Queen Charlotte Track - 4 day, 71+ km hike!

Trip Start Nov 20, 2013
Trip End Nov 24, 2014

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Tuesday, December 17, 2013

We're writing this post after day 1 of our hike, but won't be able to post it until we get back to Picton and have internet connection again. We started our 4 day, 71 km along the Queen Charlotte Track today. It's a beautiful walk through the Marlborough Sounds. To get to the start of the trail we took a boat ride which lasted about an hour and a half. The ride was scenic and peaceful and virtually any direction we looked, we saw green covered mountains. We both really enjoy being on the water. The boat made some stops along the way dropping people off at their hotels or even homes and then dropped us off at the starting point. We were the only ones from the boat doing the walk today. The boat drove away and it was time to start hiking. It would be 3 hours until we saw another human on the trail. Today, the weather was perfect (finally) which contributed to our enjoyment during the hike. It's very tough to put into words or describe what we experienced. The views of the water and mountains were stunning. The sounds of nature were very serene. Everything just seemed so peaceful. We stopped time and time again to admire the views - sometimes taking photos and sometimes just taking everything in for ourselves.

The walk itself wasn't such a difficult one. There were some steep hills early on, but for the most part we were on a path of dirt, rocks, and leaves. While this hike is significantly longer than the 19.4 km climb up Tongariro earlier in the week, it isn't near as challenging. The first couple days of the track are shorter, while the last 2 days are about 23km or 7-8 hours each day.

We arrived at our accommodations just after 4 hours into our walk (about 3:45). The lodge is completely isolated from anything else and is right on the water. They even have weddings here. Most of the guests take a boat here for their stay and enjoy some rest and relaxation. After arriving, we laid on the dock for a couple hours. It was incredibly quiet and the conditions were perfect. We got the cheapest room which is still more than we're used to paying. It's a bit strange that we have a private room, but in the room are 2 sets of bunk beds. Our luggage was waiting for us when we arrived. The company that brought us out to the starting point by boat also has a service where they take your luggage to the next accommodations while you do the hike.

We knew there was a restaurant here and figured it would be expensive. So we loaded our suitcases up with stuff we could prepare ourselves for dinner thinking it would be a way to save money. BUT........here they have no kitchen for guests' use. We've been used to staying in hostels with a kitchen. While this place advertises to backpackers, there's no kitchen. They do have a kettle with 4 coffee mugs in the room so we will attempt to prepare our Mr. Noodles by boiling water in the kettle and pouring it in the coffee mug that has a tiny spoon in it. We'll see how that goes, but since we brought all this food, we should at least try to eat it!


We had our bags packed and were ready to go a little after 9:30am. Our luggage had already been picked up to be taken to our next accommodation. Today's hike was not as scenic as yesterday's, as there were fewer spots to look out at the water and mountains from. Nonetheless, it was still beautiful. Our walk today took us just about 3 hours and it felt really quick. On yesterday's walk we passed a couple large birds that came quite close to us. Jason didn't enjoy this too much! Today, we encountered larger problems. A short part of the track took us through a small field of four sheep. There was what seemed to be a mother sheep and 3 lambs. They did not move off the path right away and we did not know if the mother was going to do something to protect her babies. But after a short time of pondering what to do, they graciously moved out of our way and we passed by easily, just watching for dung.

Similar to yesterday, we only passed a few people along our way to Punga Cove Resort, but many, many, many bugs! We arrived at the resort shortly after 12:30 pm and our luggage arrived shortly after us. This resort is beautiful! Our room is much nicer than yesterday's, but cost us a little more too. Thankfully hot water in the shower won't cost us $2 each here like it did last night and this place has a kitchen for us to use! This resort doesn't provide keys for the rooms. We can only lock our room door when we are in there. It's a little different than what are used to.

After settling in we borrowed some racquets and a shuttlecock and attempted to play badminton. We lasted about 15 minutes before the wind started making it challenging. We found some comfy lounge chairs and sat for hours facing the incredible scenery. It was extremely peaceful. Next, we sat at the bar on the jetty (what they call docks here) and drank a nice cold beer. It's nice to have the time to enjoy the beauty of this place in between all the active walking.

So far this walk has been an interesting experience because while we are walking we feel like the only two people in the world. Then when we arrive at an accommodation we are back with civilization. Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!


Six hours and 24kms later and we've reached our final accommodation along the Track. Today's walk was the most challenging of the three days so far. It started with many steep and long inclines and had many more along the way. Again, the views were stunning and the water looked turquoise today. As we ascended and descended many times throughout the day, we knew there would always be a breathtaking view to make it worth it! The weather forecast had called for rain today, but we lucked out with another sunny and warm day. By the end our walk we both felt tired.

Treetops is about a kilometre away from the track on the top of a steep hill; how cruel! It's a cute two bedroom bungalow with a nice bathroom and kitchen. Below us there is nice resort where we stopped for a quick drink before climbing the steep hill back to Treetops and into bed.


We were packed and ready to leave this morning a little after 9 am. We had to climb a steep hill, about a kilometre long just to get to the track. What a way to start our 21 km hike for the day! Of course the first part of the actual walk today was also about an hour and a half of uphill! Thankfully after this first bit, the rest of the hike was much easier today. On average, we walked 5km/hr including stops for food, pictures, and sunscreen. The views were stunning throughout all four days of this walk. The weather could not have been more perfect for these four days either; that is until we were on our way by boat back to Picton. That's when the rain started and we were grateful for the timing of this!

We both thoroughly enjoyed the peacefulness and tranquility of our surroundings on this walk. We loved all the exercise we've got in the last four days as well as the relaxation once arriving at each accommodation. Tonight, back in Picton we treated ourselves by going out for dinner and made sure to be back in time to get our free chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream at Sequoia Hostel!
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Mom on

Jason, your knee passed the test! Your hard work has paid off! What a wonderful experience! Fabulous pics! After every turn, there was more beauty. You both look gorgeous! Thanks for sharing! xoxox

Dad on

Sounds a little like "Survivor" doesn't it. Anyway, as spectacular as it's been for the both of you, the best has yet to come.

Roy on


Garyn and you have seen more of New Zealand than I did in my 32 years living there.

I suppose you are doing the trek into Milford Sound. That will really be fantastic. I think that's about four days in length.

Keep well and do not miss the Albatross Colony in Dunedin.

There is also the Baby Blue Penguins in Omaurou (spelling?) an unforgettable night-time experience.


jasonandgaryn on

Thanks Roy for your suggestions. We still have 3 weeks left here and can't wait to experience more of the South Island.

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