Many travelers seem to overlook Picton when traveling on the Interislander ferry in New Zealand from the North to South Island. However, you won’t want to miss out on this small port town! From hiking the Tirohanga Track to boat cruises and epic sunsets, there are so many fun things to do in Picton! We show you why Picton is worth a stop as it’s a great introduction to the South Island.
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Taking the Picton Ferry
If you’re traveling to Picton New Zealand you’re likely doing so to take the Picton Ferry between the North and South Island. The ferry leaves from the capital of New Zealand in Wellington (North Island) and arrives directly into Picton on the South Island.
We’ve taken this ferry multiple times and its great because you can use it as a walk on passenger and also travel with your car or camper van! We spent 6 weeks traveling around the north and south island in our Jucy Van and loved that we didn’t have to fly between this islands.
This makes it a popular overnight stop before continuing on to Christchurch, Queenstown, and other amazing destinations. While travelers may skip out on Picton, they truly don’t know what they’re missing!
→ Wellington to Picton Ferry: 6 Tips for Crossing the Cook Straight
6 Things to do in Picton New Zealand
1. Hike on the Tirohanga Track
Our Picton ferry arrived late in the afternoon the day before so we opted to get an early start the following morning. As the sun was rising, we took off at 7am towards the Tirohanga Track.
This 2 hour hike took us up to one of the highest points above Picton New Zealand, overlooking the entire harbor and mountains in the distance.
The climb up is a little steep, but honestly it was one of the easier hikes we did while traveling through the country. Unfortunately, when we reached the peak we were actually greeted with a sea of fog!
At first we were a little disappointed that the view wasn’t clear for us. However, the clouds sweeping over the mountains were truly unlike anything we’ve ever seen. The short hike is one of the best things to do in Picton if you have time!
2. Eat at the Famous Picton Bakery
After our hike we grabbed a late breakfast at Picton Village Bakkerij. It was voted the best bakery of New Zealand in 2016, and even though several years have passed it’s still pumping out delicious treats!
They have yummy meat pies, pastries, and some of the best sourdough bread we’ve ever had. During the morning rush literally everyone in front of us was ordering 5 or more meat pies to go.
Our personal favorites were the mince and cheese as well as pepper steak. If you’re traveling on a budget they also have a day old box where everything is just $2 NZD!
If you don’t make it for breakfast we recommend grabbing a fresh baked sandwich for in between all the fun things to do in Picton New Zealand.
→ Best New Zealand Food & Drinks: 27 Delicious Things to Try
3. Exploring Downtown Picton New Zealand
Make no mistake about it. The downtown area of Picton New Zealand is super small! There’s one main road that cuts through town is filled with a few local shops and restaurants.
We spent a couple hours working our way around the connecting streets and down to Picton Beach. Some popular things to do in Picton town are visiting the Edwin Fox Museum, EcoWorld Aquarium & Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, and the Picton Library.
Another great thing is that Picton New Zealand has dinner options to fit any budget. We stopped in for a beer at the packed Thirsty Pig before heading to Shai Shai’s Takeaways for a classic fish and chips!
4. Walk to Bob’s Bay
There is a small bridge that connects the two sides of the Picton Marina. We spent the afternoon walking along the far side of the gorgeous Victoria Domain Peninsula.
Out of all the things to do in Picton, this walking trail to Bob’s Bay is one of the most enjoyable. It’s not as steep as the Tirohanga Track, but still has beautiful views of the bay and beyond. We then took a splash in the chilly ocean water before walking along the bright green peninsula back to town.
5. Jump on a Picton Boat Cruise
With the town set on the Pacific Ocean, one of the most popular things to do in Picton New Zealand is to actually get out on the water. Two of the best cruises from Picton are the famous Queen Charlotte Sound Mail Boat Ride and Dolphin Watching & Island Wildlife Sanctuary Cruise.
If you got to town by taking the Picton Ferry you already got to experience some of the amazing views. Still, these two epic boat adventures are both worth checking out!
6. Watch the Sunset at the Picton Marina
After a long day of hiking the Tirohanga Track and walking all over Picton, it was time for us to find a small section of beach to catch the sunset. We ended up walking back over the short bridge and strolling out onto the rocks.
While most travelers head to Picton’s main beach, we loved this small stretch of boulders that look out over the harbor entrance. It was magical ending our one day in Picton New Zealand watching the boats pull in as the sun went down behind the mountains.
→ 10 Easy & Helpful Tips For Traveling in New Zealand
Where To Stay In Picton New Zealand
Ultra Luxury – Escape To Picton Boutique Hotel – This high-end hotel is just steps from the main harbor and offers three level of suites.
Fun Vacation – Picton Luxury Waterfront Quay Apartment – Stunning waterfront views in an apartment style hotel. Each room has a balcony, kitchen and laundry facilities to use before you head off to explore New Zealand.
Hostel Life – Tombstone Motel, Lodge & Backpackers – Tombstone Motel has both private rooms and shared dorms. Our favorite part about staying here was the common room, gym, and fresh baked scones in the morning! This accommodation is a 10 minute walk to town, but still close to everything.
For more places to stay in Picton New Zealand you can explore the latest prices here!
Have any questions about the Picton Ferry, or want to share your own favorite things to do in Picton New Zealand? Leave us a comment below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
New Zealand Travel Planning
Jucy Van: The best way to explore New Zealand is with a Jucy camper! We spent over six weeks driving around the North and South Islands in a van and loved every moment.
Rental Car: If you’re not renting a van you’ll still need a vehicle to get around. We use Discover Cars when traveling and enjoy having the freedom to get around.
Flights: It’s easy to find cheap flight deals using Skyscanner and Kayak. That’s how we got flights from Auckland to Queenstown for $40 USD, and New Zealand to Fiji for less than $150!
Accommodation: Compare multiple sites for the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also, Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget.
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide to find activities all over New Zealand! They have everything from a Milford Sound cruise with underwater observatory, to a Otago wine tour with gourmet wine & lunch, and even a Kaikoura whale watching cruise!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered. We’ve been using SafetyWing for insurance the last few years and they are always there when we need them.
Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials!
South Island New Zealand
Travel Tips & Guides: North Island Itinerary – South Island Itinerary – 25 Beautiful Beaches – 15 Freedom Camping Tips – 7 Milford Sound Tips
Queenstown: Ben Lomond Track – Fergburger (Is it Worth It?) – Tiki Trail Hike – Fun Wine Tour – Queenstown Hill Hike – 18 Fun Queenstown Things to Do – Queenstown Restaurants – Arrowtown NZ
North Coast: Abel Tasman Day Hike – Wharariki Beach & Archway Islands
East Coast: Banks Peninsula – French Town of Akaroa – Tunnel Beach Dunedin – Hanmer Springs – Kaikoura
Mt. Cook & Tekapo: 10 Mount Cook Tips – Hooker Valley Track – 5 Can’t Miss Lake Tekapo
→ Explore all our North Island New Zealand Travel Tips & Guides
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