Heritage, Culture & Arts

Marlborough’s rich history runs wide and deep, from the earliest Polynesian settlers on Te Pokohiwi-o-Kupe/Wairau, Bar to the European pioneers who built towns and planted our first grapevines.

These people, the way they lived, and how they dealt with history’s major events has shaped Marlborough into what it is today.

Those stories are all here, waiting to be discovered all over again in the places where they happened or in our galleries, museums, art and theatre productions.

Marlborough Airport Heritage

Marlborough Airport, located at Woodbourne 8km west of Te Waiharakeke/Blenheim, is the region’s main airport.

The airport was one of the first in New Zealand, and also one of the first to accommodate turboprop aircraft.

The airfield gained attention in 1928 when the Blenheim Borough Council prepared land and built a temporary hangar at Woodbourne Farm for an important visitor - pioneering aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and his Fokker trimotor monoplane, Southern Cross.

Kingsford Smith and his crew of three used the field as their departure point for the return leg of their historic trans-Tasman crossing in 1928.

But the Southern Cross was not the first famous plane to land in Blenheim. In 1920, the first flight across Raukawa/Cook Strait touched down on a Dillons Point farm, with Captain Euan Dickson carrying New Zealand’s first air mail between the South and North Islands aboard his Avro 504K.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force built a base at Woodbourne during World War 2. RNZAF Base Woodbourne remains today as a training and heavy maintenance facility, and shares the airport with civilian services, including Airbus. The terminal building was extended in 2014/15 to cope with larger passenger numbers and larger aircraft.

Air New Zealand, Sounds Air and charter airlines all operate from the airport.

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