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Exploring New Zealand

Picton Area Guide

Picton foreshore - ©
Picton lies in the heart of the Marlborough Sounds at the base of green bush-clad hills beside the clear waters of Queen Charlotte Sound.

The small port town is the entry point to the South Island for travellers arriving off the inter-island ferry from Wellington and is the main base for exploring the coves and inlets of the Marlborough Sounds.

The ferry terminal is at the western end of the habour, just a few minutes walk from the town centre along the edge of the harbour and the grassy foreshore park. The foreshore is a great place for families, with its childrenís playground, miniature train, mini golf course and merry-go-round. From the waterfront, the war memorial arch leads through to the main street shops and cafes, while to the east a host of boats can be seen parked at the marina.

The historic sailing ship, the Edwin Fox, sits in retirement at the western side of the foreshore and forms the basis of the Edwin Fox Museum. The ship, which was built in 1853, is the last of the fleet of ships which brought settlers to New Zealand and is one of the oldest wooden sailing ships still in existence. Next to the Edwin Fox, the Seahorse World Aquarium will entertain children with its seahorses, sharks and stingrays, and interactive touch pool. At the eastern end of the harbour across the Coat Hanger footbridge is the Echo, one of New Zealandís early coastal trading vessels, now permanently moored and fitted out as a cafe/bar.

Picton makes a good base to explore the waters of the Sounds, either by cruise, dolphin watching trip, or on the mail run boat, joining the rural postmen as they deliver mail and packages to isolated families living around the bays. Scuba divers can explore the wreck of the Mikhail Lermontov, the Russian cruise ship which sank in mysterious circumstances in the Sounds in 1986. Just to the east of Picton is the seaside village of Waikawa, which has a good safe swimming beach, and one of the countryís largest boat marinas. To the west, the scenic 35-kilometre Queen Charlotte Drive winds its way around the inner Queen Charlotte Sound and across to Havelock, at the head of Pelorus Sound.