Queen Charlotte Track – Marlborough Sounds

18 months after the trip, we realised that no trip report had been written. Here is one; better late than never.

Because our trip was at the Easter long weekend, we had to camp because all indoor accommodation had been booked out well in advance. But I think most of us didn’t mind camping. On the longer days, the team split into two groups of six, so we could travel at our preferred speed.

Day 1 – Wellington to Picton (Thursday 14 April)
Our group travelled to Picton on the 12.45pm ferry. After dropping off our gear at The Villa backpackers, we went to the DOC office to pay the camping fees for Camp Bay and Cowshed Bay. Each walker also needs to buy (and carry) a QCTLC Pass, because the track passes through areas of privately owned land (See: https://www.qctrack.co.nz/track-info/qctlc-pass/). We picked ours up from Beachcomber water taxis on Friday morning.

Day 2 – Resolution Bay to Camp Bay, 22km (Friday 15 April)

We caught an 8am Beachcomber water taxi to Resolution Bay and disembarked with our day packs, while our main bags were transported to Camp Bay. The first day’s walk is mostly flattish, apart from an early hilly section, and the journey took about 7 hours. We ate lunch at the water’s edge by Furneaux Lodge, where some of us also got coffee. Approaching Camp Bay, the track split and we took the lower route to pick up our bags and then went on to Camp Bay campsite. The campsite is very close to Punga Cove Resort and that’s where we went in the evening for pizza at the Boatshed Cafe.

Day 3Camp Bay to Torea Saddle, 23km (Saturday 16 April)
We left our main bags on the jetty by 9am so they could be taken to the Torea Bay jetty by water taxi. The day’s walk then began with a trudge up Akerbloms Road 4WD track, to reach the QCT at Kenepuru Saddle. We continued along the ridge for the majority of the journey to Torea Saddle, getting some elevated views of the Sounds, and then down to the jetty at Torea Bay to retrieve our main bags. Our day’s hike took about 8 hours, and was the most hilly day’s walk overall.

Because Torea Bay is on one side of the ridge and the Cowshed Bay campsite is on the other, we had a decent amount of additional walking: from Torea Saddle down to the Torea Bay jetty, back up to the saddle, and down a tricky track to the campsite. Don’t bring a suitcase (as one person did); even with wheels, it looked like hard work moving it up the road from Torea jetty to the saddle and then down to the campsite.

Cowshed Bay campsite is a pretty nice campsite. In the evening we walked on the sealed road over to the Portage Hotel for a buffet dinner (booked in advance by Meredith).

Day 4 – Torea Bay to Mistletoe Bay, 8 km (Sunday 17 April)
The actual distance was closer to 9.5km, which included extra walking from Cowshed Bay campsite, over Torea Saddle, down to the jetty and back up to the saddle. In the morning, we walked from the Cowshed Bay campsite up and over Torea Saddle and down to the Torea Bay jetty to deposit our main bags, and then back up to the saddle to resume the QCT walk.

This is a shorter day, and we arrived at the Mistletoe Bay Eco Village campsite just after 1pm. On the final downhill section to Mistletoe Bay, we came to a fork in the track: on the right, the track goes to the main sealed road; we took the left branch to Mistletoe Bay. A little further downhill we came to another fork. Half our group took the zigzag track on the right, which goes to the unsealed road down to the bay. The other half went left and took a track that was a little longer but which passed through a particularly lovely area of bush, a real highlight.

The Eco Village was a nice place to relax on a sunny afternoon. There were a few Weka lurking in the bushes for an opportunity to grab something and run away with it. The camp kitchen provided good facilities for cooking meals. There’s a basic shop/café but it was closed the day we stayed. The showers cost a $2 coin for each 4 minutes of hot water. We were all very pleased to have the opportunity for a shower.

Day 5: – Mistletoe Bay to Anakiwa, 12.5km (Monday 18 April)
Another short day at 3.5 hours. The terrain the track passes over is much less steep than either of the two previous days. Our group was picked up by water taxi at the jetty and taken to Picton to board our afternoon ferry back to Wellington.

Meredith did a great job of seeing to all the bookings and provided good, clear guidance leading into the trip about what we could expect along the way. The weather was excellent, and everyone had a very enjoyable time on the track.

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