Picton NZ

Picton NZ

Friday 10th January 2020 our cruise ship, MV Noordam docked in Shakespeare Bay, Picton New Zealand.

Picton is a town of 4,350 people situated near the top of New Zealand’s south island, close to the head of Queen Charlotte Sound. It provides a key transport link between the south and north islands of New Zealand via an inter island ferry service to Wellington and other freight shipping services.

Picton to Wellington - Google MapsBlue dotted line indicates the route of the Picton to Wellington “InterIslander” ferry service

DSC06658InterIslander Ferry in adjacent bay leaving for Wellington. Export timber in foreground

Back at Shakespeare Bay, MS Noordam is being fully secured and preparations are being made for passengers to disembark.

DSC06664Looking back to Queen Charlotte Sound

As MS Noordam was too long for the allocated dock, aft and forward ropes were “ferried” from ship to shore, using small inflatable boats.

DSC06670Securing the aft port side

DSC06665Picton port workers constructing a “customised” passenger gangway

Our choice of excursion at Picton was the Port Underwood Coastal Drive, an entirely different experience to all of the others we chose in New Zealand.

On the dock we boarded a small “coaster bus” (22 seater) and headed to Karaka Point.

Google MapsRoute foroff the beaten track” excursion. 

The white line on the map above shows our route – firstly north east from the dock through Waikawa to Karaka point, then south east past Whatamango Bay and through the mountains to the coast, south to Rarangi, past the Cloudy Bay vineyards to Tuemarina, then north back to Picton on State Highway #1

DSC06686 View of Queen Charlotte Sound from Karaka Point, as InterIslander ferry passes by on route to Wellington

DSC06682Maggie at Karaka Point Reserve, with Maori Pouwhenua (Totem Pole) in background

Arriving at Port Underwood Summit, we stopped to appreciate the magnificent view into Oyster Bay and Port Underwood.

DSC06701DSC06695Planation radiata pine forests have been harvested and hills are ready for replanting


It was a steep descent down to Oyster Bay, on a narrow section of road, and having returned to sea level we stopped for lunch at a small farm (approx. 12 noon).

DSC06706The sun room (left), where lunch was served, looked out onto this flower bed of mainly Daisies and Acanthus

We were served very tasty sandwiches, home made sausage rolls and fresh muscles, with coffee and tea. The lovely lady who owned the farm had lost her husband in past 12 months and had decided to continue to offer this service to tourists. It seemed she benefited as much from our presence and we did from being there.

The old farm house was surrounded by attractive gardens and chook sheds.

DSC06708DSC06712_1DSC06711This narrow driveway is indicative of how much the gardens dominated the property

Around 1pm, with everyone finally back on the “Coaster”, we set out for Kakapo Bay, approx. 15 minutes south on Port Underwood Road.

DSC06729At Kakapo Bay we met great grandson John Guard and his wife, who are both in their eighties (according to my memory).

DSC06731The house of the current generation of Guards

“For 135yrs, until 1974 the Guards owned from Ocean Bay north ridge to Oyster Bay north ridge. The land was cleared by hand and farmed with sheep and cattle. As family changed and moved on, the land was sold and now we own 10 hectares – half of Kakapo Bay and all of Waipuna Bay” – John Guard, great grandson.

DSC06726DSC06727A pot used by the original John Guard to boil the whale blubber and extract oil

However, there is a rather more dramatic story from the 1830’s involving the Guard family.

Three times per year John Guard transported whale oil, flax and seal skins by ship to Sydney. On the return journey he carried supplies and goods to trade.

In April 1834, and almost home from one of these journeys he, his family and crew were wrecked off the Taranaki coast in the ship Harriet. The survivors were attacked by  local Maori. The wreck was plundered and 14 crew killed. Mrs Guard and their children were taken captive by the Maori. John Guard was released to bring back a ransom.

Four months later John Guard returned with a rescue party of two ships and 60 British soldiers from Sydney. Rather than negotiate the release of Guard’s family by an exchange of goods, the British Commander captured the Maori chief, Oaoiti and then negotiated his life for theirs. Several soldiers and Maori were killed during the rescue, but apparently Guard’s wife and children were in good health, having been well treated by the Maori chief.

Of course, there is background to this story, including ongoing tension between Maori and John Guard. So it seems both sides felt justified in the use of force.

There is a private cemetery on the Guard land with the graves of many of the early members of the family.

DSC06725Sacred  To the Memory of John Guard who departed this life on the 9th November 1857 aged 65 years


New Zealand has become well known for Manuka Honey, which comes from the Manuka bush, also just called a tea tree. It is native to New Zealand and southeast Australia.

We found a cluster of Manuka trees above the cliffs of White Bay, before descending to Rarangi.

DSC06749The flower of the Manuka Tree/Bush (Leptospermum Scoparium)

At the same vantage point ….

DSC06752aView of Rarangi and Cloudy Bay

DSC06751Cloudy Bay Vineyards

This was our last stop, although we had at least a 25 minute drive back to Picton via Rarangi, Tuamarina and State Highway #1. Most of us were ready to go back “home” (the ship) or take a short stroll around the Picton CBD.


Our next destination is a significant city – Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. So please join us as we check it out.

  • Daryl
    Posted at 20:07h, 31 March Reply

    Very nice photos. Look like it would be worth doing a fly drive holiday when we get over the virus lock down.

  • alistairstravel
    Posted at 20:16h, 31 March Reply

    Yes, I agree with the fly drive holiday Daryl. The cruise was good but there’s so much more to see than a cruise allows. I’m pleased you like the photos.

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