Queen Charlotte Track: Day 4

Mistletoe Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound


Like most who tackle the Queen Charlotte Track, we walked the actual track in four days. But as this was our first long distance, multi-day hike, we added a rest day at Portage Bay.

This was mainly my idea. I know my limitations. While I’m up for a challenge, I didn’t want the walk to become a punishment. I knew from past experience, that walking for eight hours up hill and down dale would leave me a trifle knackered.  A good dinner and a Pinot Grigio might not be sufficient to restore my spirits.  My feet might need rest and some tender loving care if I wanted them to happily walk a further 20 kms to Anakiwa to finish.

So we rested at the Portage Hotel. As we soaked in the hot tub, massaging our aches and pains away, we congratulated ourselves on our decision. Following a gentle stroll in the rain, the weather closed in and we were content to curl up on a comfy sofa before the open fire, meet fellow travelers and hope that the weather  would clear overnight.


After all the rain, the clouds disperse
After all the rain, the clouds disperse

After three days of overcast weather, imagine how thrilled we were when we were greeted by sunny skies. The Portage Hotel supplies a courtesy bus that takes walkers up the hill to rejoin the track.  There we tackled the hill that would lead the way across the Torea Saddle to Mistletoe Bay.

ever upwards

This is quite a hill but the views from the top were amazing.

The bays just seem to go on forever.

This section was challenging enough. I was huffing and puffing my way downhill towards Mistletoe Bay when a party of Primary School students passed us going uphill. Some were darting up ahead while others were almost skipping up the hill, singing as they went. Such stamina! No wonder, New Zealand produced  Sir Edmund Hilary.


After Mistletoe Bay, the track takes a downhill turn and it’s easy walking to Anakiwa.

I’m not complaining, love a steady downhill.

There are still wonderful vistas over the sound but the vegetation is changing. There are more flowering plants.

This reminded me of a wild fushia only bigger
I think that this Manuka

But even on this section, the water is beside you, shimmering shades of aquarmarine.

I’m a happy wanderer

Then, all of a sudden it seemed, we were at sea level, walking through beech forests past little coves with sandy beaches.

We’re nearly down
Would love to return to explore these beaches

Before too long we reached our destination, Anakiwa. We were sore…and tired…but oh so happy. We enjoyed an ice cream while we waited for our Cougar Line water taxi to pick us up. As we skimmed over the water on our way back to Picton, everyone was quiet, reflective, treasuring their memories of the panoramas of the Queen Charlotte Track.

We will be back












The Queen Charlotte Track: Day 3

Kenepuru  Sound

Day 3

From Mahana Lodge to Bay of Many Coves Campsite

Day 3 was indeed challenging. All along, I had been worried about this section of the track. Not only was it approximately an eight hour, 24.5 km walk from  Mahana Lodge to Portage Bay,  examination of the elevation map had shown me that I would be walking uphill … a lot. To complicate matters, the weather was even mistier and more overcast than on Day 2.

However, we refused to be daunted. Our gear had dried overnight and it was with a sense of adventure that we set out. The first hurdle, walking a kilometer or so up a steep driveway and road to rejoin the track, was negotiated rather easily.  Then I realised  I had left my phone/camera in the Lodge. I felt a little like Eeyore as I walked back down, retrieved the phone and walked a little more slowly up the road again. Just a couple of extra kms that I didn’t need to walk!  Not that anyone was counting.  My feet were not amused.

But the track soon lifted our spirits. Climbing the Kenepuru Saddle, we circled around a valley lost in time.

looking down into the valley
How green is my valley? Even in the rain!

Then the detour to Eatwell’s Lookout appeared. But the clouds were darkening and the mist seemed thicker so we decided that the lookout would have to wait for another trip.

the clouds get thicker
Stormy skies

But as this photo from nz.geoview.info shows, on a fine day, it would have definitely been worth walking the extra few kilometers. You can look out over the sounds,  all the way to the North Island!

eatwell's lookout
Eatwell’s Lookout. Oh for a sunny day!

After Eatwell’s Lookout, the track climbs and climbs.  I thought that it would never end. Kenn remarked that it was like completing the climb to the Byron Lighthouse, 20 times. No wonder my thighs were on fire! Well as they say, no pain, no gain!

But all good things come to an end and eventually the  covered rest shelter  at  Bay of Many Coves, that Ann Martin had suggested as our lunch stop, came into view.

lunchtime and what a view

Bay of Many Coves. View from the lunch shelter.

There, surrounded by the happy chatter of junior high boys on a school field trip, Kenn and I enjoyed our magnificent lunch. It gladdened our hearts to see so many young people on the track having such a wonderful time and not an iPhone or earplug in sight.

Bay of Many Coves Campsite to Portage Bay

Leaving Bay of Many Coves, the track meanders through the forest. The uphills seem a little easier and there is definitely a lot more downhill. Yippee!

through tunnels of vegetation
Tunnels of vegetation

Every now and then, we would come to a vantage point that overlooked the sounds. Even under grey skies, it was breathtaking.

the water is still beautiful under grey skies
The water is still beautiful under grey skies

But as the afternoon wore on, the skies lightened a little and the sun tried to sneak through.

The light is trying to break through
The light is trying to break through.

A couple of climbs later, we reached Black Rock campsite. We stopped for afternoon tea and breathed a sigh of relief. Only 7kms to go.  And mainly downhill too. As we gently spiraled down into Portage Bay, it was tree fern heaven and at last we were there and the tranquil waters of the bay lay ahead.

the Portage jetty
The jetty at Portage Bay

I won’t lie. We were knackered. We had been dreaming of a hot shower, soft shoes, a stiff drink (well I had been) and something tasty for dinner for many hours. All this and more was waiting for us, at our home for the night, the Portage Resort Hotel.

I thought back over the day. Would I do it again?  Definitely!  Ann Martin was spot on. Today had been very challenging, but oh so rewarding.