Date of stay: 21st September 2011 - (2 days)
Where you stayed: Admirals Lodge
Tour or pre planned: Pre planned (day trips booked with Sounds Connection & Beachcomber Cruises)
Picton is a seaport town located in the Queen Charlotte Sounds, on the tip of the South Island in New Zealand.
Taking the Interislander Ferry from Wellington (capital city) to Picton is the most popular way. The ferry crossing takes roughly 3 ½ hours and the costs around $60 each way. (prices may vary) Click on the following link for more information, Interislander Ferry. Your other alternative is a 25min flight from Wellington but it’s not as scenic.
During our visit we were on board the Kaitaki (Ferry name) which departed Wellington 8.30am to arrive in Picton at 11.30am, (early morning wake up but a perfect time to cross) the last hour of your journey, travelling through the sounds is absolutely breath taking. The flat bluey/green waters, lushes green mountains and native bush have to been seen first hand to appreciate the beauty. If lucky enough pods of Dolphins can be spotted.
Picton has a wide variety of activities to choose from, do your research first. We chose a half day wine tour with Sounds Connection and a half day Ship Cove tour with Beachcomber cruises, both of which we’d highly recommend.
The half day wine tour takes in 4-5 Vineyards in the Marlborough region, by far our favourite was Forrest Estate Winery. Sam (our guide) explained the different pruning techniques and you’ll have the chance to taste at least 15 of their different wines. For those into Rugby can try kicking the ball over the goal posts from a marked spot to win a prize (not as easy as you think). On the return to Picton we visited Makani chocolate factory, this topped of a great day trip and the chocolate is some of the best we’ve ever tried. Sam (our guide) was great and kept everyone happy throughout the tour. The half day wine tour cost $65 (prices may vary) and we booked through Sounds connection.
The Ship Cove half day tour departs from the Picton waterfront daily @ 9.30am. As you make your way through the Queen Charlotte sound to Ship Cove you’ll see lots of wildlife from Seabirds to Dolphins. We were lucky enough to spot a large pod of Dolphins feeding, click on the following link for our video footage (Dolphins feeding). You have the opportunity to go ashore at Ship Cove and have your photo taken next to the Captain Cook monument. Ship Cove was Captain Cooks favourite resting place during his many visits and this information is highlighted on the monument. A lot of walking tracks also start from here and some members aboard the ship will be dropped of to start their treks. On the return to Piction we stopped off at Resolution Bay to feed the Large Blue cod and other fish. Jo (our guide) was very informative and some of the members aboard got to help drive/dock the boat. The tour costs $65-70 (prices may vary) and we booked through Beachcomber cruises.
Picton has a number of cafes, galleries and gift shops to keep you busy, some other things to do include Mini Putt golf (which I managed to get a par 57 on) EcoWorld aquarium, a number of walking tracks such as Queen Charlotte Track, Ship Cove to Furneaux Lodge and Resolution Bay to Furneaux Lodge. All in all you’re bound to have a great time relaxing in Picton enjoying the spectacular views and activities on offer.
Picton has a number of hotels/hostels and backpackers to choose from. We stayed at Admirals Lodge located less then 5 minutes walk from the shops/waterfront. The rooms were good, free internet service and breakfast included. A double room cost $90 for 2 people (prices may vary), we would definitely recommend this lodge. Glory & John (managers) will go out of their way to insure you’re comfortable and offer a pick up/drop of service to the Ferry Terminal.
Points to highlight
We spent 2 days in Picton and this was more then enough time to see the sights. If you have more time hire a car and visit the neighbouring towns (Blenheim, Havelock and Nelson) During July-November allow at least 1-2 days in Picton, longer if trekking the area.
Link to our video of Ship Cove.
Would you recommend your tour: Yes – Day trips (Sounds Connection, Beachcomber)
Would you recommend your hotel/hostel: Yes – Admirals Lodge
Overall rating: 4 out of 5
By: Nick & Jackie