Queen Charlotte Track

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Cycleway Category: Official NZ Cycling TrailCycleway Tags: 2- 3 days, Grade 3, and Grade 4

  • Experience the heart of the Marlborough Sounds while biking the spectacular Queen Charlotte Track, a 70km journey with epic scenery.

    The track stretches from legendary Ship Cove/Meretoto (well known for sheltering Captain Cook and his crews during their voyages to New Zealand) to Anakiwa, home of Outward Bound.

    Ride through lush coastal forest, around bays and along skyline ridges.

    You will be rewarded with unsurpassed views of both Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds as well as encounters with native birds such as the inquisitive weka.

    Along the track enjoy the local hospitality of the cafés and accommodation-providers, ranging from campsites to luxury lodges.

    Ride the entire track, or sections of your choice, using the easy road access or boat transport from Picton.

    If riding the entire track, heading from Ship Cove to Anakiwa is best.

    There are regular morning boats to Ship Cove and the water taxi operators can carry your luggage between overnight stops when going in this direction.

    All track entrances and junctions have Department of Conservation signs with directions and distances on them.


    The unspoilt wilderness of the Queen Charlotte Sound is home to an array of wildlife.

    You might spot rare birds, dolphins, stingrays, seals and even whales as you follow the track.

    Another option is to take a guided ecotour and sail to the outer Sounds for close encounters with sea birds, seals, orca whales and endangered species such as Hector’s, dusky and bottlenose dolphins.

    Dolphin swimming trips are also available.

    Birds that you may spot in the area include tomtits and grey warblers.


    Picturesque Picton is the perfect base for exploring the region.

    Having crossed the Cook Strait by inter-island ferry from Wellington, this pretty town is where passengers disembark.


    Encompassing one fifth of New Zealand’s coastline, the Marlborough Sounds are among this country’s most prized jewels.

    A maze of deep coves and secluded bays fringed by native forest, the Marlborough Sounds are made up of
    four main waterways – Queen Charlotte, Pelorus, Kenepuru and Mahau sounds.

    They provide an unspoilt wilderness to enjoy endless recreational opportunities, including an array of maritime pursuits such as sailing, fishing, diving, sea kayaking and viewing marine life.

    Mussel and salmon farming are common in the Sounds, and you can take a cruise to see how the mussels and King salmon are grown and harvested before tasting them matched with local wine.

    Aside from the obvious water activities that the Marlborough Sounds offer, there are also many on-land activities to take advantage of.

    Mountain biking the famous 70km Queen Charlotte Track is one of the best ways to explore this stunning area and learn about its fascinating history.

    Be Prepared

    Important Note: You can only start from Ship Cove between 1 March and 30 November each year; the water taxi operators will take you to Punga Cove to start your ride between 1 December and 28 February instead.

    As the track is a shared use track and popular with walkers, you will need to ride in control and be prepared for walkers around each corner. Riding in the same direction as most others, from Ship Cove to Anakiwa will help avoid most conflicts.

    We recommend that you carry topographical maps BP29, BQ29 and BQ28 or at least a copy of the Marlborough Sounds map whilst on the track.

    MOBILE PHONE COVERAGE: Mobile phone coverage is available along parts of the trail (mostly the ridge tops), but not all of it. A personal locator beacon is recommended.

    DRINKING WATER: Drinking water is scarce along the Camp Bay to Torea Saddle section. There are water tanks at two DOC shelters along the way but these are not guaranteed to have water in dry weather.

    Weather Info

    While Marlborough is generally warm and dry in summer, remember it’s a coastal environment where the weather can change quickly, so you’ll need gear for rainy, cold and windy conditions as well as muddy sections of track.

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