Queen Charlotte Track

New Zealand

With a soundtrack of bellbirds and a backdrop of the stunning Marlborough Sounds, hiking the Queen Charlotte Track is an experience like no other.

Trip duration:
4 days

Challenge duration:
3 days

Challenge grade:
3/5

Departure months:
September to January

Accommodation:
Twin-share in 3-star Accommodation

Hiking the Queen Charlotte Track

With beautiful coastal views, the stunning Marlborough Sounds, and native bushland, the Queen Charlotte Track is one of the gems of New Zealand’s South Island.

Over four days, you will be treated to bountiful incredible views, significant sights in Maori and European history, native wildlife, and a challenging, yet rewarding track. When not on the track, take some time to relax by the water or explore in town. This is one adventure you won’t want to miss.

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Why you'll love this adventure

  • Take in epics views of Queen Charlotte and Marlborough Sounds
  • Marvel at the picturesque coves and native forest
  • Hear the calls of native birds from the track
  • Explore the town of Portage
  • Raise vital funds for your chosen cause and make friends with like-minded people when you travel for good

 

Trip notes

Day 1: Depart Picton, Queen Charlotte Sound & Endeavour Inlet

Welcome to Picton! Hugging the side of the Queen Charlotte Sound, this seaside town is the jumping-off point for your explorations of its famous track. Your adventure gets rolling with a 9am welcome meeting where you’ll meet your local guide and fellow travellers, then it’s a 10am ferry to Meretoto, also known as Ship Cove. Be sure to keep an eye out for dolphins which can often be spotted swimming alongside the boat! Upon arrival, we take some time to explore the cove while your guide shares its history. We then begin today’s hike, climbing away from the coastline through untouched forests of ferns and beech. We pause at a lookout point to admire views of the Queen Charlotte Sound, then descend into Resolution Bay and stop for a picnic lunch. After lunch, we follow the shoreline over an old bridle path to the stunning Endeavour Inlet where we’ll have some downtime to kayak, stand up paddleboard or simply stretch out next to the water and relax. Later in the day, we continue to our lodge accommodation and settle in for the night.

Trekking Distance: 17km

Meals: Lunch

Day 2: Queen Charlotte Track to Punga Cove

Wake up to the songs of birds and prepare for another scenic day along the trail. Today, we skirt along the coastline through gorgeous native bush while your guide points out the calls of fantails and bellbirds. We pass by Big Bay, walk through shady forest to Camp Bay, and then arrive at the beautiful Punga Cove in the Marlborough Sounds. On arrival, we take some time to explore this small but picturesque seaside settlement and perhaps pop into one of the few local eateries for lunch with a view. The afternoon is yours to make the most of this spectacular setting. You may like to hire a kayak to explore the bay’s clear waters, or chill out at your accommodation and make use of the outdoor pool. 

Trekking Distance: 12km

Meals: Breakfast

Day 3: Queen Charlotte Track via Eatwells Lookout and Portage Bay

Gear up - today is our longest day of trekking, but we’ll be sure to be rewarded with some jaw-dropping scenery. We depart from Punga Cove and follow the ridgeline towards the Kenepuru Saddle. After climbing to the Eatwells Lookout, we take in sweeping views of the Marlborough Sounds, with the Cook Strait and the Kaikoura Ranges in the distance. After descending via the Torea Saddle, we continue on the final stretch to Portage Bay, where we’ll be staying for the night. This evening, we enjoy a well-earned three-course dinner whilst reminiscing about all that we have seen and accomplished together.

Trekking Distance: 21km

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Portage & return to Picton

On our final morning, we enjoy some free time to enjoy all that Portage has to offer. You may like to rent a kayak or stand up paddleboard to explore the bay, or perhaps head out snorkelling to discover what lies beneath the water. It is then time to leave Portage Bay behind, as we take a short walk to Torea Bay before boarding a ferry back to Picton, where our adventure comes to an end at around 1:00pm.

Meals: Breakfast

Day 1: Depart Picton, Queen Charlotte Sound & Endeavour Inlet

Welcome to Picton! Hugging the side of the Queen Charlotte Sound, this seaside town is the jumping-off point for your explorations of its famous track. Your adventure gets rolling with a 9am welcome meeting where you’ll meet your local guide and fellow travellers, then it’s a 10am ferry to Meretoto, also known as Ship Cove. Be sure to keep an eye out for dolphins which can often be spotted swimming alongside the boat! Upon arrival, we take some time to explore the cove while your guide shares its history. We then begin today’s hike, climbing away from the coastline through untouched forests of ferns and beech. We pause at a lookout point to admire views of the Queen Charlotte Sound, then descend into Resolution Bay and stop for a picnic lunch. After lunch, we follow the shoreline over an old bridle path to the stunning Endeavour Inlet where we’ll have some downtime to kayak, stand up paddleboard or simply stretch out next to the water and relax. Later in the day, we continue to our lodge accommodation and settle in for the night.

Trekking Distance: 17km

Meals: Lunch

Day 2: Queen Charlotte Track to Punga Cove

Wake up to the songs of birds and prepare for another scenic day along the trail. Today, we skirt along the coastline through gorgeous native bush while your guide points out the calls of fantails and bellbirds. We pass by Big Bay, walk through shady forest to Camp Bay, and then arrive at the beautiful Punga Cove in the Marlborough Sounds. On arrival, we take some time to explore this small but picturesque seaside settlement and perhaps pop into one of the few local eateries for lunch with a view. The afternoon is yours to make the most of this spectacular setting. You may like to hire a kayak to explore the bay’s clear waters, or chill out at your accommodation and make use of the outdoor pool. 

Trekking Distance: 12km

Meals: Breakfast

Day 3: Queen Charlotte Track via Eatwells Lookout and Portage Bay

Gear up - today is our longest day of trekking, but we’ll be sure to be rewarded with some jaw-dropping scenery. We depart from Punga Cove and follow the ridgeline towards the Kenepuru Saddle. After climbing to the Eatwells Lookout, we take in sweeping views of the Marlborough Sounds, with the Cook Strait and the Kaikoura Ranges in the distance. After descending via the Torea Saddle, we continue on the final stretch to Portage Bay, where we’ll be staying for the night. This evening, we enjoy a well-earned three-course dinner whilst reminiscing about all that we have seen and accomplished together.

Trekking Distance: 21km

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Portage & return to Picton

On our final morning, we enjoy some free time to enjoy all that Portage has to offer. You may like to rent a kayak or stand up paddleboard to explore the bay, or perhaps head out snorkelling to discover what lies beneath the water. It is then time to leave Portage Bay behind, as we take a short walk to Torea Bay before boarding a ferry back to Picton, where our adventure comes to an end at around 1:00pm.

Meals: Breakfast

Frequently asked questions

Can't find the answer to your question? Get in touch via email (info@inspiredadventure.com.au) or phone (1300 905 188). We’re always here to help!

About the adventure

How challenging is this adventure?

The Queen Charlotte trek is ranked a moderate 3/5. While no extensive trekking experience is required prior to registering, our adventures are specifically designed for people who are relatively fit and willing to train. This is a physical challenge, and the fitter you are, the more you will enjoy the experience. It is essential that you prepare for this challenge. We recommend that in the months leading up to your trip, you increase your physical fitness with aerobic exercise.

Can I join an Inspired Adventure on my own?

Of course, most people do! Throughout your adventure journey, we will connect you with your fellow adventurers so you can get to know each other before you hit the road.

Who will I be travelling with? 

Our average group size at Inspired Adventures ranges from 10 to 20 people. You can be sure that you have all come together with the shared purpose of making a difference to others and having the adventure of a lifetime.

The group will be led by a local tour guide with expert knowledge of the region. Many groups will also be accompanied by an Inspired Adventures team leader or doctor to support and motivate the team. 

Where applicable, a charity representative may also join the team. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about your chosen charity and their work.

What is the general age range of participants?

The minimum age for this adventure is 18, however younger ages are considered on application. We have had participants aged 16–80+ take part in our challenges, all united by their sense of philanthropy and adventure.

Fitness and training

How do I train for this adventure?

We will provide you with basic information on how to prepare for your adventure when you register. We recommend that you consult your GP and a personal trainer to develop a training plan that will prepare you for the challenge.

It is sensible to start training as early as possible before you go on your trek. As part of your training, we recommend making use of your weekends to complete a full day hike and if possible, an overnight hike. You should aim to walk in hilly terrain for 6-8 hours and get up to do it again the following day comfortably. Conventional exercise routines which build strength, fitness and stamina, such as aerobics and light weight training can be beneficial, particularly if your fitness level is less than ideal.

Accommodation

What is the accommodation like?

You will be staying at a 3-star, locally owned lodge and surrounded by nature. It will contain all the usual amenities of a 3-star lodge.

Will I be sharing accommodation?

Accommodation on this adventure is based on twin-share. You will be paired with a teammate of the same gender and, whenever possible, age group. Single rooms are available at an additional cost and subject to availability.

I’m travelling with a friend, can we stay together?

If you’re travelling with a friend, please make note of this and we will pair you together.

What to expect

What is the food like? 

Breakfasts at the lodge is a la carte, where you will be able to select an option off the breakfast menu. Coffee is not included and comes at an additional cost. While trekking, our packed lunches include a sandwich, piece of fruit, dessert and a snack. Dinner will be at local restaurants, some nights included and some nights at your own expense.

I have dietary requirements, will I be catered for?

Of course, we will happily arrange for any dietary requirements you’ve noted during booking to be catered for. A special meal can always be prepared to meet individual needs specified in advance.

Will I have mobile phone reception? 

There is no phone coverage available while trekking. But don’t worry; it’s all part of the experience! Your guides will have satellite phones on them that will be used in the case of an emergency. WiFi is available at your accommodation.

Will I have access to electricity?

Yes, there is electricity available at your accommodation.

What do I need to pack? 

You will be sent a comprehensive packing list after you register for the adventure with everything you need to consider.

What happens if there is a medical emergency?

Providing the safest possible environment is our highest priority and we have an outstanding safety record. All Inspired Adventures guides and Team Leaders are first aid trained. Our guides carry a satellite phone to be used if further assistance is required.

How will you manage the risk of COVID-19?

See the COVID-19 section of our website for full details.

Costs and payments

What’s included in the travel cost?

Package inclusions vary from trip to trip so please refer to the specific trip notes for details. 

Generally, the travel cost includes: 

  • Transfers as per itinerary
  • Accommodation in 3-Star accommodation based on twin-share
  • Meals as per itinerary
  • Local guide
  • Entrance fees as per itinerary

What’s not included in the travel cost?

Package exclusions vary from trip to trip so please refer to the specific trip notes for details. 

Generally, the travel cost does not include:

  • Airfares
  • Airport transfers
  • Travel insurance (Highly recommended for NZ residents, mandatory for non-NZ residents)
  • Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages
  • Personal expenses

Is the travel cost guaranteed?

We will do our best to keep the travel costs as quoted. However, please bear in mind they can change due to group size, currency fluctuations or factors out of our control. If absolutely necessary, Inspired Travel may have to add on an additional supplement fee should the current social distancing measures continue. This fee would be required if our operator needs to add on additional vehicles, equipment and/or staff.

Why do I need to pay a registration fee? 

When you register, you will be required to pay a registration fee to secure your spot on the team. From the minute you register until you return from your adventure, the team at Inspired Adventures will provide you with everything you need - including a personalised fundraising plan, fitness advice and support with travel preparations. You will receive access to your online adventure portal complete with your own online fundraising page and lots of resources to help you along the way. Your registration fee goes towards our cost of managing the adventure and supporting you on your journey.

How much spending money do I need?

You will need to budget around $60 per day to cover meals that are not included in the itinerary, coffee, snacks, souvenirs and any other purchases you may wish to make.

Is it customary to tip? 

Tipping is not compulsory in New Zealand, and you are encouraged to tip only an amount you find appropriate.

Travel insurance and visas

Do I need to have travel insurance?

Travel insurance is compulsory for non-NZ residents and highly recommended for NZ residents to cover cancellation, hospital, emergency evacuation and lost luggage. We recommend purchasing your policy as soon as possible. It is up to you to ensure you have fully comprehensive travel insurance and you will need to share these details with our team before departure. For more information, please visit www.inspiredadventures.com.au/travel-insurance-information.

Do I need a visa to travel to New Zealand?

Australian passport holders do not require a visa for entry into New Zealand. If you are travelling on a different passport or for further information, please contact the relevant embassy.

About New Zealand

Can I drink the water in New Zealand?

Tap water in New Zealand is safe to drink and we encourage you to bring refillable water bottles or water bladder to minimise plastic waste. You can fill up before the start of the day at the accommodation. 

What weather can I expect?

Thanks to its position in the path of the ‘Roaring 40s’ and mountainous terrain, New Zealand’s weather can frequently change with amazing rapidity. Because the weather can change so unexpectedly you should be prepared for sudden changes in temperature and weather conditions. Cold temperatures, snow, strong winds and heavy rain can occur at any time of the year, including summer. Temperatures will drop significantly in the evenings, so be sure to pack plenty of warm clothing.

About the adventure

How challenging is this adventure?

The Queen Charlotte trek is ranked a moderate 3/5. While no extensive trekking experience is required prior to registering, our adventures are specifically designed for people who are relatively fit and willing to train. This is a physical challenge, and the fitter you are, the more you will enjoy the experience. It is essential that you prepare for this challenge. We recommend that in the months leading up to your trip, you increase your physical fitness with aerobic exercise.

Can I join an Inspired Adventure on my own?

Of course, most people do! Throughout your adventure journey, we will connect you with your fellow adventurers so you can get to know each other before you hit the road.

 

Who will I be travelling with? 

Our average group size at Inspired Adventures ranges from 10 to 20 people. You can be sure that you have all come together with the shared purpose of making a difference to others and having the adventure of a lifetime.

The group will be led by a local tour guide with expert knowledge of the region. Many groups will also be accompanied by an Inspired Adventures team leader or doctor to support and motivate the team. 

Where applicable, a charity representative may also join the team. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about your chosen charity and their work.

What is the general age range of participants?

The minimum age for this adventure is 18, however younger ages are considered on application. We have had participants aged 16–80+ take part in our challenges, all united by their sense of philanthropy and adventure.

Fitness and training

How do I train for this adventure?

We will provide you with basic information on how to prepare for your adventure when you register. We recommend that you consult your GP and a personal trainer to develop a training plan that will prepare you for the challenge.

It is sensible to start training as early as possible before you go on your trek. As part of your training, we recommend making use of your weekends to complete a full day hike and if possible, an overnight hike. You should aim to walk in hilly terrain for 6-8 hours and get up to do it again the following day comfortably. Conventional exercise routines which build strength, fitness and stamina, such as aerobics and light weight training can be beneficial, particularly if your fitness level is less than ideal.

Accommodation

What is the accommodation like?

You will be staying at a 3-star, locally owned lodge and surrounded by nature. It will contain all the usual amenities of a 3-star lodge.

Will I be sharing accommodation?

Accommodation on this adventure is based on twin-share. You will be paired with a teammate of the same gender and, whenever possible, age group. Single rooms are available at an additional cost and subject to availability.

I’m travelling with a friend, can we stay together?

If you’re travelling with a friend, please make note of this and we will pair you together.

What to expect

What is the food like? 

Breakfasts at the lodge is a la carte, where you will be able to select an option off the breakfast menu. Coffee is not included and comes at an additional cost. While trekking, our packed lunches include a sandwich, piece of fruit, dessert and a snack. Dinner will be at local restaurants, some nights included and some nights at your own expense.

I have dietary requirements, will I be catered for?

Of course, we will happily arrange for any dietary requirements you’ve noted during booking to be catered for. A special meal can always be prepared to meet individual needs specified in advance.

Will I have mobile phone reception? 

There is no phone coverage available while trekking. But don’t worry; it’s all part of the experience! Your guides will have satellite phones on them that will be used in the case of an emergency. WiFi is available at your accommodation.

Will I have access to electricity?

Yes, there is electricity available at your accommodation.

What do I need to pack? 

You will be sent a comprehensive packing list after you register for the adventure with everything you need to consider.

What happens if there is a medical emergency?

Providing the safest possible environment is our highest priority and we have an outstanding safety record. All Inspired Adventures guides and Team Leaders are first aid trained. Our guides carry a satellite phone to be used if further assistance is required.

How will you manage the risk of COVID-19?

See the COVID-19 section of our website for full details.

Costs and payments

What’s included in the travel cost?

Package inclusions vary from trip to trip so please refer to the specific trip notes for details. 

Generally, the travel cost includes: 

  • Transfers as per itinerary
  • Accommodation in 3-Star accommodation based on twin-share
  • Meals as per itinerary
  • Local guide
  • Entrance fees as per itinerary

What’s not included in the travel cost?

Package exclusions vary from trip to trip so please refer to the specific trip notes for details. 

Generally, the travel cost does not include:

  • Airfares
  • Airport transfers
  • Travel insurance (Highly recommended for NZ residents, mandatory for non-NZ residents)
  • Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages
  • Personal expenses

Is the travel cost guaranteed?

We will do our best to keep the travel costs as quoted. However, please bear in mind they can change due to group size, currency fluctuations or factors out of our control. If absolutely necessary, Inspired Travel may have to add on an additional supplement fee should the current social distancing measures continue. This fee would be required if our operator needs to add on additional vehicles, equipment and/or staff.

Why do I need to pay a registration fee? 

When you register, you will be required to pay a registration fee to secure your spot on the team. From the minute you register until you return from your adventure, the team at Inspired Adventures will provide you with everything you need - including a personalised fundraising plan, fitness advice and support with travel preparations. You will receive access to your online adventure portal complete with your own online fundraising page and lots of resources to help you along the way. Your registration fee goes towards our cost of managing the adventure and supporting you on your journey.

How much spending money do I need?

You will need to budget around $60 per day to cover meals that are not included in the itinerary, coffee, snacks, souvenirs and any other purchases you may wish to make.

Is it customary to tip? 

Tipping is not compulsory in New Zealand, and you are encouraged to tip only an amount you find appropriate.

Travel insurance and visas

Do I need to have travel insurance?

Travel insurance is compulsory for non-NZ residents and highly recommended for NZ residents to cover cancellation, hospital, emergency evacuation and lost luggage. We recommend purchasing your policy as soon as possible. It is up to you to ensure you have fully comprehensive travel insurance and you will need to share these details with our team before departure. For more information, please visit www.inspiredadventures.com.au/travel-insurance-information.

Do I need a visa to travel to New Zealand?

Australian passport holders do not require a visa for entry into New Zealand. If you are travelling on a different passport or for further information, please contact the relevant embassy.

About New Zealand

Can I drink the water in New Zealand?

Tap water in New Zealand is safe to drink and we encourage you to bring refillable water bottles or water bladder to minimise plastic waste. You can fill up before the start of the day at the accommodation. 

What weather can I expect?

Thanks to its position in the path of the ‘Roaring 40s’ and mountainous terrain, New Zealand’s weather can frequently change with amazing rapidity. Because the weather can change so unexpectedly you should be prepared for sudden changes in temperature and weather conditions. Cold temperatures, snow, strong winds and heavy rain can occur at any time of the year, including summer. Temperatures will drop significantly in the evenings, so be sure to pack plenty of warm clothing.

All information is subject to change and will be confirmed upon your registration.

Reviews

Past adventurers rated their overall experience trekking in New Zealand as 4.67 out of 5

★★★★★


“I got to see some beautiful places, meet amazing people and stepped out of my comfort zone.”

Judith

BCNA: New Zealand 2018
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Responsible Travel

Caring for our adventurers, the communities we visit and the wellbeing of the planet is the heart of everything we do. This adventure is no exception.
Meaningful connections: Hear from Aranda Elders who will tell us about the history of the area.
Environment: We offset the emissions from this trip through carbon credit programs in partnership with Carbon Neutral. 
Treading lightly: Trekking is a great, low-impact way to explore.
Small group travel: Our teams consist of a maximum of 25 people. Better for you, and better for the planet.
Responsible business: We’re a certified B-Corp, committed to using business as a force for good

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Safe travel and flexible bookings

Keeping you safe: We’ve developed a stringent COVID-10 Pandemic Safety Management Plan in cooperation with government guidelines, tourism boards and the advice of medical experts to minimise the risks associated with travel as best as possible.

Flexible bookings: If COVID-19 travel bans mean your Inspired Adventure cannot go ahead as scheduled, we will endeavour to reschedule the departure to a later date or you will receive a travel credit.

To learn more about our COVID-19 policy, you can see a full list of FAQs here

Do you want to take your supporters on an adventure-of-a-lifetime?

Enquire today about an itinerary for your organisation.

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