Queen Charlotte Track-The Essentials

Self-guided

Queen Charlotte track end to end from Ship Cove to Anakiwa. Forests filled with fauna and birdsong. Lush rainforest gullies filled with massive tree ferns.

Self-guided 4 Days From $1195 Easy to Moderate What's Included

Queen Charlotte Track-The Essentials

BACK
What's Included
  • Full access to the Queen Charlotte track in superb comfort.
  • 3 nights accommodation in beautiful lodge accommodations
  • Walk the entire track end to end pack free
  • 4 walkers lunches
  • Comprehensive tracks notes, map case, insulated lunch bag and container
  • Enjoy nearly 30 years of our experience in organising self-guided walking holidays

Queen Charlotte Track – 5 Days

Self-guided

Superb views over the magnificent Queen Charlotte & Kenepuru Sound, majestic native forest, stay in lodges, walk from Ship Cove to Torea Bay in and out of your accommodation.

Self-guided 5 Days From $1685 Easy to Moderate What's Included

Queen Charlotte Track – 5 Days

BACK
What's Included
  • Full access to the Queen Charlotte track in superb comfort.
  • 4 nights accommodation, in beautiful lodge accommodations on the track
  • Walk the track from Ship Cove to Torea Bay, all transfers on and off track
  • A la carte meals including 2 course dinners when on the track
  • 4 breakfasts, 3 walkers lunches
  • We look after you before and after the walk
  • Comprehensive tracks notes, map case, insulated lunch bag and container
  • Enjoy the nearly 30 years of our experience in organising self-guided walking holidays

Queen Charlotte Track – End to End

Self-guided

Glorious views over the magnificent Queen Charlotte Sound, stunning native forest, gourmet Marlborough area as you walk from Ship Cove to Anakiwa in and out of your accommodation

Self-guided 6 Days From $1895 Easy to Moderate What's Included

Queen Charlotte Track – End to End

BACK
What's Included
  • Full access to the Queen Charlotte track in superb comfort.
  • 5 nights accommodation in beautiful lodge accommodations
  • Walk the entire track end to end pack free, all transfers on and off track
  • A la carte meals including 2 course dinners on the walk
  • 3 breakfasts, 4 walkers lunches
  • We look after you before and after the walk
  • Comprehensive tracks notes, map case, insulated lunch bag and container
  • Enjoy the nearly 30 years of our experience in organising self-guided walking holidays

OVERVIEW

Walks like the Queen Charlotte underwrite New Zealand’s reputation as being one the worlds best-hiking destinations. The scenery is dramatic, almost middle earth-like, and the accommodations we use are simply gorgeous. This is one of the truly best accommodated self-guided walks in the world. Walk from gorgeous lodge to gorgeous lodge all of which are perched right on the water offering fantastic views.

The walk starts at Shipcove, famous for having been Captain James Cook’s favourite base on his three voyages to New Zealand. The walk winds along the bent finger-like peninsula, via Resolution Bay to our first Lodge and then the following day around Endeavour Bay to our next accommodation. It’s from here that the walking gets a little more serious as the track goes up and over the Peninsula via Eatwell’s Lookout to Portage Bay. The final leg is a joyous meandering stroll through the forest adjacent to the water, as always to Anakiwa.

READ MORE

history

Ship Cove

This bay was named by James Cook who made several visits to this area — in HMS Endeavour on his first voyage, and in HMS Resolution on his second voyage. The Queen Charlotte Track begins where the Ship Cove Jetty hits the shore.

Furneaux Lodge, one of the accommodations we use, honours Tobias Furneaux, the British navigator who sailed with Cook on his second expedition which departed England in 1772. Furneaux was captain of HMS Adventure while Cook was captain of HMS Resolution. The two ships were separated several times during this voyage.

Kenepuru and Queen Charlotte Sound area were first visited by Kupe, the famous Polynesian explorer. His wife was with him on his exploration and gave the name Aotearoa to this great land.

The first European to formally recognise New Zealand was James Cook. He found safe harbour here, and Ship Cove became his favourite New Zealand base during his three voyages that included Australia. Cook spent a total of 170 days anchoring here between his first visit in January 1770 and final departure in February 1777. This was an attractive place to stay as it was secure anchorage with ample wood, freshwater and great fishing. It became a central point for Cook to prepare and provision his ships and restore his crew’s health, ready for further exploration.

There was much and sustained contact between Maori and Europeans here. The Maori people were quick to see the benefits of trade with the Europeans. While Captain Cook’s people observed and engaged in M?ori cultural life. Cook had a local pacific islander with him by the name of Tahiti. He was able to assist with liaising with the Maoris and provided the welcome insight into the Maori’s own Polynesian history. Cook did not die in New Zealand but in Hawai in 1779. Shipcove was highly valued by Maori’s as a welcome place to shelter from the open sea.

Flora & Fauna

FAUNA

New Zealand’s natural ecosystems are dominated by birds. Before the arrival of Maori and Europeans, there were no terrestrial mammals here at all, with the exception of two species of microbats (insectivorous bats). In the absence of predators, many of the bird species became flightless through the course of evolution and nested on the ground. Once predatory mammals arrived on these islands, this was clearly not a good strategy for survival! Polynesian rats (Kiore) were introduced by Maori. Pigs were introduced by Captain Cook. Ships rats also came ashore.

The Australian (mountain) brush-tailed possum was introduced in 1837 with the aim of establishing a fur trade. This quickly failed as a commercial venture, but the possums thrived. Here in New Zealand, possums feast on birds’ eggs and chicks. They also eat a huge amount of forest vegetation – the trees and the birds have not evolved any defences to deal with these hungry marsupials.

You may see some large brown birds wandering around in this area, these are weka (Gallirallus australis). Weka are endemic to New Zealand (i.e. found only here). Once common, they have suffered a precipitous decline over the last few decades due likely to nest predation by feral mammals. Trapping of invasive predators around Queen Charlotte is helping their comeback. Please do not feed the weka and watch your snacks as they are opportunistic scavengers.

FLORA

Tawa (Beilschmeidia tawa) is a large NZ endemic tree that often dominates the forest canopy tree. While many of New Zealand’s forest trees are coniferous podocarps, the tawa is an angiosperm (flowering tree). Some of the other large trees here are Totara (Podocarpus totara). The original Maori name for the Queen Charlotte area was Totaranui – meaning place of big Totara trees.

Rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum) is a podocarp, a group of conifers dominant in the Southern Hemisphere. In contrast to most conifers which have light, airy seeds that are dispersed by the wind, podocarps have fleshy seeds that are dispersed by birds. The Rimu is the only New Zealand species of the group more common in New Caledonia and Indonesia. The Maori name “rimu” essentially means “seaweed tree” referring to the way the branches of the young tree hang down and sway in the wind. Rimu has hard, attractive wood and was the main tree targeted by timber-getters in New Zealand. Very few large, old rimu survived the logging days.

Punga (also spelled ponga) is the general Maori name for tree ferns. There are several species of tree ferns in the Queen Charlotte area. Growth rates are between 3 – 7 cm per year, depending on the variety of tree fern. The silver fern (Cyathea dealbata) is one of the emblems of New Zealand and is easily recognisable. The trunk is 2 – 10 m tall with green fronds that are white to light gray (“silver”) underneath. Similar species are found in the cooler, wetter forests of Australia. Pung Ais also one of the names of the Lodges we use on this walk.

The smaller trees with white-blotched bark are Kamahi (Weinmannia racemosa), the most abundant forest tree in New Zealand. They are found from the lowlands to subalpine regions. Their distribution ranges from the middle of the North Island all the way south to Stewart Island off the southern end of the South Island. They are known for the lovely clusters of small pink or white flowers they bear in upright spikes (racemes) between July and January. The bark is very high in tannin and was widely used by European settlers for the tanning of animal hides.

Transport

There are various methods to make your way to and from the track. If you have plenty of time, it may be a good idea to vary the way you travel to and away from the track in order to facilitate the best experience.
If you are arriving by car, you can drive to Picton from anywhere in New Zealand. It makes the most sense to fly to Christchurch in order to expedite a ‘drive and explore’ of the east coast, namely Kaikoura and Akaroa.

If flying to Wellington and getting an onward flight to Blenheim, we can arrange pick-up from here. This is the quickest method.

Alternatively, you could fly to Wellington and take the ferry which arrives right next to your hotel in Picton.

Another option is to fly to Christchurch and catch the train to Picton. This train journey is said to be one of the greatest train journeys in the world. From the train station, it’s a short 3 to 4-minute walk to your hotel.

You could get an onward flight to Nelson from all the major centres. From here it is possible to get a private transfer. This is one of the best transport options for the Abel Tasman walk. If you decide to walk both the Abel Tasman and Queen Charlotte walks with us we will transfer you on both trips to and from the tracks to Nelson or close by.

Weather & when to walk

The weather from December to February is usually warm to hot with excellent swimming weather. From March through to May and September through to November it is more likely to be cooler, with long sunny days, perfect for walking.

Please see the New Zealand Meteorological Service information in regard to the average temperatures and rainfall at different times of the year.

The best time to walk is in Autumn (Fall) and Spring.

Terrain

The tracks on this walk are all excellent. There are portions where the walk goes uphill, but the total amount of uphill walking is not significant.

The Marlborough Sounds area was formed at the end of the last Ice Age around 10,000 years ago when sea-levels rose and drowned a series of deep valleys. The Port Jackson region around Sydney was formed in the same way. Of the sounds here, Pelorous Sound is the largest, followed by Queen Charlotte Sound. For the record, a sound is a large ocean inlet which is deeper than a bight and wider than a fjord. The term also refers to a narrow ocean channel between two bodies of land.

Travel in New Zealand

VISAS

Do you need a visa for New Zealand?

If you are an Australian citizen, you do not need one, but your passport must be valid for at least 3 months.

There are many countries that New Zealand call visa waiver countries, but this still requires you to apply for a New Zealand Travel Authority (a NZeTA) on line. See below for those countries that are eligible:

Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia citizens only, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong — residents with HKSAR or British National–Overseas passports only, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea South, Kuwait, Latvia citizens only, Liechtenstein, Lithuania citizens only, Luxembourg, Macau only if you have a Macau Special Administrative Region passport, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal if you have the right to live permanently in Portugal, Qatar, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan if you are a permanent resident, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom (UK) if you are travelling on a UK or British passport that shows you have the right to reside permanently in the UK, United States of America (USA) including USA nationals, Uruguay and the Vatican City.

New Zealand has very strict quarantine laws, so don’t bring in any food or animal products into the country. It is also a good idea to clean your walking shoes/boots thoroughly to make sure you haven’t got any mud on them. (or hidden bugs or microbes in the mud). Failure to declare any restricted items will result in hefty fines so leave your local produce at home or eat it on the flight.

TRANSPORT

Flights to New Zealand are regular as tourism a big part of New Zealand’s economy is tourism, nearly 10% if you count all the indirect activity. It makes up a wapping 20% of New Zealand’s total exports. Here are some of the airlines that fly to New Zealand.

Air New Zealand (This is New Zealand’s national carrier)

Cathay Pacific

Emirates

Thai Airways

Malaysia Airlines

Qantas

Singapore Airlines

It is worthwhile flying into where you are going to most of your activity. Many countries have direct flights to Auckland and also Queenstown. Flying from Australia, there are many extra choices to where you can land. Christchurch is a good place to arrive at if you intend on driving up the east coast of the South Island to Blenheim, Queen Charlotte or the Abel Tasman. As the drive is magnificent. If you walking the Milford Track it makes more sense to land in Queenstown. Or if you want to visit the Bay of Islands, then Auckland is the most central place to land.

FOOD & WINE

New Zealand punches well above its weight when it comes to food.

For those people that are on restricted diets, like vegetarian, Halal or just want to eat similar food to home (like Indian food for example), there is no shortage of options. New Zealand prides itself on its quality of fresh produce and the sheer variety of choice. New Zealand contemporary cuisine is influenced by European cuisine, but there are other influences beginning to make their mark on the New Zealand palette, such as Thai, Indian and Vietnamese.

New Zealand has come along way form fish and chips and steak on a barbeque. There’s said to be a distinct Pacific Rim cuisine in New Zealand, so you can expect to eat plenty of seafood like mussels, lobster, oysters and fresh fish. There’s also the award-winning cheeses and the famous lamb that New Zealand is famous for.

The wine-growing regions of New Zealand have become world renown over the last 30 years or so. The main places or regions to visit are namely: Marlborough, Hawkes Bay, Auckland, Wairarapa, Waipara Valley and Central Otago.

THINGS TO DO

New Zealand is famous for its hikes and outdoor activity. Milford Sound, Routeburn, Abel Tasman, Queen Charlotte Track, Bay of Islands and Queenstown are all principal to New Zealand’s outdoor adventure product. Other walks include the Heaphy Track, Tongariro Circuit, Kepler Track, Rakiura and the Te Aroroa (3,000kms walking from end to end of New Zealand), but all of these hikes require that you are willing to camp or stay in rudimentary huts.

Beyond the walking, there are many scenic routes to drive in New Zealand. You will need an international driver’s licence to drive in New Zealand, accompanied by your own country driver’s licence. New Zealanders drive on the left-hand side of the road and vehicles seat the driver on the right, like the UK. New Zealand’s roads travel over a variety of terrain, so be ready for roads that are sometimes narrow, undulating and windy with plenty of severe cornering. Many of the roads are single lane in each direction without any barriers in between them. For more information, see NewZealand.com. The narrow roads require that you need to plan to take more time getting from place to place.

There is, of course also the wineries as mentioned above. There are literally hundreds of them to visit. Some of the areas have become world-famous like the Marlborough region. This region is less than 40 kms from the Queen Charlotte Track so you might want to think about combining the two.

Kayaking in the Abel Tasman Park is very popular as are all the other water activities that you can partake in; sailing, diving, surfing and fishing, to name a few. Sailing is very popular in the Bay of islands and it is possible to book a charter to explore the islands.

HEALTH

New Zealand is the first world so there is very little to worry about from a disease point of view.

However, if you are planning on going off-grid and hiking the Te Aroroa, for example, makes sure you have a comprehensive first aid kit.

walking fitness levels

This is not a difficult walk, but there is one day that we have to walk 24 km. This can be missed by taking the boat to the next accommodation. The tracks are well maintained, there is no sand, and there is no scrambling whatsoever. This is rated as a moderate walk, and you will need an average level of walking fitness. See walk itineraries for more detail.

walking essentials

As with any journey, it is essential to be prepared for your self-guided walking holiday. While we will be transporting your luggage from accommodation to accommodation, you will still be carrying a light-weight day pack with you. Here is what we suggest that you carry with you each day:

  • Walking notes, map, and a map case
  • Picnic lunch packed in an insulated container (when supplied)
  • Quality waterproof jacket with a hood
  • Warm jumper or jacket
  • Sunhat
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Sunscreen (at least 15+)
  • 1 to 2 litres of water
  • First aid kit
  • Toilet paper
  • Some money
  • Mobile phone (please note that reception is not available in all walk areas)
  • Personal insect repellent, band-aids, and a small container of salt missed with rice grains
  • Personal necessities (example: required medication)

Now that we have the essentials packed, it is time to think of those additional items that may be worth packing along with you. These may include and are not limited to:

  • Waterproof over-trousers
  • Warm hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera (with extra battery or sim cards)
  • Binoculars
  • Notebook and pen
  • Matches
  • Small torch
  • Walking stick
  • Thermos (for hot drinks)
  • Additional snacks

Wineries & Walking

After walking the Queen Charlotte Track why not take a few days out and let your taste buds out for a walk. This region is New Zealand’s primo wine destination. Most of the wineries are centred around Blenheim so its a short drive from Winery to Winery.

Marlborough region is known for its Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris wines. There’s plenty of tours that you can take or you can walk from Vintner’s Retreat to Wairau River, Nautilus, Giesen and Huia wineries. This is more than enough wineries to make great day out.

Below is a long list of links to all the wineries so you can decide which ones to visit: Good luck in deciding which ones to visit as they all are unique in their own way.

A

Allan Scott Family Winemakers Ara Wines Astrolabe Wines  Auntsfield Estate Awatere River Wine Company

B

Ballochdale Estate Barker’s Marque Wine Bladen Wines Blank Canvas Wines Blind River Estate Boundary Rider Wines Brancott Estate

C

Cable Bay Vineyards Catalina Sounds Caythorpe Cirro Wines Clark Estate Clifford Bay Clos Henri Clos Marguerite Cloudy Bay Vineyards Constellation Brands Coopers Creek Vineyard Craggy Range

D

Dashwood Delegat Dog Point Vineyards

E

Eradus Esk Valley Estate

F

Fairbourne Estate Ltd Fairhall Downs Estate Wines Forrest Wines Foxes Island Framingham Wines Fromm Winery

G

Gem Georges Michel Wine Estate Gibson Bridge Giesen Wines Goldwater Wines Limited Greywacke Grove Mill Winery

H

Hans Herzog Estate Hawksdrift Wines Hillersden Homer Wines Huia Vineyards Hunter’s Wines

I

Invivo Wines Isabel Vineyard

J

Jackson Estate Johannesh  of Cellars Jules Taylor Wines

K

Kim Crawford Konrad

L

Lake Chalice Wines Lawson’s Dry Hills Winery Little Black Stone Lobster Reef Wines  Loveblock Lowlands Wines 

M

Marisco Vineyards Marlborough Wine Ltd Matakana Estate Matua Wines  Misty Cove Wine Group Mohua Wines  Monkey Bay Mount Fishtail Mount Riley Wines Mud House Wines

N

Nautilus Estate No1 Family Estate

O

O’Dwyers Creek Vineyard Odyssey Wines Omaka Springs Estates Opawa Wines  O:TU & Co Oyster Bay

P

Pear Tree Wines

R

Ra Nui Wines Rapaura Springs Rock Ferry Wines Rongopai Wines

S

Sacred Hill Wines Saint Clair Family Estate Sileni Estates Selaks Seresin Estate Small and Small Soderberg Wines Ltd SOHO WINE CO Spring Creek Estate Spy Valley Wines Staete Landt Wine Company Stanley Estates Ltd Steve Bird Summerhouse Supper Club Wines

T

Ten Sisters Te Pa Wines  TerraVin Te Whare Ra Wines (TWR) The Crossings The Darling Wines The Delta Wine Company Tiki Wine & Vineyards Tinpot Hut Tohu Toi Toi Wines Totara Wines Tua Marina Vineyards Tupari Twin Islands Wine 

V

Vavasour Vicarage Lane Wines Villa Maria Estate

W

Waipara Hills Wairau River Walnut Block Wines Wither Hills

Y

Yealands Estate Wines Ltd

Z

Zephyr

THREE BEST WALKS ON THE QUEEN CHARLOTTE TRACK

Endeavour Inlet via Camp Bay to Portage Bay

Total Distance:        23.5kms

Total Time:              7hrs 10mins – 9hrs

Elevation:                +1288m / -1277m

Grading:                  Moderate to challenging walking on a good track

This is the most epic day of the track. There’s massive views as you walk, with both views out over Queen Charlotte Sound to your left and Kenepura Sound to your right all at the same time. There’s the added benefit of climbing up to Eatwell’s Lookout to get a 360 degree views. 23kms sounds like a bit, but it is not as difficult as it looks. A big portion of the 1200m plus of elevation is due to undulation of the track. There’s plenty of forest canopy and rainforest to admire as well as a Weka or two that will try to knick your lunch if you’re not careful.

Ship Cove to Furneaux Lodge

Total Distance:        15.6kms

Total Time:              4hrs 10mins / 5hrs10mins

Elevation:                +993m / -997m

Grading:                  Moderate walking on a good track

This is the start of Queen Charlotte Track. There’s a 71kms marker sign just a little way from the jetty from where you get dropped off on the Left. The entrance to the track is also marked by a stone wall. The Queen Charlotte Track is also a popular mountain biking route, but the section does not get many riders as some section are a bit to steep for riders, but perfect for us.  This section between Kenepuru Saddle is also closed to Mountain Bike riders between 1 December and 28 February.

The excellent views over the Sound begin right from the start of the walk. The best views today are at the 4kms mark into the walk at Ship Cove Lookout. From here the walk take you past the turnoff for Schoolhouse Bay and Tawa Saddle with more fine views. From Tawa Saddle it is a pleasant stroll downhill via some huge Rimu trees (endemic to New Zealand) and through a dense rainforest to Furneaux Lodge.

Portage Bay via Torea Saddle to Anankiwa

Total Distance:        21.5kms

Total Time:              Approx. 6hrs – 7hrs 30mins

Elevation:                + 1351m / – 1364m

Grading:                  Moderate walking on a good track

This portion of the Queen Charlotte Track is the last day of what is normally a 4 day walk. Today’s walk starts from Portage Bay with an immediate slow but steady climb. There’s a variety of landscape once again, much like the day before. The views tighten a little over the Queen Charlotte Sound as you walk along the peninsula to where it joins the mainland. The last 6kms or so of the track has virtually no gradient and is adjacent to the water with a nice canopy of rainforest that shields the track from the sun. It’s the perfect end to what is a marvellous walk. What’s more at the end of the trail in Anakiwa there’s a café ready and waiting to sell you a coffee or a cool drink.

Overview

OVERVIEW

Walks like the Queen Charlotte underwrite New Zealand’s reputation as being one the worlds best-hiking destinations. The scenery is dramatic, almost middle earth-like, and the accommodations we use are simply gorgeous. This is one of the truly best accommodated self-guided walks in the world. Walk from gorgeous lodge to gorgeous lodge all of which are perched right on the water offering fantastic views.

The walk starts at Shipcove, famous for having been Captain James Cook’s favourite base on his three voyages to New Zealand. The walk winds along the bent finger-like peninsula, via Resolution Bay to our first Lodge and then the following day around Endeavour Bay to our next accommodation. It’s from here that the walking gets a little more serious as the track goes up and over the Peninsula via Eatwell’s Lookout to Portage Bay. The final leg is a joyous meandering stroll through the forest adjacent to the water, as always to Anakiwa.

READ MORE
History

History

Ship Cove

This bay was named by James Cook who made several visits to this area — in HMS Endeavour on his first voyage, and in HMS Resolution on his second voyage. The Queen Charlotte Track begins where the Ship Cove Jetty hits the shore.

Furneaux Lodge, one of the accommodations we use, honours Tobias Furneaux, the British navigator who sailed with Cook on his second expedition which departed England in 1772. Furneaux was captain of HMS Adventure while Cook was captain of HMS Resolution. The two ships were separated several times during this voyage.

Kenepuru and Queen Charlotte Sound area were first visited by Kupe, the famous Polynesian explorer. His wife was with him on his exploration and gave the name Aotearoa to this great land.

The first European to formally recognise New Zealand was James Cook. He found safe harbour here, and Ship Cove became his favourite New Zealand base during his three voyages that included Australia. Cook spent a total of 170 days anchoring here between his first visit in January 1770 and final departure in February 1777. This was an attractive place to stay as it was secure anchorage with ample wood, freshwater and great fishing. It became a central point for Cook to prepare and provision his ships and restore his crew’s health, ready for further exploration.

There was much and sustained contact between Maori and Europeans here. The Maori people were quick to see the benefits of trade with the Europeans. While Captain Cook’s people observed and engaged in M?ori cultural life. Cook had a local pacific islander with him by the name of Tahiti. He was able to assist with liaising with the Maoris and provided the welcome insight into the Maori’s own Polynesian history. Cook did not die in New Zealand but in Hawai in 1779. Shipcove was highly valued by Maori’s as a welcome place to shelter from the open sea.

Flora & Fauna

Flora & Fauna

FAUNA

New Zealand’s natural ecosystems are dominated by birds. Before the arrival of Maori and Europeans, there were no terrestrial mammals here at all, with the exception of two species of microbats (insectivorous bats). In the absence of predators, many of the bird species became flightless through the course of evolution and nested on the ground. Once predatory mammals arrived on these islands, this was clearly not a good strategy for survival! Polynesian rats (Kiore) were introduced by Maori. Pigs were introduced by Captain Cook. Ships rats also came ashore.

The Australian (mountain) brush-tailed possum was introduced in 1837 with the aim of establishing a fur trade. This quickly failed as a commercial venture, but the possums thrived. Here in New Zealand, possums feast on birds’ eggs and chicks. They also eat a huge amount of forest vegetation – the trees and the birds have not evolved any defences to deal with these hungry marsupials.

You may see some large brown birds wandering around in this area, these are weka (Gallirallus australis). Weka are endemic to New Zealand (i.e. found only here). Once common, they have suffered a precipitous decline over the last few decades due likely to nest predation by feral mammals. Trapping of invasive predators around Queen Charlotte is helping their comeback. Please do not feed the weka and watch your snacks as they are opportunistic scavengers.

FLORA

Tawa (Beilschmeidia tawa) is a large NZ endemic tree that often dominates the forest canopy tree. While many of New Zealand’s forest trees are coniferous podocarps, the tawa is an angiosperm (flowering tree). Some of the other large trees here are Totara (Podocarpus totara). The original Maori name for the Queen Charlotte area was Totaranui – meaning place of big Totara trees.

Rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum) is a podocarp, a group of conifers dominant in the Southern Hemisphere. In contrast to most conifers which have light, airy seeds that are dispersed by the wind, podocarps have fleshy seeds that are dispersed by birds. The Rimu is the only New Zealand species of the group more common in New Caledonia and Indonesia. The Maori name “rimu” essentially means “seaweed tree” referring to the way the branches of the young tree hang down and sway in the wind. Rimu has hard, attractive wood and was the main tree targeted by timber-getters in New Zealand. Very few large, old rimu survived the logging days.

Punga (also spelled ponga) is the general Maori name for tree ferns. There are several species of tree ferns in the Queen Charlotte area. Growth rates are between 3 – 7 cm per year, depending on the variety of tree fern. The silver fern (Cyathea dealbata) is one of the emblems of New Zealand and is easily recognisable. The trunk is 2 – 10 m tall with green fronds that are white to light gray (“silver”) underneath. Similar species are found in the cooler, wetter forests of Australia. Pung Ais also one of the names of the Lodges we use on this walk.

The smaller trees with white-blotched bark are Kamahi (Weinmannia racemosa), the most abundant forest tree in New Zealand. They are found from the lowlands to subalpine regions. Their distribution ranges from the middle of the North Island all the way south to Stewart Island off the southern end of the South Island. They are known for the lovely clusters of small pink or white flowers they bear in upright spikes (racemes) between July and January. The bark is very high in tannin and was widely used by European settlers for the tanning of animal hides.

Transport

Transport

There are various methods to make your way to and from the track. If you have plenty of time, it may be a good idea to vary the way you travel to and away from the track in order to facilitate the best experience.
If you are arriving by car, you can drive to Picton from anywhere in New Zealand. It makes the most sense to fly to Christchurch in order to expedite a ‘drive and explore’ of the east coast, namely Kaikoura and Akaroa.

If flying to Wellington and getting an onward flight to Blenheim, we can arrange pick-up from here. This is the quickest method.

Alternatively, you could fly to Wellington and take the ferry which arrives right next to your hotel in Picton.

Another option is to fly to Christchurch and catch the train to Picton. This train journey is said to be one of the greatest train journeys in the world. From the train station, it’s a short 3 to 4-minute walk to your hotel.

You could get an onward flight to Nelson from all the major centres. From here it is possible to get a private transfer. This is one of the best transport options for the Abel Tasman walk. If you decide to walk both the Abel Tasman and Queen Charlotte walks with us we will transfer you on both trips to and from the tracks to Nelson or close by.

Weather & when to walk

Weather & when to walk

The weather from December to February is usually warm to hot with excellent swimming weather. From March through to May and September through to November it is more likely to be cooler, with long sunny days, perfect for walking.

Please see the New Zealand Meteorological Service information in regard to the average temperatures and rainfall at different times of the year.

The best time to walk is in Autumn (Fall) and Spring.

Terrain

Terrain

The tracks on this walk are all excellent. There are portions where the walk goes uphill, but the total amount of uphill walking is not significant.

The Marlborough Sounds area was formed at the end of the last Ice Age around 10,000 years ago when sea-levels rose and drowned a series of deep valleys. The Port Jackson region around Sydney was formed in the same way. Of the sounds here, Pelorous Sound is the largest, followed by Queen Charlotte Sound. For the record, a sound is a large ocean inlet which is deeper than a bight and wider than a fjord. The term also refers to a narrow ocean channel between two bodies of land.

Travel in New Zealand

Travel in New Zealand

VISAS

Do you need a visa for New Zealand?

If you are an Australian citizen, you do not need one, but your passport must be valid for at least 3 months.

There are many countries that New Zealand call visa waiver countries, but this still requires you to apply for a New Zealand Travel Authority (a NZeTA) on line. See below for those countries that are eligible:

Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia citizens only, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong — residents with HKSAR or British National–Overseas passports only, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea South, Kuwait, Latvia citizens only, Liechtenstein, Lithuania citizens only, Luxembourg, Macau only if you have a Macau Special Administrative Region passport, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal if you have the right to live permanently in Portugal, Qatar, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan if you are a permanent resident, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom (UK) if you are travelling on a UK or British passport that shows you have the right to reside permanently in the UK, United States of America (USA) including USA nationals, Uruguay and the Vatican City.

New Zealand has very strict quarantine laws, so don’t bring in any food or animal products into the country. It is also a good idea to clean your walking shoes/boots thoroughly to make sure you haven’t got any mud on them. (or hidden bugs or microbes in the mud). Failure to declare any restricted items will result in hefty fines so leave your local produce at home or eat it on the flight.

TRANSPORT

Flights to New Zealand are regular as tourism a big part of New Zealand’s economy is tourism, nearly 10% if you count all the indirect activity. It makes up a wapping 20% of New Zealand’s total exports. Here are some of the airlines that fly to New Zealand.

Air New Zealand (This is New Zealand’s national carrier)

Cathay Pacific

Emirates

Thai Airways

Malaysia Airlines

Qantas

Singapore Airlines

It is worthwhile flying into where you are going to most of your activity. Many countries have direct flights to Auckland and also Queenstown. Flying from Australia, there are many extra choices to where you can land. Christchurch is a good place to arrive at if you intend on driving up the east coast of the South Island to Blenheim, Queen Charlotte or the Abel Tasman. As the drive is magnificent. If you walking the Milford Track it makes more sense to land in Queenstown. Or if you want to visit the Bay of Islands, then Auckland is the most central place to land.

FOOD & WINE

New Zealand punches well above its weight when it comes to food.

For those people that are on restricted diets, like vegetarian, Halal or just want to eat similar food to home (like Indian food for example), there is no shortage of options. New Zealand prides itself on its quality of fresh produce and the sheer variety of choice. New Zealand contemporary cuisine is influenced by European cuisine, but there are other influences beginning to make their mark on the New Zealand palette, such as Thai, Indian and Vietnamese.

New Zealand has come along way form fish and chips and steak on a barbeque. There’s said to be a distinct Pacific Rim cuisine in New Zealand, so you can expect to eat plenty of seafood like mussels, lobster, oysters and fresh fish. There’s also the award-winning cheeses and the famous lamb that New Zealand is famous for.

The wine-growing regions of New Zealand have become world renown over the last 30 years or so. The main places or regions to visit are namely: Marlborough, Hawkes Bay, Auckland, Wairarapa, Waipara Valley and Central Otago.

THINGS TO DO

New Zealand is famous for its hikes and outdoor activity. Milford Sound, Routeburn, Abel Tasman, Queen Charlotte Track, Bay of Islands and Queenstown are all principal to New Zealand’s outdoor adventure product. Other walks include the Heaphy Track, Tongariro Circuit, Kepler Track, Rakiura and the Te Aroroa (3,000kms walking from end to end of New Zealand), but all of these hikes require that you are willing to camp or stay in rudimentary huts.

Beyond the walking, there are many scenic routes to drive in New Zealand. You will need an international driver’s licence to drive in New Zealand, accompanied by your own country driver’s licence. New Zealanders drive on the left-hand side of the road and vehicles seat the driver on the right, like the UK. New Zealand’s roads travel over a variety of terrain, so be ready for roads that are sometimes narrow, undulating and windy with plenty of severe cornering. Many of the roads are single lane in each direction without any barriers in between them. For more information, see NewZealand.com. The narrow roads require that you need to plan to take more time getting from place to place.

There is, of course also the wineries as mentioned above. There are literally hundreds of them to visit. Some of the areas have become world-famous like the Marlborough region. This region is less than 40 kms from the Queen Charlotte Track so you might want to think about combining the two.

Kayaking in the Abel Tasman Park is very popular as are all the other water activities that you can partake in; sailing, diving, surfing and fishing, to name a few. Sailing is very popular in the Bay of islands and it is possible to book a charter to explore the islands.

HEALTH

New Zealand is the first world so there is very little to worry about from a disease point of view.

However, if you are planning on going off-grid and hiking the Te Aroroa, for example, makes sure you have a comprehensive first aid kit.

walking fitness levels

walking fitness levels

This is not a difficult walk, but there is one day that we have to walk 24 km. This can be missed by taking the boat to the next accommodation. The tracks are well maintained, there is no sand, and there is no scrambling whatsoever. This is rated as a moderate walk, and you will need an average level of walking fitness. See walk itineraries for more detail.

walking essentials

walking essentials

As with any journey, it is essential to be prepared for your self-guided walking holiday. While we will be transporting your luggage from accommodation to accommodation, you will still be carrying a light-weight day pack with you. Here is what we suggest that you carry with you each day:

  • Walking notes, map, and a map case
  • Picnic lunch packed in an insulated container (when supplied)
  • Quality waterproof jacket with a hood
  • Warm jumper or jacket
  • Sunhat
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Sunscreen (at least 15+)
  • 1 to 2 litres of water
  • First aid kit
  • Toilet paper
  • Some money
  • Mobile phone (please note that reception is not available in all walk areas)
  • Personal insect repellent, band-aids, and a small container of salt missed with rice grains
  • Personal necessities (example: required medication)

Now that we have the essentials packed, it is time to think of those additional items that may be worth packing along with you. These may include and are not limited to:

  • Waterproof over-trousers
  • Warm hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera (with extra battery or sim cards)
  • Binoculars
  • Notebook and pen
  • Matches
  • Small torch
  • Walking stick
  • Thermos (for hot drinks)
  • Additional snacks
Wineries & Walking

Wineries & Walking

After walking the Queen Charlotte Track why not take a few days out and let your taste buds out for a walk. This region is New Zealand’s primo wine destination. Most of the wineries are centred around Blenheim so its a short drive from Winery to Winery.

Marlborough region is known for its Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris wines. There’s plenty of tours that you can take or you can walk from Vintner’s Retreat to Wairau River, Nautilus, Giesen and Huia wineries. This is more than enough wineries to make great day out.

Below is a long list of links to all the wineries so you can decide which ones to visit: Good luck in deciding which ones to visit as they all are unique in their own way.

A

Allan Scott Family Winemakers Ara Wines Astrolabe Wines  Auntsfield Estate Awatere River Wine Company

B

Ballochdale Estate Barker’s Marque Wine Bladen Wines Blank Canvas Wines Blind River Estate Boundary Rider Wines Brancott Estate

C

Cable Bay Vineyards Catalina Sounds Caythorpe Cirro Wines Clark Estate Clifford Bay Clos Henri Clos Marguerite Cloudy Bay Vineyards Constellation Brands Coopers Creek Vineyard Craggy Range

D

Dashwood Delegat Dog Point Vineyards

E

Eradus Esk Valley Estate

F

Fairbourne Estate Ltd Fairhall Downs Estate Wines Forrest Wines Foxes Island Framingham Wines Fromm Winery

G

Gem Georges Michel Wine Estate Gibson Bridge Giesen Wines Goldwater Wines Limited Greywacke Grove Mill Winery

H

Hans Herzog Estate Hawksdrift Wines Hillersden Homer Wines Huia Vineyards Hunter’s Wines

I

Invivo Wines Isabel Vineyard

J

Jackson Estate Johannesh  of Cellars Jules Taylor Wines

K

Kim Crawford Konrad

L

Lake Chalice Wines Lawson’s Dry Hills Winery Little Black Stone Lobster Reef Wines  Loveblock Lowlands Wines 

M

Marisco Vineyards Marlborough Wine Ltd Matakana Estate Matua Wines  Misty Cove Wine Group Mohua Wines  Monkey Bay Mount Fishtail Mount Riley Wines Mud House Wines

N

Nautilus Estate No1 Family Estate

O

O’Dwyers Creek Vineyard Odyssey Wines Omaka Springs Estates Opawa Wines  O:TU & Co Oyster Bay

P

Pear Tree Wines

R

Ra Nui Wines Rapaura Springs Rock Ferry Wines Rongopai Wines

S

Sacred Hill Wines Saint Clair Family Estate Sileni Estates Selaks Seresin Estate Small and Small Soderberg Wines Ltd SOHO WINE CO Spring Creek Estate Spy Valley Wines Staete Landt Wine Company Stanley Estates Ltd Steve Bird Summerhouse Supper Club Wines

T

Ten Sisters Te Pa Wines  TerraVin Te Whare Ra Wines (TWR) The Crossings The Darling Wines The Delta Wine Company Tiki Wine & Vineyards Tinpot Hut Tohu Toi Toi Wines Totara Wines Tua Marina Vineyards Tupari Twin Islands Wine 

V

Vavasour Vicarage Lane Wines Villa Maria Estate

W

Waipara Hills Wairau River Walnut Block Wines Wither Hills

Y

Yealands Estate Wines Ltd

Z

Zephyr

THREE BEST WALKS ON THE QUEEN CHARLOTTE TRACK

THREE BEST WALKS ON THE QUEEN CHARLOTTE TRACK

Endeavour Inlet via Camp Bay to Portage Bay

Total Distance:        23.5kms

Total Time:              7hrs 10mins – 9hrs

Elevation:                +1288m / -1277m

Grading:                  Moderate to challenging walking on a good track

This is the most epic day of the track. There’s massive views as you walk, with both views out over Queen Charlotte Sound to your left and Kenepura Sound to your right all at the same time. There’s the added benefit of climbing up to Eatwell’s Lookout to get a 360 degree views. 23kms sounds like a bit, but it is not as difficult as it looks. A big portion of the 1200m plus of elevation is due to undulation of the track. There’s plenty of forest canopy and rainforest to admire as well as a Weka or two that will try to knick your lunch if you’re not careful.

Ship Cove to Furneaux Lodge

Total Distance:        15.6kms

Total Time:              4hrs 10mins / 5hrs10mins

Elevation:                +993m / -997m

Grading:                  Moderate walking on a good track

This is the start of Queen Charlotte Track. There’s a 71kms marker sign just a little way from the jetty from where you get dropped off on the Left. The entrance to the track is also marked by a stone wall. The Queen Charlotte Track is also a popular mountain biking route, but the section does not get many riders as some section are a bit to steep for riders, but perfect for us.  This section between Kenepuru Saddle is also closed to Mountain Bike riders between 1 December and 28 February.

The excellent views over the Sound begin right from the start of the walk. The best views today are at the 4kms mark into the walk at Ship Cove Lookout. From here the walk take you past the turnoff for Schoolhouse Bay and Tawa Saddle with more fine views. From Tawa Saddle it is a pleasant stroll downhill via some huge Rimu trees (endemic to New Zealand) and through a dense rainforest to Furneaux Lodge.

Portage Bay via Torea Saddle to Anankiwa

Total Distance:        21.5kms

Total Time:              Approx. 6hrs – 7hrs 30mins

Elevation:                + 1351m / – 1364m

Grading:                  Moderate walking on a good track

This portion of the Queen Charlotte Track is the last day of what is normally a 4 day walk. Today’s walk starts from Portage Bay with an immediate slow but steady climb. There’s a variety of landscape once again, much like the day before. The views tighten a little over the Queen Charlotte Sound as you walk along the peninsula to where it joins the mainland. The last 6kms or so of the track has virtually no gradient and is adjacent to the water with a nice canopy of rainforest that shields the track from the sun. It’s the perfect end to what is a marvellous walk. What’s more at the end of the trail in Anakiwa there’s a café ready and waiting to sell you a coffee or a cool drink.

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