The Queen Char­lotte Track chas­ing great

Walking New Zealand - - Contents -

Ship Cove, the start of the Queen Char­lotte Track, is a spir­i­tual and rev­er­ent place that every New Zealan­der should visit and ap­pre­ci­ate.

That’s the opin­ion of Juliet Gib­bons, deputy co-chair of Queen Char­lotte Track Inc, the vol­un­tary mar­ket­ing group be­hind the track’s cur­rent bid to be­come one of New Zealand’s new­est Great Walks.

“Mere­toto/Ship Cove is a site of both na­tional and in­ter­na­tional sig­nif­i­cance where the first sus­tained con­tact be­tween the New Zealand Maori and the Euro­pean took place,” she says.

It was the epi­cen­tre of English nav­i­ga­tor Cap­tain James Cook’s ex­plo­rations in the South Pa­cific – a snug cove in the outer Queen Char­lotte Sound where he re­plen­ished wa­ter sup­plies, rested his men and re­paired his ships on five dif­fer­ent vis­its be­tween 1770 and 1777.

Bri­tish sovereignty was first pro­claimed by Cook over the South Is­land when the Bri­tish flag was for­mally raised on the sum­mit of Mo­tu­ara Is­land, op­po­site Ship Cove, on 31st Jan­uary 1770.

“In 2020 the eyes of the world will be on Ship Cove as New Zealand com­mem­o­rates 250 years since the ar­rival of Cap­tain James Cook, what be­came the pre­cur­sor to Euro­pean set­tle­ment in New Zealand,” says Juliet.

“What bet­ter way to cre­ate a na­tional legacy to this im­por­tant mile­stone and the le­gends of Kupe as our first mas­ter mariner, than to name the Queen Char­lotte Track as one of New Zealand’s new­est Great Walks.”

De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion (DOC) Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Lou San­son an­nounced re­cently that Te Paki Coastal Track (Te Rerenga Wairua/Cape Reinga, North­land), Hump Ridge Track (South­land) and Queen Char­lotte Track (Marl­bor­ough Sounds) will be fur­ther con­sid­ered for de­vel­op­ment, fol­low­ing a process that be­gan when DOC called for pro­pos­als for ad­di­tional Great Walks last year.

Over the com­ing months, the De­part­ment will com­plete more de­tailed work

on the three walks. This will in­clude en­gag­ing with com­mu­nity groups, iwi, and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the recre­ation, con­ser­va­tion and tourism sec­tors, and in­ves­ti­gat­ing and com­par­ing the costs of bring­ing them to Great Walks stan­dard. At least one of th­ese walks will be­come the new Great Walk.

Queen Char­lotte Track Inc. has em­barked on the bid to achieve Great Walks sta­tus with the full sup­port of the lo­cal DOC of­fice, the Marl­bor­ough District Coun­cil and the Queen Char­lotte Track Landown­ers Co-op­er­a­tive, the lat­ter rep­re­sent­ing the pri­vate landown­ers who ini­tially de­vel­oped the track in 1981 for New Zealan­ders and over­seas vis­i­tors to en­joy.

“What a won­der­ful legacy Great Walk sta­tus would pro- vide for those landown­ers and a fit­ting trib­ute for decades of vol­un­tary work,” says Juliet.

More­over, she says, its set­ting in the ge­o­log­i­cally unique Marl­bor­ough Sounds, a labyrinth of drowned river val­leys and shel­tered penin­su­las, wa­ter­ways and is­lands which stretch over 1500km, is unique in the world and de­serv­ing of recog­ni­tion.

“To­taranui/Queen Char­lotte Sound also con­nects two of the world’s great nav­i­ga­tors – Kupe and Cap­tain James Cook. This area of­fers a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity for vis­i­tors to en­gage with Maori cul­ture and un­der­stand more about New Zealand’s set­tle­ment his­tory.”

The Queen Char­lotte Track also re­flects its di­verse coastal en­vi­ron­ment with a va­ri­ety of sea- based wildlife and veg­e­ta­tion along its length and ridge­line views of both the Queen Char­lotte Sound and Kenepuru Sound.

From the lush vir­gin sub­trop­i­cal rain­for­est at Ship Cove to for­mer pas­ture

The Queen Char­lotte Track chas­ing Great

where the for­est is slowly re­gen­er­at­ing, it of­fers a fas­ci­nat­ing in­sight into New Zealand’s na­tive bush life cy­cle, Juliet says.

From Ship Cove, the track passes through some of the best ex­am­ples of vir­gin na­tive for­est in the Marl­bor­ough Sounds. Th­ese in­clude some mag­nif­i­cent ex­am­ples of na­tive beech, kamahi and the ma­jes­tic gi­ants of the for­est, the rimu. Other sec­tions of the track tra­verse land pre­vi­ously farmed which is now re­turn­ing to na­tive bush.

The start of the track at Ship Cove is ac­cessed by boat only but it has mul­ti­ple en­try and exit points by boat and by road at Anakiwa. This wa­ter con­nec­tion adds di­ver­sity to the track ex­pe­ri­ence while of­fer­ing many op­tions for day walk­ers as well as through-hik­ers and caters for all abil­i­ties and ages.

Most peo­ple start and end their track ex­pe­ri­ence in pretty port of Pic­ton, heart of the Marl­bor­ough Sounds and gate­way to the South Is­land.

“Great Walk sta­tus would take the Queen Char­lotte Track to a new level and make the most of its ex­ist­ing in- fras­truc­ture. We think it would be well de­served. For us it is about tak­ing the track from great to great – al­though in the minds of many, it is al­ready a great walk.”

The group be­hind the pro­posal be­lieve it will also help re­alise the Queen Char­lotte Track’s orig­i­nal aim to be an over­flow to the Abel Tas­man Coastal Track. “When some of our most iconic Great Walks are buck­ling un­der the strain of de­mand, it is time to spread the load and we’re good to go on the Queen Char­lotte Track,” says Juliet.

Bud­get 2017 al­lo­cated $12.7 mil­lion to ex­pand the Great Walks net­work to help re­duce pres­sure on the cur­rent Great Walks, pro­vide eco­nomic ben­e­fits to re­gion­ally-dis­persed com­mu­ni­ties across New Zealand and show­case our coun­try’s full range of out­stand­ing land­scapes.

In Novem­ber 2017, DOC in­vited com­mu­ni­ties, iwi and mem­bers of the pub­lic to put for­ward ex­ist­ing walks that could be en­hanced to be­come part of the Great Walks net­work and re­ceived over 30 sub­mis­sions.

Seven walks were short­listed by a panel, com­pris­ing Fed­er­ated Moun­tain Clubs, New Zealand Recre­ation As­so­ci­a­tion, New Zealand Māori Tourism, Tourism New Zealand, Tourism In­dus­try Aotearoa and DOC.

The De­part­ment se­lected the Te Paki, Queen Char­lotte and Hump Ridge tracks for fur­ther con­sid­er­a­tion based on the panel’s rec­om­men­da­tions.

A de­ci­sion is ex­pected by the end of this year.

Right: A beau­ti­ful spot to stop and chaeck the maps. Photo by Wilder­rness Guides

Above: The track of­fers many view­ing ar­eas. Photo by QCT Inc/Richard Briggs Pho­tog­ra­phy Be­low left: A framed scene be­tween two trees. Photo by QCT Inc/Richard Briggs Pho­tog­ra­phy

Left: Th­ese two climb to an­other fan­tas­tic sea view. Photo by QCT Inc/Richard Briggs Pho­tog­ra­phy

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.