Located at the top of the South Island, in the Marlborough Sounds, The Queen Charlotte Track is quickly becoming one of New Zealand’s classic tracks and a “must do” on every international or domestic visitor’s itinerary. This 70km mountain biking (and walking) track is renowned for its panoramic coastal views, lush coastal forest, resort accommodation and excellent water transport services – creating an experience that is challenging yet comfortable. Regarded as one of New Zealand’s best single track rides, this is a challenging track with many technical stages, and riders do need a good level of riding fitness to enjoy the trip.
Our itinerary allows mountain bikers to enjoy the track in a hassle-free adventure. We have selected the best accommodation and water transport operator and this, coupled with our own award-winning client service, ensures that your ride on the Queen Charlotte Track will be a memorable experience.
The following skill indicator is a guideline for assessing the best itinerary option for riding the track.
The two day ride encompassing the entire track is ideal for the more experienced rider due to the distances, and terrain ridden each day. There are three main options for a two day itinerary:
Day 1. Ride Ship Cove to Punga Cove (4 hours riding)
Day 2. Ride Punga Cove to Anakiwa (7 hours riding)
Day 1. Ride Ship Cove to Portage (8 hours riding)
Day 2. Ride Portage to Anakiwa (3 hours riding)
*From 1 December to 28 February the section from Ship Cove/Resolution Bay to Punga Cove is closed to mountain bikers so your itinerary would be:
Day 1. Ride Punga Cove to Portage (4 hours riding)
Day 2. Ride Portage to Anakiwa (3 hours riding)
- Novice rider – a confident rider on roads or forest tracks.
- Intermediate – has ridden some single tracks, but not experienced.
- Experienced – regularly rides single tracks.
Section: Ship Cove to Punga Cove
Skill Indicator: Experienced
Actual Biking time: 4 hours
Your journey begins with a 1 hour boat ride to Ship Cove or Punga Cove. The ride out of Ship Cove is quite steep, and you will need to push your bike for the first half hour of this section.
After descending into Resolution Bay from the Ship Cove saddle, you have a long but moderate climb to Tawa Saddle and slow downhill to Furneaux Lodge. A rewarding ride around the head of Endeavour Inlet with some technical sections caused by tree roats and drop offs around Camp Bay.
Section: Punga Cove to Portage Bay
Skill Indicator: Intermediate/Experienced
Actual Biking time: 4 hours
Climbing steeply away from Punga Cove to join the Queen Charlotte Track the sweeping views begin to appear. Today’s ride is about lots of up and down! You will be riding along the ridgeline between the Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds. Stunning views all day, but the terrain is challenging. Lots of sharp corners, steep drop offs and of course those hills. Whilst the inclines aren’t long they are reasonably sharp, and likewise the decline can be sharp. The ride is worth it, but riders definitely need to be experienced mountain bikers to enjoy it. You can ride the road on this section if you prefer.
Section: Portage Bay to Anakiwa
Skill Indicator: Portage Bay to Mistletoe Bay -Experienced, Mistletoe Bay to Anakiwa -Novice
Actual Biking time: 3.5 hours
Portage to Mistletoe Bay – begins with long steep climb, lots of pushing, switch backs on descent. Some may prefer to take the road for this section.
Mistletoe Bay to Anakiwa – narrow undulating track at first, wider and more moderate mid section, then long descent into Anakiwa. Riding down to sea level you will come upon some particularly beautiful virgin native bush which leaves you with a lasting impression of what must have been before man arrived. The harbour of Anakiwa comes into view and so to does the end of the Queen Charlotte Track.
Prices for 2013/14 season
|Standard||Punga Cove||A Frame|
|Sea View||Punga Cove||A Frame|
|Portage Resort||Hillside Suite|
|Upgrade||Punga Cove||Kiwi or Weka|
|Standard Package||Cost per person $475 (single supplement of $95)|
|Sea View Package||Cost per person $505 (single supplement of $135)|
|Upgrade Package||Cost per person $520 (single supplement of $150)|
- Mountain bike rental – Scott Scale 60 mountain bike with front suspension, 27 gears, hydraulic disc brakes, tool kit, pump, helmet, water bottle carrier, and map
- Pre-trip information
- Complete information pack for use while riding the track
- Twin share accommodation, as listed
- Packed lunch each day
- Water transport to the track and water transfer of luggage each day
- Transfer back to Picton
- Use of the Marlborough Sounds Adventure Company as a base
- Queen Charlotte Track Land Co-op Pass
- Booking is subject to accommodation availability on the track
- $100 non-refundable deposit is required to confirm booking.
- Final payment is required 60 days prior to departure date.
- Cancellations received between 30 days and up to 7 days from day of trip departure will be eligible for a 50% refund of the trip value.
- For cancellations received 7 days or less from date of departure, we will not be able to issue a refund.
- Single supplements do apply.
- Dinner, breakfast and refreshment costs are to be met by client. As you are staying at licensed resorts they request that you do not take alcohol on to the property.
- Additional water transport costs, if required, are to be met by client.
- Upon arrival at our office you will be asked to complete a registration form. You must understand that you are taking a self-guided trip, therefore you are responsible for your own safety and well-being for the duration. Any additional costs incurred during your trip, due to illness or accident, are to be met by yourselves.
Available all year round, subject to accommodation availability. Just pick your date and let us arrange it for you.
From 1 December to 28 February the section from Ship Cove/Resolution Bay to Punga Cove is closed to mountain bikers so your itinerary would begin at Punga Cove, reaching Portage on your first day, and through to Anakiwa on your second day.
We recommend that riders wear or bring:
- Soft shoes (heavy shoes or tramping boots are not suitable)
- Sun protection
- Warm, protective clothing
Mountain bike rental includes:
- Scott Scale 60 bikes which have been maintained in-house by our Shimano-qualified bike mechanic. Bikes have front suspension, hydraulic disc brakes, and 27 gears.
- Tool Kit
- Water bottle carrier
SPD pedals are available upon request
Is there water available on the track?
Drinking water is available at strategic places on the track. We recommend that you carry a pump bottle that holds approximately 750ml or more which can be topped up during the day.
What is the track surface like to ride?
The track has a clay base which means that in dry conditions it is hard and relatively easy riding, but when it has rained it is extremely slippery and difficult to ride. We will not rent bikes out if we believe the condition of the track will affect the quality of your ride. While some sections of the track are easy to ride, other sections have tree roots, bluffs and rocky areas that make riding more challenging.
Is the track open all year?
Yes, but the section from Ship Cove to Punga Cove is closed from 1 December to 28 February each year
How much experience do you need to ride the Queen Charlotte Track?
The Queen Charlotte Track is regarded as a technical track so to ride the whole track, you need to be a reasonably skilled rider. If you are less skilled or unsure of your abilities, there are easier options such as the section from Mistletoe Bay to Anakiwa.
Do we have paniers for the bikes?
No, because the water transport companies carry your packs as part of your water transfers, paniers are not required. Also the terrain is too rough for easy carriage of paniers on the bikes.
Do you have a question? Please fill in the form below or, maybe you want to check availability before making a booking?
If you are ready to book a trip, then please click the “Book Now” button above which will take you to our check availability page and book now page.
Sometimes it is easier to just pick up the phone and get the answer you need, in which case, please give us a call on (+64) 03 573 6078, NZ Freephone 0800 283 283, or Australia Freephone on 1800 007 083 anytime. We are usually contactable by phone from 8.00am to 10.00pm (NZ time) each day.