Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Turquoise waters of the Marlborough Sounds
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Highlights

  • Walk the Queen Charlotte Track, staying in tranquil lodges and a luxury B&B
  • Picton, a picturesque harbour town and gateway to this classic track
  • Delicious dinners made of fresh local produce and with extensive wine lists
  • Bays, inlets, islands and peninsulas rising from turquoise waters
  • Ship Cove, favourite anchorage of Captain Cook in the 1770’s

Walk the Queen Charlotte Track, one of New Zealand’s classic coastal trails, whilst staying in stunningly located premier lodges.

Ship Cove, where the trail begins, was Captain Cook’s favourite place to anchor in the 1770’s and according to Maori legend these landscapes are the prows of sunken canoes belonging to Aoraki, their sacred ancestor.

Steeped in both Maori and European history it meanders over skyline ridges with constant views of the Marlborough Sounds. Lush forested hills rise steeply from the sea with sheltered coves and sandy bays never far away.

Pause for a dip in the turquoise waters and enjoy the superb local food and Marlborough wine, which this area is famous for.

Day 1: Arrive Picton and overnight

Arrive in the port town of Picton, located in the heart of Marlborough Sounds. It is the base for the ferry service that links New Zealand’s North Island with it’s South Island.


With a very attractive seafront in a sheltered harbour, there are a plethora of shops, cafes and restaurants to enjoy.


It’s possible to fly into Wellington, then you can either take the ferry direct to Picton (3 hours) or you can take a flight (25mins). Or you can use your rental car to make your way to Picton and pick it up at the end of your tour.


Get ready to begin your walk on the Queen Charlotte Track tomorrow. One of the most diverse coastal walking tracks in New Zealand, this track is in an area steeped in both Maori and European history. It is located within the Marlborough Sounds, a network of sunken river valleys, unique in New Zealand, as it is the only large land area that is still sinking into the sea. There is also a variety of coastal vegetation and wildlife that you can view along the way, such as dolphins, little blue penguins and oystercatchers.


Enjoy a briefing from our local hosts either late this afternoon or tomorrow morning.


Overnight: Picton


Day 2: Transfer by van and water taxi to Ship Cove. Walk to North Eastern Side, Endeavour Inlet

Today you will be picked up from your accommodation and transferred (5 mins) to catch the water taxi (1H) to Ship Cove, the beginning of the Queen Charlotte Track. This coastline was a favourite anchorage for Captain James Cook in the 1770’s and is also a site of importance to the local Maori.


This day is regarded as the premier section of the Queen Charlotte Track due to encountering the finest virgin native forest. Walk up to the Ship Cove platform for great views over to Motuara Island and to its smaller neighbour, Hippa Island. On a good day you will also be able to see views over to Resolution Bay and even to the Kaikoura Ranges. The track then winds upwards to Resolution Bay to the Tawa Bay Saddle. See views towards Endeavour Inlet as you walk through amazing examples of native beech forest.


Arrive at the north-eastern side of Endeavour Inlet and stay tonight in the historic Furneaux Lodge. It was built in the 1900’s and the benefit of staying here is its isolation as there are no roads to it and it is also surrounded by 2,000 acres of native forest with some on the most picturesque views over the Marlborough Sounds.


Walk: 15 km


Dinner & Overnight: Furneaux Lodge


Day 3 Walk to South Eastern Side, Endeavour Inlet/Punga Cove

The first part of today’s walk takes you through native bush with an abundance of bird life including bellbirds, fantails and the New Zealand robin. Also pass through Howden Reserve, which is named after the family who built Furneaux Lodge.


As you reach Big Bay, a wide sweeping cove, the vegetation changes to lush coastal forest. There is also the possibility to learn about antimony (a metal used in ship bell-making for example), and this areas thriving mining industry that occurred in the 1880’s.


The sea is never very far away from the track and today you can enjoy many coastal views as you walk. After reaching Camp Bay you can locate the lovely Mahana Lodge just off the track.


Walk: 11.5 km


Dinner & Overnight: Mahana Lodge


Day 4: Walk to Portage Bay, transfer to Lochmara

Today is a challenging but very rewarding day as you walk on the ridgeline between Punga Cove and the Torea Saddle. It is affectionally known as the “Big Day”. Majestic views greet you around every corner. Once you reach the iconic Eatwell’s Lookout stare in awe at the sunken river valleys of the Marlborough Sounds. Views stretch as far as the Cook Strait to the north and the inland Kaikoura Mountain range to the south.  Spot black long lines of mussel farms on the water.


Ever-changing panoramas of the inlets and sounds on both sides will constantly delight as you keep heading along the ridge. At Torea Saddle is where the Maori hauled their canoes from Queen Charlotte to Kenepuru Sound, saving a considerable sea journey. From the Bay of Many Coves shelter you will drop over to the sheltered east side before climbing again to Black Rock Shelter. You may see views back to Picton and even an Interislander ferry passing far below you. Upon reaching Portage Bay you will be transferred by water taxi to stunning Lochmara Lodge.


Walk: 23 km


Dinner & Overnight: Lochmara Lodge


Day 5: Walk to Anakiwa, Take water taxi back to Picton.

Ascend to the ridgeline once again from the Portage Resort and enjoy viewing the turquoise waters of Kenepuru Sound and walking through open farmland. Upon reaching a stand of Manuka trees this is a good place to stop for a break, before continuing onto Te Mahia Bay Saddle. About 2 hours from the end of the track you may spot milky blue patches in the water which are likely moon jelly fish! Here there is a gradual descent through beech forest and you can also spot the small settlements of Ngakuta and Momorangi.


Davies Bay is a great place for a final swim in its sheltered bay. Arrive in Anikawa jetty where you return by the 4.00pm/4.30pm water taxi, reaching Picton at 5:00pm/5:30pm. Spend your last night in this picturesque town and explore its many cafes and restaurants for dinner and try the local Marlborough Sounds wine as a fitting farewell to a wonderful “tramp”.


Walk: 20.5km


Overnight: Picton


Day 6: Onward Travel

This morning leave at your leisure from Picton. You may return by air or ferry to Wellington in order to fly out, or carry on with your journey here in New Zealand.

Accommodation

On this Queen Charlotte Track in Comfort tour you will stay 3 nights in top-rated lodges on the track and 2 nights in a luxury B&B in Picton.  This tour’s accommodation is the best these areas have to offer and is extremely comfortable and tranquil. Whilst on the track all the lodges have stunning locations.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

If you require single rooms we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable. We welcome solo walkers on the Queen Charlotte Track, although you should of course take extra care in the outdoors when walking solo and there is also a solo supplement payable.



 

 



McCormick House  - Picton



McCormick House - Picton

Set in a quiet, sunny location, on half an acre of private woodland gardens, McCormick House has three individually designed rooms, each richly furnished with a sumptuous bed.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Furneaux Lodge - Endeavour Inlet

At Furneaux Lodge you will be staying in one of the Tobias Suites. Close to the main building of the lodge, these rooms have stunning views from your private deck down to the sea.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Mahana Lodge - Punga Cove

In this boutique lodge accommodation there are four bedrooms, all ensuite. The rooms all open on to a small deck, three with forest backdrops and one with a sea view.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Lochmara Lodge - Lochmara Bay

Nestled in the stunning Marlborough Sounds, Lochmara Lodge is the perfect escape. Expect warm service, fresh organic produce and culinary creativity.


 

 

 

Availability

The Queen Charlotte Track is very popular and therefore you will have to book quite far in advance in order to be successful for us to confirm the dates you request, especially if you wish to travel in the height of the season which is February and March. You can take this tour anywhere between September and May.  To avoid disappointment please try to plan your trip well in advance ( at least 6-9 months), if possible.


Why not try one of our alternate walks in New Zealand too, such as the Routeburn, Kepler, Abel Tasman, Milford or Kaikoura Coast Track?


Time of Year

The best time of year to walk the Queen Charlotte Track is between September and May, during the spring, summer and Autumn/fall months. The weather will be more settled during these times of year, although it can be unpredictable at any time of year. 


Meals

5 Breakfasts are included, all continental style. Also included are 4 packed lunches whilst hiking on the track. 3 Dinners are included, at Furneaux Lodge, Mahana Lodge and Raehiti Lodge all of which serve fresh local produce, are renowned for their culinary creativity and have extensive wine lists.It will be a 3-course meal and a set menu.


Grade & Terrain

Most sections of the track are wide and any major streams have been bridged. There is one swing bridge located at Endeavour Inlet but it is wide and sturdy. This tour is rated moderate and enjoyment of any walk is better if you have a reasonable degree of fitness – that does not mean you need to be a marathon runner! If you are active 2 or 3 times a week (walking, golfing, running, gym) then this is an excellent base for doing a multi-day walk like the Queen Charlotte Track. In the lead up to the trip, try to do at least one long walk (up to 8 hours) and also some hill walking as the Queen Charlotte Track does have some steeper sections. Keep in mind the longest day also has an optional boat ride for those who want a day of rest.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

This track is well signposted and marked. We also provide a track guide and GPX tracks are accessible on the Macs Smartphone App, so you can simply follow the route on your phone if you wish.


Baggage Transfers

Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 15kg per person. On Day 2 you will need to take it with you to the water taxi, then it will be moved to Furneaux Lodge. On the final day it will be transferred all the way back to your accommodation in Picton.


If you wish to leave any other luggage in Picton we can provide safe storage whilst you are on the track.


Car Rental

If you wish to rent a car please contact your Destination and Adventure Specialist.


Equipment

Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes and a day pack.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.


General Information

The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.

Getting to and from Picton

By Air: You can fly into and out of Wellington International Airport and then after this you can take a short flight of 25 minutes (on Soundsair) to Picton Airport. From Picton Airport you can take a bus or taxi to the town centre. Or you can take the Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton.  The easiest way to get to the ferry from the airport is to take a taxi, but there are also local buses.


The easiest way to get to the ferry from the airport is to take a taxi, but there are also local buses. If you are renting a car, it is best to pick up a car in Picton after the walk as the the ferry with the car is quite expensive. We offer car rental so you will have to check with your Destination & Adventure Specialist about the details on this.


You may have also been using a rental car to get around before the start of your Queen Charlotte track, if this is the case you can simply follow the directions on the accommodation list to the first place you are staying in Picton.


It is also possible to fly into either Christchurch or Auckland Airports and then take short flights to Marlborough Airport in Blenheim. From this airport you can take a taxi to Picton for around 20NZD and the journey takes about 20-25 mins.


When leaving Picton you can do the same things in reverse.


* Please be aware that when booking flights from the UK to New Zealand you will arrive 2 days after you set off and on return you will arrive 1 day after you set off. So, for example, if you leave on a Tuesday you will arrive on a Thursday and on return if you leave on a Saturday you will arrive home on the Sunday. This is obviously because of the time it takes to get there but also because you are travelling back and forth across the International Date Line. Similar principles apply when travelling from other places in Europe and from the USA and Canada. Please make sure that when you book you take this into consideration so that you are arriving on the correct day that the tour begins.

Included

  • 3 Nights in top-rated lodges on the track and 2 Nights in a luxury B&B in Picton
  • 5 Breakfasts
  • Water taxi to the start of the track and from the end of the track
  • 3 Dinners
  • Transfers from your Picton accommodation to and from the water taxi the morning of your departure and vice versa
  • 4 Packed lunches (on Days 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  • Pre-trip briefing from local hosts
  • Track Guide and Information Pack
  • Access to the Macs Smartphone App with GPS Tracks
  • 24-7 Emergency telephone support

Excluded

  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Travel to and from Picton
  • 2 Dinners
  • 1 Lunch
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Personal necessities
  • Rental Car (Should you choose to rent one)
  • ETA & IVL requests (mandatory as per 1 Oct 2019)

Extras

  • Single room & solo walkers supplement(s)
  • Additional nights
  • Rental Car

How far in advance do I need to book?

The Queen Charlotte Track is very popular, therefore to avoid disappointment please try to plan your trip well in advance ( at least 6-9 months), if possible.

How fit do I need to be?

This tour is rated moderate and enjoyment of any walk is better if you have a reasonable degree of fitness – that does not mean you need to be a marathon runner! If you are active 2 or 3 times a week (walking, golfing, running, gym) then this is an excellent base for doing a multi-day walk like the Queen Charlotte Track. In the lead up to the trip, try to do at least one long walk (up to 8 hours) and also some hill walking as the Queen Charlotte Track does have some steeper sections.

How do the baggage transfers work?

Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 15kg per person. On Day 2 you will need to take it with you to the water taxi, then it will be moved to Furneaux Lodge. On the final day it will be transferred all the way back to your accommodation in Picton.

What equipment do I need?

Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes and a day pack.


Great Trip

5

Good walk, beautiful scenery, wonderful accommodations

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California

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Queen Charlotte Track in Comfort

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Macs Adventure - Head Office: Skypark 5, 45 Finnieston Street, Glasgow, G3 8JU, UK

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