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.

Sir Edmund Hillary

When famous Kiwi mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary summited Marlborough’s highest peak in 1944, he didn’t do it the easy way.

Sir Ed was training with the Royal New Zealand Air Force at Woodbourne near Blenheim during World War Two when he scaled his first “decent” mountain – Mt Tapuae-o-Uenuku (or ‘Tappy’, as he called it) – solo.

His planned route, up the 11km ridge line of Tongue Spur rather than up the Hodder River, is considered long and arduous, and is one of the longer ridge routes in New Zealand.

These days, most people drive to the start of the track; Sir Ed first had to walk 32km up the Awatere Valley before making the 14-hour climb up the 2,885m (nearly 10,000 foot) mountain.

Despite the challenge, he completed the journey in only three days – a long weekend, saying "I'd climbed a decent mountain at last."

Sir Ed went on to be the first person to summit Mt Everest, in 1953, with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.

Mt Tapuae-o-Uenuku is New Zealand’s tallest peak outside of the Southern Alps, and can be seen from all over Marlborough, and from Wellington on a clear day.

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