New Zealand Walk: The Queen Char­lotte Track - why walk it when you can ride?

Walking New Zealand - - Contents -

The Queen Char­lotte Track is one of New Zealand’s best­loved walk­ing trails, but it is also a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for moun­tain bik­ers as one of New Zealand’s Great Rides on the Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cy­cle Trail.

It of­fers a unique com­bi­na­tion of beau­ti­ful coastal scenery, na­tive bush, stun­ning views and New Zealand his­tory.

The nat­u­ral ap­peals are com­pli­mented by easy ac­cess, an out­stand­ing choice of hosted ac­com­mo­da­tion, pack trans­fers and a wide va­ri­ety of flex­i­ble op­tions for day or mul­ti­day trips, in­clud­ing all-in­clu­sive pack­ages from lo­cal providers.

It of­fers bik­ers an ex­hil­a­rat­ing and chal­leng­ing ex­pe­ri­ence over 72km and is able to be biked com­fort­ably in three days.

The Queen Char­lotte Track has long been re­garded as one of the best sin­gle tracks in the coun­try. The track is graded as ad­vanced/ grade 4 for moun­tain bik­ing although some sec­tions are eas­ier than oth­ers and lend them­selves to day rides for those not want­ing to at­tempt the en­tire track.

The de­mo­graphic of those rid­ing the track is also chang­ing as bik­ing grows in pop­u­lar­ity amongst older age groups.

Most rid­ers will find some sec­tions of the track eas­ier to walk and you will likely need to push your bike in cer­tain parts.

If you are fit and ex­pe­ri­enced at moun­tain bik­ing, most of the track is very ride­able, al­beit steep and chal­leng­ing in cer­tain sec­tions, es­pe­cially when rain has ren­dered it slip­pery and muddy.

Less ex­pe­ri­enced rid­ers may pre­fer to avoid the ridge-top sec­tions of the cen­tral part of the track by rid­ing along Kenepuru Road be­tween Kenepuru Sad­dle and Portage Bay, still en­joy­ing

won­der­ful Sounds views.

The Marl­bor­ough Sounds is an iconic New Zealand des­ti­na­tion - an in­tri­cate land mass, mak­ing up one fifth of New Zealand’s coast­line, of nu­mer­ous bays and coves caused by the drown­ing of river val­leys by ris­ing oceans over the past 10,000 years.

It is through this awe-in­spir­ing land­scape bik­ers can test them­selves against a trail which takes them from shore­line to skyline, through mag­nif­i­cent vir­gin na­tive for­est at the track’s start at Mere­toto/Ship Cove as well as re­gen­er­at­ing for­est and farm­land along the rest of its length. Moun­tain bik­ing is one of the best ways to ex­plore this stun­ning area and learn about its fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory.

Although chal­leng­ing in parts, the Queen Char­lotte Track ex­pe­ri­ence is made all the eas­ier with the thought of com­fort­able lodg­ings await­ing each evening from back­pack­ers through to lodges and even ho­tels. And the best part is your pack is trans­ferred for you be­tween your night time stays, by one of the wa­ter trans­port op­er­a­tors, so all you have to do is ride.

Im­por­tant Foot­note: You can bike the whole track from Ship Cove to Anakiwa be­tween 1 March and 30 Novem­ber each year. From 1 De­cem­ber to the end of Fe­bru­ary, the track is open for moun­tain bik­ing be­tween Kenepuru Sad­dle and Anakiwa.

As the track is a shared use track and pop­u­lar with walk­ers, you will need to ride in con­trol and be pre­pared for walk­ers around each cor­ner.

Rid­ing in the same di­rec­tion as most oth­ers, from Ship Cove to Anakiwa is ad­vised. For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.qc­

Above: Meet the friendly lo­cals along the way!

Above left: As recre­ational cy­cling grows in pop­u­lar­ity, more and more vis­i­tors are choos­ing two wheels to tackle the track. Above right: Mere­toto/Ship Cove, South Pa­cific base of Cap­tain James Cook and start of the Queen Char­lotte Track, is an iconic his­toric place all New Zealan­ders should visit.

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