Queen Charlotte Track
- Walk amidst New Zealand’s Marlborough Sounds on the Queen Charlotte Track
- Ship Cove, favourite anchorage of Captain Cook in the 1770s
- Walk skyline ridges with unsurpassed coastal views amidst forest reserves
- Bays, inlets, islands and peninsulas rising from turquoise waters
- Picton, a picturesque harbour town and gateway to this classic track
ItineraryDay 1 Transfer to Picton Waterfront. Water Taxi to Ship Cove. Walk to North Eastern Side, Endeavour Inlet 9.5 miles / 15 km
Today you will be picked up from your accommodation in Picton and transferred (5 mins) to catch the water taxi (1H) to Ship Cove, the beginning of the Queen Charlotte Track. A briefing by our local partners will be held before setting off. 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 a 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.
At Furneaux Lodge you will be staying in one of the suite rooms. Close to the main building of the lodge, these rooms have stunning views from your private deck down to the sea. Two upstairs and two with doors opening onto the lawn. Relaxing and peaceful, the lodge is family-owned and operated and their attention to guests and passion for Furneaux and the Marlborough Sounds will ensure that your time here is enjoyable and memorable.
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.
Described as your “sanctuary in the sounds” this resort in Punga Cove is set amongst stunning scenery and is the perfect retreat for people wanting to relax in style. You will stay in a chalet which has a private sun deck with views of native New Zealand bush and the waters of Marlborough Sounds.
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.
The rooms at this comfortable resort all have views over the water to Kenepuru Sound. They have either decks or sunrooms and tea/coffee making facilities. You can dine out at the Te Weka Restaurant for dinner which offers fresh contemporary food and an outstanding Marlborough wine list.
You will be staying in a Hillside room.
Ascend to the ridgeline once again from 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 jellyfish! 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.
From here you can proceed with your onward travel plans. We recommend spending 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”. Although we cannot book your accommodation in Picton you can easily arrange this yourself as there are plenty to choose from
Other InformationIs it for me?
This moderately rated tour immerses you in the stunning coastal landscapes of the Marlborough Sounds, located at the top of New Zealand’s South Island. By night, stay in very comfortable accommodations along the trail all in stunning locations, and during the day, walk along ridgelines with unsurpassed views of lush green wilderness. You can also enjoy the wine of the region with dinner which is world-famous.
Classic Routes | If you’re the active, outdoorsy type, who’s interested in taking on the great routes of the world or looking for a challenge, then our Classic Routes are for you. We’re talking the West Highland Way, Tour Du Mont Blanc and the Passau to Vienna Danube Cycle Path, to name but a few!
Hut to Hut Walking | Walk from hut to hut, changing accommodation each night
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.
All the accommodations whilst you are on the trail are included in the price of this tour, including your stay at Furneaux Lodge, Punga Cove and the Portage Resort - they are all a comfortable standard and are set in the stunning backdrop of the Queen Charlotte track. Please note there will be an extra payable supplement required for a twin room share in Punga Cove.
On this standard 4-day tour you will however need to book your own accommodation on your arrival and onward travel day in Picton (there are plenty of options and motels are of a good standard in New Zealand as compared to other countries).
Please let your adventure specialist know what accommodation you have booked in Picton so we can arrange the included transfers to/from the water taxi departure point as well as your luggage.
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.
- Included in price: Whilst hiking on the Queen Charlotte Track 4x packed lunches will be provided for you.
- Not Included in price: Breakfast has to be paid for locally at your accommodation whilst on the track as well as your evening meal/dinner. Some of the accommodations provide a more casual dining experience should you want to choose that over a more formal experience.
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.
- 3 Nights in comfortable lodges
- Transfers from your Picton accommodation to and from the water taxi the morning of your departure and vice versa
- Water taxi to the start of the track and from the end of the track
- Packed lunch on each walking day
- Baggage transfers
- 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
- Travel insurance (required)
- Accommodation in Picton (pre and post tour)
- Travel to and from Picton
- Breakfasts & Dinners
- Drinks and snacks
- Personal necessities
- ETA & IVL requests (mandatory as per 1 Oct 2019)
- Additional nights
- Rental Car
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.
The months of January, February and March, 2023 are particularly busy and in order to confirm a booking during these months it may be necessary to alter the standard itineraries which may involve the changing of some inclusions, overnights etc.
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.
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.
If you are renting a car, it is best to pick up a car in Picton after the walk as the ferry with the car is quite expensive.
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.
* 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.
When leaving Picton you can do the same things in reverse.
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 (Please let your adventure specialist know your overnight accommodation in Picton so we can arrange this in advance).
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.
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.
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