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.

Ship Cove/Meretoto Heritage

Ship Cove is steeped in New Zealand history as early explorer Captain James Cook’s favourite base.

Cook made five visits to Ship Cove between 1770 and 1777, spending 105 days in the cove repairing his ships and resting his crew.

It was during these visits that some of the earliest sustained contact between Māori and Europeans took place, as Cook and his crew traded items such as iron tools, fish hooks, muskets, vegetables and animals.

Cook's first visit was on 15 January 1770. Several days later he had a flagpole raised on a high point on nearby Motuara Island, hoisting the Union Jack flag, naming Queen Charlotte Sound. and proclaiming British sovereignty over the South Island.

These days, Ship Cove is a popular destination for cruises from Picton and for some cruise ships, and is the starting point for the Queen Charlotte Track - one of New Zealand's top  walking and  mountain biking trails.

As well as gleaning fascinating information at the site, it’s possible to imagine yourself there 240 years ago, surrounded by sea, native bush and birdsong.

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