Queen Charlotte Track – Easy to arrange!
Organising your trip was never so easy! At least, that was our experience when we went out to cycle the Queen Charlotte Trail. It is all easily done in Picton, the gateway to Marlborough Sounds. It is getting used to though, coming with the ferry from metropole Wellington and stepping into little Picton. But Picton has it all! Especially lots of tour operators, bicycle rentals, an i-Site, neat little coffee bars and loads of friendly and helpful kiwis able and willing to set you up. And all within walking distance!
Tip: Are you planning to head out somewhere between Christmas and mid-February? Make sure to plan things well ahead. We rode the trail halfway December and arranged everything in Picton. It was doable, but we were flexible and could shift our plans and days.
1. Choose your route
You can cycle the whole trails or just part(s) of it. The whole trail, from Ship Cove to Anakiwa is 70 kilometers in total. Most cyclist take 2 or 3 days to complete it. That may seem long, but the trail sometimes is challenging with fierce climbs. Besides, the views are one of a kind and the bays very tempting to go for a swim, so why rush? If you are on a tight schedule, choose a section of the trail you fancy most and make it an awesome day out.
2. Book your accommodation
No shortage of places to sleep on the Queen Charlotte Trail! From luxury guesthouses to hotels, B&B’s, hostels and camp sites. Solutions for every budget! Do make sure to make reservations before heading out. Some of the accommodations are fully booked well in advance. We used www.qctrack.co.nz to find a place to sleep. A handy website anyway, with lots of info to prepare yourself. Of course, you can also visit the i-Site or one of the many track-operators in Picton. They offer complete packages: bicycles, accommodation, transport and often also transport of your luggage from one accommodation to the next. Wonderful, so you don’t have to drag it along yourself!
3. Rent a bicycle
Rent your bike at one of the track-operators. They are able to give you all the trail details and which bike suits you best. A helmet is obligatory, so that’s included! Count on roughly 50 to 60 NZ Dollar per day.
4. Arrange your transport
Several water taxis take you to the starting point of the trail. And they do pick you up in the end! There are lots to choose from and the price depends on your route. We were dropped off in Punga Cove and had us picked-up the next day in Anakiwa. It costed us 105 NZ Dollar per person. Our luggage was transported so we were able to bike lightly. You can find water taxis on www.qctrack.co.nz.
5. Permit needed!
Don’t forget to arrange a permit. It is called a Queen Charlotte Track Land Cooperative (QCTLC) Pass. You need it in order to be allowed to cross certain sections. No matter if you walk it or bike it. We bought our pass at the i-Site in Picton, but you can also buy it at several accommodations and tour operators. It set us back 18 dollar per person for 5 days. More info on www.qctlc.com.
6. Where do we leave the car?
Always the question: where do I leave my car and belongings? We parked our car at a big, secure parking lot in the heart of Picton for five dollar a day. Our belongings we were able to leave at the office of Marlborough Sounds Adventure Company, where we booked our water taxi.