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Queen Charlotte Drive itinerary

Frequently Asked Questions

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Queen Charlotte Sound, South Island Queen Charlotte Sound, South Island

Is Queen Charlotte Drive dangerous?

Your average speed is 40 km / hour due to the hairpin bends, narrow road and the awareness there is not much room between you and the drop to the sea.

Make sure you leave enough time to make plenty of stops along the way. Don’t expect to average more than 40km/hour, but ultimately it is well worth the effort as the views through the ferns to turquoise bays are magical. Watch for cyclists as this is a popular route for them. The road is narrow in parts and there are lots of bends. The end of September is school holidays so the road may be quite busy especially if the weather is good. The road really does twist and turn uphill and downhill, but you don’t see many vehicles and have lots of time to take in the wonderful views.

Queen Charlotte Sounds, Marlborough

The best place to start the Queen Charlotte Drive?

Havelock as you will be positioned on the coastal side of the road, with the best views of the sea, the Sounds. New Zealand is left-hand drive so the driver get’s great views when they are not glued to what’s coming next on the road. You are also in the best position to pull over into a lookout point and re-enter the road.

Is Queen Charlotte Drive sealed?

YES, it is sealed.

Is the road a shortcut to Havelock and onwards to Nelson?

Not really, while the distance is less it is very narrow and windy slowing down traffic considerably. In the peak summer season it can feel ‘busy’ when very slow moving campervans, large motorhomes and even trucks on the route.

Can cyclists use Queen Charlotte Drive?

Definitely however care is needed.

Queen Charlotte Sound, Marlborough
Queen Charlotte Sound @Marlborough Marinas

Is there a length restriction on vehicles?

Yes as of September 2021 however continue to check local government online resources for updates. Although the road is open there are restrictions for vehicles and towing of up to 12.6 metres in length – essentially a single truck unit or small vehicle with a trailer, because of the fragility of the road. Queen Charlotte Drive reopens – Marlborough District Council.



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