Picton is a treasure of a town nestled in the South Island of New Zealand. It sits at the head of Marlborough Sounds, making Picton an ideal place to stay at if you want to explore the surrounding areas. Picton is often overlooked as a destination because it serves as a transit point, but trust us, it’s really worth a longer stay. One of the best ways to explore Picton’s many features is to plan your own expeditions or do self-drives. You can choose from a variety of activities and adventures to take away a special experience of your time here.
Pick from many of the scenic cruises to sail the beautiful Marlborough Sounds and Queen Charlotte Sounds. These are of varying duration – lunch cruises, day-long trips or two-night backpacker cruises – and chart a course from Picton to QC Track, the Motuara Island Wildlife Sanctuary or the famous Mail Run. Picton is the departure point for the Interisland ferry, and it’s easy to make a day trips to explore Wellington, Kaikoura or Nelson.
Wildlife and Eco-tours
The scenic tours ensure that while you cruise around the gorgeous bay, you will meet sea-birds, seals and dolphins. Just dive into the clam blue water to swim with the dolphins, if you are a fan of the clever mammals! You could spot the Bottlenose, Dusky, Orca and even the rare Hector’s dolphins here. While you’re at it, pick up a trick or two for the perfect somersaults from these amazing creatures.
Greenshell Mussel Tour
The Marlborough Sounds are home to the delectable Greenshell Mussels. The cruise starts from the Havelock marina and takes you on a relaxing trip along the inner Pelorus and Kenepuru Sounds. When you reach a Greenshell Mussels farm, learn all about them and enjoy freshly steamed mussels with a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc served on the cruise.
Explore Vineyards – Tours or Self Drive
Marlborough is renowned for the signature Sauvignon Blanc, and you can embark on a wine tour or drive through this famous region. Sample award-winning New Zealand wines at boutique wineries and enjoy a wine country lunch too. This trip promises to be an afternoon of pure indulgence and relaxation.
There are a few Picton-based dive companies that specialize in wreck diving around the Marlborough Sounds. These dive shops have PADI accredited and dive tourism instructors. If you love to check out marine life in its natural habitat, try to arrange for a one-day or half-day dive. The popular diving sites are the historical wrecks like the Michael Lermintov near Cape Jackson and other sites at Waihi Point Reef, Long Island Marine Reserve or Wellington Bay.
Walking, Biking and Hiking tours
The Queen Charlotte Track is a 71 kilometre paradise for hiking and biking aficionados. Walk from shoreline to ridgeline, to discover the many snuggly hidden coves and beaches of Marlborough Sounds. Or bike around the ridge to enjoy spectacular views of the water and the greenery. Select from the wide range of tours that will cater to your needs, whether you want to make a day of it or spend 2-3 days on your expedition.
Shopping and Eating
Picton’s pretty High Street, has a great variety of shops and galleries with a fine selection. Relax on the fabulous waterfront with a variety of restaurants, cafes and bars that serve up excellent culinary delights.
And if that isn’t enough for you, there are many more things like golfing, kayaking and cruising in a classic riverboat. You can plan a marae visit or head to craft galleries, the aviation heritage centre, as well as a chocolate factory in nearby Blenheim.