Queen Charlotte Track

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get to Picton from Wellington, Auckland or Christchurch?

From Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch International Airport, there are direct flights with Air New Zealand to Blenheim Airport, about 20 minutes’ drive from Picton. Affordable shuttles are available or you can rent a car. You can also catch either the Bluebridge or Interislander ferry service across Cook Strait which berths in Picton. Or you can catch the small commuter airline, Soundsair, which has a base at Wellington Airport. From Christchurch a popular option is to catch the train with Kiwi Rail Scenic Journeys to Picton; there are also public buses and options to rent a car. We can assist you with bookings or advice for the above.

What’s the weather going to be like?

Average daytime summertime temperatures (December/January/February) are usually in the early to late-20degC. A very hot day would be 30degC. Spring temperatures (September/October/November) range from 14degC through to 20degC. Autumn (March/April/May) tends to be cooler but very settled with little or no wind, ranging from around 16-18degC in March down to 10-12degC in May. In winter time (June/July August), the days can be very settled with not a ripple of the water but cold and crisp with overnight lows of less than 0degC and days up to 10degC. Rain is possible at any time of year but the driest months tend to be January/February/March. Layered clothing is best including a thermal undergarment, fleece top, shorts, long trousers, warm jacket and rain coat.

How fit do I need to be?

The enjoyment of any walk is better if you have a reasonable degree of fitness – that does not, however, mean you need to be a marathon runner! If you are active 2 or 3 times a week (walking, golfing, running, gym) then this is an excellent base for doing a multi-day walk like the Queen Charlotte Track. In the lead up to the trip, try to do at least one long walk (up to 8 hours) and also some hill walking as the Queen Charlotte Track does have some steeper sections. 

What sort of footwear should I use – boots or shoes?

We recommend sturdy walking shoes or boots at all times of year – in the winter, boots are preferable particularly if there has been a lot of rain. In the height of summer, a strong walking shoe with a good tread is fine. Running shoes are not generally recommended although if this is all you have, at the height of summer, they would suffice. We would not recommend wearing new boots for a multi-day trip – boots or shoes should be well worn in for maximum comfort and minimum blisters! We also have famous New Zealand hikers’ wool available to purchase at our office just in case.

Are walking poles necessary?

Walking poles are a useful accessory but not essential. Many walkers use them these days and find they do preserve your back and knees. This is definitely a personal preference. In most places the Queen Charlotte Track is well-formed, wide and with a good surface although at times of heavy rain, the clay base to the track can become slippery and poles are welcome. A good Manuka stick picked up along the trail and returned to the bush at the end works just as well! We do have walking poles available for hire if you don’t wish to bring one from home – pre-booking for these is essential.

Are sand flies a problem?

Most visitors to New Zealand have encountered our plentiful and at times, rather hungry, little sand fly. This very small black fly is common throughout New Zealand but fortunately in far less numbers on the Queen Charlotte Track than on many other walks around the country. You do still need to bring insect repellent and wear it each day if they are troubling you.

Where should I leave my excess baggage while I'm walking?

There is a limit of one item of luggage per person when walking the Queen Charlotte Track and this should be no heavier than 15kg as it is transported by water taxi each day and lifted on and off boats. A suitcase with wheels or duffle bag is fine. We have room to store any excess luggage at our waterfront office or if you are staying somewhere before and after walk, many of the accommodation providers around Picton offer the same service. 

Can I catch the water taxi if I don’t think I can walk the long day?

Absolutely! This is one of the wonderful appeals about the Queen Charlotte Track that on the long day, or any day for that matter, you can opt to travel by boat and take in the sights of the Marlborough Sounds from the water. These water taxi rides are always an additional cost to package prices but we can assist with advice and booking before or during your trip. Payment is required either on board with cash or with credit card over the phone or by arrangement with us. If your spouse or travelling companion does not wish to walk or bike and you do, water transport can even be arranged throughout.

What time will I be back in Picton?

On the final day of the track you will be collected at 3.30pm from Anakiwa by water taxi. Depending on other stops this boat may need to make, you should be back between 4/4.30pm. If you are flying out of Blenheim Airport, be sure not to book anything before 6pm. It is normally possible to catch a late ferry or Soundsair flight as long as this is not before 5.30pm.

Do I need to stay the night prior and after in Picton?

Yes, you will need to stay the night prior to the walk as normally incoming transport connections do not arrive in time to catch the morning water taxis for Ship Cove. However if time is short, private water taxis to the track can be arranged but at an additional cost or you can forego the first day of the track and journey straight to the first lodge. After walking or biking the track, most visitors find it more comfortable to stay another night and have a shower, relax and enjoy a meal in our pretty seaside town. However, it is possible to connect with outgoing flights or ferries after 6pm. You can also collect a rental car for onward travel by road.

Is there Wi-Fi/Internet and mobile reception along the Queen Charlotte Track

Mobile reception is sporadic along the track – it is available on the first day on the boat journey out to the start of Queen Charlotte Track but from Ship Cove as far as Camp Bay (the first two days) there is no reliable coverage. The sections of the track which traverse the ridge line – normally Day Three and Four – do offer good mobile coverage. All the lodges along the track have phone lines and some have limited internet access available for guests, either provided free or with a small charge. It is best to plan for limited or no internet coverage and some mobile coverage. 

Are there washing/drying facilities along the Queen Charlotte Track?

Most of the larger lodges along the Queen Charlotte Track either offer access to washing/drying facilities which are coin-operated or they offer a laundry service for a fee. One or two have drying rooms but you should plan to take a change of clothes for each day on the track in your overnight luggage.

Are there credit card facilities or do I need to take cash?

All the lodges along the Queen Charlotte Track have credit card facilities and Eftpos. If you are camping you will need to pre-purchase camping passes from our office prior to leaving Picton. Cash is helpful if there is a possibility you may catch an additional water taxi during the trip as this needs to be paid either on board or with credit card on booking.

Do you offer child rates and discounts for family groups?

Yes - we have child rates available for all our Queen Charlotte Track packages. These rates are based on a child sharing a room with 2 paying adults. We can arrange family-style units on request. If you are a family group, please talk to us about your requirements and we can customise a trip just for you!

Plan & Prepare

Tips and suggestions to help you prepare for your walk in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand.

Track Map

View the Queen Charlotte Track map & elevation


Places to stay on the Queen Charlotte Track & Picton area

What to Bring

General guide to packing & suggestions for your walk


Frequently asked questions about the walks


The remote beauty of the Queen Charlotte Track awaits.

The Marlborough Sounds and the Queen Charlotte Track is the ultimate place to hike and explore with Wilderness Guides as you follow in the footsteps of those gone before.

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