Running the Queen Charlotte Track
The Queen Charlotte Track is 71km of beautiful New Zealand trail at the top of the South Island, perfect for a run adventure!
We tackled the distance over 3 days, staying at lodges on the track and getting our bags moved for us. It was an excellent way to enjoy the trail and it meant we could just use day packs while running.
We checked our luggage in to the Beachcomber Cruises terminal at Picton ready for an 8am boat ride to Ships Cove, the start of the track and our running adventure. The boat ride took about an hour from Picton to Ships Cove.
From Ships Cove we started on the Queen Charlotte Track heading to our first nights destination of Punga Cove. The track is wide and well graded, it was about 3km up to start with, but not intense climbing and good to get the legs warmed up. We saw lots of birds right from the start and as we climbed the views got more and more spectacular.
At 15km you reach Furneaux Lodge, a great spot to rehydrate and stop to take in the gorgeous setting. If you were walking the track then this would be a good accommodation option to stay the night.
From Furneaux we carried on the track for another 15km then arrived at Punga Cove. A total of 30km for the first day, 5hours. Punga Cove has a great bar/café on the water’s edge and plenty of options for accommodation, we were all in one lodging with our own bathroom.
Our luggage was waiting at our room when we arrived thanks to the Beachcomber boat.
After a decent breakfast we were on the move to our next overnight accommodation. We left our bags at Punga Cove, to be collected and taken to The Portage. You will need a track pass from this point until the end of the track. We purchased ours with our boat tickets, but you can get them at Punga Lodge before you set off.
There is a bit of climbing on this section of the track, but also some really fun downhill sections. There is a lookout quite early on that is well worth going up to, it adds very little distance and the views really are spectacular. The track is well maintained and wide, awesome for running and walking.
There are no places to stop and top up your water or buy cold drinks on this section like on day 1, so make sure you pack enough water and food for the 25km distance. Once you reach The Portage there is plenty of yummy food and drinks though! Hands down I had one of the best steaks ever for dinner at the restaurant.
Our bags were ready for us again when we arrived and our accommodation was one bathroom and beds for us all, plus a gorgeous deck to soak in the spectacular views. 25km done and this section took us about 4 ½ hours.
We fueled up on a delicious breakfast and left our luggage for the boat to collect. This was our last day on the track and there is a bit of climbing to start off, followed by some fun downhill running. Once the hills are done the track is quite easy going and very beautiful towards the end.
This section is 21km and finishes at Anakiwa, it took us 4 hours. There are no options to get drinks or top up your water for this section either, so make sure you carry enough. Once you get to Anakiwa I would recommend running to the end of the wharf and jump into the water to celebrate!
The Green Caravan Cafe is at the end of the track with hot and cold drinks and snacks. It opens at 1:30pm, so you can relax and refuel while you wait for the boat to come in and collect you from the wharf and take you back to Picton. The boat ride back is much quicker, you will be back in Picton in about 30min.
Once you reach Picton your luggage is ready to be collected and you can congratulate yourself on completing the gorgeous Queen Charlotte Track, 71(ish)km.
The boats are able to pick you up from various points along the track, which is a good option if you have mixed abilities in your group, or if people don’t want to walk/run the whole way. You can ring them to organise your pick up and drop off points or book it all in at the start. The Beachcomber company were excellent to deal with and our bags arrived safe and sound each day where we needed them.
We spent 2 nights on the track as we were running, however if you were walking it would be a good option to stay an additional night and break up the first day into two days, staying at Furneaux Lodge.
There are other places to stay on the track, as well as camp sites. You would just need to check that the boats are able to drop luggage to you if you wanted your gear moved for you. To be honest the hot showers, comfy beds and food and drinks were so good after a day of running, so if you can, stay at the lodges!
There is some water available at camp sites along the track but I would recommend purifying tablets, or just carry enough to be self-sufficient between your accommodation. There are also quite a few toilets on the track.
There are bikes on the track too, but the track is really wide and safe for them to get around you if you are walking or running.
The views are spectacular and there are loads of birds (including cheeky Weka’s) so stop often to take it all in! Get out there and enjoy The Queen Charlotte Track!