Do not bother going on the Queen Charlotte Walkway. I know it is one of the great walks in New Zealand. I know it goes through an area that is otherwise hard to get to. I know it passes through areas of immense historic significance. However, even taking all that into account, for your time and money you are better off going to the Tui Nature Reserve.
I had a fantastic time in Marlborough this Christmas holiday. Mum, Dad and I went there because my sisters were away, and Blenheim is close to my Granny in Wellington (just a quick plane ride over Cook Strait). Being keen walkers we went on a number of tramps, aided by the excellent Day Walks in New Zealand by Shaun Barnett. We walked around the Wairau Lagoon, up Mt Roberts, across Trig-K at Pelorus Bridge, and over the Wither Hills. We also went on the section of the Queen Charlotte Walkway from Ships Cove to Endeavour Inlet.
The walk from Ships Cove to Endeavour Inlet is the nicest section of the Queen Charlotte Walkway, according to the usually-reliable Shaun Barnett. It is a nice walk. Lovely in places, with the occasional weka to entertain you and some nice views. But the walk is not a wilderness experience. You are normally walking behind (in Resolution Bay) or in front of (in Endeavour Inlet) private batches, cabins, farmland, or houses. The same private land also prevents you getting to the sea for most of the walk, so do not expect to go for a dip until you get to the end. The bush is excellent near Ships Cove, but around Resolution Bay it becomes scrubby, and generally uninteresting. It is a good walk but not worth the $60 it costs you to get dropped off at Ships Cove and picked up at Fenaux Lodge.
What you should do is go to Tui Nature Reserve. It is a private reserve on the outer reaches of Pelorus Sound. The wonderful Brian and his family live on the reserve, most of which is in a QEII Trust. They restore the farmland to bush (it is hard to believe that it ever was a farm) and keep the predators at bay through labour-intensive trapping. (The weka would eat poison.) The day tour my parents and I went on took us out to the reserve and through the nikau and protocarp forest, looking out across the Pelorus Sound. It cost $100 more than the ferry to and from the Queen Charlotte Walk, but
- The boat trip is longer (Pelorus Sound is far bigger than Queen Charlotte Sound),
- You get lunch, and
- You get the company of the wonderful Brian for the day.
Compared to Queen Charlotte, the scenery is better, the flora is better, the fauna is better, and you get to share in the passion and love goes into restoring an area the size of Tui Nature Reserve. The walk is not as long, but that is partly due to our short trip. You can stay at some eco cabins on the reserve, which have a rather nice view:
(Note to self: take selidor to stay at the eco cabins.)
At the end of the day we reflected on what an awesome time we had while eating an excellent meal at the Slip Inn, Havelock. Watching people put their boats on trailers is surprisingly fun.