Finishing the Queen Charlotte, one of New Zealand’s great walks, was an amazing feeling! I was elated that I had actually walked all 70 kms without needing to be air lifted out or having to abandon the walk and take a water taxi back to civilisation. It was challenging and exhilarating but oh so rewarding.
The walk is located on the top of the South Island, just north of Picton. I had been keen to attempt it ever since I discovered that I didn’t have to forgo too many creature comforts. You see, the Queen Charlotte track is accessed by water taxi. For around $100 pp, they take you to the starting point of the track, pick you up at the end and deliver your luggage to your accommodation along the track each day. They will even pick you up along the way if you find yourself unable to continue! This means that you only have to carry a day pack, you get to sleep in a comfortable bed at night and someone else prepares dinner, lunch and breakfast for you. This walk had my name all over it.
The adventure begins
Whatever way you choose to walk the track: guided, self guided or as independent walkers like Kenn and I, you need to stay somewhere before and after the walk. We chose the historic Echo Lodge BnB overlooking the harbour in Picton. Wonderful hosts, Sharon and Russell really looked after us, recommending restaurants and even storing excess luggage for us. After devouring a wonderful breakfast, Russell delivered us to the marina where our Cougar Line water taxi awaited us.
Soon, we were skimming over the smoothest, incredibly aqua water and before long we were at Ship Cove, ready to begin.
As we walked along the jetty, we decided to detour a little and look at the monument to Captain Cook.
But we couldn’t procrastinate for ever. The first climb awaited. This was quite steep and quite long but the views as we trudged and trudged some more were worth it.
After about two hours of slogging it up a mountain (I would call it a mountain even if the Kiwis would call it a hill), we reached the lookout and decided to stop, enjoy some morning tea and the views. From here you can see both the Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds. So beautiful!
The track then winds down into Resolution Bay and on through ferny forests to Endeavour Inlet.
Kenn and I were into a rhythm, just walking and enjoying the silence. (Well, I was just walking but he was enjoying the silence!) We heard a few bird calls but not much else.
Not that I’m complaining. I loved that I couldn’t hear any slithery sounds!
Four and half hours later, we reached our destination for the night, Cnoc na Lear, about two kilometers from the head of the Endeavour Inlet.
Our room was very comfortable and private and our luggage was waiting. It’s light until around 9.00pm in December in New Zealand so we had plenty of time to explore the foreshore.
Then it was indulgence time. Noeline, our hostess, provided a foot spa for us! Needless to say, after a brief squabble, which I won, we both made use of it. Soon a delicious dinner was delivered to our room as we watched the sun set over the water.
While our stay at Croc Na Lear was lovely, we noticed that it was up for sale at the time so may or may not be available today. In hindsight, we would have made our second day of walking or as the Kiwis say it, ‘tramping’ very easy if we had booked to stay at Endeavour Lodge which has a prime position at the head of the inlet. Prices were very similar as I recall.
Maybe this walk when the Trans-Tasman bubble becomes a reality, is something you would like to do. And I hope you will join me as I re- discover the joys of Endeavour Inlet on Day 2 of the Queen Charlotte Walk.