If you seek an exhilarating challenge, then this is the ride for you! Beginning at Ship Cove and including water transport to and from Picton, this coastal ride includes demands aplenty as well as many rewards of beautiful sea views and pristine native forest.
Depart on either the 8am (summer only) or 9am water taxi service to Ship Cove.
From Ship Cove, it's a gentle climb to the Ship Cove Platform. Here you will be rewarded for your efforts with wonderful views (on a good day) across Motuara Island and its small neighbour Hippa Island with the North Island often visable beyond. To the south you can see Resolution Bay below and beyond. Depart the Ship Cove platform and wind your way downwards into Resolution Bay. This section of the track passes through initially native forest and then regenerating forest typified by more scrubby native trees such as manuka and kanuka.
The track winds just above Resolution Bay and starts a gentle but steady ascent towards the Tawa Bay Saddle through mainly regenerating forest. The sight of seating as you pass through the saddle with a view to Endeavour Inlet and beyond is a welcome sight. Rest here to enjoy the vistas for a while and enjoy your lunch.
From Tawa saddle the trail is mainly down hill with views into Tawa Bay and, as you proceed, views towards the head of Endeavour Inlet. The latter stages of this section are through pristine New Zealand native forest with some wonderful examples of native beech trees through to fibrous kiekie climbers high in the tops of tall rimu trees. A small settlement called The Pines with houses nestled in the bush is passed along the way. Furneaux lodge offers a change for a coffee or a beer in their historic homestead on your way.
From Furneaux lodge the track continues through thick native forest before crossing the sole swing-bridge on the track, a wide sturdy structure. From the head of Endeavour Inlet the track is wide and passes through flat farmland with lovely views down the inlet.
This is the easiest section of the Queen Charlotte Track, the track following the curve of the coastline with the water never far away and a pleasant time can be had enjoying the coastal views along the way. But care should be taken along some stretches particularly when damp as they can be very slippery.
As you turn the corner into Big Bay, a wide sweeping bay with a shallow tidal area at its head, the vegetation changes to more lush costal forest with some beautiful trackts of beech forest. Ponga ferns are prolific in the damp gullies.
Camp Bay, with a pleasant beach nearby, is a popular Department of Conservation camping spot and marks about 5min to your final destination Punga Cove. Your water taxi pick up is 4.15pm at Punga Cove so there is time to toast a fantastic day while you wait. Return to Picton by 5.30pm/6pm.
This section is available to mountain bike from March through to November.
Grade: Intermediate to AdvancedGrade Key
DURATION: 4-5 hrs
Total distance: 26.5 km (16.5 miles)
Minimum number of persons: 1
Click to view Queen Charlotte Track gradient map