Picton, New Zealand
Picton is a town in the Marlborough region of New Zealand. It is close to the head of Queen Charlotte Sound near the north-east corner of the South Island. The population was 2,745 in the 2013 Census, a decrease of 183 from 2006. The town is named after Sir Thomas Picton, the Welsh military associate of the Duke of Wellington, who was killed at the Battle of Waterloo.
Inter-island ferries to and from Wellington arrive and depart here by way of the Marlborough Sounds. Most of the sheltered part of the route is through Tory Channel, south of Arapawa Island. The township of Waikawa is a couple of minutes' drive from Picton, practically part of the same town. Waikawa has one of the largest marinas in New Zealand. Combined with Waikawa's population of 1,158 people, Picton's urban population is around 4,086. Making it the 2nd largest town in Marlborough after Blenheim which is 28 km to the south of Picton.
The Main North railway line and State Highway 1 link Picton southwards to Blenheim, Kaikoura, Christchurch and beyond, while the scenic Queen Charlotte Drive (shorter in distance but usually slower than State Highway 1/State Highway 6 via Rapaura, near Blenheim) winds westward to Havelock. The completion of the highway link ended the relative isolation of this scenic area in the 1950s and encouraged modern motels, beginning with the American Luxury Motels, and many more after the ferry service to Wellington began.
Picton is the main link between the South and North Islands, with scheduled ferry service over Cook Strait. The two main shipping companies operating this route are the Interislander and Strait Shipping, with both offering Roll-on/roll-off capabilities for cars and trucks, and for the Interislander sometimes trains. There have been proposals in recent years (the last time being 2011) to relocate the ferry terminals from Picton to Clifford Bay, south of Blenheim, to reduce travel times. However these plans never got past the design proposal, and were eventually dropped.
The Coastal Pacific long-distance passenger/tourist train from Christchurch makes a daily return trip to Picton, during the Summer months.
- Judith Adams - Australian politician
- Lance Cairns - Champion All-rounder for the New Zealand cricket team
- Chris Cairns - Son of Lance Cairns, also on the New Zealand cricket team
- Joseph Sullivan (rower) - Double Sculls Gold Medalist at the London 2012 Olympic Games
The first school opened in Picton in 1861 at the corner of Devon Street and Broadway. A new school opened in 1882, and part of the old school was moved to the new site, but was destroyed by fire in 1928. A Catholic Convent school opened in 1915, and was replaced by St Joseph's in 1924.
Picton School is a contributing primary (years 1-6) school with a decile rating of 3 and a roll of 120.
St Joseph's School is a state integrated contributing primary (years 1-6) school with a decile rating of 5 and a roll of 25.
The famous author Katherine Mansfield spent time in Picton where her grandparents, Arthur and Mary Beauchamp, and her father Harold, lived for some time when they came from Australia. She included a reference to the port in her short story "The Voyage" (in the collection The Garden Party), which is "an account of a trip to Picton from Wellington on the Cook Strait ferry".
The town is also the usual starting point for holidays to the Marlborough Sounds. Highlights include fishing, walking, the Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand Track, and Diving. A popular dive trip is to the 177m long wreck of the former cruise liner MS Mikhail Lermontov, which now lies at Port Gore, 37 metres underwater. Dive charter boats leave from Picton for the last resting place of the Mikhail Lermontov, one of the world’s largest, most accessible and most recent shipwrecks. Guiding is essential as the 1986 wreck is in 30m of water and divers can become disoriented inside the hull, which lies on its starboard side.
Other excellent dive sites in the Picton region  include Fish Reserve, the Koi wreck, and Long Island Marine Reserve. Introductory dives (discover scuba dive) and PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certification courses from open water diver to dive master are available from Picton. Technical diving and TDI (Technical Diving International) courses can be completed in Picton, diving in the Marlborough Sounds.
- Statistics New Zealand: "2013 Census QuickStats about a place: Picton"
- Quickstats about Waikawa
- A. D. McIntosh, ed. (1940). Marlborough - A Provincial History. pp. 329, 340–342.
- "Te Kete Ipurangi - Queen Charlotte College". Ministry of Education.
- "Te Kete Ipurangi - Picton School". Ministry of Education.
- "Te Kete Ipurangi - St Joseph's School, Picton". Ministry of Education.
- "Kennedy, Julie". Wellington, New Zealand: Book Council. Retrieved 2010-07-21.
- Kennedy, Julie (2000). Katherine Mansfield in Picton. Auckland: Cape Catley. ISBN 0-908561-73-3.
- Wreck Diving in the Marlborough Sounds New Zealand. Mikhail Lermontov, Lastingham, Koi and Rangitoto : Go Dive Marlborough
- Charter Information Marlborough (NZ): Yacht, Launch & Boat Charters and Deep Sea Diving
- Wreck and reef dive sites in the Marlborough Sounds including the Mikhail Lermontov, Lastingham, and Rangitoto wrecks
- New Zealand Wreck Diving in the Marlborough Sounds, Diver Training, Liveaboard and live ashore expeditions. PADI accredited scuba diving and dive tourism instruction
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Picton.|
- Detailed visitor guide
- Brogden's Navvies arrive in Picton, 1872 (eText)
- Picton School website
- Queen Charlotte College website