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Funky, homely and remarkably scenic, Picton is the South Island’s northern surprise. Known for its cruise port and ferries to Wellington, many visitors visit Picton while en route to someplace else. From the moment you step off the ship, however, this salty, slow-paced, charming little town begins the process of growing on you.

At the fascinating Edwin Fox Maritime Museum, read about the history of the Edwin Fox to learn how this 19th century, teak boat from Calcutta transported everyone from soldiers to convicts across the southern seas. Grab a coffee or some fresh fish in a welcoming harbor front café, or sip on a glass of Sauvignon Blanc from the nearby vineyards of Marlborough. Picton is situated right in the middle of the time-carved Marlborough Sounds, and an outdoor playground of kayaking and trails sits right on its coastal doorstep.

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