|QUEEN CHARLOTTE TRACK|
A 4 day walk of about 67kms using water transport from and to Picton. The track wanders around the bays and along the ridges between Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds with superb views on the way.
We arrived at Picton on 17th Jan and booked water transport with Cougar Lines to start the following day. Cost was 96NZ dollars for the two of us and included pack transport between halts, we also paid 34NZ dollars for car storage. Getting our packs transported each day meant we could just use day packs whilst walking and also enabled us to take full camping gear. There are no DOC huts on this walk but a good number of hostels and hotels and also plenty of campsites. All very civilised, you could eat out everynight (we did once) and also have a beer every night(we did more than once!). The walk can be done in either direction but the vast majority of people start from Ship Cove. You can also get a full accommodation and transport package
DAY 1...to Furneaux Lodge
08:00hrs start for 1 hr boat trip to Ship Cove, memorial stone to James Cook, he came here 5 times (can see why, its very pretty), think he only came for water and shelter though. 4hr+ easy walking on good surfaced wide path through podocarp and beech forest with 2 short climbs and some good views. Coffee and muffin stop at Resolution Bay place before the days finish at Furneaux Lodge - lawns, tennis court, restaurant and bar, good camping area and cooking facilities in small lodge. Packs waiting for us. Great location by the waters edge. Went on 1 hr return walk through forest to waterfall - just a trickle as it had hardly rained here for ages. Hot shower and beers to finish - this is not really tramping is it??
First ridge after Ship Cove
DAY 2...to Punga Cove
A bit of luxury at Punga Cove
A warm sunny day, late start as it was only a 3-4hr walk today. You could do these first two days as one, but why rush it. Easy walking on a good path through a mixture of bush, forest and open areas with no real climbing, views of Endevour Inlet sound all the way. DOC camping site just before Punga Cove Resort where there is bar/restaurant, small shop and hot showers as well - this is too good to be true. Great location by waters edge again - treated ourselves to BBQ meal and a couple of beers. Saw 2 Stingrays in the shallow waters.
DAY 3...to Portage
Looking towards Picton
Hot sunny day becoming cloudier and breezier by the end. A long day, we did it in about 7 hrs, must have been about 20-24kms. Glad we only had day packs. Steep uphill to begin with to get to Kenepuru Saddle then wide easy path for a while, good surface, followed side of the hill initially rather then going over the tops, still good views though. Watch out for the mountain bikers. DOC shelter with toilet after approx 2 hrs, then track took to the tops and then dropped and then rose and then...you get the picture. The rewards for the effort were great views to the right - Kenepuru Sound and to the left - Queen Charlotte Sound, before final descent to Torea Saddle and tarmac down to Portage. Well what do we have here....its another hotel, bar, restaurant and shop nearby. Guess where we went later. Camped at the DOC Cowshed Bay campsite nearby. Area officially having a drought, hotel is having to truck water in. About 2 months later the QCharlotte track was closed because of the fire risk/water problem. Slight Possum problem during the night, it tried to get away with our dried milk. Cost 4NZ dollars a bag here for transport from and to Torea Bay where the boat picks them up, it's free if you stop in the hotel, backpacker accommodation also here.
DAY 4...to Picton
High cloud, cool and breezy to begin with but hot and sunny by mid afternoon. Back up to Torea Bay Saddle and more uphill to about 400', sheltered from the wind by the gorse and low bush. Short diversion to viewpoint - the best one on the trip,but unfortunately a bit cloudy. On the track - Quail birds with youngsters in front of us, oil drums at the side - diesel, crazon weedkiller and bush killer - for use by DOC staff, they get it helicoptered in. Down to Te Mahia Saddle and easier walking now around Mistletoe Bay, more good views before track enters a spendid beech forest for the final leg and a well earned coffee and muffin at the Blistered Foot Cafe - inappropriately named for us. Boat across placid water back to Picton by late afternoon - a beautiful walk.
Waiting for the boat