Where We Be
Queen Charlotte Track, New Zealand
The Queen Charlotte Track is located in the beautiful
Marlborough Sounds area near Picton. All told, we
hiked 71 km (44 mi) one-way, beginning at Ship’s
Cove and ending in Anakiwa. To get to Ship’s Cove,
we took a one-hour water taxi ride from Picton.

One of the great pleasures of this tramp is that you
can have your luggage dropped off at your lodgings
each day by water taxi, so you only have to carry a
light daypack with you on the trail. Sweet! The other
great pleasure is that, instead of rustic huts, you stay
at highly rated backpackers with lots of amenities,
from hot showers and linens to use of free kayaks
and (for a price) restaurant-quality meals. We fully
enjoyed these “bennies” during our tramp, which—
except for the very long third day—felt more like a
pleasant outing than a rugged multi-day hike. Our
stays at Mahana Homestead Lodge and Lochmara
Lodge were exceptional.

The third day was the one really tough day of the
tramp. We slogged 30 km (18½ mi), the longest
distance we'd ever hiked in a single day. We were
highly motivated to hike fast, too, what with the early
darkness that comes to New Zealand this time of year
(6 pm) and the constant threat of rain that hung over
us all day. We set a personal speed record, hiking 30
km in 7 hours over steep terrain. We were proud of
our achievement, especially considering the
expected times listed to complete the hike, which
ranged from 9½ hours for a “fit tramper” to 11 hours
for a “good walker” to 12½ hours for a “stroller.”
During the hardest stretch of the trip—1,200 feet of
very steep elevation gain—we powered up the hill,
stopping only once. “You are ready, grasshopper,” I
puffed to Robin as she more than kept up with me.

It started to rain heavily about an hour before we
arrived at Lochmara Lodge. We were soaking wet and
chilly (and exhausted) by the time we got there. We
were immensely relieved to get hot showers and fall
into bed for a much needed rest. The heat lamp in the
bathroom and the portable heater in our room chased
away whatever chills we had left.

After finishing the Queen Charlotte tramp a water taxi
took us the short distance back to Picton. We tried to
get our minds around the fact that this was our last
evening on the South Island. The next morning we'd
be taking the inter-island ferry to the North Island.
We got to sea kayak twice during our tramp
The Queen Charlotte Track offers gorgeous views of Marlborough Sounds
Chillin' out in a double hammock at Lochmara Lodge
A gourmet meal with new friends at Mahana Homestead Lodge
Wow! What lovely views of Marlborough Sounds!
Captain Cook and his men spent 101 days at Ship's Cove, the beginning point of our hike
Feeling fit and happy!
Quite the front yard at Mahana Homestead Lodge
Picturesque view from Mahana Homestead Lodge
Valley view of green pasturelands
Two moods of Queen Charlotte...a sunny day...
...and a rare rainy one
Lounging in one of the fifty hammocks at Lochmara Lodge
Free kayaks just waiting for us to jump in at Lochmara Lodge
Robin climbs a tree and rediscovers her inner child
Robin cools off after a hard uphill climb
Maori statue at Ship's Cove
Visit from a very curious Weka
Even the picnic benches were ship-shaped at Ship's Cove
We saw whole flocks of these native red-crowned parakeets
The weather was highly variable during our tramp [photo by our friend Olga]
Swinging her cares away!
I was in heaven at Lochmara's "Hammock Heaven"!
"Punga People" are carved into the trees at Lochmara
Stone statue on the grounds
Robin on the sunny patio at our room in Lochmara
It's easy to see why the Queen Charlotte Track is so popular