CHEAP CAR RENTAL PICTON
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Cheap Car Hire Picton Ferry Terminal
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A rental car gives you the freedom and flexibility to make the most of your time exploring Picton and surrounding areas. Here are a few of the many attractions around Picton you might like to consider checking out. The letters on the map match those below, where you'll find information about each attraction. For more ideas, check out the Destination Marlborough website.
A. Queen Charlotte Track
Stretching for 70 km from Ship Cove to Anakiwa, the iconic Queen Charlotte Track is nature at its best. If you love the great outdoors, this glorious track should definitely be part of your Blenheim itinerary.
Encounter fantails, weka, and tui birdlife in the lush rainforest and native bush. You’ll walk along hills and valleys through rimu and beech, nikau palms and manuka, and every so often, the views open up to sparkling coves and beaches.
The Queen Charlotte Track takes three to five days to complete. You can camp at rustic campsites (courtesy of the Department of Conservation), go the B&B/homestay route, or luxuriate in the comfort of resorts along the way. Your luggage can even be transported from point to point via boat on your behalf so you don’t bite off more than you can chew.
There are a number of entry and exit points to the Queen Charlotte Track - many at inlets accessible by boat, adding an interesting leg to your journey - so you can hike a small section to fit your schedule if the full walk doesn’t appeal. The terrain is easy to walk and you can take your time to admire the views and scenery along the Queen Charlotte Track.
The Queen Charlotte Track also lends itself perfectly to riding, and in the warmer months hikers find themselves sharing the trail with eager mountain bikers. It is one of New Zealand’s designated Great Rides, and it’s also one of the longest stretches of continuous single track in the nation.
Wondering how to get to the Queen Charlotte Track? Many companies offer sea transport to various points along the trail. Try driving to Anakiwa in your hired car - it’s just half an hour from Picton.
B. Sailing the Sounds
Combined, the Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru and Pelorus Sounds make up the Marlborough Sounds. All up, its extensive waterways comprise a full fifth of New Zealand’s total coastline!
Charter a sail boat, book a day or overnight cruise … whatever option you pick, seeing the sounds from the water is an unbeatable experience. You’ll pass amazing coastal landscapes and share the ocean with all sorts of birds and sea creatures. There’s an abundance of marine wildlife to be found around the Marlborough Sounds, from dolphins to fur seals, and even orca occasionally. There are also countless species of seabirds to be seen.
Another popular tourist option aboard local vessels is a cruise that includes a stop at Ship Cove. Originally named by Captain James Cook, Ship Cove is where his ship - The Endeavour - anchored to stock up on supplies. Cook favoured this spot so much he returned a further handful of times. A monument has been erected here in his honour, and the area is recognised due to its historic significance as a place where two cultures met during early times - settlers and local indigenous people.
In the outer parts of Queen Charlotte Sound lie four untouched islands - home to endangered wildlife like the brown kiwi and the green gecko. Many eco tours will take you to these sanctuary reserves to see the local conservation efforts in action.
The fishing is rich here if you wanted to try your luck at catching snapper. Or visit a mussel farm via a Greenshell Mussel Cruise, including sampling the local delicacy first hand (this is the mussel capital of the world, after all).
Another unique sightseeing option in the Marlborough Sounds is the internationally famous Pelorus Mail Run. What’s that all about? On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays tourists can join this boat run, which delivers mail and supplies to rural homesteads dotted around the bays and inlets. It’s a little slice of history that lives on today.
The Marlborough Sounds enjoy a surprisingly sheltered outlook, which means cruise tours are rarely affected by adverse weather. Most cruises leave from Picton, with further departure options from bases at Havelock or Waikawa (just a short drive away in your rental car).
C. National Whale Centre
A relatively new addition to the Picton tourism scene, the National Whale Centre is an educational hub dedicated to all things whales. Thoroughly modern, it’s not a traditional bricks and mortar museum but a technology focused information hub, complete with iPads, focused on these majestic creatures of the sea and designed to engage younger visitors in particular with marine biodiversity issues.
The National Whale Centre features books, static exhibits and interactive displays - a step back into the past and an insight into the natural, cultural and social impact of the whaling industry within the Marlborough Sounds.
The Marlborough Sounds in particular were central to early New Zealand whaling in the 19th and 20th centuries. Tory Channel - one of the valleys in the Marlborough Sounds - was the heart of the country’s most intensive whaling operations - that is, until commercial whaling came to a halt as late as 1964. In fact, the whaling station near Tory Channel was recently rejuvenated by the Department of Conservation, in conjunction with several former whalers.
Can’t get enough? You’re in luck - the centre also has a selection of cetacean themed merchandise for sale. There are books written by local experts available, as well as posters, knick knacks, crafts, and t-shirts (plus you can pick up the latest copies of New Zealand Geographic magazine).
Perhaps best of all, it’s entirely free to visit the National Whale Centre, which you’ll find at London Quay in central Picton. In winter, the centre’s opening hours are reduced to Wednesday to Sunday, afternoons only.
D. Picton Museum
Owned and operated by the local historical society, the Picton Museum has been around for close to 50 years in total. This quaint little museum is home to an eclectic mix of items. On display are a range of textiles, household goods, Maori and maritime objects. There is also a unique mural by local artist Brian Flintoff, which illustrates various Maori tales about the local area.
Picton’s shipping history is told at this museum, as well as a darker but fascinating side of history. This is the place to see the Edwin Fox, the last remaining Australasian convinct ship in the world. It ferried immigrants down under from England, in often challenging living conditions. You can climb into the boat and experience it for yourself.
There’s currently an extension planned for the Picton Museum, too, which will extend its collections even further. When the extension is complete, the museum’s theme will then be heritage and whaling. The new whaling wing - intended to be a free standing, two story building - will house the original whaling boat Cachalot III and the replica Swiftsure 1 for permanent display.
Strategically located on the Picton waterfront, the museum is handy to rental depots as well as the Cook Strait ferries, which run between the South and North islands. It is in fact physically built on the site of an old pa, or village, so has its own historic significance.
E. Victoria Domain
Located between Picton and Waikawa, Victoria Domain enjoys an elevated outlook, overlooking Picton’s harbour and picturesque Queen Charlotte Sound. Its forested grounds cover 200 hectares and offer lots of recreational opportunities. Pick a spot (any spot) for a picnic, go stargazing at night from the lookout, stroll through the reserve or make use of the network of biking tracks.
If you’re taking on Victoria Domain on foot, you’ll be richly rewarded by stunning scenic views of sparkling sea and rolling hills. The Harbour View Track will take about an hour, and you’ll no doubt want to pause for photo stops at every opportunity. The Marina to Marina trail is another track with an easy grade, running between Picton and Waikawa Marina. Conveniently, the trail begins at Picton Marina, close to the ferry terminal and our rental car depot. Climb to the top of a ridge and watch the ferries come and go. Or spend a bit more time ambling along the Snout Track - perfect for whiling away an afternoon. Weaving through native bush, it ends at the headland, with panoramic views over Queen Charlotte Sound.
Happen to have brought your own set of two wheels? You can ride on many of the same tracks, sharing them with walkers and joggers. There are several mountain biking trails along the bottom of Victoria Domain as well as within it. Generally they are suitable for all ages and riding skill levels, so the whole family can enjoy it regardless of experience.
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