Tucked into the northeastern end of the South Island—just 29 kilometers (18 miles) north of Bleinheim and 109 kilometers (68 miles) east of Nelson—the petite and picturesque port town of Picton is your starting point for exploring the region of Marlborough. This seaside gateway with ferry service to the North Island connects the majestic maritime beauty known as Queen Charlotte Sound to the luscious wine country of Marlborough, heaven for sauvignon blanc lovers. From the gluttonous to the active, there’s something for everyone, be it traversing a portion of the 70-kilometer (43-mile) stretch of the extraordinary Queen Charlotte Track—New Zealand’s greatest coastal cycleway—on foot or by bike, going on a cycle winery tour or tasting the famous green-lipped mussels that are indigenous to Marlborough Sounds. Naturalists should dust off their binoculars and explore the nearby wildlife sanctuaries, or if inclined to luxury, get up close and personal to a falcon while sipping on a glass of wine at the Brancott Estate.
Don’t neglect the tiny harbor town of Picton (population 4,000) itself either, which has quaint cafés and shops and boasts unique aquatic-themed museums, like the Edwin Fox Maritime Museum, dedicated to a historic ship which has seen most of the world in its more than 150 years.