Marlborough has a great choice of walks for a range of fitnesses and levels of expertise. Within forty minutes’ drive of Na Clachan Cottages you can select a walk along a beach, river, coastal path, farm park, beech forest or to the summit of one of the peaks in the Richmond ranges. You can walk for an hour, for four days or anywhere in between. At the end of your walk sit outside in Na Clachan’s quiet rural environment and enjoy the long evenings, perhaps with a glass of Marlborough wine to enhance the experience.
Let’s start with the Marlborough walk with an international reputation – The Queen Charlotte Track. This is a 71 km track, usually walked in four days, but you can do day walks and use the water taxi to transport you to and from Picton. There are plenty of options for accommodation on the way, ranging from luxury lodges to backpacker style. Or you can take a tent. The track starts at Ship’s Cove and finishes at Anakiwa. Several companies offer packages or you can plan your own trip. It is one of the few tracks in NZ where you can freedom walk but have your pack transported from accommodation to accommodation for you. See http://www.qctrack.co.nz for more details and to plan your trip.
For an afternoon or morning stroll there is a flat walkway along the Taylor River in Blenheim town centre. The area is popular with dog walkers and locals out for some exercise and relaxation. If you are feeling a little more energetic, the Wither Hills Farm Park is on the edge of Blenheim and offers a range of walks on the flat or to the summits. Most of the paths are well graded and a bit of effort to get to the ridges (about 400m) gives great views of the Wairau Valley, Cloudy Bay (the bay, not the winery) and the Richmond Ranges.
Rarangi Beach is one of our favourite regular walks. The coast here is so changeable. Some days the sea is a beautiful calm turquoise canvas, the North Island appears to be within swimming distance and the surf is gentle and inviting. Other days it is wild, foreboding and the North Island has been swallowed in the gloom. But it is always a great spot. The beach stretches for about 7km south from Monkey Bay to the Wairau Diversion. Don’t expect candy floss or buckets and spades. Its a mix of sand and stones, its wild and there is nowhere to spend money.
The Richmond Ranges offer a superb range of tracks and the whole area seems relatively deserted. I have spent a couple of days walking well marked tracks there without meeting a soul. There are plenty of DOC huts and a trip up Mts Riley, Fishtail or Richmond is a joy. Mt Riley summit is a comfortable, but energetic day trip, the others really require an overnight stop, unless you are extremely fit. Lake Chalice is a sparkling gem high in the ranges, formed when a huge landslide blocked the valley. Its also home to a pair of New Zealand Falcon or karearea.
West from Blenheim at Pelorus Bridge a number of tracks head into the forest and along the river. The area is one of the few remaining sites where long tailed bats can be seen (http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/what-we-do/projects/bat-recovery-project) and contains a neat mix of native trees. On a hot day a quick plunge into the icy waters of the Pelorus is a must.
This is just a quick sample. There are dozens more options and if you need some advice on planning for your stay at Na Clachan Cottages just ask. Or you can do a bit of research for yourself at the Marlborough walking map.