Marlborough Sounds - Cruise Overview

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Picton sits snuggled between the mountains and the sea, at the head of the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound.

The Marlborough Sounds encompass 1,500 km of coastline, bays, beaches and native forest. It is a place of incredible natural beauty, a place that needs to be seen to be believed.The area is abundant with wildlife, from penguins and rare King Shags to dolphins and fur seals, and offers some of the world's best boating, diving, fishing and hiking. Cruise ships stop at the quaint port town of Picton, known for its museums, galleries and picturesque walking tracks. The wineries of Blenheim are within a short drive of Picton; be sure to try the Sauvignon Blanc for which this region is famous.

Popular onshore activities in Marlborough

  • Marlborough is famous for its Sauvignon Blanc, which is best experienced on a winery tour. Explore the countryside and sample the vino, either by car, coach, or bicycle. Be sure to enjoy lunch alfresco amidst the vines at a winery restaurant.
  • Get a closer look at Marlborough Sounds and local wildlife on a scenic cruise. Some companies have cruise and walk options so you can see native flora up close. 
  • Explore the vibrant seaport town of Picton, with its art and craft galleries and intriguing museum. The Edwin Fox, the world's ninth oldest ship, is on display in Picton Harbour.
  • Aviation fans will love the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, about 30 minutes' drive from Picton, for a visual feast of World War One aircraft.

Getting around

Cruise ships arriving into Picton berth at Waitohi Wharf, 10 minutes’ walk from the centre of the picturesque township.

Upon arrival you will be greeted by friendly and helpful locals who can supply maps and important information such as where to find money changing facilities. If you are looking for local assistance, visit Picton’s i-SITE Visitor Information Centre located on the Foreshore.

Banks and money changing facilities can be found on Picton’s main street, High Street.

To access the Queen Charlotte Sound you can catch many of the water transport options from Picton Marina. If you would like to go further afield to Havelock or on a winery tour it’s a good idea to join one of the organised shore tours or organise a rental car.

On foot

Picton is a small town and is easy to explore on foot. Walking from one side of town to the other takes less than 20 minutes.

Car rental

If you are planning to travel slightly further afield during your shore excursion in Picton you may want to book a rental car in advance. Find a rental car in Picton.

Water taxis

Picton has a good selection of companies offering water taxi services if you want to explore the Marlborough Sounds. One of the larger companies is Cougar Line, which offers 2-3 hour scenic cruises and longer eco-cruise or “cruise and walk” options.

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