Te Araroa: Queen Charlotte Track

Jan. 2 and 3, 2015

From Ship’s Cove, the northern most point of the Te Araroa on the South Island, the route follows the popular Queen Charlotte track for 70 km (43.5 miles) to Anakiwa. The track is easy to follow and well graded, we completed it in 1 1/2 days. However, I learned quickly that this was a deceptively easy beginning.


Before starting the South Island, we stayed at Mac’s family’s “bach” (a holiday house) in Anakiwa located just off the Te Araroa in the Marlborough Sounds. We swam with sting rays and jelly fish, Mac shaved off his beard and I cried, and we ate almost everything in the cupboard and drank almost all the booze before Christmas so all that was left for a Christmas dinner was a bit of brown rice, one carrot, one beet root, and half a bottle of rum.

Mac reading to distract himself from starvation

On January 2 we set off north from Anakiwa headed for Ship’s Cove. We were joined by Dan, an American TA tramper who Mac met somewhere on the North Island. He’s a solid tramper, a real stand up guy boy next door type with a light pack and a tolerance for dirty jokes.

Under a canopy of beech and punga trees, the track winds in and out of picturesque coves punctuated with baches, sailboats, backpackers, and retreats. It’s a busy little interstate with mountain bikers, runners, European tourists, and all-but-the-kitchen-sink trampers.

But what it lacks in solitude it makes up for in beauty. The views are stunning.

queen charlotte
Dan tramping along the Queen Charlotte Track

At one of the shelters we make dinner before pushing on. These man made structures are hubs for socializing and mesmerizing tourists with our lightweight gear.  Mac pulls out his pop can stove and questions arise, then comes the laughter, and then puzzlement, and finally disbelief. We are magicians.

Mac continues to mystify as I slip away to wash my feet. While I am away a middle aged man asks Mac if I keep up; the man can’t believe he walks with a woman. I wonder how many people still believe that women can’t be capable hikers? Probably more than I want to know.

On January 3 we reach Ship’s Cove and grab a water taxi to Picton; a port town where we get a ride back to Anakiwa. From here we will enter the Richmond Range, allegedly one of the toughest sections of the whole Te Araroa.

ships cove
Mac at Ship’s Cove

2 thoughts on “Te Araroa: Queen Charlotte Track

  1. Thanks for the post, Chance! It must be a strange feeling to plunged back in to “summertime”. It’s rain and howling wind today here in Bellingham.

    Looking forward to the next installment!


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