Marlborough is one of the most gorgeous regions in the country – with quality accommodation, a great look at New Zealand's natural beauty in the Sounds and some of the best wine in the Southern Hemisphere, there's now better to spend your holiday. Book a stay in one of the region's resort accommodation options and pamper yourself with a relaxing weekend getaway.
The region sits at the top of the country, with residents of harbor-side town Picton enjoying views over Cook Strait – the connecting waters between the North and South Island. Flowing through the Sounds and allowing access to Wellington via the Interislander, this stretch of water is an incredibly important part of the region. Learn more about strait, its history and why it's so important below.
History of Cook Strait
Originally named "Zeehaen's Bight" in 1642 by Abel Tasman after one of the two ships he bought with him on his expedition to the country, the straight was originally believed to be a bight. It was James Cook, the first to circumnavigate the country, who discovered that "Zeehaen's Bight" was actually a waterway between the Tasman and the Pacific in 1796.
It was the early 19th century that saw this waterway's main attraction. Whalers discovered it was the route of a lot of migrating species, and they quickly moved into the Marlborough area. By the 1840s the Strait was a central focus point for the initial settlements of Nelson, Wellington and Wanganui.
During World War II, it was Cook Strait that saw reinforcement in the case of a much-feared coastal invasion. Wrights Hill in Wellington was mounted with two 9.2 inch guns that could shoot up to 18 kms across the waters.
While considered one of the most unpredictable bodies of water in the world, with strong winds commonly being funneled from the west causing dangerous swells, Cook Strait is key for transport between Picton on the South Island and Wellington on the North Island. Ferry services like the Interislander, Bluebridge and the Cook Strait Ferry each make half a dozen trips back and forth every day. A ferry makes its way 70 km in total to reach the other side of the strait.
As well as the fantastic view, Cook Strait has historically played its own important part in the Marlborough region, and continues today. It is a focal point for the middle of the country and helps to form the ever-popular Sounds that draw in so many visitors looking to experience the magic of New Zealand's outdoors for themselves every year.