Plan a Family Trip to Picton
If your family road trip itinerary is taking you between the North Island and the South Island, you’ll likely pass through Picton. But wait! Don’t leave just yet, as you’re in one of the best places to experience and educate the little ones on New Zealand’s amazing birds and marine wildlife. The weather is mostly sunny here too, while the area also boasts a significant history as an early anchorage for the Maori and Captain James Cook.
So plan your paid and free activities, as well as where to stay across the town’s apartments, motels and holiday parks, with this travel guide to Picton for families.
Things to Do in Picton with Kids
- Take a Cruise to Motuara Island with Beachcomber Cruises or E-Ko Tours
- Do some family-friendly walks
- Visit the Koru Native Wildlife Centre
- Hit the family-friendly bike trails
- Visit the underwater observatory, kayak, swim and ride the flying fox at Lochmara Lodge
- Take a trip to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
- Explore the Edwin Fox Maritime Museum
- Ride the Marlborough Flyer steam train
- Walk the short walk in the Kaipupu Wildlife Sanctuary
- Do a kayak tour in the harbour or on the Pelorus River.
For more information on each experience, head to our 10 Things to Do in Picton with Kids.
Family Adventure Activities
Picton is all about escaping to nature and learning about New Zealand’s incredible wildlife, especially if Picton’s family-friendly activities have anything to say about it!
A short drive from Picton, visit the Koru Native Wildlife Centre which houses New Zealand’s lesser-seen animals like Giant Weta, Yellow-crowned Kakariki (parrots) and Green Gecko. The wildlife centre conducts breeding programs to release more of New Zealand’s threatened species back into the wild. Join the founder of the centre for a one-hour tour, either at 9.30am or 4pm, on this down-to-earth experience that the kids are not likely to forget too soon. Find out more about Koru Native Wildlife Centre on Viator and Tripadvisor.
If your family is keener to get out on the water to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Marlborough Sounds, as well as see some cool wildlife, jump on a cruise with Beachcomber Cruises (on Viator and Tripadvisor) or E-Ko Tours (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor). Both offer cruises looking out for dolphins on the way to Motutara Island, a native bird sanctuary that’s free from predators. The walk on the island has a watering hole where birds can be seen taking a bath, while the walk ends with a scenic lookout. The walk is a steep 800m (875-yard) climb to the top, so if you don’t think the little ones will make it, you can always stay by the watering hole and watch the birds.
If you have older kids who love to be active, be sure to head on one of Picton’s exciting bike trails. One option is the Link Pathway, which is a 42km (26-mile) trail between Picton and Havelock but can be easily enjoyed for as long or as little as your family wants with amazing views to be had along the way. Alternatively, do something less strenuous like the trails of the Victoria Domain Mountain Bike Park or ride part of the Queen Charlotte Track between Anakiwa to Mistletoe Bay. Hire kids’ mountain bikes from Wilderness Guides and learn more in our guide to Mountain Biking in Marlborough.
For more ideas, like kayaking on the Pelorus River, check out the 10 Things to Do in Picton with Kids.
All-weather Family Activities
It’s not often that the weather doesn’t play ball, but this is still New Zealand, so be prepared for a rainy day with some of these family-friendly all-weather attractions.
Visit the neighbouring city of Blenheim in a transport that kids love – a steam train! The Marlborough Flyer takes you back to a bygone era in their 1915 locomotive which departs from the Picton Railway Station. Enjoy a one-hour scenic journey through wetlands, across the Wairau River, through a valley of vineyards all the way to Blenheim where you’ll have time to explore the town before the return journey.
And you can always rely on a museum on a rainy day in New Zealand. While Picton has a couple of great options, like the Edwin Fox Maritime Museum and the Picton Heritage & Whaling Museum, we recommend a short road trip to Blenheim to visit the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. The museum showcases World War One and Two aircraft displayed in vivid scenes created by the famous Weta Workshop.
For more rainy day ideas, check out the 10 Things to Do in Picton on a Rainy Day.
Free Family Activities
Picton has a few fun free things to do that will help you manage your family travel budget, most of which are walks. Walk over the marina bridge to find a network of walking trails, like the Habour View Track where you can get a stunning family photo with the Picton Harbour. Push on and you’ll also walk to Bob’s Bay or even as far as the Snout Track. Some of the best views can be found on the Tirohanga Track if your kids can manage a 45-minute climb through the bush to the lookout. Check out more walks, their descriptions and locations in the 12 Awesome Hikes in Picton.
For more ideas, check out the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Picton.