As the port town where the Interislander Ferry picks ups and drops off travellers wanting to go from North Island to South Island and vice versa, Picton has become a passing through kind of place.
It’s a shame really for this small town has a few hidden treasures, chief among them the world’s oldest wooden troop ship.
Known as the Edwin Fox, it was one of the last of the East Indiamen ships to be constructed in Calcutta.
The fully rigged Edwin Fox was launched in 1853, heading off on her maiden voyage to London with a cargo of tea.
From there, it had a varied career, ranging from transporting convicts to Australia and settlers to New Zealand to shipping British troops (and even, rumor has it, Florence Nightingale) around during the Crimean War.
Today, it sits in dry dock, a mere shell of its former self, protected by volunteers who have turned it into a ‘living museum’.
Visitors can walk the plank and wander through the hollow hull, getting a feel for the conditions that passengers and crew had to endure during months at sea.
In reality, though, it’s hard to imagine exactly how they felt being shut below decks, often for months at a time, getting seasick, homesick, and nervous about what awaited them when they finally did hit landfall.
It is truly a world away from the cruise ships of today.
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Edwin Fox Maritime Museum
Picton’s most significant historical attraction is the Edwin Fox, the ninth-oldest ship and the oldest surviving merchant sailing ship in the world. Since her launch voyage in 1853 from London, she has led a varied history as a troop carrier (during the Crimean War), immigrant ship (chartered from England to New Zealand in 1873) and even convict transporter. Learn more and support her preservation by visiting the Edwin Fox Maritime Museum.