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