The Wairau Valley is one place you need to visit if you are a wine buff the valley is home to many national and international known wines, and the drive through to ST Arnaud is stunning following the Wairau River just about right up to Lake Rotoiti and The Nelson lakes National Park.
The river starts life way up in the ranges of the south island mountains and feeds all the way down to Blenheim on the east coast the river is a typical braided river seen through out the South Island as most of these rivers are formed by melting snow they carry the rocks and debris down from the mountains and deposit them in the lower reaches.
The Wairau sits near to the Richmond Ranges which see more precipitation than the Wither Hill run that rule the Southern Valley. It is these ranges that shield the Wairau and Marlborough wine growing areas from climate conditions originating from the north and north west.
Numerous vineyards are located here they line the bank of the Wairau River in beautiful symetrical rows. A few vineyards have a lot of stream stones gathered under the lines of vines. These stones help transmit warmth back to the vines giving the grapes particular and identifiable qualities of this district.
The river is a good trout fishery for the locals and an ideal place to fly fish as the river is wide and accessable from the road, and the best time to fish here is when the water runs clear when there has been rain the water is dirty, the back drop of the Richmond ranges just adds to the beauty of the place.
As the main road leaves the Wairau River there is a turn off to the left that takes you up a stunning valley formed by the Wairau River as with the main road you are right beside the river and here you can travel up the valley untill the road ends at the Wairau headwaters and the Rainbow Ranges this drive is stunning with the valley walls towering above there are endless walks through this area when the road stops you can carry on up the valley and follow the river.