Walking and cycling the Queen Charlotte Track

Image of a view looking down onto the Marlborough Sounds from the Queen Charlotte Track
The Marlborough Sounds seen from the Queen Charlotte Track

Picton is an awesome place to base yourself if you are planning on doing some walking or cycling on the Queen Charlotte Track. The track is without a doubt one of New Zealand’s most beautiful walks and at 70kms in length, it offers up plenty of options whether you are looking for a multi-day or day walk on the track.

Walking the Queen Charlotte Track

The majority of visitors to the Queen Charlotte Track come for the stunning walking whether they are looking for a short walk, half day walk, full day walk or a multi-day walk. The track, whilst being 70kms long is broken up into bite size chunks with some great accommodation options all along the trail as well as access points by water or road. If you are hoping to walk the full 70kms of the Queen Charlotte Track, you should allow 4-5 days depending on your fitness levels but also depending on how long you want to take. The recommended minimum is 4 days which will give you plenty of time for photos and stop offs along the way whilst remaining challenging. Whilst it may be 70kms long, the track is fairly flat so caters for a wide range of fitness levels.

Here is a list of the common stages on the Queen Charlotte Track:

From/To Distance Time (est)
Ship Cove to Endeavour Inlet 15kms 5 hours
Endeavour Inlet to Camp Bay 11.5kms 4 hours
Camp Bay to Torea Saddle 23kms 8 hours
Torea Saddle to Mistletoe Bay 8kms 4 hours
Mistletoe Bay to Anakiwa 12.5kms 4 hours

NB: Times are all approximate

There are a couple of big walking days in the mix but these are the flattest of the sections and some of the most beautiful. Whether you are exploring native bush, stunning coastline or historic bays, a walk on the Queen Charlotte Track is one of the highlights of any visit to New Zealand.

Day Walks

Image of the stunning blue water of the Marlborough Sounds

It is possible to break the track down into a number of day walks if you can only spare a weekend away to Picton. If you are looking for a real challenge, you can get dropped off at the start of the trail at Ship Cove and walk all the way through to Camp Bay which will take you the best part of 9 hours where you can arrange for a water taxi to collect you and bring you back to Picton. If you are looking for something more sedate but with stunning views, a drop off at Torea Bay and a walk through to Mistletoe Bay offers up some stunning views and can be completed in half a day.

Wherever you choose to walk, the Queen Charlotte Track is a fantastic experience and one not to be missed.

Cycling the Queen Charlotte Track

Image of a woman Cycling the Queen Charlotte Track
Cycling the Queen Charlotte Track

Although the Queen Charlotte Track is most famous for walking, it has also grown into one of New Zealand’s premier cycling tracks and is the longest single section of cycling trail in the country. Like the walk, the cycle trail can be broken down into sections and completed over 2-3 days or as a series of day cycles. The terrain is challenging for even the most experienced riders and the track is graded intermediate/grade 3 and advanced/grade 4 in parts.

Here is a list of the common stages of the Queen Charlotte Track for cyclists:

From/To Distance Time (est)
Ship Cove to Camp Bay 26.5kms 5 hours
Camp Bay to Torea Saddle 23kms 4 hours
Torea Saddle to Anakiwa 20.5kms 4 hours

NB: Times are all approximate

Accommodation on the Queen Charlotte Track

Whilst basing yourself at the Picton Yacht Club Hotel is perfect if you are heading out on day walks, there are lots of accommodation options along the track and these range from luxury lodges to campsites. There are 6 official DOC campsites along the way all with toilets and a water supply (but no cooking facilities). If you are planning on hiking the whole track, then we recommend a mixture of camping and lodges/motels to keep things fresh.

You can find out more about the accommodation options on the official Queen Charlotte Track website.

If you are heading down to Picton, be sure to check out some great deals at the Picton Yacht Club Hotel and book your before and after walk accommodation. We have lots of information at the hotel about the Queen Charlotte Track and our staff will be more than happy to help you arrange water transport services to take you out to the track.

The Queen Charlotte Track is one of our favourite places to visit and our staff love to talk to people about their adventures. Be sure to add it to your bucket list!

Sign up to our newsletter