura before leading to Christchurch.
State Highway 6 heads west from Blenheim and goes through Renwick and Havelock to Nelson. The West Coast is accessible via State Highways 63, via scenic St Arnaud.
Marlborough fosters strong links with key regional business groups and agencies, that help to enhance the region's economic visions and future growth plans. This includes actively seeking and promoting opportunities for strategic investment.
Many Marlborough businesses and industry groups have established close ties with leading research and development agencies and scientific organisation. These include the Cawthron Insitute and Seafood Research Centre in Nelson, Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) and NIWA, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.
Marlborough also maintains close links with relevant government departments and functions, including New Zealand Trae and Enterprise, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Ministry of Social Development, the provincial Growth Fund Immigration New Zealand.
Together with other Top of the South organisations, Marlborough business and local government leaders actively support cross-agency and industry collaboration in future-focused economic development strategies such as Te Tauihu Intergenerational Strategy (more information here).
Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment
Senior Regional Advisor, Top of the South
MBIE Provincial Development Unit
+64 27 231 0028
Ministry for Primary Industries
Senior Advisor, Top of the South
+64 21 679 380
Ministry of Social Development
Regional Commissioner - Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman & West Coast
+64 29 201 4415