Marlborough Sounds – Hiking a Section of the Queen Charlotte Track

Among the great walks of New Zealand is the Queen Charlotte Track in the Marlborough Sounds. With the Abel Tasman track coming up, we decided that prepping with a couple day hikes would be wise. Though typically this 70km track is hiked over the course of 3-5 days, water taxis allow for section hiking of this beautiful coastal trail.

Our day began at Ship Cove or Meretoto in Māori. Ship Cove is recorded to be the favorite base of famous captain James Cook on his three voyages to this region and is regarded as a key cultural heritage site. With the assistance and translation of Tupaia of Ra’iātea, Cook and his crew were able create relationships with the locals through goods trade and by immersing themselves in the day to day life of the Māori people. Right off the dock there are monuments commemorating the European/Māori bond.

Unrelated to the cultural importance of this location – it is also home to nesting Weka’s and I caught a cute fluffy on camera.

As per usual, the winds were ripping and it was a cold and beautiful day for the trail. We were section hiking the Ship Cove to Furneaux Lodge, a 15km section through jungle and coastline. Most of the time warranted hiking in my puffy jacket, but whenever the winds stopped and the sun was directly on us, it was hot! Weather in New Zealand really boggles my mind, and anytime we hike I’m prepared for all weather. It’s always good backpacking prep, so I don’t mind the extra weight.

The objective of this day was not only to simply explore the beautiful and lush forests around Marlborough Sounds, but to also make sure our boots and legs were in working order for our impending 5 day AT hike. Both boots, feet, knees, and legs seemed to be in working order and as I felt more comfortable in my boots, the intensity of the abundant flora around me began to demand my attention.

I felt as if I stepped in Jurassic Park – but without all the dinosaurs and with all the bird noises. Vines that hang from the canopy to the forest floor and the shades of deep emerald, sea foam, and jade gave the illusion of being lost somewhere tropical.

What was supposed to take 5.5 hours only took us 4 hours to complete. We were feeling confidant about our upcoming hikes and celebrated with a glass of wine and a chess game at our final destination, Furneaux Lodge.