length

9 Days

difficulty

Moderate

trip cost

From $4455

Icons / stylised / time Created with Sketch.

length

9 Days

Icons / stylised / difficulty Created with Sketch.

difficulty

Moderate

Icons / stylised /cost Created with Sketch.

trip cost

From $4455

Self-Guided Trip

our walk expert

  • Overview
  • Highlights
  • On the trail
  • Itinerary
  • Map
  • Inclusions
  • FAQ's
  • Positive impacts

Overview

Abel Tasman Tracks & Queen Charlotte

Explore two of New Zealand’s stunning coastal Great Walks around the northern tip of the South Island. Travelling self-guided allows you to walk along the trail in your own time, making your way between accommodations. All your luggage transfers are included throughout the program and each night you will enjoy boutique lodge accommodation and delicious locally produced meals.  All you need to do is relax and enjoy experiencing the best parts of these wonderful point to point walks, whilst carrying only your daypack.

First head to one of New Zealand’s smallest National Parks where you will very quickly understand why the Abel Tasman Track has gained its reputation as one of the country’s most popular, as you walk through lush coastal vegetation, past golden beaches with azure waters and spectacular granite cliffs. The Abel Tasman National Park is a haven for nature and beach lovers – its beaches are stunning – in fact it is of popular consensus that they are among the best in the whole country. And the bonus? They are mostly all accessible only by foot or kayak – which means these pristine patches of paradise are secluded and come with no crowds!

Then it’s onto the world-famous Queen Charlotte Track; 73km long walking trail and renowned for its stunning views, contrasting landscapes, historical landmarks plus a wide variety of native bush and wildlife. This comfortable itinerary takes in all the highlights of the famous track incorporating gorgeous coastal hikes, exploring the stunning Marlborough Sounds, and admiring the subtropical rainforest. This is a unique and spectacular walking trip through a renowned area of natural beauty and both cultural and historical significance. 

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Highlights

Get Ready For

  • Pack-free self-guided hiking along the classic  Abel Tasman & Queen Charlotte 
  • Enjoy excellent boutique lodges along the trail and delicious locally produced meals
  • Gaze in awe at the remote golden sand beaches and pristine coastline
  • A haven for wildlife and nature lovers
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On the trail

The Experience

Our New Zealand trip uses private boutique lodges in amazing locations of natural surroundings of forest and beach, often only accessible by foot or boat. In Abel Tasman NP we stay in some beautiful beachfront lodges where you will enjoy delicious 3-course dinners sourced from environmentally responsible local providers, before retiring to your room to fall asleep to the sound of the waves. In Queen Charlotte Sound the lodges offer a true immersion in nature surrounded by 2000 acres of pristine forest. It is the ideal location to relax and enjoy a fresh, local and seasonally inspired menu for dinner. expect more of the natural beauty and the best of the Marlborough cuisine and beverages each evening.

Itinerary

Daily details

Week 1: Abel Tasman Track
Day 1
Arrive NELSON

Arrive into Nelson Airport and make your own way to your centrally located accommodation. You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this evening when RAW Travel’s local guide will meet you for a briefing to go over your Abel Tasman tramp.
Here you will be supplied with your lodge bag to pack your gear for the trek and your guide will assist you with what you need to take.

Following this, your guide will provide you with suggestions for where to head for dinner.

Meals:  n/a
Accommodation: Rutherford Hotel, Nelson

Day 2
DRIVE TO KAITERITERI | CRUIDE TO TOTARANUI | WALK TO AWAROA (7KM)
 

Early this morning you will be collected from your hotel and transferred via a scenic coastal drive to Kaiteriteri, a beautiful little beach town and gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. As you drive past picturesque vineyards to one side and golden sandy beaches with aqua blue waters to the other, you will get a taste of what you can expect on your hike through the Abel Tasman National Park in the coming days.

In Kaiteriteri you will board a boat for a relaxing cruise along the length of the Abel Tasman Coast to Totaruanui. For the next hour and 40 minutes, sit back on the deck and watch the beaches, coves and islands of this spectacular stretch of coastline pass you by. You will cruise through the crystal clear waters of Tonga Island Marine Reserve, a wildlife haven where you might see little blue penguins, bottlenose dolphins and seals frolicking, before arriving at Totaranui and the start of your tramping adventure.

It all begins with a hike through an area of native forest and coastal scrub, weaving in and out to some tranquil beaches – such as Goat Bay which will have you feeling like you have stepped onto the shores of a caribbean paradise. It’s a relatively short walking day today that includes a river crossing at the Awaroa Estuary. It’s important to be aware of the tides for this section.

This evening you will stay in the first of your beachfront lodges where you will enjoy a delicious 3 course dinner, before retiring to your room to fall asleep to the sound of the waves.

Walking: Approximately 2.5 hours
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Meadowbank Homestead at Awaroa

Day 3
WALK AWAROA TO TORRENT BAY (17KM)
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast in the beautiful garden setting that looks out across the bay, before you set off for the day. Today’s walk is spectacularly scenic as you head deeper into the National Park through lush forest, interspersed with coastal views and beach walks alongside the Tonga Island Marine Reserve.

Leaving Awaroa you will ascend up and over the Tonga Saddle to Onetahuti Bay. Here, one of the longest expanses of beach in the Abel Tasman stretches before you in a crescent shape. Picture a long pristine beach separating crystal clear, brilliant blue waters from dense green mountainous forest backdrop – simply stunning!

Part of the walk here is along a boardwalk and bridge designed for conservation purposes by the local Iwi (Maori tribe) who have a strong connection to the area, as well as to assist with crossing the estuary during all tides. In particular, of significance is Tonga Island which sits in a prominent position offshore and is home to a colony of fur seals. It is worth spending some time exploring Tonga Quarry where there are still some remnants of the granite which used to be quarried there, before being shipped to Nelson.

The track then meanders through fern gullies and tall Manuka forests before a steep climb up and down to Bark Bay.  As you descend down, the track passes a cascading waterfall which you can view from a sturdy swing bridge. Bark Bay also called Wairima, is an idyllic place for your picnic lunch, offering sunshine for much of the year. As you relax in the shade, or perhaps with your feet cooling in the water, listen out for the calls of the Kaka – a colourful forest-dwelling parrot that was near extinction before being released in 2019 as part of a conservation effort. If you are lucky you might even see one!

Following lunch you will walk through more groves of Manuka and fern, before crossing the impressive 40 metre long swing bridge at Falls River – a highlight for most hikers. The track continues with steady climbs up and over two valleys before a steep descent to the sleepy summer holiday village of Torrent Bay, and your second beachfront lodge accommodation for the night.

Walking: Approximately 6 hours
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Torrent Bay Lodge

Day 4
WALK TORRENT BAY TO MARAHAU (13-16KM) | TRANSFER TO NELSON

Another morning waking to the sound of the ocean and breakfast with a view!

Your final walk today is the easiest, with the trail gently meandering towards Marahau. Along the way you will have panoramic views across the Tasman Bay towards Nelson – and your final destination at the end of the day.

The first section will be greatly determined by the tide – either around or across the inlet. The track then continues winding through small gullies, along streams and through lush beech forest.

You will pass a number of sheltered bays and beaches, and we recommend you choose one to stop at for your picnic lunch.

The last section will have you walking through some open country before finishing with a few boardwalk crossings over the Marahau estuary and into Marahau settlement. You will meet your transport to take you back to Nelson, via Kaiteriteri, arriving approximately 6pm.

Alternatively, you may wish to stay in Marahau, a sleepy little beach village which has a long history of settlement by Māori. Its huge expanse of beach, particularly at low tide offers many activities such as horseback riding along the beach, kayaking or just relaxing and enjoying the mild climate. Fuel up by one of the excellent food options – from a world famous burger to fresh seafood waterfront dining.

** Note your distance walked today is dependent on the tides

Walking: Approximately 5-6 hours
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Rutherford Hotel, Nelson

Day 5
TRANSFER NELSON TO PICTON

This morning you are at leisure to go out and explore Nelson (Whakatū) – a lively town located on the Tasman Bay and renowned for its art scene – from traditional Maori to contemporary – visit some galleries or shop for local crafts and some presents to take home with you. Try some delicious local produce  – if you like a tipple you can visit the home of the hops or see why National Geographic dubbed it the Top Cider City in the world!  From vineyards to breweries, orchards to art galleries and boutique shops the options are endless – or you may just want to relax on the nearby Tahunanui Beach and soak up the sunshine. In the early afternoon you will be transferred to Picton, the gateway to the Marlborough Sounds.

Driving time: Approximately 2.5 hours
Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Picton Waterfront Apartments, Picton

Day 6
WATER TAXI TO SHIP COVE | WALK TO ENDEAVOUR INLET (17KM)

After breakfast you will have your walk briefing, before boarding a water taxi to the scenic Ship Cove – one of Captain Cook’s favourites during his explorations in the 1770s – and the beginning of your tramp along Marlborough’s Queen Charlotte Track. The area is also of considerable significance to the local Maori culture.

Your walk beings with a climb away from the beach, passing through a large section of beautiful beech forest where the high canopy is complemented by a diversity of shrubs and small trees. After about a good hour of hiking you will come to a lookout point which offers stunning views of both the inner and outer Queen Charlotte Sound (Totaranui). From here the track descends into Resolution Bay and follows a well-graded old bridle path over a ridge, winding downward to the shoreline of Endeavour Inlet.

On the descent, you will start to catch glimpses of your lodge accommodation for the evening. Nestled in the heart of the Marlborough Sounds and only accessible by boat or foot, our lodge offers a true immersion in nature surrounded by 2000 acres of pristine forest. It is the ideal location to relax and enjoy a fresh, local and seasonally inspired menu for dinner.

Walking: Approximately 5-6 hours
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Furneaux Lodge

Day 7
WALK ENDEAVOUR INLET TO PUNGA COVE (12KM)

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast overlooking the stunning blue-green waters before heading out the back gate and onto the track once more, starting with a walk to the nearby waterfall.

Your easy walk today mainly takes you along the shoreline, winding through beautiful regenerating indigenous forests rich in native birdlife. The track meanders through lush bushland before crossing over a small swing bridge at the head of Endeavour Inlet. You will then set off following the main track walking your way towards Camp Bay and Punga Cove. As you walk listen out to some of the unique bird calls that you will only hear in this part of the world.

Sister property to the previous night’s accommodation, you can expect more of the natural beauty and the best of the Marlborough cuisine and beverages this evening. You will need to fuel up for tomorrow’s big day.

Walking: Approximately 4 hours
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Punga Cove Lodge

Week 2: Blenheim - Queen Charlotte Track - Awaroa
Day 8
WALK PUNGA COVE TO PORTAGE BAY (24KM)

It’s an early morning today as you set off on the most difficult, yet equally as rewarding sections of the trail. At various times throughout the walk you will see both the Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds, making it a truly breathtaking section of the track.

Your challenging day begins navigating the ridgeline between Camp Bay & Torea Saddle as you climb out of Camp Bay to the Kenepuru Saddle. Stop to catch your breath from the iconic Eatwells Lookout and gaze out at the 360 degree views over sunken river valleys of the Marlborough Sounds in awe – it’s well worth the climb.

From here, the ridgeline separates Queen Charlotte Sounds from Kenepuru Sounds offering stunning panoramic views. As you walk the undulating track, grand vistas abound and will certainly help to take your mind off the challenge underfoot.

Eventually the track will descend to Torea Saddle, between Torea and Portage Bays. Your walk ends at your waterfront hotel for a well deserved rest for the night, located just ten minutes off the track.

Walking: Approximately 8 hours
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Portage Hotel

Day 9
WALK TO ANAKIWA (20KM) | TRANSFER TO PICTON

Another early start for your final day on the Queen Charlotte Track as you ascend once more to continue following the ridge line, enjoying stunning views back towards Picton as well as into the turquoise waters of the Kenepuru Sound. After Mistletoe Bay, where the track follows old bridle paths high above the water, you will descend down into Umungata (Davies Bay). The final half hour’s walking is on an easy path through mature beech forest and into Anakiwa.

From here you will catch a boat back to Picton. Your walk ends on arrival in Picton late in the afternoon.

Walking: Approximately 7 hours
Driving time: Approximately 2.5 hours
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

IMPORTANT NOTE

All daily distances are approximate and this itinerary is subject to change. RAW Travel reserves the right to make necessary itinerary changes based on local conditions, group safety, extreme weather or unforeseen difficulties with local suppliers due to the effects of COVID-19.

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Map

Explore

Arrive into Blenheim where your RAW Travel local guide will be waiting to transfer you to your accommodation in the heart of a region synonymous with quality wine around the world – Marlborough.

Nestled in the heart of the Marlborough sounds and only accessible by boat or foot, our lodge offers a true immersion in nature surrounded by 2000 acres of pristine forest. It is the ideal location to relax and enjoy a fresh, local and seasonally inspired menu for dinner.

Sister property to the previous night’s accommodation, you can expect more of the natural beauty and the best of the Marlborough cuisine and beverages this evening. You will need to fuel up for tomorrow’s big day.

Eventually, the track will descend to Torea Saddle, between Torea and Portage Bays. Our walk ends at our waterfront hotel for a well deserved rest for the night, located just ten minutes off the track.

Relax and reminisce on the magic of the last days on the beautiful Queen Charlotte Track in Nelson

We will stay in the first of our beachfront lodges where you will enjoy a delicious 3 course dinner, before retiring to your room to fall asleep to the sound of the waves.

The track continues with steady climbs up and over two valleys before a steep descent to the sleepy summer holiday village of Torrent Bay and our second beachfront lodge accommodation for the night.

Inclusions

What's Included?

Included
  • 6 nights Boutique lodge accommodation with private ensuite
  • 2 nights hotel accommodation in Nelson
  • Briefing with experienced local RAW Travel guide
  • Walking app for navigation and track notes
  • 8 breakfasts (Full cooked and continental)
  • 7 excellent picnic lunches (local produce) while on trek
  • 5 Dinners
    • 2 x 3-course lodge dinners sourced from environmentally responsible providers on the Abel Tasman
    • 3 x Wholesome, high-quality food, and a glass of wine with your evening meal on the Queen Charlotte 
  • Hot drinks and fruit juice at your trek lodge accommodation (Abel Tasman)
  • Snacks and fresh fruit on trek (Abel Tasman)
  • Lodge luggage bag (yours to keep) – 40 litre, sports-bag style with waterproof liner (for Abel Tasman section only)
  • Luggage transfers and luggage storage
  • Boat backup along the trail
  • Water transport to and from Picton and the QC track
  • Queen Charlotte Track Land Co-op Pass
  • Transport between Blenheim to Picton, Picton to Nelson, Nelson to Kaiteriteri and Marahau to Nelson
  • 15% NZ GST
  • One walk, One tree: For every walk, we plant an Indigenous tree on your behalf
  • 10% for the planet: we donate 10% of our profits to give back to the planet at no additional cost to you
Not Included
  • Flights to/from destination
  • Blenheim Airport arrival transfer (options available please contact us)
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals not stated in the itinerary
  • Alcoholic drinks and carbonated soft drinks at the lodges
  • Expenses and items of a personal nature
  • Single supplement: please enquire, limited single rooms available for an additional fee

FAQ's

Need to know?

What's the terrain like?

The terrain on the Queen Charlotte is varied and the itinerary mixes easily manageable sections with more challenging days. While more of a long track rather than a steep one, a moderate level of fitness is recommended to make the most of this exhilarating experience.

The track’s terrain is undulating and mostly on wide clay soil paths. This means in the dry sections it is quite firm underfoot however in wet conditions may prove to be quite slippery. 

All major streams have been bridged so there are no water crossings on this itinerary. 

The Abel Tasman coastal track is an intermediate trail which is mostly well formed, meandering through dense native forest, along lush gullies and beside streams. At regular intervals the trail leads you to some idyllic secluded beaches, coves and inlets which will involve a bit of beach walking. 

Some sections may be muddy or rough, and while there are some boardwalks and suspension bridge crossings over most major waterways, there are some sections that require knowledge of the tides to complete the section. The trail is steep in areas with some climbs, however they don’t feel too steep or long.

How fit do I need to be?

We have graded the Queen Charlotte Track and the Abel Tasman Coastal Track  as a moderate walk and so a good level of fitness is ideal, preferably with some multi-day trekking experience. There are some ascents and descents over uneven terrain, along with some clay soil paths  which can be slippery underfoot after any rain. There are also some sand walking and tide crossings. Training and preparing on hills with your equipment (particularly with the footwear you’ll use on the hike!), and walking several hours over varied terrain (4-7 hours a day), will help prepare you. The better prepared you are, the more you will enjoy this beautiful walk.

What is the food like?

This region of New Zealand is renowned for its quality food and drink – the consistently sunny region combined with fertile land, produces delicious goods from cheese, conserves/honey, berries and olive oils through to alcoholic beverages (wine, beer and the world class cider). On this trip you will get to experience some gastronomical delights as you walk.

Breakfast is included daily (cooked or continental) and you will get a packed lunch to take with you on each day’s walk, which includes food such as Ploughman’s sandwich (roll, croissant or wrap), fresh fruit, quiche, muffin/banana bread, salad, cheese and crackers, trail mix, energy bars, free range hard boiled eggs and so on. On days where you have a free day at the lodge, you may be treated to a classic Kiwi barbecue prepared by the chef.

Your lodge dinners on the Abel Tasman are three-course meals sourced from environmentally responsible local providers and on the Queen Charlotte you will experience more high-quality food accompanied by a  glass of Marlborough wine.

At the lodges you also have the following available to help yourself; Fresh fruit, homemade biscuits, fruit juice, hot drinks including Nelson organic loose-leaf teas and fair trade coffee & hot chocolate.Dining on the Queen Charlotte track is a similar experience. The lodge accommodation has a reputation for serving fresh, local and seasonal cuisine.

Most dietary requirements can be catered for, please ensure you discuss your requirements with your consultant at the time of booking.

Best time of year to go?

The Tasman region of New Zealand is fortunate to be one of the country’s sunniest areas making it a perfect year round destination. Even in winter, though cooler in temperatures, you will often find you are walking under blue skies and sunshine.

If you are particularly keen to do some swimming along the Coastal Track, then the warmer months are best – though trying to avoid the summer school holidays will be more enjoyable along the trail.

It can be quite windy on the coast but rainfall is quite evenly distributed throughout the year and so repeated days of rain are pretty rare. Although Summer time is the most popular season to visit the national park, the locals firmly believe that the shoulder months of Spring and Autumn are the optimum periods in which to visit. During these months the crisp, cool mornings along with calm ocean waters and quiet beaches will equate to a wonderfully peaceful and serene experience.

How does this work for solo travellers?

RAW Travel supports and welcomes solo travellers. We understand travelling alone can sometimes be a daunting prospect however New Zealand is regarded as a very safe destination and the trails are well signed, though it is good to keep in mind that at certain times of year there will be few people on the trail and there may be little or no mobile coverage. Our self-guided walking holidays are for experienced walkers who prefer to be independent. Walking self-guided requires you to use your problem-solving skills, be comfortable with reading maps and have a good sense of direction. You will be fully briefed by our local guide on arrival and the staff at the accommodation along the way are extremely helpful and friendly also. PRices are based on 2 people sharing twin share, so a solo price is available on request.  Please enquire with your consultant at the time of booking for further details.

Postitive_Impacts_Planet-header

Positive impacts

Social and environmental

All our adventures are fully carbon offset so that you know your travel has minimal impacts. Hiking itself is a low impact activity but we offset the cost of all our office operations and food production as well, so you can be satisfied that you have chosen a form of travel that is both good for you and good for the planet. Each year we also plant trees on behalf of every customer who has travelled with us, aiming to build towards a carbon positive effect with our operations.

 

 

TRIP date selection

when would you like to travel?

Please select your preferred dates for on-demand trips or select a scheduled date for group departures. If you have booked a self-guided trip please understand that because your trip date is on demand and we must check availability of all properties on your chosen dates before it can be fully confirmed

SELECT PREFERRED DATES

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