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|Coordinates: 41°17′34″S 174°0′21″E|
Picton is a town in the Marlborough region of New Zealand. It is close to the head of Queen Charlotte Sound near the north-east corner of the South Island. The population was 2928 in the 2006 Census, a decrease of 72 from 2001. The town is named after Sir Thomas Picton, the Welsh military associate of the Duke of Wellington, who was killed at the Battle of Waterloo.
Inter-island ferries to and from Wellington arrive and depart here by way of the Marlborough Sounds. Most of the sheltered part of the route is through Tory Channel, south of Arapawa Island. The township of Waikawa is a couple of minutes’ drive from Picton, practically part of the same town. Waikawa boasts a marina, one of the largest in New Zealand. Combined with Waikawa’s population of 1158 people, Picton’s urban population is around 4000.
As of 2001, the unemployment rate in Picton was 4.3%, compared with 7.5% for all of New Zealand.
The Main North railway line and State Highway 1 link Picton southwards to Blenheim, Christchurch and beyond, while the scenic Queen Charlotte Drive (shorter in distance but usually slower than State Highway 1/State Highway 6 via Rapaura, near Blenheim) winds westward to Havelock.
Picton is the main link between the South and North Islands, with scheduled ferry service over Cook Strait. The two main shipping companies operating this route are Interislander and Strait Shipping, with both offering Roll-on/roll-off capabilities for cars, trucks and sometimes trains.
The TranzCoastal long-distance passenger/tourist train from Christchurch makes a daily return trip to Picton.
Picton Airport at nearby Koromiko has regular services to Wellington and charter flights around the Marlborough sounds.
- Judith Adams – Australian politician
- Lance Cairns – Champion All-rounder for the New Zealand cricket team
- Chris Cairns – Son of Lance Cairns, also on the New Zealand cricket team
- Joseph Sullivan (rower) – Double Sculls Gold Medalist At The London 2012 Olympic Games
The first school opened in Picton in 1861 at the corner of Devon Street and Broadway. A new school opened in 1882, and part of the old school was moved to the new site, but was destroyed by fire in 1928. A Catholic Convent school opened in 1915, and was replaced by St Joseph’s in 1924.
Picton School is a contributing primary (years 1-6) school with a decile rating of 3 and a roll of 120.
St Joseph’s School is a state integrated contributing primary (years 1-6) school with a decile rating of 5 and a roll of 25.
The famous author Katherine Mansfield spent time in Picton where her grandparents, Arthur and Mary Beauchamp, and her father Harold, lived for some time when they came from Australia. She included a reference to the port in her short story “The Voyage” (in the collection The Garden Party), which is “an account of a trip to Picton from Wellington on the Cook Strait ferry”.
The town is also the usual starting point for holidays to the Marlborough Sounds. Highlights include fishing, walking, the Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand Track, and Diving. A popular dive trip is to the 177m long wreck of the former cruise liner MS Mikhail Lermontov, which now lies at Port Gore, 37 metres underwater. Dive charter boats leave from Picton for the last resting place of the Mikhail Lermontov, one of the world’s largest, most accessible and most recent shipwrecks. Guiding is essential as the 1986 wreck is in 30m of water and divers can become disoriented inside the hull, which lies on its starboard side.
Other excellent dive sites in the Picton region  include Fish Reserve, the Koi wreck, and Long Island Marine Reserve. Introductory dives (discover scuba dive) and PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certification courses from open water diver to dive master are available from Picton. Technical diving and TDI (Technical Diving International) courses can be completed in Picton, diving in the Marlborough Sounds.