December 17, 2018 – Picton (Māori: Waitohi), New Zealand
Sunny | High 77F / 25C * Low 60F / 15C | Sunrise 5:45 am * Sunset 8:54 pm |
Sailing through Queen Charlotte Sound enroute to Picton is worth an early wake-up call.  Stunning scenery surrounds the Solstice as the sun rises over the islands and mountainous shores that decorate the Sounds.  

Watch out for Little Blue Penguins (Eudyptula minor) darting away from the ship; as well as be on the watch out for the resident Dusky dolphins.  The best “line of sight” for spotting the smallest penguin in the world is from Deck 5 of the Solstice.In addition to blue penguins, you will also observe flocks of Fluttering Shearwaters throughout the Sounds.  I capture this one silently drifting away from the ship in the still, glass-like water.

The Celebrity Solstice docks at Shakespeare Bay (vs. Picton Harbour) and guests are not permitted to walk in the port.  Therefore, a complimentary shuttle bus is provided that runs continuously throughout the day.  It is approximately a 5-minute journey from the cruise berth to downtown Picton.

Nestled within the Queen Charlotte Sound in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds; Picton offers secluded bays, crystal clear waters, world-class seafood and wine.   That would be the tip of the iceberg from this beautiful port of call.Shadowline_1We pre-arranged (months in advance) with “Mike” of Jade Tours to visit Blenheim in Marlborough for a Wine and/or “Wings” and Wine tour.  We shared the information on the cruise critic roll call and both of his vans sold out quickly!  Our van was filled with ten (10) guests strictly from our roll call, whereas the second van was a spill over from our roll call, plus guests who booked independently (i.e., not on roll call).
Note:  if you are interested in this tour, BOOK EARLY! to avoid disappointment – this tour sells out fast on cruise ship days.  Jade Tours is highly rated on Trip Advisor and other review boards and those high reviews are justified!   we had a fabulous day in Marlborough and Mike was just a gem!
screen shot 2019-01-27 at 10.37.49 amOur van was a composed of 3 couples who chose to do the “Wine” only tour and 2 couples (including us) that chose to do the “Wings & Wine” tour.   Anthony & I with “Sue & Ian” were dropped off at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre to visit one of two of the displays offered; and the remaining couples ventured off to their first winery.

Shadowline_1screen shot 2019-01-27 at 10.17.14 amVisitors to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre had two options (or both if  you had the day/more time to explore):  “Knights of the Sky [WWI]” or “Dangerous Skies [WWII]”.   We all decided to choose WWI as it featured the personal collection of film director Sir Peter Jackson that was displayed as a series of dioramas, which were created by Wingnut Films and enhanced by lifelike mannequins by Weta Workshop.  The attention to detail within the dioramas, as like Jackson’s Hobbiton, was second to none.
Our group of four had just over an hour to explore the “Knights of the Sky” museum.  We felt that it was a good duration (not feeling rushed) to visit the exquisite presentations.

Etrich Taube aircraft
Poppy Memorial Wall

The Red Baron Diorama

After our time at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre was up, Mike promptly picked us up and we rejoined the original Wine group to continue on to the rich wine region of Marlborough.  Our first stop was at Villa Maria that was founded in 1961 by George Fistonich. The iconic Villa Maria is the most awarded winery in New Zealand.

Our second stop after the Aviation Centre was the Nautilus Estate owned by fifth-generation vigneron, Robert Hill Smith.

I’m not one for sparkling wines or champagnes, but I have to admit, the Nautilus Brut that was presented to us for tasting, was outstanding.

Our next stop would be at the Allan Scott Family Estate where we would also stop for lunch (at our own cost) at the Twelve Trees restaurant.  

Our final vineyard would be the Saint Clair Family Estate Winery, established in 1978 by viticulture pioneers, Neal & Judy Ibbotson.screen shot 2019-01-27 at 11.27.55 amAs we were all good children for the day (joking!); Mike stopped at the Makana Confections on the way back to Picton.  We were able to observe the detailed process of hand-crafted chocolates and were able to taste a couple of the specialties that were being prepared that day.  DELICIOUS!!!Shadowline_1Again, I highly recommend strolling to a deck or sitting out on your balcony, for a phenomenal sail-away from the Port of Picton.  The scenery of Marlborough Sounds is spectacular and should not be missed.  Farewell Picton!  and on our way to our next port of call, “Akaroa”.Shadowline_1Resources:
Jade Tours (Wings & Wine Tour)
or call (+64) 27 951 1956

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
79 Aerodrome Road
Blenheim, Marlborough, NZ

Villa Maria Estate Marlborough Winery
Cnr Paynters & New Renwick Roads
Fairhall, Blenheim, Marlborough, NZ

Nautilus Estate of Marlborough
Blenheim, Marlborough, NZ

Allan Scott
229 Jacksons Road, RD3,
Blenheim, Marlborough, NZ

Saint Clair Family Estate Winery
Blenheim, Marlborough, NZ


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