Before going to New Zealand I wondered if it would be possible to only spend one day on the spectacular Queen Charlotte Track. The trail itself is beautiful, worth spending all the time you have hiking it, but there are some travellers who might not wish to camp or stay in a hut along the way. It's entirely up to you how you wish to enjoy your travels around New Zealand but it's important to know that you can enjoy 24 hours on the Queen Charlotte Track.
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Why visit The Queen Charlotte Track
The Queen Charlotte Track is one of New Zealand's many beautiful trails which offers splendid views, great paths through lush bush and encounters with native birds. You can hike or cycle on the Queen Charlotte Track, and although I'm a keen cyclist myself, because of the nature of the terrain, I would say that hiking would be my number one choice. I hiked the Queen Charlotte Track whilst pouring with rain and I had difficulties walking as it was, let alone cycling on muddy steep hills.
To sum it up, if you wish to enjoy an outstanding walk through New Zealand's raw and peaceful nature, then a day trip on the Queen Charlotte Track is a must. The track is not difficult and it is fairly accessible by various age groups. You do need to be relatively fit, even if you only plan to hike it for a day.
When to visit The Queen Charlotte Track
I went on the Queen Charlotte Track at the beginning of March and whilst it was still warm and nice, I was unlucky enough to be caught in a serious storm which lasted the whole day. My first day on the track proved to be difficult as, after a couple hours of hike, the rain sipped through my waterproof clothes.
I remember eating a sad, soggy sandwich whilst hiking through the storm of the century. It is dealing with the unexpected that makes an adventure so much more real and fun. I would recommend visiting the Queen Charlotte Track either during summer or beginning of Autumn if you prefer fewer tourists on the trail. I like quieter hikes, hence I picked Autumn for my needs. Please check the weather forecast and make plans accordingly. I was on a tight schedule and I couldn't have delayed my hike regardless, but you should take a possible storm into account when planning a trip to the Queen Charlotte Track.
How to do The Queen Charlotte Track in 24 hours
To access The Queen Charlotte Track you need to be located in Picton. First thing in the morning, you need to take the ferry to Ship Cove. The ferry journey takes about an hour and it drops you off right at the entrance of the trail.
In order to spend just a day on The Queen Charlotte Track, make sure you buy a return ferry ticket, leaving from Endeavour Inlet. The hike from Ship Cove to Endeavour Inlet shouldn't take longer than 5 hours, even if you are a slow walker. At the end of the journey, there is a chalet with a restaurant and a cafe called Furneaux Lodge, where you can eat some lunch and grab a cuppa. For me, this was about the greatest thing I came across, as I was wet and in desperate need of a hot cup of coffee and a nice meal to pick me up.
What route to take
There are several other routes to take if you want to spend just one day on The Queen Charlotte Track, but I reckon Ship Cove to Endeavour Inlet is the nicest. It all comes down to personal preferences of course, but I found this section to be my favourite. I loved the lookout points, the fact that I was far out in the Sounds, very quiet and full of lush vegetation. Of course, it goes without saying that if you have the time, you should experience the full 70 km (3-5 days) on the Queen Charlotte Track.
What you need with you
You probably guessed that I am going to tell you how much you need waterproof equipment. Without it, I would have had a much harder time exploring the Queen Charlotte Track through the rain. You need at least 4 litres of water and lots of snacks. Make sure you have a big breakfast before you leave for the ferry and protein-rich food whilst on the track. You can eat once you reach the Furneaux Lodge, but you need to keep your body well fed throughout the hike.
I suggest dressing up in layers as it can get very hot, very quickly, or the weather can turn sour in no time at all. Have comfortable, waterproof footwear (I use my North Face hiking shoes). Get a reasonably sized bag to have space for food, water and your extra layers if needed.
Where to sleep
I suggest sleeping in Picton at the Fernview Cottage B&B. We stayed there and had a great time. The host was lovely, the place was very clean and the garden was outstanding. It was a pity we didn't have a chance to stay for longer. Great place, would highly recommend it.
Would you only spend one day exploring the Queen Charlotte Track or would you love to enjoy the adventure and explore the full 70 km trail? Would you postpone your journey if you were caught in the torrential rain, or would you be brave and tough and carry on till the end? Tell me about it in the comments section below.