Picton is an important port town, nestled deep in the Marlborough Sounds. Picton has offered a safe harbour and port to travellers for centuries.
Picton History Overview
The town of Picton is named after Sir Thomas Picton, the Welsh military associate of the Duke of Wellington, who was killed at the Battle of Waterloo.
If you arrive in the region by sea or air, the intricate detail of the Marlborough Sounds engages your interest immediately.
The site of modern day Picton was originally a Maori Pa (fortified village) called Waitohi or Te Wera O Waitohi. The name Waitohi means Wai or water and Tohi - the Tohi ritual in which tohunga (Maori Priest) dipped Karamu branches in the sacred stream and brushed the right shoulder, of warriors before battle. It is believed that this village had existed for more than 300 years before Francis Dillon Bell and Sir George Grey (the then governor of New Zealand) purchased the land in 1844 and helped the local Maori re-locate their pa to Waikawa Bay.
This village existed for more than 300 years until in 1844, when Francis Dillon Bell and Sir George Grey (Then Govenor of New Zealand) of the New Zealand Company purchased the land and helped the local Maori re-locate their village (Pa) at Waikawa Bay. Waikawa Bay was still a Maori centre in 2010.
The site of Picton was first surveyed in 1849 and the new town was called Newton. However, over the next ten years the town was known by many names, until finally its was named Picton in 1859 in memory of Sir Thomas Picton, the hero of Badajoz, who fell at the Battle of Waterloo fighting Napoleon. At this time the Marlborough Province was created and Picton was the provincial capital.
In 1865 the Marlborough provincial council debated shifting the capital from Picton to Blenheim. Determined to keep the capital in Picton, councillor Arthur Beauchamp, grandfather of Katherine Mansfield, engaged in an unsuccessful stonewall by speaking for 10 hours and 40 minutes, concluding by saying, "With these preliminary remarks I will now proceed to speak to the matter under discussion". At the end he collapsed and had to be carried from the chamber.
Following its founding, Picton quickly became a vital link between the South and North Islands, with Wool, Grain, Fruits and Meat being shipped to the North Island, Australia and to as far afield as London.
Picton is a popular tourist destination and offers a wide range of accommodation options:
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Useful Picton Links
To help plan your Picton holiday choose from the main categories below:
- Picton Accommodation
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- Picton Attractions and Activities
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- Picton Shopping
- Picton Visitor Information
Picton Region Information
Key information and facts about the Picton region.
Major activities and attractions in the Picton region.