Being settled in Wellington it’s easy to drive to anywhere on the North Island. Getting to the South Island is a bit more work, but it’s well worth the effort. One way to do it is to take the ferry to Picton, and take your car with you. The ferry crossing is 3 hours long, but it’s delightful in itself.
Picton lies at the end of Queen Charlotte Sound, which like all the ‘sounds’ here is breathtakingly beautiful.
Typical of the South Island, Picton is a tiny little place: it’s a world away from busy Wellington.
Here’s one of the busier moments, with two cars moving at the same time!
Despite being small, Picton has two museums. The Community Museum does local history: it’s basically just all sorts of old stuff collected from local residents, but it has sections which cover medical practice, politics, sport, whaling, fishing and a range of other things. As local museums go it’s quite good.
The second museum has more of a national significance in that it celebrates a ship, the Edwin Fox, which at various points carried convicts, troops, immigrants and all sorts of cargo. Now its remains are in dock at Picton, and it’s a rather sorry sight – but it’s nevertheless regarded as sufficiently important that even what’s left of it is quite an attraction.
The importance of the Edwin Fox is in its varied history, in what it shows about the construction of such ships, and in the fact that it’s the ninth oldest ship in the world. In particular it’s the only ship left from that era which carried immigrants to New Zealand and Australia – so it’s highly treasured by both countries even though there’s not a whole lot left of it.
Next to the boat itself there’s a very good museum which chronicles its life and times. Here’s a convict emerging from the little door which barred their way and allowed only one at a time to exit.
And here’s another convict doing the tedious painful work of picking rope apart.