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Things to Do in Picton

Funky, homely and remarkably scenic, Picton is the South Island’s northern surprise. Known for its cruise port and ferries to Wellington, many visitors visit Picton while en route to someplace else. From the moment you step off the ship, however, this salty, slow-paced, charming little town begins the process of growing on you.

At the fascinating Edwin Fox Maritime Museum, read about the history of the Edwin Fox to learn how this 19th century, teak boat from Calcutta transported everyone from soldiers to convicts across the southern seas. Grab a coffee or some fresh fish in a welcoming harbor front café, or sip on a glass of Sauvignon Blanc from the nearby vineyards of Marlborough. Picton is situated right in the middle of the time-carved Marlborough Sounds, and an outdoor playground of kayaking and trails sits right on its coastal doorstep.
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Marlborough Sounds
18 Tours and Activities

Set at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, the Marlborough Sounds amazingly comprise one fifth of New Zealand’s coastline. Not because the region is large, however, but simply because the serpentine coast weaves in and out of so many bays it massively adds to the mileage. Here the coastline is so stunningly rugged that mail is still delivered by boat to towns that are cut off from roads, and visitors can actually ride along with the boat that’s delivering mail. It’s a rural time capsule that hearkens back to life in the 1800s, where sheep still roam the forested hills and fishermen ply the waters for mussels and live off the bounty of the sea.

For an authentic experience in Marlborough Sounds, hop aboard a seafood cruise to sample the clams, mussels, and salmon the Marlborough area is known for. Or, to scour the shore on your own two feet, hike the famous Queen Charlotte Track that weaves through Queen Charlotte Sound.

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Port Marlborough (Picton Cruise Port)
11 Tours and Activities

Small but lively, Picton may be one of the sunniest ports in New Zealand. Located at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound, it links the country’s South Island with the north, making it a hub for inter-island ferries across the Cook Strait. It is also a jumping off point for exploring the Marlborough Sounds.

Cruise ships dock at the Waitohi Wharf, about a half mile from the center of Picton. There is no bus service in Picton, but taxis are generally available to make the short trip into town.

A day in Picton is likely to be an active one. Spend an hour exploring the town on foot, perhaps stopping at the small Picton Museum along the way. Then, move on to any one of a number of outdoor activities. Dive to the wreck of a Soviet cruise ship or join a dolphin watching cruise. Hike along the Queen Charlotte Walkway or to the Snout, a peninsula between Picton and Waikawa Bay. Biking, kayaking, fishing and sailing are all great options as well.

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Marlborough Vineyards
2 Tours and Activities

For wine drinkers the world over, the slightest mention of the name “New Zealand” is synonymous with Sauvignon Blanc. While other wine regions across the country are producing award-winning varietals (such as the Central Otago Pinot Noir), it’s the Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough Vineyards that oenophiles can’t stop talking about. More than just the wine, however, the Marlborough vineyards are set among rolling hills that stretch their way out towards the Marlborough Sound. Within the span of 30 minutes you can be sipping wine beneath a terrace, and moments later be walking along a shoreline that is hidden in a tucked-away cove. Despite the fame of the Marlborough vineyards, this corner of New Zealand is still blissfully undeveloped and makes for a relaxing wine tasting holiday.

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