Marlborough’s second-largest town, with a 2014 population of 4,301, Picton has an impressive setting in upper Queen Charlotte Sound, in the inlet known as Picton Harbour. The harbour is flanked by two headlands, Wedge Point and the Snout, and comprises two inlets, Picton Harbour proper and Shakespeare Bay.
The town is on the site of the Te Āti Awa settlement of Waitohi, which was established by migrants from Taranaki in the 1500’s. In March 1849 the site was bought from Te Āti Awa, who moved to neighbouring Waikawa Bay, still a Māori centre in 2014. A town was surveyed but most section buyers were speculative, anticipating a road between Waitohi and the Wairau.
In 1859 the province of Marlborough was established. Governor Thomas Gore Browne renamed the town Picton, and named Mabel Island in Picton Harbour after his daughter. Settler Thomas Allport farmed the island named after him for some years.
In the 19th century, Picton was a bustling port and gold mining base for european pioneers and early domestic settlers. In the 21st century it is a vibrant tourist destination with world class marina facilities, a lovely shopping centre, quality eateries and a waterfront second to none in New Zealand.
Today Picton is also a beautifully appointed fishing village and port.
Picton is the base for exploring the Marlborough Sounds with Queen Charlotte Sound being one of New Zealand’s most beautiful water landscapes. The Marlborough Sounds make up one fifth of New Zealand’s entire coastline and they are without doubt New Zealand’s most popular and sheltered waterways for boating and kayaking.
In a world full of stress and noise, the Sounds offer tranquillity, peace and a landscape that has hardly changed since the arrival of Maori on the 1500’s and Captain Cook in the 1770’s.
As a traveller to New Zealand you will often be amazed by the beauty of our country. Picton and Queen Charlotte Sound will be one of the places you take home with you and talk about for years, because the landscape is so pristine, so fresh to the eye and so demanding on the heart. Crystal clear turquoise water, lush tree fern forests, secret and secluded beaches and coves never end in this incredible paradise. An abundance of fish, dolphins, orca, songbirds and beautiful weather, just add to what can only be described as paradise.
Picton has grown into a beautiful waterside holiday town with some of New Zealand’s highest quality marina facilities, boutique shops and accommodation options. It offers the visitor a fantastic base for exploring the Marlborough Sounds and Marlborough’s inland attractions and landscapes. As an example, Marlborough’s wine region is just a 20 minute drive and Wine tours run daily from Picton town centre. The Marlborough Sounds are also explorable by road.