• NZ Week- Picton and the Marlborough Sounds

    by  • February 4, 2011 • Summer, Take a NZ vacation, Winter

    The 'Top of the South', showing Nelson, Picton, Marlborough Sounds and Totaranui on the left

    Picton, the gem of the Marlborough Sounds

    Sunday- Rarangi Beach
    Monday-Blenheim Wineries and Gardens
    Tuesday-Totaranui and Abel Tasman Nat’l Park
    Wednesday-Birds of Abel Tasman
    Thursday- Nelson, New Zealand
    Friday- Picton and the Marlborough Sounds
    Saturday-The Plants of New Zealand

    Ferries in the Picton Marina

    Picton is where you land, if traveling by car or campervan from the North Island, which we did once in 1999 when the whole family gathered here. Inter-island ferries to and from Wellington arrive and cruise through all the beautiful peninsulas and islands of the Marlborough Sounds. A mail boat takes visitors on its route every day for a relaxing unhurried ride.

    After the morning rain, the sun popped out for us in Picton

    Picton hosts a marina, one of the largest in New Zealand that attracts sailors from all over the world, vacationers own holiday homes here and International cruise ships dock. There is one short stretch of funky shops with lodge room balconies overlooking the ‘downtown’ view.

    NZ grasses, including Chionochloa flavicans, Green-leaved Tussock Grass

    My sister and I admired the landscaping near the marina, done with the native plants and grasses the Kiwis love.  With truly awesome views, you can easily see why people want their vacation homes here and we looked up to see them set in the hills surrounding the marina.

    Holiday homes look down on the serene view of sailboats.

    At a small pub, we stopped to look at a map of the Marlborough Sounds, a group of long, jagged peninsulas and islands that are a sailboat owner’s paradise. There are restaurants, campgrounds and lodges only reached by boat on the shores of these waterways where you can eat or stay the night, while exploring.

    The quiet Shelley Beach is perfect for learning to sail.

    There are children playing in their small sailboats, swooping and leaning in the wind.  Bordered by forested hills rising almost vertically from the water’s edge, the Marlborough Sounds is a true scenic highlight and is easily sailed

    A lone sailboat heads out onto Queen Charlotte Sound

    On the way out of Picton, after a fine lunch, my brother in law stated that we’d be driving back the long twisty way, but we’d be seeing more horrible scenery as our reward. I must say at this point that if you aren’t accustomed to driving on the right hand side of the road, sitting in the passenger seat, as I was, was a little like ‘Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride”

    High above Queen Charlotte Sound, looking toward Fiji...

    The road rose way up over the ranges above Marlborough Sounds, then dived back down to reveal uncrowded (if you don’t count sheep) bays and beaches with calm waters.

    Looking out over Arapawa Island

    To think of my sister and her husband, enjoying these beautiful bays and islands in the small sailboat they will soon have, made me extremely happy and I look forward to their adventures.

    The land seems to float dreamily on the water. Mt. Robertson in the distance.

    Tomorrow– Saturday –  The Plants of New Zealand


    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.