The Queen Charlotte Track (71km; 3–5 days) takes in beautiful scenery on the stretch of land between Kenepuru and Queen Charlotte Sounds. Although the trail can be hiked in either direction, most people start at Ship Cove (where Captain James Cook took shelter between 1770 and 1777) and walk back toward Anakiwa near Picton.
The Queen Charlotte Track is also popular with mountain bikers, except in summer (Dec–Feb) when bikes are not permitted. It takes around 13 hours to ride the length of the track.
Ship Cove to Resolution Bay (4.5km; 2 hours)
The track begins at Ship Cove, a one hour boat ride from Picton. Captain James Cook took shelter here on five separate occasions between 1770 and 1777. There is an historic reserve here that features Cook’s Monument.
From Ship Cove, the track climbs through native bush to a lookout that offers breathtaking views to Mount Egmont (Taranaki) in the North Island and then descends to Resolution Bay where there are cabins and a campsite.
Resolution Bay to Endeavour Inlet (10.5km; 3 hours)
The track from Resolution Bay follows an old bridle path to Endeavour Inlet where there are a couple of accommodation options, but no campsite.
Endeavour Inlet to Camp Bay (11.5km; 4 hours)
From Endeavour Inlet, the track follows the shoreline to Camp Bay where there is a DOC campsite and backpackers’ accommodation at Mahana Homestead Lodge and the Punga Cove Resort.
Camp Bay to Torea Saddle (20.5km; 8 hours)
This is the hardest part of the track, but you are rewarded by breathtaking views of the sounds from the ridge-top walk. Although there are a couple of campsites on this section, many people hike it all in one day and stay in the small village of Portage, near Torea Saddle.
Torea Saddle to Mistletoe Bay (7.5km; 4 hours)
This section climbs out of Torea Saddle and follows the ridge along the highest points of the track offering more spectacular views. There is a DOC campsite at Mistletoe Bay.
Mistletoe Bay to Anakiwa (12.5km; 4 hours)
The final leg of the walk follows old bridle paths descending to a DOC campsite at Davies Bay (Umungata) before the final easy walk into Anakiwa. At Anakiwa there’s a backpackers’ hostel and a shelter with a toilet and payphone where you can wait for your transport back to Picton.