Mountain biking is a great alternative to walking the Queen Charlotte track. Biking is permitted on the track all year round except for the section between Ship Cove and Kenepuru Saddle, which is closed to bikes over the busy summer season, from 1 December to 28 February each year. Allow two to three days to ride the entire track, but sections of the track make good day rides, particularly between Ship Cove and Kenepuru Saddle (27 km) and between Mistletoe Bay and Anakiwa (12.5 km).
Queen Charlotte Track mountain
If you are moderately fit and experienced at mountain biking, the track is very rideable, albeit steep and challenging in certain sections, especially when rain has rendered it slippery and muddy. You may prefer to avoid the ridge-top sections of the central part of the track by riding along Kenepuru Road between Kenepuru Saddle and Portage.
There are no facilities along the way for repairing bikes; please make sure you have adequate tools and equipment and are competent to complete your own repairs.
Pass required: A Queen Charlotte Track Land Cooperative (Q.C.T.L.C.) Pass is required for all Q.C.T.L.C. private land between Kenepuru Saddle, Torea Saddle, Te Mahia Saddle and Anakiwa.
More information on the Q.C.T.L.C. Pass
Approximate biking times:
- Ship Cove to Camp Bay: 5 hr, 26.5 km
- Camp Bay to Torea Saddle: 4 hr, 24.5 km
- Torea Saddle to Anakiwa: 4 hr, 20 km.
While biking, please observe the mountain bikers’ code:
- Ring your bell or give a yell.
- Always give way to others.
- Control your speed and braking.
- Pass with care.
- Give animals space.
- Take only photographs, leave only tyre prints.
- Look after yourself.
But most of all enjoy your ride!
Bellbird and tui
Listen and watch for forest birds as you walk along the track; mimic the bellbird or tui and you may well be rewarded with an answering call. Stir up the leaf litter and you may attract a darting piwakawaka or fantail or a South Island robin, looking to feast on insects of the forest floor. In summer, you may occasionally hear the calls of the long-tailed and shining cuckoo, while twilight stimulates the rasping calls of weka and the haunting cry of ruru, the morepork.
Where the track follows the shoreline, take time fossicking in the rocky strip between land and sea, especially at low tide. Enriched by twice-daily tides, the mud and silt of Endeavour Inlet and Big Bay estuaries are rich feeding grounds for white-faced herons, oystercatchers and kingfishers. Sitting patiently near the shore proves a worthwhile experience for watching wildlife. You may see various species of shag searching for food or sitting, statue-like, on a rock, drying their feathers before flying off or diving for more food.
Occasionally, gannets are seen hurtling into the water to catch unsuspecting fish. Where fish are particularly plentiful, flocks of swooping terns and shearwaters may join in the fishing. Bottlenose dolphins are regular visitors to the Sound and you may be lucky enough to see them from the track frolicking and cruising out from the shoreline.
- You can walk your dog between Anakiwa and Davies Bay only. A permit is required - contact Sounds Area Office.
- Dogs must be on a leash at all times.
- Dogs are not permitted elsewhere on the Queen Charlotte Track or on any of the walking and tramping tracks off it.
- Landowners adjacent to the track and hunters using it for access to hunting areas can apply for a dog permit for limited dog access on other parts of the track.
Dog access in the Marlborough Sounds
Hunting at Ship Cove