Introductory to Moderate

Traveller Rating


  • self guided walk
  • 2 nights motel, 2 nights lodge
  • 2 Dinners
  • 3 Lunches
  • 2 Breakfasts


5 daysfrom


Trip Code: GBU

Trip highlights

  • Scenic boat trip along Queen Charlotte Sound
  • Visit Meretoto/Ship Cove, significant as a landing place and safe haven for Maori and European explorers in Marlborough Sounds
  • Walk the best sections of the Queen Charlotte Track through native forest, and along ridge tops with panoramic views
  • Home comforts of the private Mahana Lodge with charming local heritage, beautiful gardens and the freshly prepared Chef's Table dining experience for two nights

The iconic Queen Charlotte Track weaves its way along fingers of land in the Marlborough Sounds, steeped in both Maori and European history, beginning where Captain Cook famously anchored his ships in the 1770's. A network of sunken river valleys with a web of bays, islands, beaches, peaks and ridgelines, Marlborough Sounds is a treasured region of natural beauty. This short, self-guided walking trip along the Queen Charlotte Track allows you to hike the best sections, over three stunning days, and is perfect for those short on time. Enjoy lush native forests, coastal scrub, picturesque coves and grand panoramic vistas. Water taxi transfers to and from the trailheads provide opportunity to spot marine wildlife such as seals, dolphins, penguins and albatross. With daily luggage transfers there is no need to carry a big pack. Accommodation along the track is in a comfortable lodge, set in peaceful surroundings with established gardens and its own charm. With no planning to worry about, there is every reason to let the magic of the Queen Charlotte Track's unique environment get under your skin.


Make your own way to Picton, the gateway to Marlborough Sounds, and check-in to your tour 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 aquarium and floating maritime museum.

Meals:  Nil

You will be collected early this morning between 7.00am and 8.00am 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 today's walk at historic Furneaux Lodge, you will be transferred by water taxi to the southern side of Endeavour Inlet for overnight accommodation at delightful Mahana Lodge. 

Meals:  L,D

Enjoy a leisurely start this morning as today’s walk is shorter and easier than yesterday. Beginning from the lodge, pass Punga Cove Resort and join the Queen Charlotte Track to Camp Bay where you can explore the beach. 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. Shortly beyond this point, you will arrive at Furneaux Lodge once again. Relax in the gardens while waiting for your scheduled water taxi to ferry you across the inlet to the peace and tranquility of Mahana Lodge for a second night.

Meals:  B,L,D

Start early today to make the most of every moment as it is the longest day on the track. It is also the most challenging but has 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 Torea Bay where you will be collected at 5:00pm for your return to Picton by water taxi - arriving around 5.30pm. Overnight in Picton, reminiscing about your Queen Charlotte adventure over dinner at your leisure. Option: If you don't wish to walk today, you can take a morning water taxi transfer from Mahana Lodge to Picton, cruising around the bays on the way with a chance to spot some marine wildlife. The water taxi departs at either 10:15am or 11:30am, arriving back in Picton early in the afternoon. The remainder of the day is then at your leisure to relax, explore the waterfront or enjoy a coffee at one of the many cafes. Note that you may not be able to check into your hotel until 2:00pm. (There is no additional charge for this water taxi transfer if you choose not to walk today)

Meals:  B,L

Your trip ends today once you check out of your accommodation (by 10:00am) this morning.

Meals:  Nil



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.


  • 2 nights motel accommodation in Picton (twin share) with private bathroom
  • 2 nights private lodge (twin share) with private bathroom
  • 2 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners
  • Drinking water
  • Daily luggage transfers while walking - 1 bag/small suitcase per person, must NOT exceed 15kg in weight
  • Information booklets and route maps
  • Scenic water taxi transfers to and from the track, plus water transfers at the end of Days 2 and 3 to Mahana Lodge
  • Transfers to/from hotel to marina in Picton
  • Queen Charlotte Track Land Cooperative (QCTLC) Track Pass
  • Excess luggage storage if required

  • Travel to/from Picton before/after the trip
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Drinks other than water and tea/coffee available at the private lodges
  • Optional activities, extras and upgrades (such as additional water taxi transfers, Motuara Island visit, local guide for first day of walk)
  • Items of a personal nature (eg. laundry, shopping, internet)
  • Daypack and/or Trekking Poles (there are limited numbers 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. Walks may (but don't always) 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. You will need to carry your daily requirements such as water, lunch, spare clothing and personal items. Your fitness 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.

Departure dates

Daily departures between 1 Oct and 30 April


Single travellers will be required to pay a single supplement for the hotel in Picton. An additional supplement will apply to guarantee a single room at the private lodges.

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.

Priceper person from


Options & Supplements*
  • Single supplementNZD$650
*Prices listed are per person and also from

Essential Information

Ready to book? Make sure you download and read the detailed Best of Queen Charlotte in Comfort 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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