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Queen Charlotte Sounds Walk

Home  »  South Island Walks  »  Picton  »  Queen Charlotte Sounds Walk – Walk detail

Fantastic ocean views, romantic bays, feed the fish and very friendly Wekas is what you will find on this 35k, 2 day, medium walk along the stunning Queen Charlotte Sounds Track. It’s a very long walk and will take around 10 to 11 hours depending on how fast you go.

Quick Facts

        • Location: Northern tip of the South Island
        • Distance: 35 kms
        • Time needed: 10 Hours 30 Minutes
        • Difficulty: Medium
        • Wheelchair Access: No
        • Route: One Way
        • Elevation: 400m
        • Wet Feet: No
        • Toilets: Yes
        • Dogs: No
        • Mobile Coverage: No
        • Last Updated: November, 2019
  • Track Highlights

    Fantastic ocean views, Romantic bays, Feed the fish, Very friendly Wekas

  • Track Quality


  • Hazards

    Wasps are common in late summer, so carry antihistamines if you’re allergic to their stings.  Wekas have also been know to steal your lunch!

  • Transport

    Yes, water taxi.  They will drop your packs off for your next night’s accommodation.

  • Water

    From the lodges.

  • Driving Instructions

    Most people arrive into Picton by ferry from Wellington in the North Island.

    Find your way down to the wharf and pick a water taxi to suit your plans.  We only had two days to fit in a walk, so we took a taxi out to  the northern end of the walk, Resolution Bay and walked around to Punga Bay for the night.

    The next day we walked around to Bay of many coves to catch the water taxi back to picton.

  • Shops or Restaurants nearby

    Yes in Picton

  • Area & Track History

    Queen Charlotte Sound was an important trade route and provided good shelter and bountiful seafood for the many who lived there.  Captain James Cook, also took advantage of the shelter and natural bounty of the Sounds, making Ships Cove  his New Zealand base. He spent more than 100 days there between 1770 and 1777.

    Since that time, the area has been the scene of a diverse range of activities from gold and antinomy mining, whaling and fishing through to tourism and forestry.

    Today you will see holiday batches tucked away in beautiful secluded bays, the only access to their batches is by boat. Or bush track. The over populated bays now have mains power to their door. And fresh water piped to them from creeks up in the hills

  • Best Things To Do near this walk

  • Map location of Queen Charlotte Sounds Walk

    Map of walk

Points of interest along the walk

In the map above, if you zoom in on the walk, you’ll see all the following track points and their location. Each point has photos along with a description about each one.

Point 1: Queen Charlotte Sounds Track (Start, Day 1)

Our water taxi ride to Resolution Bay took us 2 hours. The Taxi stopped at three other bays to pick and drop off people.  We were very lucky to stop in Endeavour Inlet and watch a 40 plus pod of dolphins swim past the boat, well worth the delay.

11am, we stepped on to the wharf at Resolution Bay in time to see the feeding of the local blue cod and one moray eel.  So take a loaf of bread with you and try feeding the fish by hand.  Keep a couple of slices of bread for the Weka.  A hot plunger coffee and a muffin can be brought from the shop just to the left of the house. You might have to ring the bell for service.  You are on country time now, not, hurry up city time.

The tracks run around to the right of the house, and uphill, just follow the arrows.  Take the time to use the toilet; the next one is at the saddle.  Not very nice though.

Point 2: Queen Charlotte Sounds Track

Walk up through the paddocks and on to the old bridle path, from here on the track is a breeze to follow, just a 5 minute uphill walk, and then away you go to the saddle an easy walk.

The first half hour in to the walk the views of the sounds are quite breath taking to start with, but as you clock up the hours, there is always a better view around the next corner.

Point 3: Queen Charlotte Sounds Track

The next amazing thing to see is the little gray Weka running along the track. If you stop and keep still, the Wekas will walk right up to you and feed out of your hand.

If you don’t stop after leaving Resolution Bay, you should reach the summit in 45 min. We arrived at 1205H. Lunch time. The view was fantastic, we could see over to our night accommodation at Punga Cove, 5 hours away. It might be quicker to swim across.

If you are thinking of putting your food down on the seat and getting the camera out to taking a photo don’t. All you will see is a flash of grey Weka, running off with your honey and peanut butter sandwich.

Point 4: Queen Charlotte Sounds Track

Honey dew.  You will see a lot of this in the sounds, the mountain beach trees are covered in a black fungus.

Looking closer you will see small droplets of liquid hanging of a fine thread. This is called honey dew, bee keepers set there bee hives in the forest to collect this dew. The bees collect it by the gallons. So do the bird and the wasps.  The honey out of the hive is twice the sweetness of clover or manuka honey.  Try a few drops on your finger.

Point 5: Queen Charlotte Sounds Track

What a great beach for a coffee, it turns out to be very interesting.  My little friends the Weka were there looking for food, they did not have to look any further Garry was here.

When they finished one of my biscuit, we turned over stones for then, but I got the impression, that biscuits were taster then bugs.

Point 6: Queen Charlotte Sounds Track

Back to civilisation, bugger, Furneaux Lodge. Yes noisy people. Radio and speed boats. How to pollute a beautiful bay over night.

A quick call in, just to top up with fresh water and get out of there.  The place was busy with people.  They zip over from Nelson for a quick steak and a bottle of wine.  If only they knew what they were missing out on.

Point 7: Queen Charlotte Sounds Track

From here on, the track widens out to a service road.  You might bump into a 4×4 and people running between the Furneaux and Endeavour lodges.  Not a lot to see along this road till you cross the swing bridge.   You can save some time and walk across the bay if the tide is out. To do so, walk down to the Endeavour lodge and out on to the beach walk over to the right and make your way to the boat shed on the far side. The main track turns off 50m before the boat shed.

Point 8: Queen Charlotte Sounds Track

Once across the bridge you step out on to farm land. Or more like old McDonald’s farm. We saw a wild pig and a lama plus the common sheep and cows.

There is a board there for you to read on the history of Endeavour inlet.  And how they mined antimony.  We were amazed to see a track side store with an honesty box it was selling trinkets and a small variety of toiletries.

Point 9: Queen Charlotte Sounds Track

30 min minutes from Furneaux lodge is the next turn off to the right.  Easy flat walking from here on.  There are small farm blocks you walk through. So shut the gates and don’t take the sheep home for a pet.

Point 10: Queen Charlotte Sounds Track

1 hour 15 minutes from the turn off, out on a point there is a marker saying Half way between Furno and Camp Bay.

You only have to look across the bay to see Punga Cove, and your nights’ accommodation, and a long hot shower and a three course meal.

The Bush on this side of the point is very cool and refreshing a change from scrub and more scrub. Big River bridge, now only 1 hour to go.  Might as well make use of the tables and take a 5 min coffee break. The water in the creek looked fresh enough to fill up the water bottles as well. It’s been a very hot walk so far

Point 11: Queen Charlotte Sounds Track

Here is our turnoff to the left, hot food and a shower only 30 minutes away. To the right will take you up to the main road and back on to the track, tomorrow’s walk.

Point 12: Queen Charlotte Sounds Track

The track to Punga Cove was the roughest section of track on the whole walk.  For the amount of people who walk to the cove, what a disgrace.  Camp Bay, not too bad. It’s tucked up in the trees, with private tent sites, water and toilets, but to many people there. One good point about the camp site is just around the corner. A 4 star lodge with bar and restaurant.

Point 13: Queen Charlotte Sounds Track

Another 15 minutes to our B&B. 1800H   we arrived with just enough time for a hot relaxing shower before tea. Good timing.

After a splendid meal of fresh fish, caught out in front of the homestead that afternoon. And not forgetting the desert. We sat out on the front lawn and watched the sun set over the hills.

Day 1 Summary

We left Picton by water taxi at 0900H.

Started walking at 11100H And arrived at 1800H. A 23 Ks walk in very hot sunny day.  The walk took us 5 hours and 40 minutes all up.  One 30 minute climb out of Resolution bay 0 to 230 Mt, then downhill to Furno. From there on the walk was as flat as a pancake.

Plenty of toilet stops and I mean flushing toilets and two places to buy food if you need it. As for the views of the ocean great.  FANTISTIC WALK.

Point 14: Queen Charlotte Sounds Track (Day 2)

A 12 km walk, mostly up hill. We started the walk at sea level, climbed to 446m.  Then walked back down to sea level again. 0900 Hours.

The weather is a little on the grey side today, it was so disappointing to see the top of the range is covered in cloud.  So there go the views.  To get back on to the track, head for the road.  If you are in camp bay, walk up and through to the lodge to the top of the road.  The start is to the right, up the dirt track. Just follow the signs.

Point 15: Queen Charlotte Sounds Track

An entertaining walk, you can watch and listen to the farmers down in the valley talking (yelling) at their stock.

Follow the trail of dust billowing out from behind the Holden as it rattles up the road.  If only the sun would pop out from behind the clouds and brighten the day.

Point 16: Queen Charlotte Sounds Track

There are too many places to stop for a coffee.

Some nice chap, cut down a handful of old trees so we could sit on the stumps and look out to sea. He also installed a toilet for the girls to use. Great people the south islanders.

How would you like to live in this isolated little bay? No annoying salesmen would come knocking on your door out here.

The track up to here is a little boring.  Nothing to see but trees and more trees.   When you think that was the last hill to climb, look again, yes one more.

When you reach the top, start to walk down hill, there is a track to a look out on the left. Sorry but it was covered in cloud so we gave it a miss. Not to say there were no other views to be had.  There must have been at least four good views of The Bay of Many Coves. Where the power lines cross over the ridge, there is a great spot to sit on the grass for another coffee.

Point 17: Queen Charlotte Sounds Track

2 hours and 40 minutes of walking time to reach the shelter. Time for lunch.

The shelter was very dirty, not the kind of place where I would stop for the night, better to sleep in the bush.

The water has to be boiled before drinking. And the long drop will drop you to your knees when you open the door, bad news.

Point 18: Queen Charlotte Sounds Track

The only thing that keep me from falling asleep along this section of track, was all the pig rooting off to the side.

The bush here is extremely thick. Not the best to be walking through. But just what the pigs love. Too thick for us to walk through. The noise we would make trying to get through the stuff would be heard in the next valley.

Point 19: Queen Charlotte Sounds Track

Minutes after leaving the shelter, we turned left on to the main track leading to Gem resort. The first (15 min) was easy going. When the track drops down to the left that is another story.

This section is a little rough with very steep descents. The not so experience walkers will find this section a challenge.  When you get back on the main ridge the walking is back to normal. Now this is where the fun started. Wild pigs were along the last half of this track.  We walked onto a sucker (baby pig), or was it the other way around. Any way, we both got a fright, he grunted, turned around and ran for cover. I almost dropped my camera. By the time I turned around he was long gone.

The last (20 min) of the walk is downhill all the way to the lodge, and I mean, downhill. If it is raining, you will spend most of your time sliding down not walking

Point 20: Queen Charlotte Sounds Track (End)

Arrived at The Gem resort 1430 hours.   Time for a quick snack at the restaurant before the water taxi arrives at 1530 Hours.

Day 2 Summary

4hours 15 Minutes, 12Ks of walking.  A lot of walking for very little gain. If it was not for the pigs, I would not recommend this section.

By far, yesterday was certainly the best section to walk.  Starting from Ships Cove is the way to go. And then finish at Punga cove. But make it a two day journey, take your time.

All walks in Picton…

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Queen Charlotte Sound (Totaranui), New Zealand

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