The maritime township of Picton (population 4,000) lies at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound and is the arrival point for ferries from the North Island, as well as a growing number of international cruise ships. It plays a major role in providing services and transport by water taxi to a multitude of remote communities in the vast area of islands, peninsulas, and waterways that make up the Marlborough Sounds Maritime Park. View more
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This pretty drive with your driver-guide into the Blenheim's wine district takes you to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, one of the finest collections of World War I aircraft in the world. Stunningly staged and mounted, the Knights of the Sky exhibition takes you back to another era.
Visit a leading privately-owned craft brewery and taste delicious chocolate, during this half-day excursion. From Picton, travel down to Blenheim to Omaka Airfield, Blenheim's original airfield built after WW1. Omaka is home to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, hosting rare memorabilia owned by leading Hollywood film director Peter Jackson.
Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
The facility presents lifelike displays comprised of a spectacular collection of static and airworthy aircraft. As you enter the Aviation Heritage Centre, step back into an era when aviation was a gentleman's sport; when the Knights of the Sky jousted above the clouds on horses made of cloth and wire. Learn about some of the famous aviation aces and their amazing machines and marvel at the early aircraft in which heroes of yesteryear braved the skies. See such rare planes as the Caproni CA 22 (the last one remaining in the world), the Fokker DR.1 tri-plane and the De Havilland D.H.4. Part of the memorabilia collection includes items from Germany's fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron).
Moa Brewery & Makana Chocolates
Your next visit is to a local micro-brewery. Founded by Josh Scott, Moa Brewery specializes in craft-brewed ales in champagne style; rounded off through the use of winemaking techniques, like bottle ageing and bottle fermentation. The name Moa (New Zealand's extinct giant dinosaur bird) also derives from the region, as in the early days Josh hand delivered brews to archaeologists working at a Moa bone dig near the brewery. Enjoy a tasting of Moa's fine brews.
Your last visit before returning to Picton is to Makana Chocolates where you can view chocolates being hand-made. Be sure to sample the finished product - a local favourite is their macadamia-coated chocolate. Re-board the coach and return to the pier.
Please note: This tour requires a minimal amount of walking for approximately 800 yards (750 metres) over flat, paved surfaces. It is suitable for guests with limited mobility and those who utilise a wheelchair; however guests must be able to embark and disembark the coach and also manage a few steps at the brewery. Due to the limited number of vehicles suitable for touring in this area, space is limited and all seats may be occupied. Minimum participant age is 21 years to sample wine.
Indulge your senses with the exquisite beauty and flavours of Queen Charlotte Sound during this exclusive, half-day, seafood cruise excursion.
Picton Marina, Marlborough Sounds
Depart the pier for the short transfer to the Picton Marina. Upon arrival, embark your awaiting, approximately 65.6-foot (about 20-metre) luxury launch for a scenic and relaxing cruise around the sounds surrounding Picton. Cruise to Queen Charlotte Sound, the easternmost body of water in the Marlborough Sounds. A series of rias, or 'drowned' river valleys that open to the seas, the Marlborough Sounds are popular among recreational fishermen, and commercially valuable for their greenshell mussels, and salmon- and oyster-farming.
Queen Charlotte Sound, Coves, Bays, Beaches, Marine Life, Salmon Farm
One of the most scenic and unspoiled waterway systems in New Zealand, Queen Charlotte Sound is comprised of numerous sheltered bays in jagged land formations that rise suddenly from the ocean floor. Queen Charlotte Sound was frequented by Captain James Cook in the late-18th century. Its forested shores are dotted with coves, bays and beaches whilst the cold, nutrient-rich waters of the sound are home to seals, dolphins and penguins. During your cruise, learn about the local history of the area, its coastal communities and aquaculture, and pass by a large salmon farm.
Tastings of Salmon, Greenshell Mussels, Cloudy Bay Clams, Local Specialities, Marlborough Wine
Next, dive into the rich culture of the large greenshell mussel. This bivalve mollusc is quite important to New Zealand, distinguished by its green lip and record-breaking size. Learn about the greenshell mussel and why it thrives here during a tasting of local specialities, including smoked salmon, greenshell mussels and Cloudy Bay clams, matched with a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc wine. At the conclusion of your visit, return to the Picton Marina, re-board your coach and commence the short drive back to the pier.
Please note: This tour involves a minimal amount of walking for approximately 65.6 yards (about 60 metres), with a few steps to negotiate to get on/off the coach and embark/disembark the boat. This tour is suitable for guests with limited mobility and guests who utilise a wheelchair; guest must be able to manoeuvre on-and-off the coach and boat. This tour is not suitable for guests prone to seasickness and guests with seafood allergies. Guests are advised to wear warm, comfortable sportswear in layers with flat, closed-toe walking shoes, and bring sun protection and a weatherproof coat or jacket from the ship. Guests must be at least 21 years old to participate in tastings of alcoholic beverages. Although frequently encountered on this type of tour, wildlife and marine life sightings are not guaranteed. Operation of this tour is subject to weather conditions. Space on this tour is very limited; we suggest you book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Explore an authentic mussel farm and savour the taste of fresh mussels during this picturesque, half-day catamaran excursion to the Marlborough Sounds.
Picton, Havelock, Pelorous Sound, Marlborough Sounds
Depart the pier for the scenic, approximately 45-minute drive to Havelock, the 'Greenshell Mussel Capital of the World'. The town is located at the head of Pelorous Sound, one of the two major arms of the Marlborough Sounds. In keeping with the area's penchant for site names honouring military heroes, Havelock is named after Sir Henry Havelock, hero of the Indian Mutiny. Today, Havelock is more famous as the 'Greenshell Mussel Capital of the World'.
Catamaran Cruise, Pelorous and Kenepuru Sounds, Penguins, Seabirds, Seals, Dolphins
Upon arrival at the pier in Havelock, embark your approximately 46-foot (about 14-metre) catamaran for a leisurely cruise through Pelorous and Kenepuru Sounds. The nutrient rich waters attract a wealth of marine life including penguins, seabirds, seals and three species of dolphins. During your cruise, your captain recounts local history, from the arrival of Captain Cook in the late-18th century to the pioneering generations that followed.
Greenshell Mussel Farm, Tasting of Fresh Mussels, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Wine
A visit is made to one of the sound's mussel farms to discover the secrets of raising these delectable shellfish. Mussels are raised in a suspended culture, hanging from lines stretching from the surface to the bottom. Your visit includes an opportunity to sample fresh mussels accompanied by a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Following your tasting, cruise back to Havelock. Upon arrival, re-board your coach and commence the approximately 45-minute drive back to the pier.
Please note: This tour involves a minimal amount of walking for approximately 65.6 yards (about 60 metres), with a few steps to negotiate to get on/off the coach and embark/disembark the catamaran. This tour is suitable for guests with limited mobility and guests who utilise a wheelchair; guest must be able to manoeuvre on-and-off the coach and boat. This tour is not suitable for guests prone to seasickness and guests with seafood allergies. Guests are advised to wear warm, comfortable sportswear in layers with flat, closed-toe walking shoes, and bring sun protection and a weatherproof coat or jacket from the ship. Guests must be at least 21 years old to participate in tastings of alcoholic beverages. Although frequently encountered on this type of tour, wildlife and marine life sightings are not guaranteed. Operation of this tour is subject to weather conditions. Space on this tour is very limited; we suggest you book in advance to avoid disappointment.
The wealth of the Marlborough region has been built up over many decades on the efforts of its early sheep farmers, but since the mid-seventies the wine industry has prospered. Now nearly 60% of New Zealand's grapes are grown in the Marlborough region grown mainly on the Wairau Plain and Awatere Valley, with Sauvignon Blanc making up 80% of total production. Highlights include visiting a typical working sheep farm as well as one of Blenheim's leading boutique wineries.
Enjoy the diverse changes in scenery from rugged steep forestry hill country to the flat fertile Wairau Valley, the home of the world famous Marlborough wine region. Travelling with your driver-guide through the wine region is stunning with row upon row of grapes as far as the eye can see, all set to the backdrop of the barren Wither Hills. First stop is Kaituna Heights Sheep Station, a 1976 acre (800 hectare) sheep and cattle farm for a private sheep dog demonstration. Watch as the shepherd and dogs work together to bring the sheep in from the paddocks into the pens and then watch a sheep shearing and wool carding demonstration.
Framingham Estate Winery
From the farm commence your drive into the wine region. Arrive at Framingham Estate Winery, a wonderful small winery producing a wide range of award winning wines. A great taste of Marlborough with world famous Sauvignon blanc along with the trio of Rieslings, a wonderful aromatic Pinot Gris and the option of a lighter style red - Pinot Noir or the deep, dark divine Montepulciano (a fabulous Italian variety grown in small quantities in Marlborough). For the non-wine drinkers a nice walk around the rose gardens or the underground cellar can be enjoyed.
Please note: This tour requires a moderate amount of walking. It is suitable for guests with limited mobility and those who utilise a wheelchair; however, guests must be able to embark and disembark the coach via the bus steps and manage some uneven surfaces. Minimum participant age is 21 years to drink the wine.
Experience the pristine natural beauty and inviting bays of Queen Charlotte Sound in an invigorating new way during this panoramic, half-day kayaking excursion.
Picton, Ngakuta Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound, Coves, Bays, Beaches, Marine Life
Depart the pier for the scenic, approximately 30-minute drive to the kayaking base at Ngakuta Bay. Upon arrival, receive your safety and kayaking instructions and equipment, gear up and begin your guided, approximately 2-2.5-hour journey aboard a two-seat kayak along Queen Charlotte Sound. One of the most scenic and unspoiled waterways in New Zealand, Queen Charlotte Sound was frequented by Captain James Cook in the late-18th century. Its forested shore is dotted with coves, bays and beaches, whilst the cold, nutrient-rich waters of the sound are home to seals, dolphins and penguins.
Beautiful Bays, Dramatic Seascapes, Marlborough Region and Sounds, Davies Bay
Paddle your two-seat kayak around some of the most beautiful bays and dramatic seascapes in the Marlborough region, located at the southern end of Queen Charlotte Sound, A stop is also made at Davies Bay to relax with a light refreshment before kayaking back to Ngakuta Bay and returning to the kayaking base. Upon arrival, re-board your vehicle and commence the approximately 30-minute drive back to the pier.
Please note: This tour involves an extensive amount of paddling for approximately two hours and a minimal amount of walking for approximately 109 yards, at times over uneven, sandy and natural ground, with a few steps to negotiate to get on/off the coach and embark/disembark the kayak. This tour is recommended for guests in good physical condition, and can swim well. This tour is not suitable for pregnant guests, guests with back and/or neck problems, guests with heart and/or respiratory problems, guests prone to seasickness, guests with limited mobility, and guests who utilise a wheelchair. Guests are advised to wear warm, comfortable sportswear in layers with flat, closed-toe shoes or flip-flops you won't mind getting wet, and bring sun protection, a towel, change of clothing and weatherproof jacket from the ship; jeans and high-heels are not permitted. Guests must be at least 14 years old to participate on this tour. This kayaking tour operates in two-seat kayaks. Guests over 6'3" (about 1.9 metres) in height must contact the Shore Concierge Office in advance. The chest circumference of each guest must be 47.2 inches (about 120 centimetres) or less to participate on this tour. The hip width of each guest must be 17.7 inches (about 45 centimetres) or less to participate on this tour. Guests weighing more than 265 pounds (about 120 kilograms) cannot participate on this tour. Although frequently encountered on this type of tour, wildlife and marine life sightings are not guaranteed. This tour operates in wet weather conditions, and a life vest, kayak, paddles, spray decks, and dry bags for each guest's personal items are provided. A signed waiver is required to participate on this tour. Space on this tour is very limited; we suggest you book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Experience the best in Marlborough wines and see one of New Zealand's 'Garden of Significance' gardens on this half-day excursion.
Marlborough is renowned for both its fine wines and its beautiful gardens, celebrated annually with its Marlborough Wine & Food Festival held in February, and Garden Marlborough in November.
Meet your driver-guide in Picton and travel south to Blenheim, the largest centre of the Marlborough region to Wither Hills winery, a bold piece of modern architecture whose clean lines make it both spare and imposing, but undeniably New Zealand-designed with beautiful stone walls and native plant landscaping. Taste some of their recent wines before visiting Cloudy Bay Winery, whose French-Provincial-meets Italianate building fits perfectly with the peaceful surroundings.
Taste the outstanding Sauvignon Blanc and the Pelorus bubbly that many believe have endowed Cloudy Bay with title of Marlborough's benchmark winery. Lastly visit Upton Oaks, the English-inspired garden of Dave and Sue Monahan, developed around their restored 1911 South Pacific villa. The manicured grounds feature brick walls, ponds, perennial borders and a 17th-century-style Elizabethan 'knot' garden, divided into sections by colour.
Please note: This tour requires a minimal amount of walking, for a distance of about 300 yards (280 metres) with some steps at Wither Hills. It is suitable for guests with limited mobility; however not for those who utilise a wheelchair. Guests must be able to embark and disembark the coach via the bus steps. This tour involves extended periods of standing at the wineries. Due to the limited number of vehicles suitable for touring in the area, space is limited and all seats may be occupied. This tour must be reserved or cancelled no later than 48 hours of arrival in Picton. Minimum participant age is 21 years to drink the wine.
This off-the-beaten-track half day tour is designed for those who wish to see one of the most ruggedly beautiful harbours of New Zealand. Travelling by mini-coach, visit an area few New Zealanders get to see. The winding road will reward you with a glimpse of how the New Zealand countryside used to look a generation ago.
From Picton, drive out with your driver-guide to nearby Karaka Point, and admire the panoramic views over Port Underwood during this photo stop. Steeped in early Maori and European history, Port Underwood was where the South Island Maori chiefs met to sign the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Later that same year, Anglican missionary Samuel Ironside established the second church mission here in the South Island. Whaling and fishing became the dominant industry of the Port Underwood area, and today, marine mussel farming is centred in Oyster Bay.
After about 40 minutes, the mini-coach brings you to Oyster Bay. Stop at a local cottage for refreshments and the opportunity of talking with the local people about life in Port Underwood. Continue on to Kakapo Bay and stop outside at the Guard Family cemetery, the oldest private cemetery in the South Island and whose descendants still live in Kakapo Bay.
Pass through Ocean and Robin Hood Bays before joining the main highway at Tuamarina to return to Picton.
Please note: This tour requires a minimal amount of walking; however, sites visited are not wheelchair accessible. It is suitable for guests with limited mobility, able to get on/off the coach via steps. The Port Underwood road is winding, with approximately 10 miles (25 km) of unpaved road. Therefore, this tour is not recommended for guests who suffer from motion sickness. Due to the limited number of vehicles suitable for touring in this area, space is limited and all seats may be occupied.
Experience the splendid beauty, charm and flavours of the world-renowned Marlborough wine region during this scenic and invigorating, half-day bicycling excursion with lunch.
Picton, Vines Village, First Winery/Cellar Tour and Tasting
Depart the pier for the scenic, approximately 30-minute drive to Vines Village, the heart of the world-renowned Marlborough wine region. Upon arrival, proceed for your first cellar visit and tasting of three wonderful examples of Marlborough's Sauvignon Blanc.
Bicycle Tour, Marlborough Wine Region, Vineyards
Leaving the first winery, receive your safety briefing and bicycling instructions, don your safety helmet and be outfitted with a bicycle. Afterward, begin your leisurely, guided, approximately 3.2-mile (about two-kilometre) ride to two more of Marlborough's boutique wineries. Along the way, stops are made to learn about the vineyards and Marlborough wine region as a whole, as well as some of the most popular varietals grown here. The biking portion of the tour is over flat terrain, easy and suitable for all fitness levels, and a lovely way to connect each of the wineries.
Country Roads, Cycle Paths, Additional Winery Visits and Wine Tastings, Lunch, Local Specialities
At the second winery, taste a full range of Marlborough's wine varieties, including Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. From here, your bicycle-ride continues along quiet country roads and cycle paths en route to another boutique winery. Upon arrival, proceed to a private room for a wine tasting accompanied by a lunch consisting of local specialities. At the conclusion of your visit, re-board your van and commence the approximately 30-minute drive back to the pier.
Please note: This tour involves a moderate amount of easy bicycling for approximately two miles (about 3.2 kilometres) over flat surfaces, with stops along the way, and a few steps to get on/off the coach and at the sites visited. This tour is recommended for guests of all ages who are in good physical condition, and able to ride a bicycle. This tour is not recommended for pregnant guests, guests with neck and/or back problems, guests with heart and/or respiratory conditions, guests with limited mobility, and guests who utilise a wheelchair. Guests are advised to wear lightweight, comfortable clothing with flat, closed-toe walking or sport shoes, and bring sun protection, raingear, bottled water, and a weatherproof coat or jacket from the ship. Guests must be at least 13 years old to participate on this tour. Guests must be at least 21 years old to participate in tastings of alcoholic beverages. Bicycles and safety helmets are provided; safety helmets must be worn the entire time whilst bicycling. Bicycles are recreational-style bikes, with comfortable seats and suspension seat-posts. Guests weighing more than approximately 264.5 pounds (about 120 kilograms) cannot participate on this tour. This tour visits any three of the following wineries (based on availability): Whitehaven, Nautilus, Wairau River, Mahi, Giesen, Forrest, and Framingham. The tour sequence and timings may vary. In the event of inclement weather, a van transfers guests between the wineries. A van follows behind during biking stages of this tour in case guests are unable, or do not wish, to continue cycling. Space on this tour is extremely limited; we suggest you book well in advance to avoid disappointment.