Steve and Judy recently walked the South Island Leg of the…
With the Queen Charlotte on our to do list and an ankle injury that ruled out long distance walking , we decided bikepacking the Queen Charlotte was our best option.
We chose to do it over three days with distance’s of roughly 22-29km’s. By using the on track accommodation we were are able to travel light, take our time enjoying the wonderful views and have a warm comfortable nights sleep.
After a beautiful trip through the Sounds aboard our ferry we were ready for the first leg from Ship Cove to Punga Cove. The climb out of Ship Cove is now a gentle gradient thanks to a new section of track and once up on the saddle you will enjoy good views of both the inner and outer Sounds. Further over you wind down to Endeavour Inlet where you follow the shoreline to the head of the inlet. There’s accommodation along the way. From here the track stays near the shoreline and wanders through regenerating forest with the sound of birds happily singing. Soon we could see the beautiful Punga Cove across the bay and arrived just before the rain.
After unpacking our bikes at our accommodation we headed down to the Boat Shed Cafe for a nice cold beverage and later returned for pizza. There is also a restaurant for those after a full dining experience. Punga Cove is a beautiful retreat, surrounded by nature and we could have happily stayed there for a day longer. The next morning we enjoyed a buffet breakfast and packed our ready made lunch we’d ordered from the restaurant the night before.
Surrounded by Nature
Day two’s destination was Portage, about 23km’s away with a few grunty climb’s along the way. A little further on there’s a sign pointing to Eatwell’s lookout. We decided to leave our bikes here and walk to the lookout. It’s well worth doing as you have amazing 360 degree views.
The track passes through private land in this section and a couple of other places so make sure you have your Q.C.L.T.C. Pass. There’s some tough climb’s on this section but once on the ridge line you are well rewarded with magnificent panoramas of the Sounds. Eventually the track descends to Torea Saddle between Portage and Torea Bay. Once again we were using the lovely accommodation avaliable on the track and stayed at The Portage.
magnificent panoramas of the Sounds
We enjoyed a drink and a nice meal, chatting to people about their day and what to expect the next day. Once again we were able to order a packed lunch for the following day which was easily enough food for the entire day. There was a big sandwich, muffin, apple, pot of nuts, and a fruit juice.
The next morning was a little cooler and were we glad. The climb out of Portage isn’t easy with quite a bit of pushing needed but once you get to the top there’s more stunning views from along the ridge. Futher along you come to some nice switchback’s and a steep little descent down to Te Mahia saddle. From here the track is busy with day walkers so be careful on those blind corners. The final section is on an easy flowing path through mature beech forest to Anakiwa. Here there’s a shelter, toilets near the track end, and a public jetty where the ferry would soon be picking us from for the boat ride back to picton. There’s a piece of Queen Charlotte for everyone, whether it’s by foot or bike, lodge or campsite, freeze dry meal or restaurant, the experience is your’s for the choosing.