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Picton: 146km (91 miles) E of Nelson; Blenheim: 117km (73 miles) SE of Nelson

Picton and Blenheim are the two main towns of Marlborough province, an area best known as New Zealand's largest and most spectacular wine region. Both townships are quiet and easygoing. Blenheim, the larger of the two, has a population of 30,200. Picton, a quaint waterfront village at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound, has a population of just 3,000, and its main claim to fame is that it's the arrival point for ferries from Wellington. Unfortunately, many travelers think that's the end of its attributes, when in fact it is also the stepping-off point for the unspoiled tranquil charms of the Marlborough Sounds. With over 1,500km (930 miles) of shoreline, the sounds - Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru, and Pelorus -- are ideal for sailing, kayaking, fishing, and bush walking. You don't want to miss them.