Queen Charlotte Track, Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand
Marlborough Sounds in Zealand are an area of incredible beauty. The Sounds are the gateway to the South Island if you are travelling from the North Island on the inter-island ferry. Queen Charlotte Sound, named by Captain James Cook after the wife of King George 111, has one of the most popular walking tracks in New Zealand. Because of its spectacular views, unique forest and bush, native birds and walker friendly track, thousands of visitors walk all or part of the track each year.
One of the attractions of the Queen Charlotte Track is that it is suitable for all ages as long as the walker has a good level of fitness. I walked parts of the Track with a group of people, some well into their seventies. You walk at your own pace, stopping to admire the view and get your breath back whenever you need to. Apart from reasonable fitness, walkers should wear strong walking shoes or boots and carry a day pack with snacks and plenty of water. If you're walking the whole track, you can arrange to have your main pack transported from each destination daily.
Queen Charlotte Track was developed from the many bridle paths developed during New Zealand's pioneering days. It is an area rich with history, bird life, native plants and wonderful scenery. Captain James Cook made his base at Ship Cove in 1770 and returned there each of his subsequent trips.
Queen Charlotte Track starts at Ship Cove and finishes at Anikiwa. It is a 71 km track, usually walked in four or five days. Although the distance may not seem long, it is an undulating track with magnificent scenery, so most walkers cover only one section a day, averaging about seven to fifteen km a day. There is a range of accommodation along the way, including tent sites, cabins, and lodge accommodation. These really need to be pre-booked, especially in the high season between November and March, as they are incredibly popular.
Access to the starting point is by boat from Picton. Walkers can be dropped off and arrange to be picked up at any of the destination points along the way. The track can be walked independently or as part of a guided tour of the Sounds. There is plenty of tourist information available about the Track, indicating daily distances that can be covered, where the accommodation is along the way and what walkers should take with them.
Walking all or part of the Queen Charlotte Track is something that should be on the itinerary of every visitor to New Zealand. It is a wonderful way to experience some of the beauty New Zealand has to offer.
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