Glamping Te Araroa Trail on The Queen Charlotte

Overlooking Marlborough Sounds from Kenepuru Saddle

With no camping overnight, no freeze dried dinners, smaller backpacks and a cool, very refreshing beer after each day’s trek,  we’ve glamped our way along the Queen Charlotte Track with our great travelling friends Dave & Kerry Lilley, from Taranaki.  

Taking advantage of accommodation on offer and water transport transfers that the Queen Charlotte track offers for visitors, this start to our Te Araroa (TA) South Island trail has gently lead us in and allowed an easier means of building up TA muscle.  John and I offloaded some gear onto Dave & Kerry’s luggage being daily transferred which meant our backs and feet were not being overly taxed by heavy backpacks.  

Just as well, as it is over 2 years since completing Te Araroa North Island and all stamina and sturdiness needs rebuilding.  The mountains of the South Island await! 

Two years after completing a walk-through on the Te Araroa trail North Island (1700kms from Cape Reinga to Wellington), we are on the trail again.  Our plan this year is to walk about one third, approximately 450kms from Ships Cove at the start of Queen Charlotte to Arthur’s Pass.  With a big family and a number of commitments underway, including building a house, we feel we do not have the inclination nor time to walk further this year. 

Historically, Meretoto/Ships Cove in the Marlborough Sounds was a safe haven for Captain James Cook. Now it is a scenic reserve with a memorial to Cook and numerous plaques with historical information.

 John, Dave, Kerry and I took the obligatory photo beneath Cook’s Memorial to commemorate our start of walking Queen Charlotte Track.  John and I love this track, having walked this trail previously and also because John has wonderful memories from his time at Outward Bound at Anakiwa (the end of  the QC track) in 1973.

Beneath Captain Cooks memorial at Ships Cove

Stretching between the Queen Charlotte and Keneperu Sounds lies the picturesque Queen Charlotte Track, unique in splendid mountain to sea views, native bush and bird life.

Much work is being carried out along this trail to preserve native birds by trapping vermin such a the Australian Possum, rats, stoats and weasels and returning the native bush to native species.  The pine forestry in NZ has been a profitable crop for both local and overseas markets since the 1920’s.  However, ‘wilding’ pines have encroached on native bush so DOC (Department of Conservation) have implemented poisoning individual trees to allow regeneration  of native bush.  A variety of animal traps line the trail and many dead wilding trees can be seen.

Queen Charlotte Trail is 71 kms long which we walked at an enjoyable pace over four days.  In my previous blog I had mentioned that a section of the QC track was closed because of the high fire danger.  However, rain in the Marlborough Sounds two nights before we commenced walking assured the powers that be, that it was safe enough to allow walkers and bikers to traverse the Kenepuru saddle section rather than the road.  How lucky we were.    

Rain there may have been, but the trail was pretty dry and could well understand the need for caution. Nonetheless, I was exceedingly grateful to be walking this section.  Plenty of up’s that made me realize that I am definitely not TA fit, at least not yet , but to be walking the saddle on a gorgeous sunny day with glorious views to both Marlborough and Kenepuru Sounds was just wonderful.  My favourite though was walking under the tall mountain beech trees, with beech tree litter underfoot with glimpses of the aquamarine waters through the trees highlighted by the afternoon sun. To hear happy bird sounds, the constant high pitched cicada,  to walk with friends, to walk this undulating trail, to view pretty vista,  was to walk with a smile of gratitude for the moment.   

Nice walking through avenues of beech, birds (with Kerry’s help identified tui, bellbird, weka, Tom tit, robin, Finch (and others unknown) chirping and flitting happily in the trees and the ever constant chirping cicadas. 

Marlborough Sounds from Kenepuru Saddle

Donald the Scottish North Bound TA trekker took our fancy with his yellow kilt and color coordinated backpack…plus he was running!!  He was happy to stop for a photo and a chat. We meet some very interesting people in our travels

After four days of beautiful friendship, sharing wine, beer some quite good food and days of happy conversation we said our goodbyes to Dave & Kerry, at Anakiwa, who travelled back to their life in the North Island.

We meanwhile pressed on with our TA trail.  From Anakiwa to Havelock meant negotiating the roads with fast moving traffic, passing interesting letterboxes, fields of disconcerted cows and the odd goat tied to a tether.  It was a relief when road turned to trail affording more beautiful views of Pelorus Sound.

Leaving Havelock early morn
Some of the many interesting letterboxes we passed

Tanya who runs the Green Coffee Van and backpackers in Anakiwa, at the end of our the Queen Charlotte Track. A very welcoming lady with good coffee and ice creams.
Relief to leave the busy highway to walk this walk/bike pathway into Havelock
View to Pelorus Sound
This style was sturdy! Many were not. 27 all up walking across 6kms of farmland on Dalton’s Track. So good to be off the roads.

Havelock to Pelorus Bridge was another day tramping roads, albeit minor roads with little traffic followed by 6 kms across farmland including climbing over 27 styles of varying stability, on Daltons track. Our tired feet, were most happy to reach Pelorus Cafe; road walking is hard work,

where we rested enjoying coffee and very nice home made pies, while waiting for the pre-booked intercity bus to Nelson for restock, taking future provisions to various locations and enjoying the hospitality of family and friends.

A selfie at the 100km mark! The powerline in the background holds significance to John. When he worked for the NZ electricity department back in the early 70’s he flew in a helicopter to photograph the line that runs from Blenheim to Stoke in Nelson over mountains and valleys. He remembers the thrill of that job.

Nelson is suffering drought and water restrictions are in place. Reticulation and hoses cannot be used. People, both privately and corporately are being encouraged to do all they can to conserve water. The fire danger is extreme.

Meanwhile, we walk on tomorrow, from Pelorus Bridge. We are very happy that John’s niece Bronwyn, will be tramping with us for a few days.

20 thoughts on “Glamping Te Araroa Trail on The Queen Charlotte

  1. Great to read your blog – to re-view our Queen Charlotte journey together and to get a taste of your ongoing travels. It’s all go here, with the house being painted, roof replaced, and revamped (wrongly) skylight being installed above the dining room. Keith and Bernie arrived amongst the chaos, spent last evening with us and then repaired to the bach for a couple of nights. The weather is okay, though not what I’d hoped for them – it’s cloudy and cool, and there’s no mountain to see. We continue to think of you and look forward to your next blog. 🙂


  2. Fantastic updates and photos Nancy. Enjoy the rest of your travels and looking forward to hearing more of your wonderful adventure xx


  3. Have just read your blog to Darryl and we both said how much we wish we could be with you. Your wonderful blog will just have to replace our actual feet on the ground. Darryl loved it!


    1. Hello Elizabeth & Darryl, how wonderful to read that you are both following our blog. I had a feeling of great joy when out on the trail being so grateful for Darryl’s progress and the great care he is receiving from you Elizabeth, your family, the medical care and community of friends. Xx


  4. Hi John and Nancy. Good to hear you enjoyed the QC hike – we really enjoyed it when we did it. Hope the next section goes smoothly and well for you all. Take care and keep on treckin’. Pam and Kevin


  5. Now that’s atrack I would like to walk! Fabulous photos Nancy. How,is the jaw and John’s foot?


  6. Hi there, what a great blog.The scenery is superb, top marks for beautiful photos Nancy.Sorry to hear NZ has areas
    of drought even so…what a gorgeous country.
    Enjoy & I look forward to hearing more.
    Jude from gym


  7. Looks fabulous Nancy. I was pleased to see you aren’t planning to get all the way to Bluff this trip as i was worried about you heading into the colder weather! Looking foreword to your updates. Happy travels 😀


    1. Great to hear from you Chris and thanks for your concern. The weather is all over the place as it is, getting much colder mornings and evenings but quite hot tramping during the day. Snow has been had in some areas recently. If we should encounter snow, we would have to rethink plans! Xx


  8. Love hearing about and seeing where you travel.
    We’ve had 3 days in a row either 40oC or close to it here in Victoria, with a number of fires out of control.
    Looking forward to your next update!


    1. Thanks Honnie for your encouraging support. Wow Australia is doing it tough this year. Hope those fires you mentioned are brought into control very quickly. Devastating for everyone really. Xx


  9. Fabulous pics, Nancy & John. A trip on my bucket list. So glad the fires and weather did not deter you (we had a full snowfall here last week; gone now). Have been thinking of you all week (apologies to Vicki who I called Kerryann by mistake!). love & happy travels. Jan.

    On Sun, Mar 3, 2019 at 5:46 PM Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone wrote:

    > wilkinsontravel posted: ” With no camping overnight, no freeze dried > dinners, smaller backpacks and a cool, very refreshing beer after each > day’s trek, we’ve glamped our way along the Queen Charlotte Track with our > great travelling friends Dave & Kerry Lilley, from Taranaki” >


    1. Hi Jan, you would love walking Queen Charlotte trail Jan. Definitely put on the bucket list. Kerry sent photos of the mountain as they returned to Taranaki. No snow…amazing!


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