Francesca and I spent Easter Break tramping the 71km (44 miles) Queen Charlotte Track. I have been wanting to do this track since I found out about it two years ago. It didn’t disappoint; the trail was well maintained and mostly easy going apart from a major uphill the last day, and the views were unreal as expected. To walk Queen Charlotte you have to get a water taxi to the start of the trail head at Ship Cove so we started the day with a nice boat ride from Picton through the Sounds.
The general region is called Marlborough Sounds, a collection of individual sounds, including Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru, the two sounds we walked between. Essientially, a Sound is the same as a Fjord, the only difference is that a Sound is created by a river and a Fjord is created by a glacier. A Fjord is a relatively narrow inlet of water with steep cliffs. If you’ve ever heard of or seen photos of the iconic Milford Sound, New Zealand don’t be confused- it was mistakenly named ‘Sound’ when discovered, but it’s actually a Fjord. Alright, geology lesson over, on to the photos!
Our first day was a long 27km to our first campsite, Camp Bay. I really enjoyed walking along Endeavor Inlet and Resolution Bay because it reminded me of a summer on the lake and the weather was perfect. There were many Batches (New Zealanders call cabins a batch), lodges, and summer camps. The water was deep blue in some areas and quickly changed to a bright aqua blue in other areas. When the water meets the land it creates this beautiful range of aqua colors mixing with pale sands. People were out sailing, jet skiing, or on their jetties (New Zealand word for dock) sunbathing. I wouldn’t mind retiring in batch on the QC…
The campsite was really close to a little pub on the water so Fran and I went in our socks and flip flops and had a seat on the jetty. We drank Bailey’s on the rocks with a giant full moon lighting up the sounds as our backdrop. I can’t imagine anything more peaceful than relaxing in that exact spot after tramping 27km.
Our second day was another 25km to Cowshed Bay. We got to see a lot of beautiful panoramic views of Kenepuru and Queen Charlotte Sounds. The weather turned kind of crappy so we spent some time drinking hot chocolate at the neighboring resort, which was the most delicious hot chocolate I’ve ever had, before setting up the tent. Yup, this hike is luxurious compared to others! After a while, we set up our tent, made dinner, and made friends with some Canadians who we watched the sunset on the beach with.
We were meant to hike Queen Charlotte over 4 days but we read that the weather on Monday was supposed to be really bad. We decided to turn our 8km day into a 20km day and finish off the track. So our Easter day was spent crawling the last half of the day to Anikiwa, the end of the trail. We even attempted running bits of the trail because our feet were so so sore we wanted to be done! No, we didn’t want the views to end but your feet can only take so much walking in 2.5 days haha. The weather was pretty mediocre on our last day and there was a giant stretch of uphill to start out. Going uphill so much gave us some incredible views and makes tramping more rewarding because it’s hard work! The view is so rewarding when you have to hike uphill 🙂
Once in Anikiwa, I immediately ripped my boots off, only for a gang of mountain bikers to gasp in shock at the state of my feet. I think I counted 10, maybe 11 blisters. The pads of my toes were no longer toes, but big bubbly blisters, I kid you not. I even had them forming between my big toe and second toe. A sign of hard work and accomplishment, I nodded with approval at the condition of my feet.
It’s safe to say my new boots are a tad bit to small- sob.
Since we decided to do the trail quicker, we stayed at my friend Georgie’s sisters house (thanks Faye!) for the evening and woke up monday morning to explore the town of Picton. The weather turned out to be alright- it just sprinkled a bit and the sun showed itself here and there. It was nice exploring Picton and walking on some trails we found, however that didn’t last long because our feet ached. We shopped a bit and relaxed at a cafe on the water then caught our ferry home.
This trip was awesome! It was great to finally do a big hike again and experience the South Island again. Fran and I enjoyed camping and conquering all 71km of the QC!
Next up? A potential weekend trip with Alan to hike to the summit of Mount Taranaki at the end of April. stay tuned!