The Club

The Blenheim Rowing Club was established in 1884 and is based on the banks of the beautiful Wairau River in sunny Marlborough. With 10km of flat water at its doorstep, the club has long been a favourite for enthusiastic rowers.  

The club is going through a rebuilding stage, both of the boat shed and its membership. It has been home to international, national and club rowers, and has a strong and enthusiastic core of masters rowers. 


The Blenheim Rowing Club was the second club to be formed in Blenheim (the first being the now long-defunct Post and Telegraph Club).

The first notice of an intention to form a second rowing club in Blenheim appeared in the columns of the Marlborough Express on July 25, 1884, and read as follows:

"A meeting of persons interested will probably be called in a few days, and meantime any persons wishing to join a club may communicate with Mr T Hanna (manager NZ Loan and Mercantile Co Ltd)."

The second notice appeared in the issue of August 5, 1884, and stated:

"All persons willing to join the proposed Blenheim RC are requested to meet at the Club Hotel, Wednesday, 6th August at 8pm -- Signed WE Clouston, TH Hanna, TL (Dr) Porter, AP Green."

A note by the editor said it was hoped that the new rowers "would feather their oars with skill and dexterity on the glassy bosom of the Opawa and Wairau rivers."

By August 20 that year the rules were adopted and the first committee was voted in; the Blenheim Rowing Club had taken it's first steps. These early steps were obviously fairly rapid as by September 2 a plan had been prepared for a new shed, two second hand fours had been purchased from the Star Boating Club, in Wellington, for 30 pounds and an order had been placed for two 20 foot pleasure boats.

The Black and White "Magpie" singlet had it's first competitive outing just a few months later at the New Year's Day Regatta of 1885.


The first shed was a single bay structure built on the banks of the Opawa River.  In 1890 this was doubled in size and the twin bay sheds stood on the site until 1926, when it was replaced with the boathouse that was used until it was sold in 1970 as the river was no longer fit for training.  

The shed remains on the site and has been upgraded by the Marlborough Repertory Society as its base,  the Boathouse Theatre.

It is noted in the club history that in 1959 the "branch shed at Watsons" was no longer suitable for training on the Wairau River, so it can only be assumed that some training had been done on the Wairau for several years prior to this date.

In 1960, Charlie Saunders donated a shed to the club and it was moved to Bluegums, on the lower Wairau. By 1962 the records indicate that most of the club's training was done from this shed. 

A new site was negotiated in the early 1970s at the club's present location on Jones Road, Lower Wairau, a couple of kilometers upriver from Bluegums. The shed took five years to complete and was finished in 1976. The club continues to row out of the shed, which was lifted 1m after two large floods in the 1980s, and came through two major floods in 2021 and 2022 largely unscathed as a result of being above flood level. It has also survived several major earthquakes. 

Long-time club member, committee member and patron, the late Spot Saul. The BRC shed is named for Spot in recognition of his contributuion to the club, and particularly his efforts getting the shed built.