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The South Island of New Zealand is defined by its gorgeous landscapes and incomparable sense of adventure, and Picton, one of the main ports along its coastline, embodies these values to a tee. With a thoroughly pleasant climate, crystal clear waters, and an effortless atmosphere of tranquillity, Picton deserves to become one of New Zealand’s premier cruise ports.
Dark green hills seem to blend perfectly with the expanse of the town, which finds sanctuary within a deep gulch lying between the towering mountain peaks that dominate the rugged landscape. Rather than creating the impression of constraint, the surrounding lush slopes provide a perfect contrast with the azure expanse of water which can lead travellers further on to the Marlborough and Queen Charlotte Sounds.
Eco World Aquarium
This pioneering aquarium gives you the chance for close up encounters with some of the most unique animals on earth. Primarily used as a rehab centre in which the fauna of the New Zealand coast can recover in peace, the Eco World Aquarium is home to little blue penguins, dinosaur-like Tuatara lizards, and giant turtles. Not only can you observe these animals in their enclosures, but eco world offers the incredible chance to get to enjoy both a tour of the penguin colony and the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, which features different critters each and every day.
The Queen Charlotte Sound
This drowned river valley (or ria) runs all the way down to the Cook Strait, winding its way past the South Island coastline. Near the head of the sound is the town of Picton proper, but a chartered ship excursion can take you to stunning locales like All ports island, a lush green islet which has been untouched by human development. The calm waters make it extremely popular for sailing and snorkelling, something you’ll be rushing to do once you get even a short glimpse at its incomparable natural beauty.
Mikhail Lermontov Shipwreck
The potential for scuba diving along the stretch of the sounds is limitless, with kaleidoscope colours of hundreds of fish species and coral reefs brightening the waters. But there are attractions in the depths worthy of standing out from the crowd, and this is undoubtedly one of them. This former USSR Cruise ship now rests on the sands of the ocean floor off of Port Gore, inviting travellers to discover its secrets. There are professional diving guides all over the island well-versed in the interior, so a trip to see its submerged swimming pools, ballrooms and radio mast are both fascinating and easy to organise.
Picton is home to some of New Zealand’s most unique boutique and independent gift shops. Arts and crafts, locally made products and fresh fruit are very much the order of the day, creating a tantalising collection of unique souvenirs.
The aptly named le café is a brilliant quayside location in which to rest up and enjoy some delicacies. Make sure to indulge in the fresh mussels and the sautéed lamb loin.
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