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Picton (New Zealand)

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Picton from the Interislander ferry

Picton is a town at the top of the South Island of New Zealand. It is the southern port for the Cook Strait Interisland ferries and the gateway to Marlborough. It is a pleasant place to spend a few days as it serves as a convenient hub for exploring the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. Nearby activities include sailing, SCUBA diving to the wreck of the Soviet passenger cruise ship Mikhail Lermontov, fishing, biking and hiking.

Get in

By boat

Take a ferry from Wellington. The main services are available are the Interislander [1] and Straits shipping [2] the journey takes approx. 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

By bus

There are a number of bus [3] and shuttle services[4][5] that connect with the ferry sailings traveling to Christchurch via Kaikoura, Nelson via Havelock and one shuttle to Fox Glacier via Murchison and Greymouth. All services travel via Blenheim. Nelson Lakes Shuttles [6] specialise in providing transport for trampers, hikers, climbers, mountain bikers and skiers. They run on demand and scheduled services to St Arnaud, Nelson Lakes National Park, Kahurangi National Park, the Richmond Ranges as well as other tramping destinations further afield.

By car

State Highway 1 leads from Blenheim (20 minutes), Kaikoura (2 hours) and Christchurch (4 1/2 hours). The state highway leads right up into the Interislander ferry terminal. Traveling to Nelson drivers have the option taking the Queen Charlotte Drive which snakes along the Marlborough Sounds to rejoin State Highway 6 at Havelock. Queen Charlotte Drive, despite being far shorter by distance does not save any driving time. Allow additional time for photography. The main route to Nelson is to take State Highway 1 to Spring Creek (5 minutes before Blenheim and then take Rapaura Rd to join State Highway 6 to Nelson.

Almost all rental car companies will have an office in Picton so you do not need to take rental cars on the ferry. A number of rental car companies are clustered around the Ferry Terminal. Sometimes they will offer deals relocating cars (usually) to Christchurch.

By train

The Tranzcoastal +64 4 495 0775 (email bookings@tranzscenic.co.nz , fax +64 4 472 8903 , Freephone 0800 TRAINS (0800 872 467) (NZ only)), [7] service operates daily from and to Christchurch via Kaikoura and connects with ferry sailings. This is undoubtedly a spectacular way to experience the Kaikoura coast. .See also Train travel in New Zealand

By plane

Sounds Air[8] operates frequent flights between Wellington and Picton from Picton Airport, 5 minutes south from Picton off State Highway 1. As of August 2007 a one-way fare was NZ$79, which is very close to the price of the ferry, making the 25 minute flight an affordable and convenient alternative. You may find booking online to be the cheapest choice. Sounds Air will pick you up from Picton by arrangement.

Get around

Picton has no local bus service. The town centre is easily explored on foot. Waikawa Bay, a suburb of Picton where the majority of the regions private yachts and power boats are moored is about a 30 minute walk from the centre of town. If you need to get around and don't feel like driving, take a taxi. Queen Charlotte Sound is best explored by boat.

Picton, New Zealand

See

  • The Marlborough Sounds
  • The Edwin Fox, Picton Foreshore (A 100 metres from the Rail Ferry Terminal), 03-573 6868 (). Daily 9AM - 5PM. Built in 1853, the Edwin Fox is the 9th oldest ship in the world and is in the process of being restored. Adult $8, Child $2.50.
  • Picton i-SITE (The tourist information centre), The Foreshore (The western end of the foreshore on State Highway 1 opposite the train station, south of the Interlsland terminal), 03 520 3113 (, fax: 573 5021), [15].
  • Picton Community Museum, London Quay, 03 573 8283. open daily, 10AM - 4PM. adults $3, children 50c.
  • The Waterfront

Do

  • A walk to the Snout. Between Picton and Waikawa Bay is a peninsula covered in a mixture of native and exotic bush. Tracks range from a few minutes to 3 1/2 hours. Cross the bridge at the eastern end of the picton foreshore. The tracks begin at the foot of the hill. The Marlborough District Council produces a map[16] available from the tourist information centre.
  • Marlborough Sounds Adventure Company, London Quay, 03 573 6078 or 0800 283 283 or from Australia 1800 007 083 (, fax: 03 573 8827), [17]. 2007 New Zealand Tourism Award Winner. Mountain biking, kayaking, walking the Queen Charlotte Walkway. Tours or freedom hire. Great team, professional service.
  • Picton Model Engineers (Model Railroad), Foreshore, 03 573 8122 (fax: 03 573 7660). every Sunday, every day of school hols & every public holiday, 10AM - 3PM (weather permitting). Elevated track, 21 ⁄2”, 31⁄2” and 5” gauges, boat pond Train Rides 20c, Model Yacht hire 20c.
  • Picton Golf Club, SH1 Koromiko, 03 573 7750 ().
  • Kiwi Mini Golf, Foreshore, 03 573 7136.

Buy

  • Oriel Gallery, 35 High Street, 03 573 5353 (, fax: 03 573 5357), [18]. 7 days a week, 10AM to 5PM. Paintings, sculpture, jewellery, ceramics, photography and textiles by artists from Marlborough and throughout New Zealand. Small gifts for travellers posted anywhere.
  • The Gallery (At Evolve), 20 High Street, Picton, 03 573 7908. Open 7 days 9.30AM - 5.30PM. Boutique Art Gallery dealing in New Zealand Art, Art Jewellery, NZ Art Gifts and Photography from Marlborough and New Zealand.

Eat

  • Le Café, 12-14 London Quay, 03 573 5588 (, fax: 03 573 5588), [19]. Great food breakfast, lunch or dinner. Large selection of local wines are beers, often organic food and sometimes a live music scene in the evenings.
  • Gusto, 33 High Street, 03 573 7171. Small funky cafe. Good coffee.

Drink

  • Seumus's Irish Bar, 25 Wellington Street, 03 573 8994 (, fax: 03 573 8544). Run by a man from Co. Derry in Ireland and has one of the best pints of Guinness in the southern hemisphere.
  • Cafe Cortado, Cnr of High St & London Quay (From the ferry terminal take the first road on the left and it is opposite the War Memorial), 035735630. 8am till Late. Great place to eat Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner

Sleep

Budget

  • The Jugglers Rest, 8 Canterbury St, 03 573 5570, [20]. Small hostel, no bunks. Sunny chill-out areas in lush gardens. Soak in the fire bath under stars.
  • Sequoia Lodge & Backpackers, 3 Nelson Square, 03 573 8399 or 0800 22 22 57 (, fax: 03 573 8399), [21]. $20 - $32 per person.

Mid Range

  • Picton Beachcomber Inn, 27 Waikawa Road, 03 573 8900 or 0800 66 22 99 (, fax: 03 573 7892).
  • Jasmine Court - Traveller's Inn, 78 Wellington Street, 03 573 7110 or 0800 421 999 (, fax: 03 573 7211), [22]. Quiet 5 star motel accommodation with king beds, spa baths, SKY TV, wireless internet. $130 -$195.


Splurge

Cope

  • Picton Baptist Church, 293 Waikawa Road (about 5 km from Picton township), +64 3 573-6315, [25]. Sunday services 10:00. Everyone welcome - great way to meet genuine Kiwis! Creche available for pre-schoolers and their parents, with speakers and window to monitor service.

Get out

Karaka Point gives expansive view up and down the Queen Charlotte Sound both from the carpark and the lookout. A 10 min walk begins at the carpark and passes the site of a Maori pa (village) before a lookout and pebbly beach. 7 km and 15 minutes from town. Take the Port Underwood Road through Waikawa Bay.





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