Queen Charlotte Tracknzcyclers2019-07-09T08:44:57+00:00
QUEEN CHARLOTTE TRACK
Reading time: 3 minutes Warm Beer – a short story
– “The views make your mind wander to tropical places and leaves you longing for a delicious cocktail!” –
TRACK WITH A VIEW
Fantastic, awesome, unbelievable, magical, beautiful….. We can go on for a while like this when we think back on when we cycled the Queen Charlotte Track last summer.
Right in front of me, Peter hits its brakes abruptly. With slipping wheels I too come to a stop. Diagonal on the track to avoid a crash. “A crossing Weka?”, I ask, somewhat startled. But no, ‘just’ another view not to be missed taking a picture of. And yes, he is right again. Also this vista is breathtaking. We gaze upon Queen Charlotte Sound and when we turn ourselves, also Kenepuru Sound. Fantastic, that screams out for a panaroma shot!
Perfect contrast The green of the rainforest and the azure blue of the ocean contrast perfectly with the clear blue sky. In the back birds sing their songs, a gentle breeze touches the trees. Who would want to cycle on? Not us, so we decide that Nikau View is going to be the spot for a well deserved lunch. We are lucky, no curious Weka’s here who are always keen and eager to inspect your backpack. Just a few seasoned hikers conquering the Te Araroa Track. This long-distance trail takes you from the northernmost point of New Zealand all the way to the south. It covers roughly 3,000 kilometers and also includes the Queen Charlotte track. Good choice! Turns out that the trampers stay in the same lodge as we do, so the deal to drink a beer together was made in a sec!
No hurry We say goodbye to the view and the hikers. With the comforting thought that this most likely wasn’t the last viewpoint, we hop on our bikes to continue our journey. This time we make sure that the gap between us is a bit bigger, to prevent bruises and fractures. A good thing, more than once I see Peter rummage about in his photo-bag to dig up a fresh memory card or a battery which still has some juice. Seems that it was a good choice after all to bring some spare ones! We daren’t say what time we arrived at our accommodation, but let’s just mention that Queen Charlottes sunsets are just plain awesome! Oh yes, the Te Araroa walkers were sipping their second beer already, while ours went warm….
To us, the Queen Charlotte Track is the track of the views. Every corner surprises you with yet another treat! So gorgeous, that in the end it took us way more time than all the brochures and websites indicate. But, who cares?! Why rush with so much beauty around you! The Queen Charlotte Track really is a feast to ride.
Ouch, caught in the act! Even I couldn’t resist taking a picture….
” Keep an eye on the ocean, chances are you’ll spot a dolphin or two and some seals as a bonus! “
Reading time: 7 minutes Queen Charlotte Track – Easy to arrange!
– “Coronation of your visit to the Marlborough Sounds” –
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.
Good to know! Lots of information about the trail you can find on the NZ Cycle Trails website.
Do check the condition of the trail before you head out. A good place to do so is the DOC site.
The section from Ship Cove to Punga Cove is closed for cyclists from December 1st until February 28th. The rest of the trail is open to cyclist all year round.
Queen Charlotte Track is also a well-known and popular hiking trail. Meaning that you will encounter trampers during your ride. Hikers have way of right. Keep that in mind when you roll down a hill!
The Queen Charlotte Track is an advanced MTB trail. Not so experienced but still wanting to enjoy all the track has to offer? Avoid the tricky parts and take the Kenepuru Road (tarmac). Awesome views there too! Or skip the difficult parts and take the water taxi!
: 1 or 2 days, depending on your time, your shape and on what you like to see on your way
: One-way track
: Intermediate, grade 3. One-way trail, you have to share it with hikers. Sometimes short steep climbs and small paths.
Where? The Queen Charlotte Track is situated in Marlborough Sounds in the north of the South Island. A very impressive area, known for its stunning coastal views, rainforest and wildlife. The Queen Charlotte Track starts in Ship Cove and ends in Anakiwa with constant views of Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds. Water taxis take you from Picton to your starting point en pick you up after your bike ride.
When? You can cycle the Queen Charlotte Track the whole year. Please note that from December 1 to February 28 the section from Ship Cove to Punga Cove is closed. The rest of the track is open the whole year.
Starting point Watertaxi from Picton
Route Beautiful trail along romantic bays, native forest and stunning views of Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds. The best way to cycle the track is from Ship Cove to Anakiwa.
Transport Water taxis to the start and finish of your bike ride. You have to organise this yourself. There are several companies in Picton who can help you with that.
Grade Advanced and expert
Number of days 2 to 3 days
Accommodation Lots of hotels, (luxury) guesthouses, B&B’s and campsites.
Our tip There are loads of nice places along the Queen Charlotte Track to sit down, relax and have a coffee. We had a real good coffee at Punga Cove. And it comes with a complementary awesome view!
Extra tip! Haven’t got much time? Or not such an experienced cyclist yet? Skip the hard parts and take a watertaxi. Or cycle along the Kenepuru Road for a bit. Also very beautiful!
Marlborough Sounds is good for 1/5 of the coastline of New Zealand!
We love to share our own experiences and tips! Don’t expect extended touristic information, there are others who are much better in doing so. We do tell you where to find further information about the NZ Cycle Trails, like websites and apps. We focus primarily on photos. And we add a personal touch by summarising our personal trail experience in a short story! No doubt this will help you to get a good idea of the trails and what to expect. Enjoy reading!
We learned that grade 1, 2 and 3 is suitable for touring bikes. Take some steep climbs in account. Grade 4 and 5 are suitable for experienced and expert mountainbikers. The adventure stuff with obstacles, a lot of curves, hill climbs and steep drop-offs. Be aware, sometimes a cycle trail consists of several grades. Motu Trails is a good example: Dunes Trail is very easy, while the Pakihi Track is advanced.
ALWAYS CHECK THE TRAIL WEBSITES FOR LATEST NEWS ON STATE OF THE TRACK AND KEEP AN EYE ON THE WEATHER FORECASTS. NEW ZEALAND WEATHER HAS THE WEIRD HABIT TO CHANGE WHENEVER IT PLEASES! ;)