Cruise ship visitors enjoy Picton
Picton is a "very beautiful little village" and its bar owners are brilliant, according to cruise ship passengers eager to soak up some small-town atmosphere yesterday.
The 115,000-tonne cruise ship Diamond Princess delivered up to 2750 passengers to Waimahara Wharf at Shakespeare Bay yesterday morning.
Passengers were greeted off the gangway by the "flower ladies" under grey clouds at 8am but the weather turned sunny for the rest of the day and the meet-and-greet team welcomed the visitors to the town.
Destination Marlborough general manager Tracy Johnston greeted some of the passengers off the cruise ship in the morning and said they told her they were looking forward to seeing Picton and what Marlborough had to offer.
"There's a full range of shore excursions available through the ship, departing straight from the wharf."
There were more than 30 different bus departures leaving the Picton I-Site to take people around the region to see attractions such as the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre and various wineries and back to the ship yesterday.
Ship passenger Dick Wescott, from Florida in the United States, stayed close to the ship and described Picton as "a very beautiful little village". He and his wife, Paula Wescott, enjoyed a pint at Seamus' Irish Bar in the town centre and praised the friendliness of its owners, Liz and Alistair Hawthorne, who chatted with them and gave directions.
Mrs Wescott said they had enjoyed wandering through the town and found it "very relaxing. From the moment we got off the ship, the ladies with the flowers were so friendly and then we went for a walk through the Edwin Fox. It's just been perfect.
"We're looking forward to seeing Wellington next, but we're going to come back to New Zealand for nine days to see more of the North Island later this year."
Fellow United States passenger Tom Munn said he appreciated Picton's small town charm and could relate to the friendliness of the residents.
He and his wife came from Sydney, Illinois, a town "famous for farming, beans mostly", with a population of 1300, he said.
"It's been beautiful here, just walking the streets and people smiling."
The pair enjoyed a short walk along part of the Queen Charlotte track followed by a cafe lunch.
The 32,000-tonne Seabourn Odyssey carrying 400 passengers was due to arrive in Picton Harbour today.