Walking the Queen Charlotte Track. New Zealand


200 years after Yorkshire man Captain Cook first landed in New Zealand on his ship The Endeavour, another Yorkshire man and his wife, landed at Ships Cove from Picton on the boat “Sounds Exciting”, hoping that our trip lived up to the boat’s name.

James Cook was born and brought up in Yorkshire, he was apprenticed to a coal merchants ship in Whitby before joining the Navy. All three of Captain Cook’s ships, The Endeavour, The Resolution and The Adventurer were Whitby made refitted coal ships.

The Endeavour dropped anchor in the bay, which he named Ships Cove. He spent 168 days here over seven years. Cook spent more time here than anywhere else in New Zealand and it was here that the first sustained contacts between Maori and Europeans took place.

In the years following 1850, Maoris wanted to point out the tree where Captain Cook had tethered his boats, it soon became uncertain which tree it was and in 1913 the Cook Monument was unveiled as a permanent reminder. 

This is the start of The Queen Charlotte Track and the beginning of our 71km, 4 day hike. We arrived from Picton on the Cougar Line boat at a cost of NZD 105 each, this included taking us to ships cove, delivering our baggage, Lodge to Lodge and finally pick up at Anakiwa once the trek was completed and taking us back to Picton. We also had to pay NZD 18 for a 5 day pass to enable us to walk through Private Land, the fees are used on conservation of the track.

And off we go…….

From the Cook Monument, we set off in the opposite direction from the track to visit some waterfalls where Cook and his men accessed fresh water, it was well worth seeing, but put us 1 hour behind all the other walkers. The benefit of this was that we had the track to ourselves.

Our first overnight stay was to be at Endeavour inlet a 5.5 hour walk away. The information board said we were about to enter magnificent native forest that is amongst the tallest and most diverse along the entire track. Not all the track has forest like this, so do not rush.

The track climbs away from the beach, passing through largely unmodified forest,where the high canopy is complemented by shrubs and  small trees.

We rounded a corner and faced a vertical path, that climbed from sea level to the ridge at the top of the hill. True to the sign, we did not rush, but neither did we take in the magnificent forest. I was trying to breath!

After about 1 hour of walking uphill, we reached a ridge (Ships Cove Saddle) where we were treated to stunning views of Motuara Island to one side and to the other, views of Resolution Bay and just beyond that, Endeavour Inlet which would be our first nights stay.

Motuara Island (below) translates as “the path of the Canoe”. Queen Charlotte Sound was an important resting place for canoes crossing the turbulent Cook’s Strait from North to south Islands.

Today Motuara Island is a wildlife sanctury.

A Weka, looking for food!

A Weka eating my back-pack

Resolution Bay and Endeavour inlet in the background.

The Resolution was Cooks ship used on his second and third voyage to New Zealand. Originally Cook named it Shag Bay. Over 400 King Shag birds were recorded in this single outlet. They are only found in the Marlborough Sounds and are so few remaining that they are now a threatened species.

The track then slowly climbed downhill and by the time we reached Resolution Bay, behind us we could see the hill we had climbed over.

We had an uphill climb again to Tawa Saddle where again we were greeted to stunning views. We stopped for cereal bars and drinks. A Weka appeared again wanted feeding.

A downhill climb took us to the waterline for some more scenic views before a short climb brought into view Furneaux Lodge

About half an hour later we had arrived.

We stayed for 2 days, relaxing in the beautiful surroundings, before continuing our our adventure.


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