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.
- Novice rider – a confident rider on roads or forest tracks.
- Intermediate – has ridden some single tracks, but not experienced.
- Experienced – regularly rides single tracks.
Ship Cove to Punga Cove Resort
(3.5-4 hour ride – 26.5km)
Your journey begins with a 1 hour boat ride to Ship Cove. You have a steep climb out of Ship Cove (about half an hour push) to the saddle, and then a steady downhill into Resolution Bay.
You have a long but moderate climb out of Resolution Bay to Tawa Saddle and slow downhill to Furneaux Lodge. Rewarding ride around the head of Endeavour Inlet with some technical sections caused by tree roats and drop offs around Camp Bay.
Overnight at Punga Cove Resort (see Prices for room options)
Punga Cove Resort to Peppers Portage
(3.5 to 4 hour ride – 23.6km)
Climbing away steeply from Punga Cove the sweeping views begin to appear as you bike along the ridge between the Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sound. The track is very undulating and therefore can be challenging for some people. The track is wide but quite steep in places. Watch for drop offs and rocky areas. You can ride the road on this day if you prefer.
Peppers Portage to Anakiwa
(3.25 to 4 hours – 20.7km)
Peppers 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 too does the end of the Queen Charlotte Track.
Your water transport collects you and, as you travel back to Picton, you can relax and reminisce on the magic of the last three days.
Prices for 2013/14 season
|Standard||Punga Cove||A Frame|
|Cost per Person $605 (single supplement of $220)|
|Sea View||Punga Cove||A Frame|
|Peppers Portage||Hillside Suite|
|Cost per person $635 (single supplement of $255)|
|Upgrade||Punga Cove||Kiwi or Weka|
|Cost per person $685 (single supplement of $335)|
- 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.
- Clients are required to be at our office forty five minutes prior to departure, for a bike fit-out and briefing.
- If it has been raining, we may not rent the bikes out as the track can be too slippery to ride. We will not rent bikes out if we believe the condition of the track will affect the quality of your ride.
- Clients are required to provide a bond of some form. This is usually a credit card imprint for $800 which we hold at our office until they return. Other personal items may be used if clients are not travelling with a credit card.
The track is open all year, but the section from Ship Cove to Punga Cove is closed to mountain bikers from 1 December to 28 February.
Once you know your preferred departure date, contact us and we will check availability. It is helpful if you can also indicate other dates that are suitable around your preferred date, in case your first choice of date is not available.
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
What meals are included in our trip?
A packed lunch is included in your freedom ride package. Dinner and breakfast can be purchased at the resorts each day. Each resort has a different style of dining and menu options ranging from bar meals to a la carte dining. Breakfasts range in price from approximately $15 for a continental breakfast to $22 for a cooked breakfast. Dinners range from approximately $20 for a bar meal to $60 for a 2 or 3 course a la carte option. Facilities are limited for you to take your own breakfast, and this is dependent upon the style of accommodation you choose.
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.
How many days does it take to ride the track?
For experienced riders we recommend two days – Ship Cove to Portage on Day One, and then Portage to Anakiwa on Day Two.
For less experienced riders we recommend three days – Ship Cove to Punga Cove (Day One), Punga Cove to Portage (Day Two), and Portage to Anakiwa (Day Three).
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.