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Picton (New Zealand)

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Picton is a town near the head of Queen Charlotte Sound at the northern tip 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.

Picton and Queen Charlotte Sound

Get in[edit]

By air[edit]

Sounds Air[16] operates 25 minute flights between Wellington and Picton from Picton Airport, 5 minutes south from Picton off State Highway 1. You may find booking online to be the cheapest choice. Sounds Air will pick you up from Picton by arrangement.

By bus[edit]

There are a number of bus [17] and shuttle services[18] 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 [19] 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 and tramping destinations further afield.

By car[edit]

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 sea[edit]

Picton from the Interislander ferry

Take a ferry from Wellington. The main services are available are the Interislander [20] and Straits shipping [21] the journey takes approx. 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

Cruise ships dock at the Waitohi Wharf, about 1 km from the center of Picton. A kiosk of the Picton Information Office is located on the wharf. Taxis are generally available at the pier. A complimentary shuttle from the wharf to the centre of Picton is sometimes provided. Larger cruise ships longer than 250 m may dock at the Port's Waimahara Wharf on adjacent Shakespeare Bay. One reason cruise ships call on Picton is for the sail in/out through the Queen Charlotte Sound. Very picturesque, so make sure you get a good viewing position.

Get around[edit]

Picton has no local bus service. Waikawa Bay, a suburb where the majority of the regions private yachts and power boats are moored is a 30 minute walk from the centre of town. Queen Charlotte Sound is best explored by boat.

  • Gateway Taxis, 03 573 7662.  edit
  • Arrow Water Taxis, Town Wharves, Waterfront, 03 573 8229 or 027 444 4689 (, fax: 03 573 8266).  edit
  • Picton Water Taxis, London Quay, 03 573 7853 or 027 551 1284 ().  edit
  • Cougar Line, The Waterfront, 03 573 7925 (, fax: 03 573 7926), [1].  edit
  • Overture Luxury Charters, Waikawa marina, Picton, 03 573 5220 (, fax: 03 573 5739), [2].  edit
  • Beachcomber (The mail boat), The Waterfront, 03 573 6175 (, fax: 03 573 6176), [3].  edit
  • Hertz Car Hire, Picton Ferry Terminal, 03 5203044 (fax: 03 5203059), [4]. Mon-Sun 0800-1800.  edit
  • Dolphin Watch Ecotours, Dunbar Wharf, Picton Foreshore, 03 573 8040 (, fax: 03 573 7906), [5].  edit

See[edit][add listing]

The Marlborough Sounds (and Queen Charlotte Sound), left of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, from the International Space Station
  • The Marlborough Sounds. Covering some 4,000 km² of sounds (including Queen Charlotte Sound), islands, and peninsulas, the Marlborough Sounds lie at the South Island's north-easternmost point, between Tasman Bay in the west and Cloudy Bay in the south-east. The almost fractal coastline has 1/5 of the length of New Zealand's coasts.
  • The Edwin Fox, the Foreshore (100 metres from 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 being restored. Adult $8, Child $2.50.  edit
  • Picton i-SITE (The tourist information centre), The Foreshore (western end on State Highway 1 opposite the train station, south of the Interlsland terminal), 03 520 3113 (, fax: 573 5021), [6].  edit
  • Picton Community Museum, London Quay, 03 573 8283. open daily, 10AM - 4PM.  edit
  • The Waterfront

Do[edit][add listing]

  • 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[22] 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), [7]. 2007 New Zealand Tourism Award Winner. Mountain biking, kayaking, walking the Queen Charlotte Walkway. Tours or freedom hire. Great team, professional service.  edit
  • 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.  edit
  • Picton Golf Club, SH1 Koromiko, 03 573 7750 ().  edit
  • Kiwi Mini Golf, Foreshore, 03 573 7136.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • The Gallery (At Evolve), 20 High Street, 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.  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Le Café, 12-14 London Quay, 03 573 5588 (, fax: 03 573 5588), [8]. 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.  edit
  • Gusto, 33 High Street, 03 573 7171. Small funky cafe. Good coffee.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Seumus's Irish Bar, 25 Wellington St, 03 573 8994 (, fax: 03 573 8544). Has one of the best pints of Guinness in the southern hemisphere.  edit
  • Cafe Cortado, Cnr of High St & London Quay (opposite the War Memorial), 035735630. 8am till Late. Great place to eat Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]


  • The Jugglers Rest, 8 Canterbury St, 03 573 5570, [9]. Small hostel, no bunks. Sunny chill-out areas in lush gardens. Soak in the fire bath under stars.  edit
  • Sequoia Lodge & Backpackers, 3 Nelson Square, 03 573 8399 or 0800 22 22 57 (, fax: 03 573 8399), [10]. $20 - $32 per person.  edit

Mid Range[edit]

  • Jasmine Court - Traveller's Inn, 78 Wellington Street, 03 573 7110 or 0800 421 999 (, fax: 03 573 7211), [12]. Quiet 5 star motel accommodation with king beds, spa baths, SKY TV, wireless internet. $130 -$195.  edit



  • Picton Baptist Church, 293 Waikawa Road (about 5 km from Picton township), +64 3 573-6315, [15]. Sunday services 10:00. Everyone welcome - great way to meet Kiwis. Creche available for pre-schoolers and their parents, with speakers and window to monitor service.  edit

Get out[edit]

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.Create category

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!