Picton is a town (population 2700) located 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
Sounds Air 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.
There are a number of bus  and shuttle services 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  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.
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.
Picton from the Interislander ferry
Take a ferry from Wellington. The main services are available are the Interislander  and Straits shipping  the journey takes approx. 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
Cruise ships dock at the Waitohi Wharf, about a half mile 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 245m 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.
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.
- Arrow Water Taxis, Town Wharves, Waterfront, ☎ 03 573 8229 or 027 444 4689 ([email protected], fax: 03 573 8266).
- Picton Water Taxis, London Quay, ☎ 03 573 7853 or 027 551 1284 ([email protected]).
- Cougar Line, The Waterfront, ☎ 03 573 7925 ([email protected], fax: 03 573 7926), .
- Overture Luxury Charters, Waikawa marina, Picton, ☎ 03 573 5220 ([email protected], fax: 03 573 5739), .
- Beachcomber (The mail boat), The Waterfront, ☎ 03 573 6175 ([email protected], fax: 03 573 6176), .
- Endeavour Express, Picton Foreshore, ☎ 03 573 5456 ([email protected], fax: 03 573 5434), .
- Hertz Car Hire, Picton Ferry Terminal, ☎ 03 5203044 (fax: 03 5203059), . Mon-Sun 0800-1800.
- Dolphin Watch Ecotours, Dunbar Wharf, Picton Foreshore, ☎ 03 573 8040 ([email protected], fax: 03 573 7906), .
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 ([email protected]). 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.
- 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 ([email protected], fax: 573 5021), .
- The Waterfront
- 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 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 ([email protected], fax: 03 573 8827), . 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 ([email protected]).
- Kiwi Mini Golf, Foreshore, ☎ 03 573 7136.
- 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.
- Le Café, 12-14 London Quay, ☎ 03 573 5588 ([email protected], fax: 03 573 5588), . 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.
- Seumus's Irish Bar, 25 Wellington Street, ☎ 03 573 8994 ([email protected], 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
- The Jugglers Rest, 8 Canterbury St, ☎ 03 573 5570, . 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 ([email protected], fax: 03 573 8399), . $20 - $32 per person.
- Picton Beachcomber Inn, 27 Waikawa Road, ☎ 03 573 8900 or 0800 66 22 99 ([email protected], fax: 03 573 7892), .
- Jasmine Court - Traveller's Inn, 78 Wellington Street, ☎ 03 573 7110 or 0800 421 999 ([email protected], fax: 03 573 7211), . Quiet 5 star motel accommodation with king beds, spa baths, SKY TV, wireless internet. $130 -$195.
- The Yacht Club Hotel, 25 Waikawa Road, ☎ +64 3 573-7002 or 0800 99 11 88 ([email protected], fax: 03 573 7727), . From $155.
- Apartments on the Waterfront, 45 Beach Road, ☎ +64 3 573-5220 ([email protected]), .
- Picton Baptist Church, 293 Waikawa Road (about 5 km from Picton township), ☎ +64 3 573-6315, . 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.
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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