If you have heard that Pic­ton is merely the gate­way to the South Is­land, then think again!

Go Travel New Zealand - - Picton & Marlborough -

O nce upon a time it may have been con­sid­ered a good place to fuel up and grab a cof­fee or snack be­fore the jour­ney south. How­ever, times have changed. Pic­ton-based ad­ven­ture out­fit­ters Wilder­ness Guides, run by long time lo­cals Juliet and Steve Gib­bons, have wit­nessed a trans­for­ma­tion in the pretty sea­side port since they be­gan op­er­at­ing tours there in 1999. “In many ways Pic­ton hasn’t changed – it’s just that peo­ple’s de­sire for what Pic­ton of­fers has,” says Juliet. “Pic­ton has al­ways been at the heart of the Sounds with nat­u­ral at­trac­tions in abun­dance but at last it’s get­ting the recog­ni­tion it de­serves as the best launch point for ad­ven­ture in one of New Zealand’s most loved marine play­grounds.” With in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned at­trac­tions such as the Queen Char­lotte Track be­ing com­ple­mented by up and com­ing trails like The Link Path­way and an ever bur­geon­ing list of lo­cal walk­ing and bik­ing tracks in the town, this rep­u­ta­tion looks only set to grow. The Marl­bor­ough Sounds them­selves are a net­work of sunken river val­leys, where the land has slowly sunk and the water level has risen, flood­ing a vast area over mil­lions of years. This in­tri­cate land mass is not only spec­tac­u­lar but unique in New Zealand as it is the only large land area that is still sink­ing into the sea. Three main bod­ies of water make up the Sounds – Queen Char­lotte, Kenepuru and Pelorus – and a num­ber of is­lands are dot­ted through­out its ex­panse. Pic­ton is strate­gi­cally lo­cated at the head of Queen Char­lotte Sound and is where the in­ter­is­land fer­ries berth.

Wilder­ness Guides of­fer ad­ven­tures de­signed to cap­ture all the ac­tiv­i­ties of the area in­clud­ing guided and in­de­pen­dent walks, guided kayak tours and free­dom hire of kayaks and bikes from their cen­tral Pic­ton Wa­ter­front base. Whether you have a few hours or a few days, the friendly team at Wilder­ness Guides can cre­ate an ex­pe­ri­ence just per­fect for you. “We’ve got ev­ery type of tour for the ad­ven­turer at heart,” says Juliet. Hire a bike and ex­plore Pic­ton’s grow­ing num­ber of ded­i­cated cy­cle ways and dual use trails in the town. This is a great op­tion if you are on a time­frame with bike hire avail­able by the hour. If you have a day, ven­ture fur­ther to ex­plore com­pleted

sec­tions of the area’s lat­est at­trac­tion, The Link Path­way. This pur­pose-built trail will ul­ti­mately stretch be­tween Pic­ton and Have­lock, tak­ing in his­toric bri­dle paths as well as sec­tions of newly cut track de­signed for most ages and abil­i­ties. The views into Queen Char­lotte Sound need to be seen to be be­lieved. For those want­ing a longer ad­ven­ture, the 70km Queen Char­lotte is a well-de­fined walk­ing and bik­ing track suit­able for most peo­ple of mod­er­ate fit­ness, al­though bik­ing is pretty chal­leng­ing in parts. There is a wide range of ac­com­mo­da­tion along its length and Wilder­ness Guides of­fers a va­ri­ety of day and multi day walk­ing and bik­ing pack­ages. And let’s not for­get sea kayak­ing. With 1500km of coast­line to ex­plore, stretch­ing from just north of Kaik­oura to the tip of d'Urville Is­land, the Marl­bor­ough Sounds is a truly re­mark­able sea kayak­ing des­ti­na­tion. If time is short, you can ex­pe­ri­ence the beauty of the area on a half day guided sea kayak tour tak­ing in the west­ern end of Queen Char­lotte Sound with its shel­tered coves, beau­ti­ful beaches, azure waters and lush na­tive bush. Tides per­mit­ting, you might also stop for a short walk at the Kaipupu Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary, lo­cated just a short pad­dle from the Pic­ton fore­shore. This preda­tor-free penin­sula is an ex­cit­ing com­mu­nity project en­cour­ag­ing na­tive birdlife back into the Sounds. “Yes, it’s ex­cit­ing times for Pic­ton,” says Juliet. “And what’s more - it’s still a great place to get a cof­fee”.


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