Quaint and Beautiful Picton New Zealand

Picton is set in the upper reaches of Queen Charlotte Sound in the northeast corner of the southern island of New Zealand. This area is considered perfect in every way: climate, scenery, and outdoor adventure. About 3,000 people live in this small, but charming area. Because of its volcanic soils, it is also a gateway to one of the largest grape-growing and wine-producing regions of New Zealand.

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The Dolphin Cruise and Guided Walk at Ship Cove was Barb’s choice of activities for the day. She got off the ship and onto another boat for a tour that combined wild marine life and history. They headed back up the Marlborough Sound toward the Cook Strait and came upon a pod of bottlenose dolphins playing in the morning sunshine.

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They were privileged to see a Wandering Albatross, swimming next to a fishing boat. One usually sees these giant birds soaring high overhead, but this one seemed to be unsuccessful at begging for food. They were able to photograph this albatross whose home range includes the circumpolar region of Antarctica below the Tropic of Capricorn. Usually these large birds, with a ten-foot wingspan, are only seen soaring over the hills, but this one appeared uninjured, but was unable or unwilling to join his kind in the skies. This species nests in remote elevations and the chicks are a year old before they fledge – leave the nest. These birds sometimes follow ships.

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As they approached the Cook Strait, they saw a number of New Zealand King Cormorants (Shags). This species is only found in the Cook Strait area and number just a few hundred in total.

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Their destination was Ship Cove, where Captain Cook took refuge on more than one occasion to make repairs to his ships and let his men recuperate from illnesses and injuries they had sustained. The native bush-clad hills and pristine waterfront has been preserved in its primal state.

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They enjoyed a cup of tea and date scone before taking a short hike and re-boarding our boat. They had to guard their scone and belongings from the brazen wekas (bush hens), which like to steal anything that resembles food. We also passed by some Maori woodcarvings.

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They also saw a female Paradise Shellduck. Her mate flew away a few days ago and she has been calling to him to return.

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The boat took a short detour into a bay sporting a salmon farm to see a group of fur seals swimming and lounging around waiting for a delicious snack. The fences and covers over the fishery attest to the cunning, agility, and determination of these mammals. The bulk of the seals inhabiting this area were originally in the deeper waters. Over time the seals have broken into the pens, jumped over the fences, and caused considerable damage as they enjoyed an orgy on salmon. The farm, with all of the chain link netting, pipes, and plastic tarps looks like a miniature Alcatraz of turquoise and white.

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After disembarking the small boat on one dock and making her way back to the ship, Barb ran into Mary Jane who had just put in four-hours of work on the blog and wanted a break. They caught the shuttle bus and went into the village of Picton enjoying an afternoon there wandering into and out of shops and taking a few pictures. The life of this community is dependent on the health of the marine life and tourism.

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The conservation efforts by New Zealanders are commendable. Several of the islands are sites of major efforts to restore the original flora and fauna to them by eradicating all invasive and foreign species of plants and animals. The people in this area respect nature and spread their interest and respect to visitors.

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One Response to “Quaint and Beautiful Picton New Zealand”

  1. Loved this chapter of the blog. What an interesting and quaint place!

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