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10 Picton Must-Dos

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Things you can’t miss in Picton!

First of all, you can’t miss Picton! So many travellers pass through Picton in the excitement of exploring the South Island when departing the Wellington-Picton ferry. But this harbourside town has too much to offer to miss! Picton is the gateway to the spectacular Queen Charlotte Sound, beautifully decorated with rolling mountains, lush forests and picturesque coves. Enjoy it through scenic cruises, wildlife cruises, sunset seafood cruises or on the adventurous Queen Charlotte Track. For inland adventures, hit the hiking trails, mountain biking trails or take a tour around the vineyards of the Marlborough region. Find out more in this list of Picton must-dos!

While you’re here, you might also be interested in 10 Marlborough Must-Dos and 5 Marlborough Sounds Must-Dos.

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1. Kayak in the Marlborough Sounds

Enjoy the tranquillity of kayaking in the Marlborough Sounds with guided kayaking tours with Wilderness Guides or Marlborough Sounds Adventure Company. Choose either half-day or full-day tours exploring secluded beaches and learning about the local history, environment and wildlife from your guide. You might also be lucky enough to have close encounters with marine wildlife, such as dolphins and seals. Freedom kayak hire is also available at Lochmara Lodge.

Location: Picton Waterfront
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2. Walk the Tirohanga Track

Get spectacular views from this popular short walk from Picton. The Tirohanga Track, otherwise known as the Hilltop View Track, is a 45-minute one-way walk. Follow the steep track for photo-worthy views of Picton, Waikawa and Queen Charlotte Sound. If you have more time, you can make this a loop by continuing along the track after the Hilltop View down to the streets of Picton – taking 2 hours in total. See more walks in 12 Awesome Hikes in Picton.

Location: Start this walk either on Newgate Street or from Garden Terrace.
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3. Tour the Marlborough Wine region

On the edge of New Zealand’s largest wine-making region, Picton is a fantastic base to explore the Marlborough vineyards. Jump on a tour to go from winery to winery sampling the local wines and visiting the picturesque vineyards. Join Picton wine tours with Sounds Connection, Marlborough Wine Tours and Marlborough Tour Company.

Location: Picton accommodation pick-up is included.
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4. Visit one of the wildlife attractions

And yes, in Picton there are several! See little blue penguins, tuatara and seahorses at the EcoWorld Aquarium & Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre where you can witness New Zealand conservation in action. The centre is a great option for families or budget-conscious travellers. Alternatively, see wildlife in their natural environment on a dolphin swimming cruise with E-Ko Tours. Visit the bird island sanctuary of Motuara Island, accessible with Beachcomber Cruises and E-Ko Tours. Finally, Lochmara Lodge has a fantastic underwater observatory and touch tank experience.

Location: EcoWorld – 1, Picton Wharf. All other activities depart from Picton Marina.
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5. Walk or mountain bike the Queen Charlotte Track

Immerse yourself in stunning forest, coastal and mountain scenery along the 70km Queen Charlotte Track. This trail through the hills and bays of the Queen Charlotte Sound can either be tackled as a multi-day adventure staying in a wide range of accommodation, from humble campsites to luxurious lodges, or done as a day hike/ride on one of the sections. Plan your journey with our Ultimate Guide to the Queen Charlotte Track.

Location: The Trail runs between Anakiwa and Ship Cove in the Queen Charlotte Sound. Boat transfers to the track depart from Picton Marina. Check out  Cougar Line for day hike transfers.
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6. Try Greenshell Mussels – A Marlborough speciality!

The Marlborough Sounds are famous for producing fresh seafood and delicacies like the greenshell mussel. Try the seafood for yourself at one of Picton’s restaurants or treat yourself to a Greenshell Mussel Cruise with Marlborough Tour Company. This sunset cruise combines sightseeing with sampling fresh local seafood and Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

Location: Picton Town restaurants. Cruises depart from Picton Marina
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7. Visit the Picton Museums

Picton has a rich maritime and whaling history, which can be discovered at one of the many museums along the waterfront. Learn the stories of the world’s oldest merchant ship at the Edwin Fox Ship & Visitor Centre. See early whaling relics and learn more about these beautiful creatures at the National Whale Centre and Picton Heritage & Whaling Museum.

Location: Edwin Fox Ship & Visitor Centre – Dunbar Wharf, National Whale Centre – London Quay, and Picton Heritage & Whaling Museum – 9 London Quay.
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8. Get on your bike…

… Or hire a bike to tackle one of the many bike trails around Picton. Enjoy scenery that rivals that from the Queen Charlotte Track on the day ride, the Link Pathway. Tackle the mountain bike trails at the Victoria Domain MTB Park or ride the easy-grade 30-minute Picton to Waikawa Track. Check out Mountain Biking in Marlborough for more details.

Location: All around Picton.
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9. Do a mailboat cruise on Queen Charlotte Sound

Explore the hidden coves and bays on a scenic cruise of the Queen Charlotte Sound. While it’s possible to see the Sounds on transfers to various activities and accommodations in the Marlborough Sounds, the most comprehensive cruises are on the mailboat cruises. Beachcomber and Cougar Line both offer scenic cruises as they do their mail run, delivering mail to secluded homes and lodges.

Location: Cruises depart from Picton Marina.
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10. Take a trip to the nearby town of Havelock

After a scenic drive along Queen Charlotte Drive, stopping by Maori art galleries and the 10-minute-1-hour Cullen Point Tracks, you’ll arrive at the peaceful town of Havelock. Explore the stunning walking trails or kayak along the Pelorus River and enjoy cruises down the Marlborough Sounds’ quieter sounds, like the Kenepuru Sound. Find out more in our 9 Fun Things to Do in Havelock.

Location: 33km east of Picton down Queen Charlotte Drive.
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