The Queen Charlotte Track is without a doubt one of New Zealand’s most beautiful tracks. It’s also one of the most accessible walks for people of all fitness and abilities and deserves to be on everyone’s bucket list!

The Queen Charlotte Track stretches between the breath-taking Queen Charlotte Sounds and Kenepuru Sounds at the top of the South Island. Along the route, you’ll discover native bush, coastal headland and historic bays. Whether you are there for a day or a week, every day on the trail is one you will never forget.


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The Queen Charlotte Track is 70 km long and takes between 4 – 5 days to complete depending on your fitness levels. The track is broken down into some nice bite-sized chunks which means you can enjoy sections of the track if you don’t have that much time to spare.

Compared to some of the other Great Walks of New Zealand, the Queen Charlotte Track is relatively flat with very few hills to negotiate. This is why it’s such an accessible and popular track.

These are some of the sections that people tend to walk and break down the trek:

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 approximate only


The Queen Charlotte Track is renowned as a walking track, however, it’s also a great place for mountain bikers too. Due to its stunning scenery and well-maintained trail, it’s considered one of New Zealand’s best single track mountain bike rides.

The track is graded as intermediate/grade 3 and advanced/grade 4 mountain biking and will challenge even the most experienced mountain bikers in parts. With steep sections in places, the terrain can be tricky, especially when wet and muddy but it’s extremely rewarding.

You’ll need 2 – 3 days to complete the track comfortably and like the walk, it’s possible to jump into different sections of the trail using the various ferry services. If you are planning on staying overnight, you can also have your pack transported to your accommodation using the water transport services making you lighter out on the trail.

This is a breakdown of sections if you choose to cycle over 3 days:

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 approximate only


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If you don’t have the time to spare for a 4 – 5 day walk on the Queen Charlotte Track, there are plenty of options for day walks which can be accessed either by water on by road. Whether you are looking for a short walk, half day walk or a full day out on the track, there are some great options to choose from offering an array of stunning views.

You can find out more about day walks on the Queen Charlotte Track on the official website.


Whether you are walking or cycling the Queen Charlotte Track, there are a number of accommodation options all along the route from hostels, cabins and motels to campsites and something for all budgets. Some of the accommodation along the trail is set in simply stunning locations to match the beauty of the track itself.

Hopewell Lodge is perhaps one of the most stunning – accessed only by water taxi from Portage or Te Mahia, the lodge offers up some stunning views and is a tranquil and isolated location right on the water’s edge.

There are also six official DOC campsites along the track each with toilets and a water supply although none have cooking facilities.


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On certain sections of the Queen Charlotte Track, you’ll need a pass known as the QCTLC Pass. The pass is required when walking or biking between Kenepuru Saddle, Torea Saddle, Te Mahia Saddle or Anakiwa.

The pass can be purchased as a day pass ($12), multi-day pass ($25) or as a seasonal pass ($35) with the fee contributing towards the maintenance of the track.

They can be purchased from i-sites in Picton, Blenheim and Wellington, DOC offices in Picton and Wellington and at selected business operators in Picton.


The Queen Charlotte Track can be started at either end of the trail but most people start their journey at Meretoto/Ship Cove.

There is no direct road to this starting point so you’ll need to arrange a water taxi to get there. Conveniently, the water taxis will often carry your packs to your eventual accommodation which means you can enjoy the first part of the walk without a pack on your back.


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The Queen Charlotte Track is a truly stunning place to explore on foot or by bike and we simply love it. The summer is obviously the peak season for the track but it’s also a nice one to do in the shoulder seasons too.
Whenever you choose to go, we’re sure you’ll enjoy some of the most picturesque scenery and landscapes the country has to offer.

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