Blenheim is a town in
Marlborough, in the north east of the South Island of New
It has a population of The area which
surrounds the town is well known as a centre of New Zealand's wine
industry. It enjoys one of New Zealand’s sunniest climates
, with hot, relatively dry summers and crisp
Marlborough region in which Blenheim is situated has a wide range
of leisure activities, from swimming with dolphins in the Marlborough Sounds to watching whales in
Kaikoura; from walks
through the bush and along the rugged coastline, as well as scenic boat cruising,
fishing, water-skiing and kayaking.
The relaxed lifestyle and the
food industry in Marlborough are enjoyed by
both locals and visitors alike.
is named after the Battle of Blenheim (1704), where troops led by John Churchill, 1st Duke
of Marlborough defeated a combined French and Bavarian
"Kia Ora Welcome to Blenheim"
The sheltered coastal bays of Marlborough supported a small
population possibly as early as the
12th century. Anthropologists
christened this part of central Aotearoa
, a region that stretched from
inland Ureweras to Kaiapohia. Māori in the Marlborough Region
cultivated crops, including kumara (sweet
) and exploited marine resources.
the early history of Marlborough was closely associated with the
Nelson settlement, the people of Marlborough wanted
independence from Nelson.
Nineteen years after the original
Nelson settlement the request of Marlborough settlers was granted,
and Marlborough became a separate province in 1859. Although
was discovered in the province in the
early 1860s the boom did not last and, while it helped to expand
the region, the development of pastoralism provided the greatest
long-term benefits. Marlborough squatters developed huge sheep runs that dominated the countryside, rivalling
Canterbury's sheep stations in size and wealth.
Today the region's economy is still rurally based with pastoral
farming, providing a major
source of income. The region's inhabitants continue to utilise the
marine resources. Lake Grassmere is the country's only source of salt, and fishing and mussel farming are also extremely important in the
growing has been one of
the fastest growing industries and Marlborough is now New Zealand's
largest wine producing region, receiving worldwide recognition for
its sauvignon blanc
growing has also become popular in recent
The sunny, pleasant climate
people to the region, either as holiday-makers or as permanent
. The region is especially popular
among retired people, as well as people seeking an alternative
. Rapid population growth and
other factors though have led to a contemporary chronic shortage of
affordable housing for low and middle income earners.
The Taylor River in central Blenheim
The Taylor River Geyser in Blenheim City
Blenheim, situated on the Wairau Plain, is mostly flat with
surrounding hills, which do not, however, give it as much
protection from prevailing winds as might be expected. Open areas
in and around Blenheim are hit quite hard by winds blowing in from
Cook Strait. Blenheim sits at the confluence of the
Taylor and Opawa rivers.
Blenheim is in a tectonically active zone and experiences several
(usually small) earthquakes each year. The boundary between the
Pacific plate (on which Blenheim sits) and the Indo-Australian
plate passes just north of Blenheim.
Based on the number of hours of sun recorded, in more recent years
the title of "New Zealand's Sunniest Town" has gone to Blenheim.
Historically, Nelson has been the Sunniest.
For the 2008 calendar year, NIWA ("National Institute of Water
& Atmospheric Research") which is New Zealand's "Crown owned
research and consultancy company", states:
- "The sunniest centre in 2008 was Blenheim, recording 2505
hours, followed by Nelson with 2472 hours, then Lake Tekapo with
According to the 2001 census
, Blenheim had a
of 26,550, a change of 3.3%
since the 1996 census
. The put Blenheim's
population at .
- 21.3% of people living in Blenheim were under 15, compared with
22.7% for all of New Zealand.
- 16.7% of people living in Blenheim were aged 65 years and over,
compared with 12.1% for all of New Zealand.
- Ethnic background
Most Blenheim residents are of European origin, predominantly of
British, Irish, German and Dutch descent. Many of these people
however, identify as Pakeha or New Zealanders rather than
anachronistically refer to themselves as European. Small Māori
Ethnic diversity has increased in recent years with the arrival of
large numbers of South Americans (mostly Brazilians) and Asians
(mainly Indonesian, Japanese, Korean and Filipino) who work in the
The 2001 New Zealand Census
is dated now, but showed that
in 2001, of people in the Blenheim Urban Area who actually
completed the census forms (which are not available in either
Japanese or Korean script):
The Marlborough region is famous for its wine production, although
other forms of agriculture are significant and the services sectors
is also important.
With the growing international critical recognition of Marlborough
, much of the wine
industry has come to be dominated by large firms, owned by major
New Zealand companies or offshore investors. Wages for most
industry participants are low (around NZ$12-NZ$13/hour) and often
calculated on a piece rate basis. Employment arrangements are often
insecure and frequently not in accordance with New Zealand
employment law. Agricultural land prices in the Wairau Valley have increased dramatically in value through the
1990s and 2000s.
Overall, income and wealth distribution in the town and wider
region is highly uneven by New Zealand standards.
The first school was opened in Blenheim in 1859. By 1875 there were
three classes: Blenheim Upper Boys, Blenheim Lower Boys, and
Blenheim Girls and Infants. A Blenheim High School was formed
within the school in 1879.
Catholic schools for boys and girls also were established in
Blenheim in 1872. St Mary's Boys' school replaced it in 1886. In
1929, St Mary's was rebuilt after a fire.
A coeducational secondary school called Marlborough High School was
founded in Blenheim in 1900. It moved to the Marlborough Boys'
College Stephenson Street site in 1901. In 1919 it changed its name
to Marlborough College. The intermediate section was split to form
Bohally Intermediate in 1956, and the girls moved to form
Marlborough Girls' College in 1962, at which time the school took
its current name.
Boys' College is a boys' secondary (years 9-13) school with a
roll of 1006. Marlborough Girls' College is a girls' secondary (years 9-13) school with a
roll of 1029.
Both have a decile rating
The other schools in Blenheim are all coeducational.
intermediate (years 7-8) school with a roll of 407 and a decile
rating of 6.
and Whitney Street School
primary (years 1-6) schools with decile ratings of 3 and 5,
respectively. Blenheim School has a roll of 81, and Whitney Street
School has a roll of 248.
St Mary's School
state integrated full primary (years 1-8) school with a decile
rating of 8 and a roll of 376.
primary schools are in the suburbs of Redwoodtown, Witherlea,
Mayfield, and Springlands, and in the surrounding localities
of Fairhall, Grovetown, Rapaura and Riverlands.
Marlborough Institute of Technology
has a campus in
Airport is a domestic
airport and is also used by the RNZAF as an operational
base. There are direct flights from Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland. Omaka
, to the south of the city centre, is used solely by
private and vintage aircraft pilots. An airshow (based mainly on
World War I and II aircraft) is held at Omaka Aerodrome every two
years on Easter.
State Highway 1
through Blenhiem and State Highway 6
at the junction of the two state highways. Blenheim is notable for
a town of its size, in that it does not have traffic lights
at any intersection. Instead,
were installed to speed
arterial traffic flow. Since the installation of these roundabouts,
traffic volumes have quickly increased and upgrading options are
being considered, eg. traffic lights, longer 2-lane approches and
even a bypass.
Blenheim is on the northern
section of the
South Island Main Trunk
. A daily long-distance passenger service between Picton
and Christchurch, the TranzCoastal
stops at the Blenheim Railway
railway classification yard is located
north of Blenheim at Spring Creek.
A heritage railway
, the Blenheim Riverside Railway
through the town.
Blenheim is served by a variety of print publications. The major
daily newspaper serving the Blenheim-Picton area is The Marlborough Express
headquarters are in downtown Blenheim. The Saturday
newspapers are published by the
same company. The Blenheim Sun
is a weekly newspaper
distributed to every home in the Marlborough region each Wednesday.
It is the main community newspaper in Blenheim.
This is a list of FM
& AM radio
in Blenheim. Note that the town can also receive most FM
radio stations from the capital city of Wellington, across Cook Strait; these are not included in this list.
Events and points of interest
Omaka Aerodrome, south of the town centre, is the setting for the
biennial Classic Fighters
Marlborough airshow. The show, with a large emphasis on aircraft of
World War One, has been held biannually since 2001, with the last
show held over the weekend of 10-12 April 2009.
In December 2005 the third meeting of the biennial Australasian
series, initiated and organised by
Australasian Ornithologists Union
, and jointly sponsored by the
RAOU and the Ornithological Society of
(OSNZ), was held in Blenheim.
Square and Pollard Park are two of the town's main
attractions for walks and general tourism.
The first weekend in February sees the festival "Blues, Brews and
BBQ's", which comprises Blues and Jazz music, food and a variety of
Beer and wine. It starts at 12pm and ends at 7pm, and its located
at the A and P park near Redwood Town.
The Wither Hills are just out of Blenheim and have many attractive
walks found just off Maxwell Road. They are dry and arid and have
seen many severe forest fires in the past.
communications monitoring facility, part of the ECHELON network, is situated near
- A. D. McIntosh, pp 328-329