A Few Days in Picture Perfect Picton

Just a little over a week ago, Emmett and I went to the port town of Picton on the northern part of the South Island. We'd been once before in September: it's the city where we arrived on the South Island after having taken the ferry from Wellington. Back then, we didn't get up to much - we just spent one night at the cozy little Fat Cod Backpackers and then hitch-hiked away to the city of Nelson. This time around we got to see so much more of the little city and the jaw-droppingly gorgeous fjord beyond it, Queen Charlotte Sound. Here is a highlight reel of sorts from our few days exploring Picton.

Picton Foreshore

Just at the end of Picton's town center is a public park, the Picton Foreshore, which overlooks Queen Charlotte Sound. It's the perfect place to have a picnic, people-watch other tourists, watch sting-rays sun themselves, or just take in the beauty of the surroundings beyond.

Karaka Point

Just a fifteen minute drive from Picton's center is Karaka Point. Even from the car park before the track below, the views of Queen Charlotte Sound are panoramic and beautiful. Not only that, but along the way there are Maori pa sites: defense terraces and raised berms that would likely have housed ancient villages' food and supplies.

Lower Bob's Bay Track -> Snout Track -> Queen Charlotte View -> Harbour View Track

On one morning in Picton, we left the Foreshore and walked forty minutes along sound-side bluffs to Bob's Bay. There we found a beautiful crescent-shaped beach overlooking the fjord as ferries from Wellington occasionally steamed into port. We ended up spending the whole afternoon there: beachcombing, reading on the beach, and going for a swim in the surprisingly frigid water.

Eventually we did leave Bob's Bay and then joined a trail that took us to the Snout Track. Yet again, we were wowed by picture-perfect views of the Sound beyond. But none were nearly as beautiful as the final one that met us at the Queen Charlotte viewpoint.

Afterwards, instead of rejoining the Bob's Bay track, we took a path called Harbour View back to Picton - and it's name lived up to it's reputation:

Tirohanga Track -> Hilltop View -> Essons Valley

Just a few days later, the two of us set out for yet another day of walking up into fern-forested hills surrounding Picton. This time we took a 45 minute walk up the Tirohanga Track to another aptly-named place: Hilltop View.

We continued on a trail down into Essons Valley, where we delightedly discovered a sign that led us to a tiny, precious, and oft-snorting kunekune pig.

The Marlborough region and Picton itself were once the historical epicenter of the New Zealand whaling industry. For years, countless whales were slaughtered just offshore by New Zealand- and internationally-based crews. In the area, many museums dedicated to the long whaling history of the region can be found but the National Whale Center takes a different approach. Instead of just discussing the history of whaling, the hub is entirely dedicated to the importance of cetaceans not only to people but also to the entire global ecosystem. It's fascinating, heart-breaking, and inspiring at the same time. And it's free to enter for the general public. I'd highly recommend it if you're ever in the area.

All in all, Emmett and I were quite pleasantly surprised by the amount of things to do in Picton. We were fortunate enough to have near-perfect weather while we were there which made it even easier to enjoy ourselves in a place where most entertainment happens outdoors.

A guide to Picton, NZ for outdoor lovers // Things to do in Picton, New Zealand