Picton Harbour

Picton is the focal point for Queen Charlotte Sound. The road/rail ferries provide the access for many people to get to the Sounds.

The harbour is sheltered from any sea caused by E to S to NW winds. Winds from N to NE blow straight in and if strong can make the harbour very lively. For boats unable to get into the marina, the area adjacent to the wharves at the ferry terminal give best all-round shelter.

A fee is payable for use of the wharves in Picton and Port Marlborough officials will collect the dues, either at the ferry terminal or at the town wharves. At the ferry terminal there are toilets, showers and laundry facilities for boat owners.

Water is available from all of the wharves and there are bins for rubbish from boats.

The Picton grocery shops are open 7 days, and longer hours in the summer. Most of them will provide a delivery service to the wharves, if given adequate notice. They will also arrange to deliver stores to any of the regular stops on the various mail boat routes in Queen Charlotte Sound, there is a charge for deliveries via the mail boat.

There are a large number of moorings in the area of the town foreshore and care is necessary navigating here at night.

In SE to S winds yachts under sail are advised to enter or leave the harbour between Kaipupu Point and Mabel Island. This route will more quickly get boats into the main wind stream and avoid calms along the SE shore from the Snout into the harbour.






Facility photos

MDC6572 QCS ShelleyBeach 45 QCS ShelleyBeach 01

Videos / other media


Picton was originally called Waitohi, or Waitohi Pa. It was named by the local Maori, the Te Atiawa, who occupied the site. The name Waitohi means wai, or water, and tohi - the tohi ritual, in which the tohunga dipped karamu branches in the sacred stream and brushed the right shoulder of warriors before battle. This rite was last performed on soldiers preparing to leave with the 28th Maori Battalion in WW2. Another, discredited explanation, recalls Te Weranga o Waitohi, Te Rauparaha's sister who is reputed to have died in a scrub fire. Waitohi was purchased from the Maori in 1850 by Sir George Grey and Sir Francis Dillon, the New Zealand Company agent. The name of the town was later changed to Picton, after Sir Thomas Picton, a British Army general and hero of the Battle of Waterloo. Sir Thomas never came to Picton, nor had any links with it, but this way of naming places was typical of colonial times. At the time Marlborough separated from Nelson and became a province in 1859, central Government decided to name the two main Marlborough towns Picton and Blenheim. Picton became the capital of Marlborough until 1865.

Extremely busy throughout the year, more so in summer
Various >10m
Type of beach
Place name meaning
Named after Sir Thomas Picton / The name Waitohi means wai - water, and tohi - the tohi ritual, in which the tohunga dipped karamu branches in the sacred stream and brushed the right shoulder of warriors before battle
Sandy Bay and Picton foreshore are popular during summer
Along the town foreshore and West Shore
Other information
Five ferries with up to twenty four movements a day, plus cruise ships in the summer