Spectacular Queen Charlotte Track Day Walk from Picton

I cannot caption this. I really, really can’t!

I have been traveling for several years, but I’m still not getting any better at remaining calm and collected when I see beautiful sceneries. I still act hysterical, like a 6-year old getting new toys.

It was my second day in New Zealand, and I was taking the Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton. I had lofty expectations for New Zealand and even saw a short clip of the ferry ride, but I still completely lost it when I came face-to-face with the otherworldly natural beauty surrounding Cook Strait.

(Per Wikipedia, “Cook Strait lies between the North and South Islands of New Zealand, and connects the Tasman Sea on the northwest with the South Pacific Ocean on the southeast. It is 22 kilometres (14 mi) wide at its narrowest point, and is considered one of the most dangerous and unpredictable waters in the world.”)

Fortunately, the weather was calm and glorious. That, along with the radiant afternoon light, gave every scene a painting feel.

Indisputably the most beautiful way to go from the north to the south. 

New Zealand made my heart stop at every turn.

Picton is a small port town in the Marlborough region of the South Island. It is very, very pretty, but quiet; there aren’t a lot of things to do in town. I had two nights there (stayed at Sequoia Lodge, which is quite decent), but only one full day to explore. I had no complaint, though, because everything I saw exceeded my expectations.

The harbor looked dreamy in the early morning with soft light and floating clouds.

Picton has several short walks that you can do, but as an ardent nature lover, I opted for a half-day Queen Charlotte Track walk on my second day. I am using the word “walk” loosely here, because if there is one thing you should know before you travel in New Zealand, more often than not a walk will require some level of fitness. It definitely is NOT the running errands or in the park kind of walk.

The Queen Charlotte Track is a classic New Zealand track and starts from historic Ship Cove to Anakiwa. The entire length is 70km so it is a multi-day track if you want to complete it. While on the track, you will get to see jaw-dropping views of the Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds.

Here is a map to give you a better understanding of the walk. With the amount of time I had, I was able to do the last section of the track, from Te Mahia to Anakiwa.

I booked the Half Day Cruise & Walk with Cougar Line at the recommendation of the staff at the tourist center, who said the 13km Mistletoe Bay to Anakiwa section is spectacular because you can see both sides. I was slightly unnerved by the fact that it is an independent walk, but once on the track, my anxiety dissipated as it is well-marked and there are signs everywhere. There is only one way to go, no left or right turns!

In the instruction hand-outs, the suggested walking times for a slow walker is 3 hrs 45 mins (2 and a half & 3 for fast and average walkers, respectively), but it took me almost 5 hours because…I stopped every 10 minute to take photos. I just couldn’t control myself; the sceneries are so incredible.

I mean, look at these spectacles:


I’m not going to sugarcoat and say this walk was a breeze. It really was not; after all the walk is 13km long and goes up and down. You will sweat and feel fatigued, especially if you go on a sunny day like I did. However, as I was trying to conquer this little “challenge” and after I successfully conquered it, I realized an important lesson about traveling in New Zealand. Hiking is one of the best ways to see its impressive natural beauty. And the views won’t be the only rewarding part; there is also that fulfilling sense of accomplishment, of pushing yourself physically and mentally.

This walk was my first in New Zealand and immediately started my love affair with the country’s many tramping tracks 🙂

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