The Queen Charlotte Track in the Marlborough Sounds at the top of the South Island is one of New Zealand’s most beautiful and most accessible tracks, offering stunning ridgeline views over the Marlborough Sounds, insights into New Zealand’s colonial history, and sections of virgin native forest teeming with birdlife.
In its entirety, the 71km track traverses the headland between the Kenepuru Sound and the Queen Charlotte Sound, undulating through picturesque bays and up along the ridgeline for stunning views over the Sounds.
This undulating nature of the track and its headland position makes it easy to join the track for day walk excursions at several access points along its length.
At these points, the path descends into bays equipped with jetties serviced by commercial water transport companies and pre-arranged transport can be coordinated.
A number of unguided day walks are available through Picton-based water transport operators, offering a range of trips to challenge different levels of fitness and to showcase different sections of the track.
Lochmara Wildlife Recovery and Arts Centre offers great day trip options. The trips depart Picton for a 20 minute cruise to the track access points at Anakiwa (where the track starts/finishes) and Mistletoe Bay, creating a 5 hour or 2.5 hour (approx) walk into Lochmara Bay.
Both these sections of track combine awe-inspiring ridgeline views, beautifully tranquil native bush, and pretty bays, providing a complete Queen Charlotte Track experience.
In addition to the walk, the day trips include entry to the award-winning Lochmara Wildlife Recovery and Art Centre, where you are encouraged to engage with and learn about our native environment and conservation efforts, as well as to discover New Zealand art in a unique setting.
The Centres offer several art galleries, nature tracks with interpretive information panels, an artist in residence studio, native gecko enclosures, a native Kakariki (NZ parrot) feeding experience, and glow worms (after dark only).
There is also a safe swimming beach, rope swings, more than 40 hammocks, and free use of kayaks, plus a day spa and café.
Non-walking options are also available. The trips are suitable for anyone of moderate fitness, and the shorter walk option is ideal for families.
Lochmara won the Department of Conservation award for Conservation in Action at the 2010 New Zealand Tourism Industry Awards.
For more information on Lochmara, please visit www.lochmaralodge.co.nz.
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