Queen Charlotte Track
New Zealand’s iconic Queen Charlotte Track is a popular walking and biking trail for all ages and abilities. Located at the top of the South Island, in the Marlborough Sounds the trail stretches over a distance of 73km and offers unique hiking adventures, panoramic coastal views and lush forest, fine cuisine and wine as well as comfortable quality accommodation.
On this guided track you will walk with a light daypack with your luggage being transferred for you all the way through your hiking experience. Our trip provides you with a unique experience and an opportunity to take in all the beautiful aspects of the walk in comfort and with a great group of people.
The Queen Charlotte Track is steeped in both Maori and European history. The terrain is undulating with hills ranging from sea level to a maximum of 400 metres. Most parts of the track are wide and all major streams have been bridged. The surface is mainly hard and firm in dry conditions but can often be slippery when wet. Hiking boots with good ankle support are recommended when taking on this trail. We will provide you with some packing suggestions closer to your departure.
Get Ready For
- Dramatic sweeping views of dense untouched native forest, coves and inlets
- New Zealand dolphins, the Common, Bottlenose, Dusky and Hector’s
- New Zealand forest like the rimu and many varieties of native fern
- Savour the wide variety of birdlife such as the Little Blue Penguin, albatrosses, red and black billed gulls, shearwaters, terns or the broad-winged Australasian gannet or the inquisitive weka
On the trail
Our New Zealand trip uses private boutique lodges in amazing locations of natural surroundings of forest and beach. In Queen Charlotte Sound the lodges are only accessible by boat or foot, and they 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.
Laurie is a qualified International Mountain Leader and has been guiding, providing training, and working with young people in the outdoors for over 20 years. He has been fortunate enough to have worked as a guide in far-flung places such as the European Alps, Indian Himalaya and Mongolia. Originally from the UK, Laurie has found his true home in the Tasman region and has developed a deep passion for the ecology, history and culture of the area. He loves nothing more than sharing this passion with people who come on our adventures.
Arrive in Blenheim
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.
Surrounded by mountains, which also protect it from the southerly winds, this stunning town is one of New Zealand’s sunniest, and is responsible for around three quarters of the country’s wine production. Your accommodation this evening is located amongst the vineyards and here you will meet your fellow trampers at this evening’s briefing. Following you will enjoy a group welcome dinner.
Accommodation: Vintners Retreat Blenheim
Transfer to Picton to Ship Cove I Walk to Endeavour Inlet (17km )
After breakfast we will be transferred approximately 30 mins to Picton where we meet our trekking guide for the Queen Charlotte Track. The journey begins on the water as we cruise to Motuara Island before being dropped at the scenic Ship Cove – one of Captain Cook’s favorites during his explorations in the 1770s. As you cruise, your guide will share their knowledge of the local marine life, before a short walk on Motuara Island sanctuary to learn about the rare birdlife recolonised there.
In Shipcove will spend a little time exploring the Captain Cook memorial, as well as gaining an understanding around the significance of the area in the Maori culture, before setting off on our walk. As we climb away from the beach, we will be passing through a large section of beautiful beech forest where the high canopy is complemented by a diversity of native shrubs and small trees. After about a good hour of hiking, we will come to a lookout point offering up 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, we start to catch glimpses of our 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: 5.5 hours
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Furneaux Lodge
Endeavour Inlet to Punga Cove (12 km)
Our easy walk today mainly takes us along the shoreline and wanders through beautiful regenerating indigenous forests rich in native birdlife. The track continues through lush bush and over a small swing bridge to the head of Endeavour Inlet. We will have the opportunity to pause the walk there to learn more about antimony and the mining industry that thrived there in the 1880s. We set off following the main track onwards and into Big Bay before walking our way towards Camp Bay and Punga Cove.
Punga Cove Resort has individual chalets set amongst the bush clad hillside providing stunning views across Endeavour Inlet. You’ll have time to take advantage of the accommodations spa or take a swim in the solar-heated pool before we’ll enjoy our dinner in the award winning restaurant.
Walking: 4 hours
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Punga Cove Resort
Punga Cove to The Portage (24km)
Our walking day will start early as we are taking off to the most challenging and rewarding section of the Queen Charlotte Track. We’ll be walking on the ridgeline between the Queen Charlotte and the Kenepuru Sound. The track is very undulating and therefore can be challenging for some people. The ridgeline here separates Queen Charlotte Sounds from Kenepuru Sounds offering stunning panoramic views across both the Sounds. This is a truly spectacular section of the track as we will see both the sounds at different times. Wonderfully rewarding views around every corner of our track. Enjoy the scenic views as we walk before descending to Portage Bay where we will have a well deserved rest for the night from our long walk today. The Portage has a range of comfortable ensuite rooms and their restaurant provides excellent food with a selection of local wines to match.
Walking: 8 hours
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: The Portage Hotel
The Portage to Anakiwa, Transfer to Blenheim (20km)
Another early start for your final day on the Queen Charlotte Track as we ascend 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, we will descend down into Umungata (Davies Bay). The final half hour’s walking is on an easy path through mature beech forest as we arrive at Anakiwa.
Our water transport collects us and, as we travel back to Blenheim, we can relax and reminisce on the magic of the last days on the beautiful Queen Charlotte Track.
Walking: 7 hours
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Vintners Retreat Blenheim
Your trip finishes today after breakfast, time to farewell to your guide and fellow trampers, before being transferred to the airport.
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.
- Pre-trip planning, guidance and support from our experienced team
- 4-days guided walking supported by RAW Travel’s navigation app including route map, emergency contacts, weather and other helpful information
- Local briefing with experienced RAW Travel guide in Blenheim
- Water transport to and from track
- Daily meals as outlined above
- 5-nights at twin-share superior rooms lodge-style accommodation with private ensuite
- Luggage transfer on all trekking days
- Experienced, licensed guide
- Queen Charlotte Track Land Co-op Pass
- 15% NZ GST
- Welcome Dinner
- Blenheim (Marlborough) Airport Transfers and transfers between Blenheim & Picton
- 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
- Flights to and from your destination
- Travel insurance
- Meals not stated in the itinerary
- Drinks other than water at meals
- Items of a personal nature
- Single supplement cost: please enquire
Need to know?
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.
We have graded the Queen Charlotte 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.
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.
For your lodge dinners you will experience more high-quality food accompanied by a glass of Marlborough wine. 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.
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.
RAW Travel supports and welcomes solo travellers. Our guided group departures are based on twin share. If you are a solo traveller, we will match you up with another traveller of the same gender. Due to the lodge sizes single rooms are very difficult to obtain, however we can request this for you, for a supplement cost. Please enquire with your consultant at the time of booking for further details.
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