Picton is a glorious composition of active adventures. Grab a chance to kayak or walk the glorious Queen Charlotte track. Find out about the Edwin Fox (Dunbar Wharf), a historic shipwreck that will fascinate kids and adults alike.
A highlight for families is the chance to swim with the dolphins in Queen Charlotte Sound. Picton is a superb introduction to South Island wildlife. Flick through our travel guide, Marlborough regardless of whether you have a few hours between the interisland ferry, a connection on the Picton train, or are travelling onwards.
Waterfront playground – splash pad delight @ London Quay
The small yet creative playground is enhanced by its spectacular setting, the waterfront, the views of the ferry and the bustle of leisure boats. There are water fountains for hot days, wooden pirate ships, swings and slides and plenty of grass to collapse on. Different water spouts, water cannons and fountains are activated by the children when they jump and skip. Hot kids can safely let off energy while you relax on the nearby seating, with a coffe and watch the boating world from the comfort of your seat.
Kids will love watching the massive InterIslander Ferry dock at the wharf (and / or depart).
Edwin Fox Maritime Museum
Edwin Fox Maritime Museum is a must and a great rainy day place to visit.
The world’s 9th oldest wooden ship carried soldiers to WWI, immigrants and convicts during its storied past. The museum is open from 9am daily (except Christmas Day) and is just a short walk from the Picton i-SITE Visitor Information Centre. Check beforehand for up to date information around visiting hours to avoid disappointment.
E-Ko tours are designed to entertain children with the opportunity for confident swimmers to enter the water and join the dolphins. Dolphin species, Dusky, Bottlenose and the endangered rare Hector are unusually sighted during the cruise. E-Ko Tours takes its responsibility to the marine world seriously. No – All E ko reminds visitors the dolphins in the Queen Charlotte Sound are wild and free and are not manipulated. Respect for dolphins’ natural behaviour is paramount.
E ko is the sole licensed tour operator to Motuara Island predator free sanctuary. Visitors interested in a safe bird dense sanctuary are invited to join the Motuara Island and Dolphin Tour.
Children are provided with colouring books, toys, and books. For dolphin swimming, the minimum age is 12 years.
From the playground follow the harbour to the Picton Marina to Shelly Beach. The popular attraction has a swimming platform. This is a fun place to swim as the buoys protect swimmers from boats yet the interisland ferry sails by as well as numerous marina traffic.
While the beach is largely fine gravel the grassed reserve and the mature palm trees create an inviting space for kids’ boundless energy to be released.
- Public toilets
There are no shops nearby stock up with snacks beforehand.
Bob’s Bay walk
Need to stretch the legs with teenage kids raring to go then a short half-hour stroll to Bobs Bay is a great way to view the harbour from the nearby buffs with perhaps a short dip in the secluded Bobs Bay beach. Get the kids to try to spot wildlife both on land and in the harbour.
At Shelly beach’s northern end are boatsheds. The track starts behind the boatsheds with a series of steps. Smaller children must be supervised as there are sharp drops and it is a steep walk in parts.
Free walk – climb above Picton on the Tirohanga track
Another track with great views of Picton. The 1.2km Tirohanga trail takes 45 minutes and starts from the southeastern corner of Picton town. Another opportunity to listen or observe wildlife. This is a popular spot for a selfie with the Picton harbour in the background. For visitors short on time it’s a great taste of the Marlborough Sounds.
Free walks – check out archeological sites
Karaka Point Walk is an easy walk to view earthworks and historic Maori pa sites. The site gave the inhabitants sweeping views of any enemies trying to creep upon them. The ten-minute walk offers an incredible view of the Queen Charlotte Sound.
Sea kayaking Marlborough Sounds
A guided kayaking guide is a peace of mind experience with a professional who knows where to go and the mood of the currents. There is room for snacks, cameras in water-tight cubby holes and extra space for dry clothes. Exploring the waterways with Marlborough Sounds Adventure Company takes the hassle out of the holiday with kids.
Lochmara Lodge – a Wildlife Recovery and Arts Centre.
Take a boat trip in the Marlborough Sounds to visit Lockmara. A highlight is an underwater observatory where kids watch marine animals in their natural environment. There are glow worm caves and a network of walks supplemented with information plaques describing the history of the area, geology and conservation projects. The walks pass a bee display with glimpses of the coast at every turn. The Lodge’s property is 11 acres.
Uncover daily life for Marlborough Sounds locals. Observe the mail being delivered to communities whose only access is by water. You will be involved in the lives of people who live and work in remote homes where the postal service is a vital link to the outside world. The cruise is designed to take you off the beaten tourist path so you can experience the real Queen Charlotte Sounds / Tōtaranui. Forward bookings are recommended. The Mail has been delivered by boat for over 150 years in the Queen Charlotte Sounds and we are proud to uphold that service! We are the only officially licensed New Zealand Post Rural Delivery Service by water in the Queen Charlotte Sound / Tōtaranui making this a truly unique and interesting tour.
- Not wheelchair accessible
- No pets allowed
- Stroller accessible
Queen Charlotte Sounds walk
Queen Charlotte Sounds Track is one of New Zealand’s great walks. Walks range from easy half-hour strolls to multiple day treks. The Queen Charlotte track stretches 71 km from Ship Cove to Anakiwa and is an intermediate to advanced grade walk. You will be rewarded with skyline views of Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds. You meet the locals, native birds such as the fantail and weka.
For self-guided walks Queen Charlotte Track will offer you options ranging from half day walks to multiple day walks is a hassle free way to enjoy the walk without the logistics becoming the walk’s focus. There are various options from budget friendly to pampered luxury. It is recommended for families that meals and transportation are part of the deal to ensure that all ages enjoy one of New Zealand finest tracks that is walkable all year round.
- Duration: All day
- Location: Visitor preference
- No pets allowed
Getting to family friendly attractions in Picton
Picton is great location for exploring Marlborough and the regional centre, Blenheim. Combine your stay in Picton with the allure of the Abel Tasman National Park, approximately a 2 hour scenic drive from Picton.
Travel pack information
BEST BITS TRAVEL GUIDE
Best Bits travel guide is published by nzjane.com. Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.
Our editors independently visit tour operators, purchase tickets, pay for accommodation, and rate products and places. We are not paid to go on a tour or visit a place. We only make money if you decide to purchase a product through our website links. We promise to never accept free products from manufacturers in return for boosting their products. Read more about our affiliate programme in the terms and conditions HERE.