The vibrant seaport town of Picton sits at the head of the Queen Charlotte Sound and is the southern port for the inter island ferry services from Wellington.

With a population of 3,900 Picton is Marlborough’s second largest town and only 25 minutes drive from Blenheim making it the perfect base to experience both the Queen Charlotte Sound and the Marlborough wine region.

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Picton and Queen Charlotte Sound

Marlborough's Playground


Picton offers the perfect location to use as a launching pad to experience all that the Queen Charlotte Sound offers; jump on a mail boat cruise, take an eco tour to Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary, kayak in the tranquil waters of Anakiwa or spend the day at a lodge enjoying the local seafood. There are nature reserves and a range of local bush walks with varying degrees of difficulty, all offering spectacular views, or travel by boat to walk the famous Queen Charlotte Track, deep in the heart of the Queen Charlotte Sound.

The town itself offers a range of activities for families, and the young at heart. Wander down to the grassy foreshore with a good book or for an afternoon swim; either in the sea or the famous Donald Duck paddling pool that has cooled the feet of adults and toddlers for over 40 years.


Picton was once a Maori settlement and is rich in the area’s history. Local stories can be uncovered in Picton Museum or aboard former Crimean vessel the Edwin Fox, now permanently moored along the foreshore.

These days Picton is a haven for art lovers, intent on discovering unique local artworks and delicately crafted jewellery and pottery amid its many galleries and souvenir gift shops. When you need a break from browsing the shops why not stop and sample the fresh local cuisine at one of Picton’s waterfront restaurants or sidewalk cafes where you can sit and enjoy an espresso in the sun.

Queen Charlotte Sound

The Queen Charlotte Sound is the most well known and visited of the four sounds and is also the scenic highlight of the inter-island ferry journey from Wellington to Picton. At the head of the Sound is Ship Cove where visitors can trace the steps of Captain Cook: Motuara Island, now a bird sanctuary, is where he claimed British sovereignty over the South Island. Queen Charlotte Sound is also home to the Queen Charlotte Track; 71 kilometres of spectacular walking tracks that traverse historic sites, secluded bays, skyline ridges and coastal bush.


Accommodation in Picton and the Queen Charlotte Sound is plentiful, with numerous motels, B&Bs, guest houses and backpackers, as well as remote luxury lodges and camping sites along the shoreline: hitch a ride on the Mail Boat or take a water taxi to your destination and wake up in the tranquil splendour of the Marlborough Sounds.