Popular Picton Shore Excursions
Waikawa: This small settlement is two kilometres away, easily reached by bike or a stroll along the foreshore tracks. The bay is lovely and the marina is one of the largest in New Zealand.
Victoria Domain: This is 200 hectares of waterfront bushland and grassy areas, ideal for mountain biking or walking, burning off those excess shipboard kilojoules. Continue on the Snout Track to The Snout, the point, for gobsmacking views.
Maori Pa Site (Karaka Point Track): Head off past Waikawa and you'll reach Karaka Point, once the site of an extensive Maori settlement.
Queen Charlotte Track: This is the glittering jewel in the tourism crown of this area. At 70 kilometres long, you are not going to do it all while you are in port, but you can walk, cycle or kayak at least a part of it to understand why so many visitors flag it on their must-do lists. Day walks (3-4 hours+) are possible.
The Edwin Fox Maritime Museum: Edwin Fox, the world's ninth oldest ship is on display in the harbour. The Edwin Fox Maritime Museum is nearby. (1 Auckland Street, Picton; 64-035-736-868; open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
The Marlborough Sounds: These contain what appears to be a geological jigsaw scattered across the northeastern tip of New Zealand's South Island. These islands (which are really the tips of drowned valleys) measure 1,500 kilometres and make up one-fifth of the country's coastline.
Cruise the Sounds: Several cruise operators can be found at the Picton Ferry Terminal Jetty.
Nature Tours: Swim with dolphins, or visit Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary. Take a yacht or fishing charter, join a diving group, or hire kayaks.
Blenheim: This town (population 26,000) is a 20-minute drive south of Picton (population 4,000). It is the commercial centre for the Marlborough wine region, which currently numbers around 140 wineries mostly located in the Wairau and Awatere valleys. The area produces 90 per cent of NZ's Sauvignon Blanc wines. There are also a couple of boutique breweries producing craft beers, as well as olive groves, cherry orchards and strawberry growers in the region. You will obviously not have time to visit 40 cellar doors, so select carefully.
Barewood Garden: This is a Garden of National Significance, located at Seddon, 35 minutes' drive from Blenheim (40 kilometres). Lunch and morning or afternoon tea are offered by prior arrangement. There's a gift shop in the 105-year-old original cob cottage. Cruise ship groups may be treated to a sheep shearing demonstration or watch sheep dogs at work. Admission charge. Phone before visiting. (Barewood Road, Seddon; 64-035-757-432)
The Vines Village: This group of boutique shops sells New Zealand-made artisan goods. You will find a cellar door, cafe and ice cream shop. (193 Rapaura Road, Rapaura; 64-035-795-424; open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Prenzel Tasting Room: This venue has liqueurs, oils and vinegars. (Various outlets; 64-035-727-225; open Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday by appointment only)
Makana Confections: You can watch the chocolate-makers at work, taste the products, and then purchase some as gifts -- that's if they last that long. (180 Cnr Rapaura Road & Odwyers Road; 64-035-705-370; open daily 9a.m. to 5:30 p.m.)
Pollard Park: Located in the town centre, this is quite spectacular, and it's a delightful place to take a break.
Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre: Near the Marlborough airport, this is a must-see for history and aviation buffs. It showcases Sir Peter Jackson's personal collection of WWI aircraft and artifacts. Scheduled guided tours operate twice daily at 10.30 a.m. and 2 p.m. or visitors may enjoy the exhibition at their leisure. Admission fee for adults and children over five; under-fives are free, seniors aged over 60 get a discount. (79 Aerodrome Road, Omaka; 64-035-791-305; Open daily: 1 December to 31 March from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; 1 April to 30 November 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
Maori Experiences Tour: Nearby, you can learn about this area's origins by taking a two-hour Maori Experiences tour of the Omaka Marae (meeting ground). (120 Aerodrome Road, Burleigh; 64-273-068-888; Daily tours from 9:30 a.m.; pre-booking essential)
Scallop Cruise on the Marlborough Sounds: Harvest your own scallops, and enjoy them onboard in idyllic surroundings. (64-080-086-2334)
Waihopai Station 'Spy Base': Its other name is Waihopai Listening Station, and it has strict security, so you can't just drop in, but you may sight it from the Waihopai Valley road --look for two large white domes.
Mount Tapuae-o-Uenuku: Found in the Awatere Valley, it's where the conqueror of Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary, made his first major climb. He nicknamed it 'Tappy', but at nearly 3,000 metres, and requiring a three-day hike to reach the summit, you will only have time to photograph it, even if you are a mountaineering fan.
Lake Grassmere Saltworks: South of Picton on the Pacific coast, the Lake Grassmere Saltworks are fascinating and possess a strange beauty. Here the sun and wind combine their strength to dry out the salt crystals in huge ponds.
Flaxbourne Station: A one-hour drive south of Picton, it's the birthplace of the NZ sheep-farming industry. You can learn about the history of the region with a local guide.
Greenshell Mussel Cruise: 1:30pm departure, the three-hour Greenshell Mussel Cruise is based at Havelock, 45 minutes' drive west from Picton. Other local seafood tours are also available from this operator. (Havelock; 64-035-779-997; tour operates daily October-April; excluding public holidays)