History Of The Queen Charlotte Track

The Queen Charlotte Track and the Marlborough Sounds is steeped in Maori and European history.

Maori have inhabited New Zealand for more than 1000 years and it is believed that they have had a presence in this area since that time. Mobility was crucial during this early existence as settlement followed food source. There were many small settlements throughout the Marlborough Sounds and a number of different iwi (tribes) have affiliations to this place.

The first known European to visit Queen Charlotte Sounds was the famous English explorer, Captain James Cook, on the HMS Endeavour. He sailed into Ship Cove, today the start of the Queen Charlotte Track, on January 17, 1770 and made this small cove his South Pacific base for the next seven years. He was to return many times. It was here the first social interaction between South Island Maori and the European took place. 

The original bridal paths which form parts of the Queen Charlotte Track date back to the mid-1800s when the first European pioneers arrived. These hardy folk came to forge a new existence in this rugged land and such early trails provided links between the original farm homesteads in the area.

Other parts of the track pass over private farmland, adding to the diversity of this walk. The track does rely on the good will of these landowners so be sure to respect their land as you cross it.

The track itself has been easily walkable from the start at Ship Cove in outer Queen Charlotte Sound to the end at Anakiwa in the Grove Arm since the late 1980s. A joint project between the Marlborough District Council, Department of Conservation, private landowners and the local tourist board saw the track established as a single track.

Since 2010 visitors to the Queen Charlotte Track have been asked to pay a small fee for crossing the private land sections of the track. This acknowledges the long-standing and ongoing commitment of these landowners. Private land access passes are included in all advertised packages on www.queencharlottetracknz.com - see www.qctlc.com for more information on the Queen Charlotte Track Land Co-operative.