Trekking NZ’s Queen Charlotte Track

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My wife, Eva, and I took the 4-day/3-night “Queen Charlotte Track” tour from Marlborough Sounds Adventure Company (London Quay, Picton, New Zealand; phone +64 3 573 6078, fax 573 8827, www.marlboroughsounds.co.nz), and we highly recommend this company.

They offer hiking, biking and sea kayaking trips a half day to five days long — great service, organization, guides and facilities. Our hiking trip, Dec. 27-30, 2007, cost US$1,000 each, all-inclusive.

At their office on the waterfront in Picton, we rented walking sticks and were given red duffel bags to pack what we wanted to have on the trek. The bags were transported from (first-class) lodging to lodging via water taxi, and the rest of our luggage was stored in the Marlborough Sounds office.

Fourteen of us (we were the only Americans; the rest were Kiwis, Aussies and Brits) and two guides boarded a boat and headed out into Queen Charlotte Sound, stopping at a commercial salmon farm and also at Motuara Island, a bird sanctuary. En route to Ship Cove, we spotted several dolphins of a rare species.

Historic Ship Cove was one of explorer James Cook’s most popular destinations. On this first day, we hiked nine miles in about six hours through the bush and along a ridge, which offered spectacular views of the emerald-green sound. A bag lunch, snacks, water, orange juice and hot coffee and tea were supplied. Plenty of time was allowed on the trek; we were never rushed.

We awoke to a rainy day and a gourmet breakfast, then began a 7-mile hike along a track that wound its way along the coastline to the other side of Endeavour Inlet. The rain turned to off-and-on drizzle and was no problem. We ended up at our second night’s lodging, Punga Cove Resort (Endeavour Inlet, Queen Charlotte Sound, Marlborough Sounds, South Island, NZ; phone +64 3 579 8561, fax 579 8080, www.pungacove.co.nz).

It was a treat to be there. The trail ends there, the water taxi stops there, sailboats are moored in the harbor and everyone congregates at the dockside café and bar. Our studio chalet had a view of the harbor, and dinner was a gourmet delight.

Although our accommodations were included in the price of our tour package, you can stay at the Punga Cove Resort on your own. Rates ran from US$25 per night for backpacker accommodations to US$300 for the penthouse chalet; reserve ahead.

The next day’s hike was scheduled to be a 15-miler, so we opted for the water taxi instead. That was a good decision because of the interesting action on the water and the diverse scenery. I think hiking that day would have been more of the same and too exhausting.

On our final day we hiked 12 miles. We left one hour ahead of the group, which we liked as we did not feel obligated to keep up. We went along Mistletoe Bay, then dropped down to Davies Bay before the last half hour’s walk through mature beech forests, ending at Anakiwa for water transport back to Picton.

The bay, with water skiers, sailboats, personal watercraft, motorboats of all description, kayaks and monstrously large ferryboats, was festive and lively — a real fun place to be.

At the Marlborough Sounds Adventure Company office, we were treated to fresh mussels, wine and beer plus a complimentary picture of our group.

ROBERT A. RINGGENBERG

West Chester, OH

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

My wife, Eva, and I took the 4-day/3-night “Queen Charlotte Track” tour from Marlborough Sounds Adventure Company (London Quay, Picton, New Zealand; phone +64 3 573 6078, fax 573 8827, www.marlboroughsounds.co.nz), and we highly recommend this company.

They offer hiking, biking and sea kayaking trips a half day to five days long — great service, organization, guides and facilities. Our hiking trip, Dec. 27-30, 2007, cost US$1,000 each, all-inclusive.

At their office on the waterfront in Picton, we rented walking sticks and were given red duffel bags to pack what we wanted to have on the trek. The bags were transported from (first-class) lodging to lodging via water taxi, and the rest of our luggage was stored in the Marlborough Sounds office.

Fourteen of us (we were the only Americans; the rest were Kiwis, Aussies and Brits) and two guides boarded a boat and headed out into Queen Charlotte Sound, stopping at a commercial salmon farm and also at Motuara Island, a bird sanctuary. En route to Ship Cove, we spotted several dolphins of a rare species.

Historic Ship Cove was one of explorer James Cook’s most popular destinations. On this first day, we hiked nine miles in about six hours through the bush and along a ridge, which offered spectacular views of the emerald-green sound. A bag lunch, snacks, water, orange juice and hot coffee and tea were supplied. Plenty of time was allowed on the trek; we were never rushed.

We awoke to a rainy day and a gourmet breakfast, then began a 7-mile hike along a track that wound its way along the coastline to the other side of Endeavour Inlet. The rain turned to off-and-on drizzle and was no problem. We ended up at our second night’s lodging, Punga Cove Resort (Endeavour Inlet, Queen Charlotte Sound, Marlborough Sounds, South Island, NZ; phone +64 3 579 8561, fax 579 8080, www.pungacove.co.nz).

It was a treat to be there. The trail ends there, the water taxi stops there, sailboats are moored in the harbor and everyone congregates at the dockside café and bar. Our studio chalet had a view of the harbor, and dinner was a gourmet delight.

Although our accommodations were included in the price of our tour package, you can stay at the Punga Cove Resort on your own. Rates ran from US$25 per night for backpacker accommodations to US$300 for the penthouse chalet; reserve ahead.

The next day’s hike was scheduled to be a 15-miler, so we opted for the water taxi instead. That was a good decision because of the interesting action on the water and the diverse scenery. I think hiking that day would have been more of the same and too exhausting.

On our final day we hiked 12 miles. We left one hour ahead of the group, which we liked as we did not feel obligated to keep up. We went along Mistletoe Bay, then dropped down to Davies Bay before the last half hour’s walk through mature beech forests, ending at Anakiwa for water transport back to Picton.

The bay, with water skiers, sailboats, personal watercraft, motorboats of all description, kayaks and monstrously large ferryboats, was festive and lively — a real fun place to be.

At the Marlborough Sounds Adventure Company office, we were treated to fresh mussels, wine and beer plus a complimentary picture of our group.

ROBERT A. RINGGENBERG

West Chester, OH