Guide

Heritage, Culture & Arts

Marlborough’s rich history runs wide and deep, from the earliest Polynesian settlers of the Wairau Bar to the first European pioneers who built our towns and planted our first grapevines.

These people, the way they lived their lives 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.

Marlborough has a wealth of arts and culture, from art galleries to museums through to concerts and theatre productions.

Follow the Marlborough Arts and Crafts Trail, enjoy a glass of wine while listening to live music at a vineyard or on stage at Marlborough's new ASB Theatre.

Mt Taupae-o-Uenuku

Marlborough’s highest peak, Mt Tapuae-o-Uenuku in the Inland Kaikoura Ranges, is considered a sacred place by Marlborough’s Māori tribes.

It is also the tallest peak in New Zealand outside the Southern Alps.

According to Marlborough tribe Rangitane, an earthly chief climbed up to heaven via the rainbow of their ancestor, Uenuku, to find his spiritual wife and child. Therefore, Nga Tapu Wae O Uenuku are the ‘sacred steps of Uenuku’.

Other Māori stories about the 2885m peak date back to AD825.

Two chiefs named Makautere and Tapuae-o-Uenuku, were looking for food-gathering places along the Kaikoura coast; the Waiau-Toa and Waiau-Uwha Rivers reminded Tapuae-o-Uenuku of the tears of his wife, left behind in Hawaiki. And so the mountain near where the two rivers meet bears the chief's name.

The mountain was successfully climbed in 1864 by a party of three led by Nehemiah McRae. But its most famous climber was Sir Edmund Hillary, who summited the mountain solo over a long weekend in 1944.

In the year 2000, Mt Tapuae-o-Uenuku received much attention as being one of the first places in the world to see the light of the new Millennium.

The mountain, which rises from near sea level in the east over the Clarence Valley, is accessible by climbers from the Awatere Valley, but is seen from most parts of the region.

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