About Blenheim

Often referred to as “the centre of New Zealand’s wine industry”, this small town combines a warm climate, adventures for the whole family, and things to excite the taste buds. It’s the perfect place to get away from it all and get discover the true beauty of the land down under.

All it takes is a ferry from Wellington or a drive up from Christchurch; even the trip there is something you’ll never forget.

History

A glimpse into the past:

12th Century

Māori occupies the coastline, farming kumara (i.e. sweet potato) and fishing.

1840

Captain Cook sights New Zealand.

1859

Marlborough separates from Nelson, becoming a new province (only 19 years after Nelson was established).

1865

Picton was replaced by Blenheim as the capital of Marlborough.

1868

Storm hits (later named: ‘The Great Storm of 1868) much of New Zealand; flooding the town, destroying key access points such as roads and bridges, and drowning livestock.

1875

32 km railway opened on November the 18th between Picton and Blenheim - carrying over 15,000 passengers and 5,700,000 kgs of goods during the first 7 months of operation.

1950

The Pelorus Bridge we see today was built. It is situated halfway between Nelson and Blenheim and crosses the Pelorus River.

Demographics

According to the 2013 Census, Blenheim is home to over 30,700 people which makes up 6.2% of Marlborough’s entire population - impressive when taking into consideration the size of Marlborough.

Note: This doesn’t take into consideration tourist numbers.

The median age sits at over 40 years old. Significantly lower that the district’s average of 45, but higher than New Zealand’s average of 38. About what you’d expect for a town surrounded by farms, mountains, and great wine.

Population of Blenheim
Fig 1. Population distribtuion by Ethnic Group compared to all of New Zealand.

Note: People who able to select more than one ethnic group so percentages run over 100%

Economy

Although Blenheim used to be a diversified horticulture-based economy, recent times has seen the shift towards agriculture, with wine reigning king. This has helped grow employment figures but means that the town is vulnerable to changes in the wine industry.

With the internet being accessible from anywhere, combined with the rising house prices in the main cities (e.g. Auckland), more residents are seeking out rural areas to live, providing an opportunity to build Blenheim into a small technological town in the South. Tourism provides a decent source of income. We are the information hub for the district and have countless activities to do, places to see, and experiences to cherish. Those include:

Geography

The rich soil draining down from the Wairau River provide the ideal nutrients for the surrounding grapevines (which covers 200 km2 of land).

Despite being nestled between hills and mountains (i.e. Taylor Pass to the south, and Mount Richmond Forest Park to the north), wind is often a factor with gusts traveling through Cook Strait.

Blenheim is comprised of the following suburbs:

Map of Blenheim Suburbs
Fig 2. Map of the suburbs that make up the town. Courtesy of Google Maps.

Keen to start planning your trip? Check out the places to See & Do; the places to Eat & Drink; and the places to Stay.