How to Visit Picton on a Budget
After a ferry crossing from Wellington, not-so-savvy travellers drive straight through Picton to explore more of the South Island highlights. However, even on a budget, travellers can see amazing landscapes, discover intriguing Maori and whaling history, encounter native wildlife and much more for either free or very cheap. Combined with a stay in some of the best value hostels in New Zealand, some who offer free breakfasts and free bike hire, and you have yourself a very affordable yet epic stay in Picton. There are also budget motels, holiday parks and even lodges nestled in the Marlborough Sounds should you be looking for a mini-vacation from your vacation.
So plan what to do, where to eat and where to stay with this complete travel guide to Picton on a budget.
Budget Tips for Picton
- Picton has some excellent hostels, which are your cheapest type of accommodation with room types to suit a range of travellers (not just dorm rooms) and many also offer free breakfast
- Stay in self-catering accommodation to save money on food by making your own meals. There’s a FreshChoice supermarket in the town centre
- Some accommodations offer free use of bikes, which makes a good free way to explore Picton’s bike trails
- Visit in the low season, May to October, to find the best rates on accommodation and activities
- While Picton’s main tours and attractions can be pretty pricey, be sure to complete your itinerary with some of the free and cheap things to do in Picton.
For more generic budget tips, check out the 11 Ways to Save Money When Backpacking in New Zealand.
Free Activities in Picton
Picton has a couple of cool things to do where you won’t have to pay a dime! One of the most popular options are, of course, the walks. Accessible from Picton town, the Victoria Domain across the marina bridge has a whole network of walking trails providing easy access to Picton’s harbour and Queen Charlotte Sound views. Alternatively, the Tirohanga Track takes you on a 45-minute climb through native bush to a stunning lookout at the back of Picton town. Jump into the details of these walks and many others in the 12 Awesome Hikes in Picton.
For more free things to do, we recommend a quick drive to some of Picton’s surrounding towns, such as Blenheim. The Wither Hills Farm Park is an excellent place to hike and cycle with views of Marlborough’s vineyards and plenty of sheep to navigate around. Blenheim is also home to the picturesque Pollard Park with its pretty displays of roses, rhododendrons and more. And if you find yourself on a wine tour in the area, do some free handmade chocolate tastings at Makana Confections. Find out more in the 10 Blenheim Must-Dos.
For more free activities, head to the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Picton.
Cheap Activities in Picton
Picton’s selection of cheap activities is a lot more lively than its free things to do. If you have a little more budget to spare, you’ll be able to add a few of the museums and bike trails to the itinerary.
Picton is home to a couple of extremely affordable museums, including the Edwin Fox Maritime Museum. For less than NZ$10 per adult, you can stand behind the hull of the world’s oldest surviving merchant ship at more than 160 years old. Learn about this vessel’s fascinating and controversial history carrying cargo and people at this unique museum.
Another educational option, this time on the Picton Foreshore, is the Picton Heritage and Whaling Museum. For only around NZ$5 entry, explore historical collections from Picton and the Marlborough Sounds with some artefacts dating back to the 1700s. From early Maori settlement to the area’s whaling history, there’s a lot to unpack at this fascinating museum.
Finally, if you like two-wheeled fun, then you’ll love Picton. Home to the renowned Queen Charlotte Track and many other bike trails, Picton is a mecca for mountain biking. While many hostels in town offer free use of bikes, ideal for riding the Picton to Waikawa Track (30-minutes oneway) or having a go at the Victoria Domain MTB Park, it’s worth hiring a bike to tackle the Link Pathway. Boasting views that rival the Queen Charlotte Track but not associated with any pricey boat costs to get there, the Link Pathway is a short ride from Picton and rises up into the hillsides between Picton and Havelock. Hiring quality mountain bikes from Wilderness Guides for around NZ$40 half-day hire and riding about half of the trail and back is a good way to spend a morning in Picton. For more bike trail descriptions, see the guide to Mountain Biking in Marlborough.
For more cheap activity ideas, check out the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Picton.
Cheap Eats in Picton
If you want to try some Kiwi cuisine or simply want to dine out – it’s your holiday, after all, then these are the affordable restaurants, cafes and takeaways in Picton to try.
For a taste of New Zealand’s famous savoury pies, head to the Bakehouse Cafe (30 High Street) who sell 20 different flavours of pies, as well as hot sandwiches, roast meals, cakes and more. Picton Village Bakkerij (46 Auckland Street) also offers good value in their savoury pies, fresh bread, cakes and more.
Fancy fish and chips to eat on the Picton Foreshore? Pick some up from Shai Shai’s Takeaways (83A High Street), who also do burgers with fresh ingredients and crispy battered fish. Kiwi Takeaways (14 Wellington Street) is also an option but opening hours are inconsistent.
Round off your cheap eats with a tasty dessert – another thing that goes well with the seaside: ice cream! Indulge Ice Cream Parlour (31 High Street) sells a wide range of ice cream and gelato flavours, as well as in-house made doughnuts.
For more restaurant recommendations, head to The Foodie Guide to Picton.
More About Picton
- 10 Picton Must-Dos
- Picton – Guide for Backpackers
- 7 Best Backpacker Hostels in Picton
- The Complete Travel Guide to Picton
That’s it from the travel guide to Picton on a budget. Check out even more money-saving tips in The Travel Guide to New Zealand on a Budget.