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Your guide to Picton
All About Picton
Set around a deep natural harbor in the heart of the Marlborough Sound, Picton is a small town on the north coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Many people pass through Picton as they travel between the North and South Islands, but the community itself is worth a visit. If you wander along the scenic harborside, you’ll discover attractive grounds and palm trees lining Picton Memorial Park while rows of light-wooden homes climb the surrounding green hills. Cafes, restaurants, bars, and shops line High Street, which reaches its end at the War Memorial arch near the shore.
Picton offers trails through luxuriant native forests, including the four-mile Tirohanga Track that will take you to the summit of Mount Pirongia for views of the town and sparkling harbor. On a clear day, you can see as far as the big mountains of Taranaki and Ruapehu far away in the North Island. You can also explore the Marlborough region by hiking all or part of the Queen Charlotte Track, with views of the Pacific. If you hop in a boat or kayak, you’ll discover miles of pristine coastline, where dolphins leap and clear waters lap secluded bays. As part of the Marlborough Wine Region, you can also visit passionate vintners and enjoy delectable meals at winery restaurants.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Picton?
The best months to spend time in Picton are December through March, when summer temperatures are comfortable for hitting the trails or visiting vineyards. It rarely drops below freezing here, even in winter, but you could encounter wet, cloudy, and windy weather, so it’s wise to pack layers. A highlight of the summer season is the Picton Maritime Festival later in January, when live bands, family entertainment, and food stalls fill the town.
In late February, the area is busy during a popular food and wine festival in the winelands between Picton and Blenheim. Many top wine producers share their wares for tasting, and the selection of food and local produce will make your mouth water. A line-up of live bands sets the scene.
What are the top things to do in Picton?
The Marlborough Flyer is a heritage steam train that brings back impressions of a bygone era. Informative conductors share stories of the train and the landscape through which it passes. There are return day trips to Blenheim and Seddon via a historic bridge with breathtaking views of the Awatere Valley. There’s also a day trip to Kekerengu that includes time to sample the region’s famous food and wine.
Picton Heritage & Whaling Museum
To learn more about Picton’s history, you can visit the community’s Heritage & Whaling Museum. A substantial collection of records and artifacts dating back to the 1700s tells a part of this area’s story, from the Te Ātiawa tribe to early European families. A fascinating section centers on the whaling industry, which dominated the coast in the 19th century. You can discover what it was like to be a whaler and learn about the natural history of the Marlborough Sounds.
The azure waters of river valleys extend outwards from Picton in both directions, framed by forested headlands. There are plenty of opportunities to get out on the water, whether you’re looking for wildlife from a guided tour — orcas and bottlenose dolphins are common sights here — or kayaking around hidden coves. When you’re ready to refuel, the town’s eateries are a ready source of local greenshell mussels.