Located at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound, Picton is your gateway to the South Island's famed Marlborough District. Once known primarily for its lush farm lands and many sheep stations, Marlborough came to international attention thanks to a new agricultural product - wine. The release of the 1985 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc put New Zealand on the map and changed the world's focus on winemaking in the Southern Hemisphere. Today, the Marlborough region boasts dramatic sea and landscapes, fascinating wine country, excellent restaurants and a number of the nation's finest gardens.
Military names abound in this corner of New Zealand - the region is named for the first Duke of Marlborough, while the largest town, Blenheim, is named after his most famous battle. Picton is named for Sir Thomas Picton, a favorite of another general, the first duke of Wellington.
Marlborough wines put New Zealand on the viticultural map.
Queen Charlotte Sound
The sound's colors range from turquoise to emerald - attract seals, sea birds and dolphins including common, bottlenose and Hector's dolphins.
The lodge is home to a Wildlife Recovery Center and an Arts Center with galleries and a sculpture trail.
Omaka Aviation Heritage Center
Home to one of the largest private collections of World War I aircraft in the world.
One of the two major arms of the Marlborough Sounds. In keeping with the area's penchant for place names honoring military heroes, Havelock is named after Sir Henry Havelock, hero of the Indian Mutiny.
This boutique confectioner has garnered international attention for its classic chocolate truffles and macadamia nut candies.
The intricate waterways of the Marlborough Sounds make up a fifth of the New Zealand coastline, making it a perfect spot for exploring by kayak. The spectacular Queen Charlotte Track is one of the most popular walks in New Zealand.
Special Child Pricing Available! Children age 12 and younger, savings up to 50%.
Scenic Cruising on Queen Charlotte Sounds
2.5 hours | Picton | PCN-245
Queen Charlotte Sound
Your sightseeing cruise begins with a short walk from the ship to your catamaran, which features an open deck area, an enclosed salon with large viewing ports, and restrooms. Cruise the waters of Queen Charlotte Sound as your captain recounts the region's history, from Captain Cook's visits in the 18th century to tales of pioneer days. Drink in views of the sound's coves, bays and sandy beaches. The nutrient-rich waters - the sound's colors range from turquoise to emerald - attract seals, sea birds and feed the famous pet fish at Double Cove. Tea or coffee with light refreshments is served during the voyage. Your return will be to the Picton Township. Return to the ship via the complimentary shuttle service at your leisure.
Welcome to Picton a charming little seaport town, gateway to the Marlborough Sounds and the rest of the South Island. Picton has a rich realm of Maori and European history created by its natural environment. Board a shuttle bus for a short ride to Picton township, where you join a local guide for a 1.5hour, two-mile walking tour. Walk along the waterfront and shoreline and learn about the history, flora and fauna of the area. Picton was once called Waitohi and, in the early European settlement years, whaling and fishing were its main industries. Today, it is a thriving tourism town. At the marina, see the fishing vessels, pleasure-craft and water taxis; then, pass over the 'coathanger' bridge and up to a lookout (about a 10-minute steady incline).
Enjoy the scenic sights of Marlborough on this coach journey from Picton, through the township of Blenheim and out into the Marlborough wine region. Your driver will share the history of the region and the locals who live here. Enjoy a short shopping stop in Blenheim before heading out to Fairhall to take in the views across Marlborough--a wonderful photo opportunity. At the Makana boutique chocolate factory, you can watch as divine chocolates are handmade, before tasting the finished product. Then return to Picton.
Upon arrival at the Dolphin Bay jetty, set off on a guided loop track walk of two miles, passing traps and tunnels alongside designed to eliminate any predators that might have so far escaped capture. Hear and see native birds--fantails, kereru, weka, silvereyes, grey warbler, tui, bellbirds and kingfishers.
This tour is perfect for the active traveller who likes to keep fit on holiday, combining sightseeing and walking in the natural New Zealand landscape. Board "Sounds Adventure," a large sightseeing launch that features an open upper deck and an enclosed salon as well as restrooms. Cruise Queen Charlotte Sound to Mistletoe Bay. The nutrient-rich waters - the sound's colors range from turquoise to emerald - attract seals, sea birds and dolphins including common, bottlenose and Hector's dolphins. Put ashore at Mistletoe Bay and meet your guides for a 90-minute walk on the Peninsula Loop. The Loop is part of the Queen Charlotte Track, a 44-mile-long trail system that travels from historic Ship Cove to Anikawa. Your loop walk travels along skyline ridges offering views of both Mistletoe and Waterfall Bay. The terrain features lush, mature coastal forest with kamahi, tree ferns and manuka trees. Listen to the native bird song as you explore the area. Your return cruise to Picton features tea and refreshments. Return to the ship via complimentary shuttle service at your leisure.
Explore the flavours of Marlborough's famed wines and delicious chocolates. Drive through the picturesque countryside favoured by artists for its rich colours and contours, and visit one of the noted wineries of the region. Stop at the Makana Boutique Chocolate Factory and watch the creation of tantalizing chocolate confections.
Knights of the Sky: The Omaka Aviation Heritage Museum
3.5 hours | Picton | PCN-220
Omaka Aviation Heritage Center
The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre is home to a stunning collection of World War I aircraft--a blend of faithful replicas and authentic aircraft. Many of the aircraft are on loan to the museum from Hollywood film director, Peter Jackson. The facility presents lifelike displays comprised of a spectacular collection of static and airworthy aircraft.
Join us on a majestic steam train ride from a bygone era. The WWI Memorial steam locomotive was built in 1915 and later named the "Passchendaele", in memory of the famous 1917 Battle of Passchendaele. The Steam Train consists of carriages from the same WW1 period.
Board your motor coach and drive south on the approximately half-hour drive to Blenheim. (The city is named after the Duke of Marlborough's greatest victory over the French.) Blenheim anchors one end of Marlborough's wine trail. Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc literally put New Zealand on the international viticultural map. Today, the region produces 79 percent of all New Zealand wines. The region's cool climate and sandy loam soils produce fine Reisling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer as well as Sauvignon Blanc. Merlot and Pinot Noir also do well in the area's long-ripening growing season. Visit three leading wine estates for tastings. Then board your coach for the return to Picton.
Nestled among the beautiful landscapes and wineries of Marlborough, the Omaka Marae is the cultural meeting place of local Maori. This is your opportunity to access a living marae, and its history and people.
Travel 30 minutes by van through Koromiko and Tua Marina en route to the Vines Village on Rapaura Rd -- known as the Golden Mile of the Marlborough province. Many world-famous wineries -- Cloudy Bay, Allan Scott, Nautilus, Wairau River -- are just a stone's throw from the village.
Board your motor coach for the transfer to your put-in point. Meet your guides and receive your sea kayak, equipment, route orientation and safety briefing. No prior kayaking experience is required. Set out on an approximately two-hour paddle along Queen Charlotte Sound. The rugged coastline is dotted with bays, coves and small sandy beaches. The nutrient-rich waters - the sound's colors range from turquoise to emerald - attract seals, sea birds and other wildlife.
The main breed of sheep raised here is the hardy Merino, whose fine wool fetches the highest prices internationally. Take this rare opportunity to visit one of the pioneering sheep farming districts of New Zealand in the high country of this ruggedly beautiful region, where snow-capped mountains dominate the skyline.