The Queen Charlotte Track: Part 1

Queen Charlotte from the lookout
The Queen Charlotte Sound as viewed from the Ship’s Cove lookout

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.


Picton Harbour
Picton Harbour

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.

Ship Cove

Soon, we were skimming over the smoothest, incredibly aqua water and before long we were at Ship Cove, ready to begin.

jetty at ships cove
How clear is this water?

As we walked along the jetty, we decided to detour a little and look at the monument to Captain Cook. 

captain cook monument
Captain Cook visited here several times on his voyages … but he refused to do the walk!

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.

view of ships cove after the big first climb
View of the jetty from on high

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!

Keperu sound
Kenepuru Sound – Is that a jetty way down there?

The track then winds down into Resolution Bay and  on through ferny forests to Endeavour Inlet.

path from resolution bay
The path was much wider than I expected

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.

chicks sharing our lunch
A Weka chick and it’s mother joined us for lunch.

Not that I’m complaining. I loved that I couldn’t hear any slithery sounds!

Kenn striding out
And Kenn was always willing to wait for me!

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.  

bridge leading to Endeavour Inlet
A mossy bridge guards the entrance to 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.

anyone for mussels
Anyone for mussels?

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. 


clear waters of Endeavour Inlet
Not exactly Byron Beach, but still …

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.