With our success on the Abel Tasman track we decided that we would take on another track so we signed up for a short walk on the Queen Charlotte Track (“QCT”). The QCT is not one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks” but it is part of the Te-Araroa which is a series of linked trails which extend the whole length of NZ covering a distance of over 3,000km.
We chose a day trip with Cougar line who will take you out to the head of the track (or any other suitable starting point) whereby you then walk to a designated point and they pick you up again. Sounds simple and it is.
In addition, for the more ambitious they will also move some luggage for you along the track so that you can complete the (4-6 day) walk without having to carry a huge pack. By contrast the one day option is relatively expensive (at $80 per person) but it is the only way to get a good flavor of the track.
We chose the longest walk option from Ship Cove to Furneaux Lodge which is a distance of 15km and as you step off the boat at Ship Cove is rated at 5 hours and 15 minutes walking time (excluding rest breaks and photo stops). We do not regard ourselves as particularly quick walkers (although we do not linger) and we have generally found the times to be for the seriously slow walker! Worth thinking about if planning a multi-day walk.
From Ship Cove the first 2-3 km of the track are seriously uphill (the guide calls it undulating) which is followed by an almost as steep downhill section to complete the first 5km. The remaining section is a relatively slow (but long climb) with a nice downhill to finish. In contrast to the Abel Tasman track the track is not in as good condition (although still not bad) and there are long stretches which are completely in the trees. The fact that the shoreline drops straight into the sound means that there are no beaches as such and only limited opportunities to get to the water. For us therefore that meant that the overall experience was not as good.
We actually completed the walk in around three and a half hours whereas the pick-up time allows for 5, so we had a nice rest at the end of the walk before we were picked up for our hour long return cruise back to Picton.
I’m reviewing the places we stay and things we do on Trip Advisor including the B&B’s (although I’m waiting a few days until we are out of the way ;-)). Its incredibly difficult to be objective but there is a clear difference and (to use an English footballing reference) while most of the ones we have booked are playing in premier league there are only a few with a realistic chance of winning the title. So I’ve devised my own ranking critieria which I’ll translate into TripAdvisor reviews, here it is:
- Did the host make us a drink on arrival?
- Were we offered home baked cake or biscuits?
- Did the owner take the time to talk us through local sights and attractions?
- Was the room cooled / warmed for our arrival (i.e. depending on outside temperature)?
- Did the room have a good view / nice neighborhood?
- Did the room have good amenities (fridge, tea / coffee making / fresh fruit etc)?
- Was there a TV / guest lounge available?
- Was there a powerful shower?
- Was there a range of foods available for breakfast and was there a choice of cooked items?
- Was the bed comfortable?