Marlborough trail notes

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Queen Charlotte Track

Route

Te Araroa's start point in the South Island is Ship Cove - note no camping allowed at Ship Cove. This is where the Queen Charlotte Track's northern terminus is. Te Araroa follows this track for 3-5 days and ends near the Outward Bound School at Anakiwa.

Captain James Cook, the first European to set foot on New Zealand soil, named Queen Charlotte Sound and Ship Cove, where in January 1770, he and his crew on the Endeavour, spent weeks taking on water and provisions. Cook used the cove again on the two subsequent voyages of 1773 and 1777, as captain of the Resolution. This is where he stayed for about 6 months. A memorial to him now stands at the cove. 

Most people get to Ship Cove by boat. A number of companies operate regular shuttle runs between Picton and various points along the track, including both trailheads. Some operators will transport packs forward each morning to the days-end destination so trampers can walk unencumbered. 

The Department of Conservation Backcountry Hut Pass is not valid at DOC campsites. You must pay for camping at the Queen Charlotte Track

Fees are payable to the Queen Charlotte Track Land Cooperative to use track sections that cross private land. A pass lasting up to 4 days costs $25.00. School children are free. Passes are for sale at numerous outlets, including the Picton I-site and Furneaux Lodge.

This is for access only and does not include camping.

The entire track is a medium tramping standard. It contains long forested sections with a mix of coastal and ridgeline walking and affords good views of both Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds. 

There has been a lot of tourism-oriented development along the Queen Charlotte Track and trampers can tailor their tramping to suit. The accommodation available ranges from upmarket lodges to campsites, 6 of these managed by DOC and one, at Mistletoe Bay, by a private trust. If you want to spend the money, there's restaurant food available en route. 

The DOC brochure available through the link on this page contains more information about walking the track, including details about transport, food and accommodation options, flora, fauna, and a historical account. Alternatively, if you're in Picton then visit the Picton and Queen Charlotte Track Information and Booking Centre, on the foreshore in the centre of town.

A four-day tramp on the Queen Charlotte Track might follow this timetable but there's plenty of scope for variation:

  • Ship Cove to the head of Endeavour Inlet - 13km / 5hr
  • Head of Endeavour Inlet to Bay of Many Coves Campsite - 19km / 6hr
  • Bay of Many Coves Campsite to Torea Saddle - 15km / 6hr
  • Torea Saddle to Anakiwa - 20km / 8hr

The walking time estimates are the Department Of Conservation. Some will find them generous but they're consistent so if a tramper is able to walk one section in 4/5th of DOC’s walking time estimate then they're likely to be able to do the same in other sections.

Ship Cove

View the historic site and interpretation panels. The walking begins with a 240m climb to a saddle and lookout before descending to Resolution Bay and Schoolhouse Bay campsite

Resolution Bay

The Resolution Bay Cabins are further along (03 579 9411). The well-graded trail undulates as it leads from Resolution Bay around into Endeavour Inlet passing numerous accommodation businesses along the way.

Beyond the Camp Bay junction the track climbs towards Kenepuru Saddle.

Kenepuru Saddle

The track from the Saddle has some steeper and ridgeline sections. Trampers need their Queen Charlotte Track Land Cooperative (Q.C.T.L.C) pass from here to cross private property track sections.

DOC’s Bay of Many Coves Campsite 

The track climbs from this campsite to a high point then undulates gently and stays mainly on the ridge.

DOC’s Black Rock Campsite

Beyond this campsite the track remains mainly on the ridge before it descends to Torea Saddle

Torea Saddle. Right for 1km down Torea Road to Portage Bay, from here the track climbs away from the saddle. Further on it descends towards Te Mahia Saddle or a sidetrack to Cowshed Bay campsite

Te Mahia Saddle. Left down to Mistletoe Bay Eco Village where there is accommodation, as listed in extra information. The track continues through the junction as sign-posted.

DOC’s Davies Bay Campsite

It is easy walking from the campsite through to the trailhead at Anakiwa.

Anakiwa

The Queen Charlotte Track ends here.

Conditions

Jetties

Many jetties in the Sounds, such as the Outward Bound New Zealand one at Anakiwa, are privately owned. Boat owners can use them for picking up and dropping off passengers and luggage only. Do not tie up or leave your boat unattended at any jetty in the Sounds. 

Private land

Sections of the track cross private land. As of 1 July 2010, the private landowners require walkers to have a Queen Charlotte Track Land Cooperative (Q.C.T.L.C.) Pass for all Q.C.T.L.C. private land between Kenepuru Saddle, Torea Saddle, Te Mahia Saddle and Anakiwa. See the map (link below) for where these sections are. The Pass fee contributes to track maintenance, enhancement and access. 

Please respect the owners’ property and do not take vehicles, firearms or dogs on the track. The sections of track on these properties only exist through the goodwill and cooperation of the landowners.

Accommodation/camping

You can choose to walk or bike the track independently, carrying all of your own clothing and equipment, or you can simply carry a day pack and have your main gear (less than 15kg) transported by one of the water taxi companies.

The six DOC-managed, ‘self-registration’ campsites on the track, each have toilets and water supply. Some also have cooking shelters and picnic tables. You will need to carry your own cooker and food with you. The campsites at Bay of Many Coves and Black Rock are not at sea level so you will need to carry everything you need to these sites. Remember there are no rubbish facilities: please take your rubbish with you when you leave.

You will need to deposit the camp fees for the DOC campsites in the self-registration box at each site or prepay at the Picton i-Site or the DOC Office in Picton. These fees go toward the upkeep of the camp facilities.

A number of private accommodation providers offer hostel, cabin, motel and hotel lodgings, and tent sites alongside or close to the track. The private tracks that leave the main track to private accommodation are not constructed to the same standard as the Queen Charlotte Track and may be narrow, steep, and slippery when wet. Some private accommodation sites may not be signposted, so make sure you get clear directions when you book.

Picton

General information

Getting to/from the start 

Te Araroa’s northern terminus in the South Island is at Ship Cove, which is accessible only by boat. Picton is the gateway to Ship Cove and is a full service town with a population of around 3000.

Getting there/away - Picton

  • Ferry to/from Wellington, multiple departures daily, Interislander, Bluebridge
  • Sounds Air (https://www.soundsair.com) - regular flights between Wellington and Picton (Koromiko airport) with shuttle service to/from Picton. Great scenic flight and only 20 mins! NZ only: 0800 505 005. Tel: +64 (0)3 520 3080. info@soundsair.com
  • Air New Zealand
  • InterCity - P: 03 365 1113
  • Rental Cars - multiple options available
  • Private Driver Hire - P: 03 3910500 (Paul) - can transport to/from all locations Picton-Anakiwa-Pelorus Bridge-Nelson-St Arnaud, priced on enquiry.
  • Link Bus- Transport from Anakiwa (at the kiosk) - Havelock -Picton (and Pelorus Bridge at request) Flag downs and bookings welcome. You can find times on Facebook, "The Link Bus. Phone/text Helen, 027 314 8569. 

Transport to trailheads 

  • Cougar Line Water Taxis - The Waterfront London Quay and Wellington St, Picton (by the town wharves) - P: 03 573 7925
  • Beachcomber Cruises - The Waterfront Cnr London Quay and Wellington St, Picton P: 03 573 6175 or Freephone 0800 62 45 26 - E: office@mailboat.co.nz

Other accommodation 

Full range of hostel, motel and other accommodation providers including

Accommodation en route

  • DOC's Schoolhouse Bay campsite in Resolution Bay
  • Furneaux Lodge - Endeavour Inlet, Queen Charlotte Sound - Marlborough Sounds - P: 03 579 8259 - E: info@furneaux.co.nz - This historic lodge has hostel and more exclusive accommodation, a restaurant, bar, and a booking office.
  • Camp Bay Junction - P: 03 579 8561 - Left on a side trail leads to DOC’s Camp Bay Campsite and to Punga Cove Resort, DOC’s Bay of Many Coves Campsite - The track climbs from this campsite to a high point then undulates gently and stays mainly on the ridge. 
  • Madsens Camp - Endeavour Inlet, Queen Charlotte Sound, Marlborough Sounds - P: 03 5798106 - E: kainga1@xtra.co.nz - Tent sites overlooking the inlet, WC and handbasin, solar camping showers, hammocks, picnic tables and shelter. $10pp/night, tents for hire $15, BBQ hire $5
  • Punga Cove Resort - Endeavour Inlet, Queen Charlotte Sound, Marlborough Sounds - P: 03 579 8561 - E: enquiries@pungacove.co.nz - Includes: hostel and more exclusive accommodation options, a restaurant, cafe and bar.
  • Miners Camp - Miners Wharf, Endeavour Inlet, Marlborough Sounds - P: 03 579 8186 - A privately run campsite at the head of Endeavour Inlet
  • DOC’s Black Rock Campsite - Beyond this campsite the track remains mainly on the ridge before it descends to Tōrea Saddle
  • DOC’s Cowshed Bay Campsite - On a side track from Tōrea SaddlePortage Resort Hotel - 2923 Kenepuru Rd, Marlborough Sounds - P: 0800 762 442 or 03 573 4309 - E: reservations@portage.co.nz - Includes: hostel and more exclusive accommodation, a restaurant, cafe, and bar.
  • Mistletoe Bay Eco Village - Onahau Bat Queen Charlotte Sound - P: 03 573 4080 or M: 021 131 8283 - E: stay@mistletoebay.co.nz - Includes: camping, hostel, more exclusive accommodation, and a small store.
  • DOC’s Davies Bay Campsite 

Resupply 

  • Fresh Choice Supermarket - Mariners Mall, 100 High St, Picton - P: 03 573 6463
  • Picton 4 Four Square - 49 High St, Picton - P: 03 573 6443 

Anakiwa

Accommodation

Transport

  • Cougar Line Water Taxis - The Waterfront London Quay and Wellington St, Picton (by the town wharves) - P: 03 573 7925 - W:
  • Beachcomber Cruises - The Waterfront Cnr London Quay and Wellington St, Picton P: 03 573 6175 or Freephone 0800 62 45 26 - E: office@mailboat.co.nz
  • Private Driver Hire - P: 03 3910500 (Paul) - can transport to/from all locations Picton-Anakiwa-Pelorus Bridge-Nelson-St Arnaud, priced on enquiry.
  • Link Bus- Transport from Anakiwa (at the kiosk) - Havelock -Picton (and Pelorus Bridge at request) Flag downs and bookings welcome. You can find times on Facebook, "The Link Bus. Phone/text Helen, 027 314 8569. 

Refreshments

The Green Caravan Café @ Anakiwa 401 has heat'n'eat meals, snacks, hot & cold drinks and ice-creams.

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Anakiwa to Pelorus Bridge

Route

This Te Araroa section is being established by a local group whose project, the Link Pathway, is to complete a walk/cycleway from Picton to Havelock with a side trail to Anakiwa. Work is being carried out in stages and is ongoing so this section currently involves a mix of easy tramping track, foot path and road shoulder. Te Araroa signage will come in due course but for now walkers can use these track notes. There are Link Pathway signs at the beginning and end of completed sections.

The track starts in Anakiwa at the southern end of the Queen Charlotte Track. From Anakiwa make use of the Link Pathway which will eventually link Picton, Anakiwa and Havelock. The Link Pathway heads out to the junction with Queen Charlotte Drive then turns right and continues to Linkwater School some 1.25km distant.

From the school continue on Queen Charlotte Drive past the Linkwater Service Station. At the end of the Linkwater straight follow the road around the Mahakipawa Arm to the next Link Pathway section – a 1km stretch of bush track leading off from the right hand side of the road.

Beyond this bush track walkers have another 1km stretch along Queen Charlotte Drive then the Link Pathway will take you all the way around the point and into Havelock - a triumph of community vision and energy. 

Follow the Link Pathway to SH6 then go right onto the footpath beside SH6 and into the Havelock CBD

From the shopping area on Main Street (SH6), walk west on the footpath and then road shoulder. 2.5km from the northern edge of Havelock, turn right/west into Boultons Road. Cross the bridge and continue 1km on Te Hoiere Road, crossing another bride and reaching Kaiuma Bay Road. Turn left into Kaiuma Bay Road and walk some 9.5km to Daltons Bridge.

When you reach Daltons Bridge, the stile onto Daltons Track will be immediately in front of you at the intersection of Kaiuma Bay and Daltons Road - cross the stile and enter Daltons Track.

  • Note: Under NO circumstances should you continue ahead (south) on Daltons Road - this becomes farm track and is used extensively by stock and farm vehicles and is not to be entered.

Daltons Track opened in March 2011 following a collaborative process involving the Trust, private landowners, DOC, Marlborough District Council, and the New Zealand Walking Access Commission. The track is to tramping track standard. It has a natural grassed surface, stiles over fence lines, and several unbridged creek crossings, which are straight forward in normal flows. The track is accessed by a stile immediately to the west of Daltons Bridge - and immediately adjacent to the intersection of Kaiuma Bay and Daltons Roads. 

  • Note: Daltons Road becomes farm track and is used by stock and farm vehicles - please do not walk down Daltons Road from the bridge.

Daltons Track follows the true left bank of the Pelorus River up and along the grazed pasture margin to the Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve. It then emerges through forest at Pelorus Bridge a short distance from the Campground/Shop/Cafe where there is parking and public toilets.

The track passes through 2 working farms and includes lengthy sections where access has been provided courtesy of private landowners. The route follows the fenceline adjacent to the Pelorus River and at no time does it follow the farm laneway so please do not use that under any circumstances.

The route crosses a stile to leave the farm and enters the Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve to join the loop track. You can take either direction and both will take to around to the swingbridge - cross this and you'll be at Pelorus Bridge on SH6. Turn left/east to cross to the Pelorus Bridge shop and/or campground, and the green pools may tempt you for a dip on a hot day. Otherwise Maungatapu Road lies in front of you and Te Araroa continues south on that to the Pelorus River Track trailhead. 

  • Note: It is 14km along Maungatapu Road to the next trailhead (and 8.5km further to Captain Creek Hut) - there are no budget accommodation options along Maungatapu Road - the Pelorus Bridge campground should be used unless you intend using Maungatapu Road B&B accommodation.

Conditions

The Trust gratefully acknowledges the generosity of these landowners and, to ensure ongoing goodwill, asks to respect the following conditions of access:
  • Track use is restricted to trampers during daylight hours only
  • Stiles are to be used where provided;
  • Farm operations and stock have right of way
  • No dogs, camping, fires, cycles or firearms.

Please note: Out of respect for the landowners and to help ensure Te Araroa can continue to use this critical link please comply with all conditions outlined.

Getting there/away 

  • InterCity - P: 03 365 1113 - Daily buses to Blenheim, Picton and Nelson. 
  • Private Driver Hire - P: 03 3910500 (Paul) - can transport to/from all locations Picton-Anakiwa-Pelorus Bridge-Nelson-St Arnaud, priced on enquiry.
  • Link Bus- Transport from Anakiwa (at the kiosk) - Havelock -Picton (and Pelorus Bridge at request) Flag downs and bookings welcome. You can find times on Facebook, "The Link Bus. Phone/text Helen, 027 314 8569. 

Accommodation

Havelock

Getting there/away 

  • InterCity - P: 03 365 1113 - Daily buses to Blenheim, Picton and Nelson.
  • Private Driver Hire - P: 03 3910500 (Paul) - can transport to/from all locations Picton-Anakiwa-Pelorus Bridge-Nelson-St Arnaud, priced on enquiry. 
  • Link Bus- Transport from Anakiwa (at the kiosk) - Havelock -Picton (and Pelorus Bridge at request) Flag downs and bookings welcome. You can find times on Facebook, "The Link Bus. Phone/text Helen, 027 314 8569. 

Multiple hostel and motel options in Havelock:

Resupply 

Four Square Supermarket - 79 State Highway, Havelock - P: 03 574 2166 

Inlet Bakery and Café - 65 Main Rd, Havelock - P: 03 574 2860 

Bow to Stern - 75 Main Rd, Havelock - P: 03 5742941 - E: ask@bowtostern.co.nz - full range of goods including footwear, poles, sleeping bags/mats, gas canisters, vinyl/nylon/tent repair kits, rain gear and other incidentals (sunscreen/bug repellant etc). They have an information board displayed - check in for info and/or add any feedback from where you've been.

Pelorus Bridge

Getting there/away 

  • InterCity - P: 03 365 1113 to Blenheim, Picton and Nelson. 
  • Link Bus- Transport from Anakiwa (at the kiosk) - Havelock -Picton (and Pelorus Bridge at request) Flag downs and bookings welcome. You can find times on Facebook, "The Link Bus. Phone/text Helen, 027 314 8569. 
  • Private Driver Hire - P: 03 3910500 (Paul) - can transport to/from all locations Picton-Anakiwa-Pelorus Bridge-Nelson-St Arnaud, priced on enquiry.

Accommodation 

  • DOC Pelorus Bridge Campground - 5949 State Highway 6, Main Rd, RD2 - P: 03 571 6019 - E: pelorus@doc.govt.nz - Serviced campground, full meals available at cafe but not suitable as a resupply station.
  • Bounce boxes can be sent here - address to <your name>, Te Araroa walker due <expected date>, DOC Pelorus Bridge campground, 5949 State Highway 6, Main Rd, RD2, Rai Valley. This service is now $10 - thank you.

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Pelorus River Track

Route

From Pelorus Bridge, there is a 14km road walk along Maungatapu Road and then Mt Richmond Road to the Pelorus River Track trailhead. Initially, the road is sealed and passes through farmland. Later it is unsealed and has exotic and indigenous forest sections.

  • Note: There are no budget accommodation options along this road - the Pelorus Bridge campground should be used unless you intend using Maungatapu Road B&B accommodation.

Pelorus River Track

Starting from the end of Maungatapu Road, the Pelorus River Track is a long-established DOC tramping track with a good hut system. The track joins directly with Te Araroa’s next section, the Richmond Range Alpine Track, at Hacket Junction. Both these tracks are within the 165946 hectare Mt Richmond Forest Park and for logistical reasons many trampers will prefer to walk them consecutively as a single 9 (or more) day tramp. This is a major undertaking for which fit trampers should come well prepared. The larger rivers are bridged but the tramp involves many stream crossings that may be impassable after rain. Mt Richmond Forest Park contains a mixed variety of beech and podocarp forest, including the finest rimu along Te Araroa.

Road End to Captain Creek Hut - 8.5km / 4 hour

The track follows the Pelorus River for about a 1 hour to the Emerald Pool picnic area. From here the track climbs upwards. It leaves the river, sidles, and then returns to the river. The 6 bunk Captain Creek Hut is still about 30 minutes further upstream from here.

Captain Creek Hut to Middy Hut - 5km / 2 hour

This undulating section crosses Captain Creek by swingbridge after leaving the hut near its confluence with the Pelorus River. Beyond Captain Creek, swingbridges take trampers across the Pelorus River, and later Fishtail Stream.

Beyond Fishtail Stream the track leaves the Pelorus River then returns to it for the final stretch to Middy Hut (6 bunks).

Middy Hut to Rocks Hut - 5km / 3 hour

From Middy Creek Hut (6 bunks) cross a swingbridge and then climb for 20 minutes to a junction where the Pelorus Track branches to the left. The Rocks Track (to the right) climbs steadily from the junction for about 600m up a broad ridge. It then enters an area with many hummocks and rock outcrops, turning northwards and meeting the Bryant Range near the 16-bunk Rocks Hut.

Rocks Hut to Browning Hut - 11km / 4½ hour

From Rocks Hut, this track wanders through a landscape of rock outcrop and hillocks. It then climbs over several high points before beginning its descent towards Tōtara Saddle. 

It emerges onto an open patch of tussock land associated with the mineral belt, which it crosses for 15 minutes or so before re-entering the forest and descending - steeply in places - to Tōtara Saddle. From the saddle, the track descends steeply to Browning Hut (8 bunks).

Browning Hut to Hacket Junction - 3.4km / 1 hour

(Plus another 5.7 km or 2 hours out to the Hacket Picnic Area for those finishing this section there).

This is a straightforward section with all intersections well signposted. There is a high/low water track option at one point but this is a bit meaningless as you'll get wet boots in subsequent stream crossings whichever route you take.

At Hacket Junction trampers have the option of continuing on the next Te Araroa section to Hacket Hut and beyond or finishing their tramp at the Hacket Picnic Area. Private transport arrangements are best made in advance if you wish to end your tramp here. Failing which it is a 12km road walk down Aniseed Valley Road to Hope village where a bus can be caught into Nelson. 

Potential hazards

  • Vehicles on road or track on Maungatapu Road
  • River crossings - Never cross flooded rivers

Pelorus

Getting there/away 

  • Private Driver Hire - P: 03 3910500 (Paul) - can transport to/from all locations Picton-Anakiwa-Pelorus Bridge-Nelson-St Arnaud, priced on enquiry.
  • Link Bus- Transport from Anakiwa (at the kiosk) - Havelock -Picton (and Pelorus Bridge at request) Flag downs and bookings welcome. You can find times on Facebook, "The Link Bus. Phone/text Helen, 027 314 8569. 

Pre-trail accommodation (with hot showers and food)

Hope

From Hope it is 29km to Nelson via Richmond. Nelson is a full-service town.

  • The Pear Orchard Lodge - (BBH) self-catering lodge - max. 20 people - 569 Hill Street South, Hope - P: 03 544 5361 - E: stay@thepearorchard.co.nz - Rooms range from dorm to private rooms with ensuite - pickups from Hackett picnic area with prior arrangement
  • Aniseed Valley Cottages - Aniseed Valley Rd (near Hackett picnic area) - P: 03 5443144 - pickup available from Hackett Picnic Area and (for a fee) guests can be transported to Richmond/Nelson for resupply.

Getting there/away 

For buses from Hope to Nelson:

  • InterCity - P: 03 365 1113 
  • Private Driver Hire - P: 03 3910500 (Paul) - can transport to/from all locations Picton-Anakiwa-Pelorus Bridge-Nelson-St Arnaud, priced on enquiry.

Resupply

  • Hope Store and Takeaways - 205 Main Rd, Hope - P: 03 544 9803 - Takeaway meals and light resupply available.

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