Plan, prepare and equip yourself well. Have the right gear and skills required for the trip and always check the latest information about facilities you plan to use and local weather conditions. The DOC Nelson/Marlborough track updates have the latest information on the Queen Charlotte Track, updated weekly in summer and monthly in winter.
A Queen Charlotte Track Land Cooperative (Q.C.T.L.C.) Pass is required for access across all Q.C.T.L.C. private land between Kenepuru Saddle, Torea Saddle, Te Mahia Saddle and Anakiwa as marked on the Queen Charlotte Track map (PDF, 787K). The pass fee contributes to track maintenance, enhancement and access. The Pass only covers access to the private land sections and does not cover camping or other fees on the Queen Charlotte Track.
- $10 for a 1 day pass.
- $18 for up to 5 consecutive days.
- $35 for an annual pass.
- Free for school children.
- You can walk your dog between Anakiwa and Davies Bay only. A permit is required - contact the local DOC 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.
- No fires are allowed along the Queen Charlotte Track due to risk of fire spreading and the closeness of private land.
- Campers need to use portable cookers.
- During periods of extreme drought and high fire risk, the track may be closed and open fires are prohibited.
- Some sections have limited water, especially during drought conditions. Always carry enough water for the day with you.
- Giardia and other waterborne diseases may be present in the water at the campsites or in the streams. All water should be treated, filtered or boiled for 3 minutes to make it safe to drink.
- Don’t use soap in streams.
- Water taps are provided at the DOC campsites and washing sinks are provided in the cooking shelters.
- Water is limited, so use sparingly.
Wasps are common in late summer and autumn, particularly on beech trees. Carry antihistamines if you are allergic to their stings.
While walking or riding, you may notice the ground disturbed in places alongside the track. This may be caused by wild pigs rooting for worms, grubs and plant roots. Pigs are rarely seen by walkers and if you are lucky enough to meet one, the pig will usually take fright and quickly disappear into the bush.
The Bottle Rock Peninsula between Ship Cove and Resolution Bay is part of a project to prevent rats and possums reinvading an area without using predator fences. The project uses traps, some of which can be seen from the Queen Charlotte Track and toxins (including diphacinone, pindone and cyanide).
Sections of the track cross private land. Private land owners require walkers to have a Queen Charlotte Track Land Cooperative (Q.C.T.L.C.) Pass for all Q.C.T.L.C. private land between Kenepuru Saddle, Torea Saddle, Te Mahia Saddle and Anakiwa. See the map (link below) for where these sections are. The Pass fee contributes to track maintenance, enhancement and access.
Respect the owners’ property and do not take vehicles, firearms or dogs on the track. The sections of track on these properties only exist through the good will and cooperation of the land owners.
There are no rubbish facilities along the track: take your rubbish away with you.
Outward Bound New Zealand
The Outward Bound School at Anakiwa has a long history with the Queen Charlotte Track. Students can be seen helping to maintain the track as well as using it as part of their course activities. The school also manages and maintains the toilet block at the Anakiwa end of the track. The Outward Bound School welcomes visitors enquiring about the school and the courses it provides.
Public access to most bays and beaches in the Marlborough Sounds is guaranteed by the unique Sounds Foreshore Reserve. This is an approximately 20-metre wide strip of publicly owned land above the mean high water mark. If you use this reserve, respect the rights of any nearby residents. Some landowners have riparian (private) rights to the foreshore.
Many jetties in the Sounds, such as the Outward Bound New Zealand one at Anakiwa, are privately owned. Boat owners can use them for picking up and dropping off passengers and luggage only. Do not tie up or leave your boat unattended at any jetty in the Sounds.
Toilet facilities are provided and maintained by DOC with help from private landowners and commercial operators. Toilets are provided on the track and at the track entrances, see Queen Charlotte Track map (PDF, 787K). Most of these toilets are long drops, however some campsites have flush toilets.
To ensure the toilet systems run efficiently and don’t smell, close the toilet lid after use, and close the toilet door. Do not put rubbish or food scraps in the toilets. Closing the door will improve the vent efficiency and help to remove smells. For personal hygiene walkers should carry hand sanitising lotion.
Use the toilets where they have been provided and avoid polluting bush margins and waterways. If you do need to go to the toilet away from a toilet facility, go at least five metres off the track and bury your toilet waste in the shallow organic layers of the topsoil, well away from any flowing water. It is important not to defecate on the track.
What to take
While Queen Charlotte Sound is generally warm and dry in summer, remember it is a coastal environment, which can change quickly, so be prepared for rain, cold and windy conditions and muddy track.
Day visitors should take:
- Q.C.T.L.C. Pass if crossing private land between Kenepuru Saddle, Torea Saddle, Te Mahia Saddle and Anikiwa
- food and water (some nearby lodges do meals and snacks; check opening hours)
- Queen Charlotte Track booklet
- sunhat, sunglasses and sunscreen
- stout footwear
- warm layer of clothes and hat
- windproof rain jacket
- first aid kit: insect repellent, personal medication (e.g. antihistamine for allergy to wasp stings)
- camera (optional)
Summer campers should take everything suggested for day visitors plus the list below:
- Sounds Camp Passes for DOC campsites (available from DOC or Picton i-SITE)
- at least one set of clothes to walk in and another dry set to change into at night
- pack with large waterproof/plastic liner
- sleeping bag
- tent and sleeping mat
- torch and spare batteries
- cooking stove, lighter and spare fuel
- cooking utensils: pot/pan/billy, pot scrubber
- eating utensils: knife, fork, spoon, plate, cup
- toilet gear: toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet paper, small towel, soap, hand-sanitising lotion
- earplugs (optional—you may be sharing campsites with a large number of other people)
- food (should be lightweight, fast to cook and high in energy value, e.g.
- breakfast: cereal, firm bread, spreads
- lunch: cracker biscuits, cheese, salami
- dinner: instant soup, pasta/rice, dried vegetables/fruit, cheese or dehydrated meals).
Winter campers should also take warm, quick-drying clothing. Wool and modern synthetics are better than cotton as they dry quickly and give more warmth.
If staying overnight in accommodation houses and having your luggage transported, take everything suggested for day visitors plus the list below:
- separate bag for transporting gear with a water-proof liner as bags are not left under cover on jetties
- at least one set of clothes to walk in and another dry set
- toilet gear: toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, hand-sanitising lotion
- torch and spare batteries.
Before your trip, confirm with each accommodation house what will be provided, including meals, packed lunches, bedding and towels.