Things to do in Picton

Picton, set amid the gorgeous, sweeping vistas of the Marlborough Sounds, is the gateway to the South Island. This isn’t just a place for a coffee, stretch and a bit of fresh air, however.

Here are 10 great Picton ideas to add to your South Island road trip plans.


Whether you are coming or going, the Interislander ferry is a great adventure. It joins the 92 kilometres from Wellington to Picton, weaving through the Sounds at a relaxed pace.

Queen Charlotte Track


Queen Charlotte Track, beginning about 50 minutes outside of Picton, is one of the country’s most famous walking trails. It lasts multiple days, though there are numerous trail heads so you can drive part of the way.

Road trip to Port Underwood

The sheltered bays of Port Underwood make for a fantastic excuse to go on a drive. The loop from Picton to Port Underwood, Rarangi, Tuamarina and back is 73.5 kilometres of winding, breathtaking roads.

History in Picton

For a taste of what Picton was once like, visit its museum or whale centre. Alternatively, Edwin Fox is the ninth-oldest ship in the world (built in 1853), and you can explore it at the Dunbar Wharf dry dock.

Lounge on the beach

There are many great beaches around Picton, with sheltered waters perfect for swimming. The Shelley Beach and Bobs Bay Reserves are both ideal spots to enjoy a picnic and a splash.

Swimming with dolphins


There are five species of dolphins that live around Marlborough Sounds, including the endangered Hector’s dolphin and even the odd orca pod or two!


Just over 20 minutes south of Picton is the regional centre of Blenheim, where you can enjoy a raft of gourmet eateries and bars, not to mention a bit of shopping.

Marlborough wine country


Marlborough, surrounding Picton and Blenheim, produces more wine than anywhere else in the country. You simply can’t leave without adding a wine tour to your road trip plans.


About 45 minutes to the west is the small township of Havelock, which is another excellent place to launch an aquatic adventure. Mussels are a big industry here, so we recommend finding a tour to see how a farm works!


Continue just less than an hour west and you’ll be in the largest city in the area: Nelson. We could write a whole other article about this great place, thanks to its fantastic culinary, retail and festival scenes. Numerous adventure activities start here, too, offering you even more exciting holiday potential.