Despite being the terminus of the busy Interislander ferry connection from the North Island, Picton is a small, laidback destination where many people choose to pass through. It is worthy as a destination in itself, too, with numerous stunning beaches and bays in the vicinity along with remarkable walking and very friendly locals.
Marlborough Sound is the big attraction, a collection of sunken valleys and bays that occupies the northern part of the South Island. These can be explored by boat, road or on foot, while the town is charming with boulevards and pretty buildings.
Picton sits at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound, the main sound, and has the bulk of the attractions. The best walk here is to the Snout, the peninsula that juts out between Picton and nearby Waikawa Bay. It traverses dense bush and views and takes a few hours. If you're short on time, do it by bicycle or, alternatively, try the Harbour View Trail.
Kayaking Picton Harbour is also fun, but is more peaceful over in Shakespeare Bay where there are no ferries to spoil things. Other worthwhile Picton attractions include the Marlborough Aquarium, Picton Maritime Museum and the ancient Edwin Fox ship.
This region of the South Island offers some fantastic day drives by hired vehicle, with some routes reaching out deep into the many sounds. You can also head over to Nelson in a couple of hours, beyond which is the world famous Abel Tasman National Park for unbeatable kayaking and walking.
Picton Campervan Park is one of the best located campervan parks in Picton, being near to both the town centre and Marlborough Sound. This quiet, family-friendly park has nice grounds and plenty of powered campervan sites.
Picton Top 10 Holiday Park is also close to the water and the town. It is an easy drive from the ferry terminal, plus the town has campervan rentals. It is especially good for families, with its heated pool, spa, games rooms and BBQ area.
Waikawa Bay Holiday Park is a few kilometres from town overlooking Waikawa Bay. It is good for the beach and has a children's play area and lodging for most budgets, including plentiful self-contained van sites.
Alexanders Holiday Park is south of the town centre within the Essons Valley, which is noted for its surrounded pretty bush. There are some choice sites in here with lots of foliage and peace and quiet' the nearby Waitohi Stream is good for swimming and walking.
The Interislander ferry from Wellington docks right in Picton, from where it is easy to drive to the various campervan sites or pick up your vehicle. State Highway 1 serves Picton, with Highway 6 linking up with Nelson. Picton is small, on a grid system and easy to navigate by road. You can also walk most of it.
- Speed limits in the city: 50kph.
- Speed limits on national roads: 100kph.
- Help number: 111