Queen Charlotte Track

11 - 15 November 2015

If you’re a tramper, it’s one of those trips you just have to do. We chose Show Weekend which gave us one day of Public Holiday but a couple days of annual leave was still required for most of us.

There is a quite a bit of planning for this trip: Accommodation in Picton, ferry bookings, decisions about where we would camp and private vs DOC camps. We had decided to tramp with day packs and have our camping gear transported by ferry, which meant the campsites had to be at sea level.

 Wednesday night in Picton was unseasonably very cold and very wet, we were grateful not to be tenting!

Thursday morning was very cold but we were on the wharf bright and early getting tickets and making sure the gear bags were all correctly labelled for their campsite drop offs. We had booked the ferry to Ships Cove well in advance thinking it probably wasn’t necessary BUT it was a good thing we did because the ferry was packed to capacity with tourists from a cruise ship.

We really enjoyed the ride out to Ships Cove. Leaving on a boat for the start of a tramp makes it feel like a real exciting adventure. At Ships Cove we had a good look around and took lots of pics – not a place you get to very often. After morning tea we were on the steep climb and eventually on a more level track to Endeavour Inlet. We revelled in the great sea views and the native vegetation although in many places it was scrubby regen.

Miners Camp is on private property, a farm that had seen better days in the past. The campsite was in the old orchard, lots of space and shelter and a wee shed with a bench and table which we appreciated for cooking and eating as the temperature remained cold. We all slept very well that night.

Next morning we transported our camping gear to the wharf for ferry pick up and tramped on with day packs to Camp Bay. This track follows the waters edge all the way and it is only 4 hrs so we took our time and stopped to enjoy every feature.

At Camp Bay the shelter and best campsites were already occupied by military campers on national disaster exercise (waiting to get rescued they said, but didn’t know when) but we found a really nice area at the top of the terraces and set-up in warm sunny weather.

The bar at Punga Cove Resort beckoned so we walked to the bar right on the waterfront which appeared to be a converted boat shed and enjoyed a tipple before it closed in preparation for a pre-wedding event planned for the next day. We toured through the resort and decided our camp was preferable. On return to Camp Bay, the camp was full and more bikers and trampers were arriving looking for a space to set-up camp. The bikers had come come from Ships Cove in one day, and it was particular busy with bikes because the closed season for bikes started 01 December.

We talked a lot about the next day. DOC guide said 8 hrs to Portage and that’s longer than most of our tramps. So we were up early to get a good start. The best day tramping! On ridgelines for most of the day. Awesome views down the sounds to the North Is and inland to Tapuae-o-Uenuku. Scubby regen and pine forest but superb native forest too.

We were weary but happy to arrive at Portage and the camp at Cowshed Bay. Cowshed Bay is accessible by road so camping area was fairly full with “car”campers when we arrived but we found some space at the top and a sloped benched terrace for all of us to camp in the same area.

Portage for luxury comforts and pre-dinner drinks and nibbles with dinner to follow.

Sunday dawned fine and the party split. Vesna, Fay and I had to get back to work so we walked to Torea Bay to be picked up by the baggage ferry and taken back to Picton. Meanwhile Claire & Sergey, Glenda and Dianna tramped onto Anikiwa and returned to ChCh a day later.

It was a very memorable adventure, greatly enhanced by the social enjoyment of sharing with fellow trampers and friends.

Trampers were:Claire & Sergey, Dianna, Dennis, Glenda, Fay, & Vesna.

Dennis