Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Tipple and a Nibble in Picton

If you are campervanning in or around Picton in February, get your camper in gear and drive the 30km to Blenhiem on Saturday the 11th, for the annual Marlborough Wine and Food Festival.

The festival has something for everyone- Fashion in the Vines, a show of couture delights, Wine tutorials to impress dinner guests with your knowledge, a wine and food matching contest, and an array of local food and wines to be sampled.  New Zealand artists Dane Rumble and Hello Sailor will provide the tunes, and the region of Marlborough will supply the edibles and drinkables for purchase. Nearly 50 wineries are represented, from the well-known Villa Maria and Montana to smaller family-owned and boutique businesses such as Fairhall Downs and Johanneshof. Marlborough is a region known for it's amazing food and wine, and this festival showcases it all in one place. Don't miss it!

 A Marlborough Vineyard
by Phillip Capper Flickr Creative Commons

Tickets are $48 and include entry, a souvenir glass, a full day of entertainment and a Festival catalogue. They can be purchased online at TicketDirect.

Be a Mailman for a Day in Picton

Beachcomber Cruises has a unique and popular take on a cruise of the beautiful Sounds surrounding Picton. The only licensed operator to carry the mail to remote households and communities in Queen Charlotte Sound, they offer a 4-hour 'Mail Run' cruise where you can join the skipper in delivering the mail.

The attraction of this cruise is the chance to see how life is for those who make the sounds their homes, rendering themselves accessible by water only. You can greet the children waiting on the wharf, see the private places that most cruises never visit, and get a taste of life in this beautiful region.

 Queen Charlotte Sound
by Phil Whitehouse Flickr Creative Commons

Along the way, you may see the varied marine life that make the Sounds home- dolphins, seals and Little Blue Penguins. The history of the Queen Charlotte Sound will be told by the Skipper, and you will have a chance to get out of the campervan, stretch out and relax on deck with fresh air, incredible sights, and complimentary tea and coffee.

The cruise departs daily at 1:30pm and prices, effective until September 2012, are $89 for an adult, $46 for a child 5-14 and free for under 5s. The route varies daily depending on where the mail is to be delivered, but includes a visit to Ship Cove, a historical spot where there was once a Maori village and Captain Cook anchored frequently. here, you can stroll the beach and visit the memorial to Captain Cook.

A Campervan road trip you may be on, but consider leaving the road behind for a few hours and explore the waterways of Marlborough instead!

Picton for Kids

Road tripping with kids? Picton is a town that is delightful for the youngins- not too big, not too small, huge ferries to watch, on the water's edge for swimming, beautiful scenery to distract mum and dad and, most importantly, the just-for kids features in the town centre. There are numerous holiday parks and campgrounds in the area, making it an easy choice as a destination. If you are coming over from Wellington on the ferry, stay a few days before moving on- this town is one of the most charming you will find in the South Island.

Picton- notice the small lake on the foreshore
by Phillip Capper Flickr Creative Commons

On the foreshore, there is a small train which has upheld a tradition of entertaining small people for decades. The Little Train of Picton runs every Sunday and every school or public holiday. Costing a whopping 20 cents, the ride takes the littlies around a small lake, over a bridge and under a "waterfall," even through a tiny forest. Whilst not the most thrilling of rides, it is a delightful few minutes for a child, and rather adorable to watch from, the adult perspective.

Also on offer at the foreshore are model sailing boats, which are extremely simple in their design- no electrics, no remote control, just two sails and the wind. For hire at 20 cents, the children simple put them in the manmade lake (the same lake which the Little Train circles), let them go and run to catch them on the other side. My twelve year old self thought this was absolutely wicked.

At the more high-end end of the spectrum, there is the Kiwi Mini Golf, also on the foreshore, dolphin-watching and the like. However, a child in Picton will be happy with their 20 cent train ride, 20 cent boat hire and watching the ferries come in. Maybe throw a swim and an icecream in there.

So don't miss Picton if you are campervanning with kids, it is a beautiful and entertaining spot!