Take in the magic of Marlborough
Indulge yourself in one of the idyllic resorts along the coastline of the Marlborough Sounds
With a thriving metropolitan city, picturesque countryside with rolling hills, breathtaking ocean views and a rich Maori culture, a trip to the island country promises a refreshing time away from home.
But there is more beyond New Zealand's popular cities such as Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland.
In this second instalment of our two-part series on the South Island, we explore Marlborough, situated in the north-eastern part and a few hours from Christchurch.
With the perfect sunny climate, it is the country's largest wine-growing region, famous for its Sauvignon Blanc.
From the small coastal town of Kaikoura, expect a two-hour drive to Blenheim, the most populated town in Marlborough.
Caravans are up for rental so you have all the amenities needed to stay comfortable on the road.
Travellers can also look forward to fresh seafood, nature walks and hikes in the forest, and wine-tasting at different vineyards.
OMAKA AVIATION HERITAGE CENTRE
This large attraction in Marlborough boasts a remarkable collection of World War I aircraft and artefacts.
The exhibitions also showcased New Zealand film director-producer Peter Jackson's personal collection of memorabilia.
Jackson, best known for the Lord Of The Rings movies, even had a hand in curating the museum's various exhibits.
It was also fascinating to see the planes on display that were set up in specific wartime scenes as re-enactments, while each scene has its own backstory.
Some of the aircraft are originals from the war while others are modern replicas.
At the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, history is brought to life with the full-sized planes and human figurines that look extremely realistic.
The final touch of showcasing war memorabilia, such as the pilots' personal items like uniforms and medals, made it an outstanding experience even for those who are not aviation enthusiasts.
This quaint waterfront town is Marlborough's main commercial port that connects both the North and South Islands.
We took a water taxi out to get to our accommodation for the night and passed through the famous Marlborough Sounds.
It was an incredible journey as it transported us along the vast expanse of clear waters, while surrounded by river valleys, forested hills and sandy beaches.
If you like the outdoors, you can also hike or bike via the Queen Charlotte Track through thick and lush forests and enjoy scenic views from a great height.
A unique feature that stood out was the various lodges and resorts located along the coastline of the Marlborough Sounds.
During my six-day, five-night trip earlier this month, I had the chance to experience an idyllic retreat in Furneaux Lodge, which offers a range of accommodation from contemporary suites to group-friendly cottages and basic cabins.
Situated in a remote location surrounded by nature, it was truly eye-opening to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of city life.
If you are looking to indulge in a relaxing vacation amid New Zealand's native forest while overlooking calm waters, this is the place for you.
Other activities offered include kayaking, swimming, fishing and even dolphin-watching.
Another special attraction in Marlborough Sounds is Arapawa Homestead, a family business run by a couple.
Not only do they offer accommodation for visitors, but they also operate an extensive paua reseeding farm.
Paua is a unique type of abalone that can be found only in New Zealand, and I was fortunate to get a glimpse into the workings of the industry during the farm tour.
After a warm welcome and a brief introductory video, we toured the paua farm where they breed live adult-size paua as well as tiny baby paua.
It was an interesting visit as the owners explained the process of growing paua pearls, which are also made into hand-crafted jewellery for sale.
If a road trip is too much of a hassle or you are looking to travel around different regions, Air New Zealand offers domestic flights to 20 destinations around the country and operates daily flights to Marlborough. The airline has also reduced fares by up to 50 per cent since February on 41 domestic routes, with prices starting from NZ$39 (S$35).