The Queen Charlotte Track
The Queen Charlotte Sound has a rich history beginning with Maori settlement, possibly up to 1000 years ago. Various local tribes (iwi) inhabited parts of the Marlborough Sounds and created their own pathways to source food in neighbouring bays.
Then in the 1770s Captain James Cook visited Ship Cove – now the start of the Queen Charlotte Track – and his encounters with the local Maori at the time are well-documented in his diaries. Even today Ship Cove is still one of the least developed and most pristine monuments to Cook in the world. It is a fitting beginning to your journey.
European settlement began in the Marlborough Sounds in the late 1800s when farmers and miners began settling in the area. At one time over 300 people lived at the head of Endeavour Inlet whilst antimony was mined. Hardy settlers farmed areas of the Sounds and at one stage a large proportion of the Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sound were cleared for farming. However as the tough, steep hillside environment and remote access of the farms continued to make farming difficult, much of the land has now returned back to native bush. However during that early settlement, bridle paths were created between neighbouring bays and coves, to provide social and economic benefit.
In the late 1980s the Department of Conservation, Destination Marlborough and the Marlborough District Council worked together to create one single track out of that network of bridle paths and stock routes.
Today the track travels over a variety of public and private land. It is due to the goodwill of the private landowners that the single track can be created, and we encourage all users to respect the fact that at times they are walking on private land.
The Queen Charlotte Track is 70km long. It is normally walked in four or five days starting at Ship Cove and finishing at Anakiwa. There are plenty of options to walk one section of the track in one day. Refer to our maps section for an illustration on each section.