Introductory to Moderate

Traveller Rating


  • self-guided walk
  • 1 night motel, 4 nights lodge
  • 4 Lunches


6 daysfrom


Trip Code: GQT

Trip highlights

  • Hike the full Queen Charlotte Track over five days at your own pace
  • Scenic boat trip along Queen Charlotte Sound
  • Enjoy a comfortable bed and hot shower in scenic locations after a day on the trail
  • Varied walking along shorelines and up onto ridge tops, through native forest and with panoramic views
  • Visit Meretoto/Ship Cove, significant as a landing place and safe haven for explorers in both Maori and European history

Maori legend tells of the formation of the Marlborough Sounds. With its network of sunken river valleys, islands, peaks, idyllic coves and delightful beaches it is truly unique in New Zealand. There is no better way to learn some of its history while taking in the superb natural beauty of the region than by exploring the Queen Charlotte Track on foot. Walk the entire length of this meandering 70 km multi-use trail, taking as much time as you choose each day then staying each night in cosy lodges with all the comforts you need. An extra day is also included to allow some rest and relaxation along the way. The views are superb, the vegetation is diverse and the walking varies from low level coastline to moderate ridgelines no higher than 500m above sea level. Access to the track relies on the cooperation of local landowners as the track crosses a combination of private land and public nature reserves. It is a privilege to visit this land. Water taxi transfers to and from the trailheads add a different perspective to the experience and allow opportunity to spot marine wildlife such as seals, dolphins, penguins and albatross.


Make your own way to Picton, the gateway to Marlborough Sounds, and check-in to your accommodation any time after 2:00pm. Take some time to stroll along the waterfront of this picturesque seaside town with its sheltered harbour and bustling marina, or take one of several short walks through native bushland for fabulous views over Queen Charlotte Sound. There are many great cafes, restaurants and galleries plus an aqaurium and floating maritime museum.

Meals:  Nil

You will be collected this morning from your accommodation and transferred to the Picton waterfront for a trip briefing before departing on your scenic water taxi journey to Ship Cove (approx 1 - 1.5hrs). (During very busy periods, trip briefings will take place the previous evening; exact timing will be advised with your final documents.) Considered one of the most important meeting places between New Zealand Maori and Europeans, the site is a historical reserve. It was a significant place of habitation for local Maori as well as the place where Captain Cook first stepped ashore, and subsequently anchored many times during the 1770's, while exploring the New Zealand coastline. The Queen Charlotte Track commences from here with a gradual steady climb through native bush, including spectacular podocarp and beech forest. With two main ascents and descents today affording wonderful views, plus sections of untouched native forest including a gigantic 1000 year old rimu tree, this day is considered the finest section of the whole track. Concluding at historic Furneaux Lodge, where you spend the night, this truly is a fantastic day. Optional add-ons: 1. To visit Motuara Island Scenic Reserve in the outer Queen Charlotte Sound, on the way to Ship Cove, it is necessary to take an earlier water taxi from Picton (8:00am) to the island. This allows about 1 - 1.5 hours on the island before being collected by the next scheduled water taxi at around 10:30am, which will take you across the bay to Ship Cove to start your walk. The island is predator free and is a sanctuary to many endangered native species such as the South Island Saddleback (Tieke) and the Marlborough green gecko. A track on the island takes you to a lookout with superb views. 2. For full interpretation on the area as an introduction to your hike, a guide can be arranged to join you for today only (additional cost applies). Please ask us for details.

Meals:  L

Enjoy a leisurely start this morning as today’s walk is shorter and easier than yesterday. From Furneaux Lodge the track follows the coastline all day, with lovely views of the inlet as you trace its shore. Passing through nature reserve, regenerating native forest and farmland there is also some history along the way. Information panels at the head of Endeavour Inlet describe local antimony mining operations that burgeoned in the 1880's. It is hard to imagine a village of 800 people at that location now. Explore the beach at Camp Bay, nearing the end of today's walk, before passing Punga Cove to reach your accommodation for tonight at the delightful Mahana Lodge. Relax in the peace and tranquility of the gardens while listening to evening birdsong. Note: if Mahana Lodge is not available for your dates, you will have the option to stay at Punga Cove Resort or choose an alternative date. Mahana Lodge is a Bed & Breakfast property and therefore includes breakfast in the room rate, which is slightly different to the arrangements for every other night of the trip. Punga Cove is a different style of property and does not include breakfast so if you are staying there (as for every other day of the trip) you have a choice of onsite breakfast options at your own expense.

Meals:  L

Start early today to make the most of every moment as it is the longest day on the whole track. It is also the most challenging but has the most spectacular views which makes the effort worthwhile. Starting near sea level and eventually reaching the highest point on the trail (475m above sea level) there are some steep sections, including the short detour to Eatwell's Lookout, named after a local landowner. The rewards are 360 degree views from the lookout, plus far-reaching panoramas of the Marlborough Sounds at every turn. Following the ridgeline for much of the day, be sure to stop for photos and breathe it all in. This is truly a magic section of the track. From Torea Bay Saddle, the track drops down to your accommodation tonight at Portage Hotel, surrounded by native bush and with more superb views over Kenepuru Sound from your room. Optional add-on: it is possible to take a boat trip from Mahana Lodge to Torea Bay, which then requires about a 30 min walk over the hill to Portage Hotel, if you don't feel like walking much today (additional cost applies). NOTE: if you have chosen the all-inclusive upgrade package, tonight's accommodation is at Lochmara Lodge. The walk today ends at Torea Bay, from where you will be collected by water taxi and transferred to Lochmara Lodge.

Meals:  L

Today is a chance to relax and rest your body after the exertions of the last few days. Enjoy reading a book on the deck or you may like to wander around the gardens, amble down to a local beach or sip a coffee while taking in the view. If you feel more energetic but would like a change of pace, a guided sea kayaking trip to explore nearby coves might appeal (please arrange this with us in advance; additional cost applies and you will need to bring suitable footwear and clothing for paddling; trip is subject to minimum numbers and weather conditions). The lodge also has an information desk for other cruises and optional activities that can be arranged onsite. There are no meals included today (unless you join an optional organised day excursion, at own expense, that includes lunch). Overnight again at Portage Hotel.

Meals:  Nil

After a restful day yesterday, find your walking legs again today for the last section of the Queen Charlotte Track. Ascend from the Portage Hotel to the main track on the ridgeline once again this morning. There is a steep climb for a couple of hours from here but once again the views are rewarding as you look towards to Picton. This is the steepest part of the trail today and beyond this the walk is mostly descending to sea level, with a few undulations along the way. Pass through manuka scrub, open farmland and a final stretch of beautiful beech forest. A picturesque beach in the sheltered Davies Bay provides an opportune place for a last rest before arriving at Anakiwa, the end of the Queen Charlotte Track. Reflect on the last four amazing days while you wait for your water taxi to whisk you back to Picton, arriving in the late afternoon. Trip arrangements end on arrival at the Picton waterfront. NOTE: if you have chosen the all-inclusive upgrade package, today's walk also begins with an ascent from Lochmara Lodge to the main track on the ridgeline. You will avoid the steep part of the track after that, referred to above, but still have fabulous views towards Picton and all the other highlights of the final track section. The overall walk is 4.5 km / 1 hr shorter today than the standard package (total 16km, 6 hours).

Meals:  L



The map and elevation chart are for illustrative purposes only and meant to provide general guidelines.
On self guided trips, actual route information provided before departure will be more detailed.


  • 1 night motel accommodation in Picton (twinshare) with private bathroom
  • 4 nights comfortable lodge along the Queen Charlotte Track (twinshare) with private bathroom
  • 4 lunches
  • Drinking water
  • Daily luggage transfer - 1 bag/small suitcase per person, must NOT exceed 15kg in weight
  • Information booklet and route map (one per booking)
  • Scenic water taxi transfers between Picton and Queen Charlotte Track trailheads (Ships Cove, Anakiwa)
  • Transfer from hotel in Picton to marina on first day of walk
  • Queen Charlotte Track Land Cooperative (QCTLC) Track Pass
  • Excess luggage storage if required (or your hotel in Picton can also arrange this)

  • Travel to/from Picton before/after the trip
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Drinks other than water - good drinking water is available at each night's accommodation and at marked locations along the trail
  • Optional activities, extras and upgrades (such as additional water taxi transfers, Motuara Island visit, local guide for first day of walk; guided sea kayaking on rest day)
  • Items of a personal nature (eg. laundry, shopping, internet)
  • Daypack (there are limited numbers of 30 - 35L daypacks available to hire (additional cost applies). Please request in advance.
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa (if required)

Trail Surface



Introductory to Moderate  

INTRODUCTORY TO MODERATE - GRADE 4 These trips involve a combination of what is described in our Introductory and Moderate levels. The emphasis is on introductory activity with several moderate stages. These adventures involve walking for up to 6 or 7 hours a day at a steady pace. You will need a good level of fitness and must be in good health. Treks may involve carrying a full pack around 15kg. Be prepared for potential variable weather conditions. Walking each day is over hilly and occasionally steep terrain. Care needs to be taken as there are some steep sections that have a clay surface and are slippery when wet. A very good level of fitness is required and your preparation should include climbing and descending stairs, hills or sand dunes on uneven terrain. We suggest that you undertake regular exercise - swimming, cycling, jogging, stair or hill walking - three to four times a week for three months prior to your journey. During the walking stages you will need to carry your daily requirements such as water, lunch, spare clothing and personal items.

Departure dates

Daily departures between 1 Oct and 31 May


High Season
This package is based on Mahana Lodge for the third night. Punga Cove will be used instead if Mahana Lodge is not available, or you have children (under 10yrs), or you have more than 8 people in your group. A small additional cost applies. (Chef's Table 3 coure dinner at Mahana Lodge must be pre-booked and is payable locally at $90 per person, subject to change)
Punga Cove will be used in place of Mahana Lodge for all May departures
A side trip to Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary on the way to Ship Cove can be added. Please advise at time of booking so that an earlier departure from Picton on the first day of walking can be arranged.
A local guide can be arranged for the first day of walking to set you up for the remainder of the trip. The guide will take care of your needs on this day only and provide interpretation on history, flora and fauna as well as information about the trail in general. Must be requested in advance. Additional cost applies. Guided sea kayaking on the rest day must also be requested in advance. and is subject to minimum numbers and weather conditions. Additional cost applies

Want to organise a customised tour?

School groups, friends, family trips, corporate events and even making the trail accessible for everyone. Learn how you can organise a Customised Tour with Great Walks of New Zealand.

Total Priceper person from


Options & Supplements*
  • Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) hire - per partyNZD$42
  • Punga Cove supplement per person twin shareNZD$50
  • Public holiday surcharge for guided day walk Ship Cove to Furneaux LodgeNZD$80
  • Guided walk Ship Cove to Furneaux Lodge onlyNZD$240
  • Single Traveller Supplement (Oct - Nov)NZD$850
  • Single Supplement (Oct - Nov)NZD$850
  • Single Traveller Supplement (Dec - Apr)NZD$930
  • Single Supplement (Dec - Apr)NZD$930
  • Child sharing with 2 adults (n/a at Mahana Lodge)NZD$1120
*Prices listed are per person and also from

Essential Information

Ready to book? Make sure you download and read the detailed Queen Charlotte Extended Self-Guided Walk trip notes which contains all the essential information you need to know before booking. Once you’ve booked, we will supply you with a Pre-Departure document which contains a detailed gear list and other important information to help you prepare for your adventure ahead.

Trip reviews

Why walk with us

Self-Guided Experts

Our itineraries have been carefully designed and researched with you in mind.  The logistics are handled for you allowing you the freedom to walk New Zealand at a level of your choosing and in your own stride.


A core Maori value exercising guardianship in relation to nature, flora and fauna and its people, ensuring that sustainability and environment are valued, respected and protected for future generations to enjoy.

Supporting Local

As a small business ourselves, we love supporting and sharing New Zealand with other small and likeminded businesses and communities to showcase for you, what our land and people have to offer.

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