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Short easy walks in Marlborough

  • 6 minutes

Wairau Lagoon, Marlborough

Brilliant scenery and a temperate climate is an ideal combination for holiday outdoors in Marlborough from the iconic Queen Charlotte Track to coastal walks and forest trails.

Queen Charlotte Sounds short easy walks

The Queen Charlotte Track is the definition of a brilliant multiple-day New Zealand walk. Yet, for many visitors fitness levels dictate the multiple day walk is not possible. Experience the joy of walking the Queen Charlotte Track the ‘short way.’ Here’s your way to the Queen Charlotte Track ‘short cuts.


Reminder Queen Charlotte Track day passes

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Inter island ferry, Bluebridge, heading to Picton. Viewed from Karaka Point, Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand
View from Karaka Point, Marlborough Sounds
  • Cullen point lookout. When is a walk not really a walk? The lookout stroll from the car park is about 10 minutes. Perfect for all fitness levels. The bonus stunning is Mahau Sound, as well as the Kaituna and Pelorus estuaries. On the Queen Charlotte Drive approximately 4.5 km from Havelock look for a lookout road sign. There is a small car park. No Queen Charlotte Track pass required.
  • Karaka Point Lookout. Head towards Port Underwood and stop at the small car park signposted Karaka Point. Your short 10 minute passes historic Maori pa (village) earthworks and offers spectacular views of Queen Charlotte Sounds. No Queen Charlotte Track pass required as officially not part of the walk.

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Check out Port Underwood road trip to see if you wish to go further and explore a historic cemetery. It is approximately 8 km from Picton on a narrow winding road.

  • Bite-sized Queen Charlotte track walk – Meretoto Ship Cove to Resolution Bay – 6.5 km. Compared to the 17 km – 28 km daily hikes this walk falls into the category of a short walk.

Join a CRUISE to to historic Ship Cove and explore the area and waterfalls (approximately 1 – 2 km of walking tracks) or continue walking from Ship Cove to Resolution Bay. Take in the panoramic views across Queen Charlotte Sound/Tōtaranui to Cook Strait, before going downhill to beautiful Resolution Bay. Cougar Line will pick up passengers at the Resolution Bay jetty at 2.45 pm for the return journey to Picton. Walk Ship Cove/Meretoto – Resolution Bay.


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Meretoto / Ship Cove @DOC/ Avara Moody
Meretoto / Ship Cove @DOC/ Avara Moody

Find out more about Marlborough sounds top sights, must-dos.


Check whether a day trip pass is required for the walk from Ship Cove to Resolution Bay. Your cruise provider can assist you with this.

  • Mistletoe Eco Lodge is home to a number of great short walks. Mistletoe Bay Peninsular Track (signposted Loop Track) starts at the beach and leads to regenerating forest and up through pines with views of Mistletoe Bay. At the tip of the peninsular is a lookout. The ascending track is signposted on the Queen Charlotte Track and returns walkers to the campground/beach where the walk started. No Queen Charlotte Track pass is required.

Length 2.4 km

  • James Vogel Track connects Mistletoe Bay Eco Village to the Queen Charlotte Track and is 30 minutes one-way. The Mistletoe Peninsula Track is a loop from the village out to the peninsula dividing Waterfall Bay and Mistletoe Bay.

The James Vogel Track has a side track to the Onahau Point Lookout with brilliant views of Queen Charlotte Sound and Kenepuru Sound. While the views are out of the box so is the continuous ascent to the views. It is a 2.3 km steep climb and then you need to return on the same trail.

  • Anakiwa to Davies Bay. The track follows an old bridle path from Anakiwa through the beech forest to Davies Bay where there are barbecue facilities, toilets, and a campsite area with a safe swimming beach. This walk connects with a longer ascent up to Onahau Lookout overlooking Ngakuta Bay. Check whether a Queen Charlotte pass is required.

Length: 3. 9 km

Duration: 1 hour (one way)


Find out more about Marlborough’s culture & heritage trails.


Picton short walks

Wairau Lagoon Boardwalk, New Zealand
Wairau Lagoon Boardwalk

Picton with hospitality in its bones is a treasure trove of walks with the well-known Queen Charlotte Track as its centerpiece. For walkers and lovers of the outdoors, several days could be spent exploring the local area on foot.

  • Check out Victoria Domain with several tracks leading to Bob’s Bay and the Picton – Waikawa Walkway
  • Endeavour Park has Snout Track with the promise of panoramic views. NOTE: This walk is approximately 3 hours return. There is a toilet located halfway along the track.
  • Check out Top 11 family things to do in Picton for more walking ideas.

Grovetown Lagoon, Marlborough

The Wairau River changed course and created a lagoon and wetland. Today dedicated volunteers have laboured to forge a 3.8 km loop track around the lagoon. Picnic tables, birdwatching hides and kayak launching facilities are invitations to spend the day at one of Marlborough’s last remaining natural habitats for birds and wetland creatures. Check out Grovetown Lagoon Restoration Project and get inspired about what the locals are doing in their backyard.

French Pass, NZ
French Pass, Marlborough Sounds, NZ

French Pass lookout track, Marlborough Sounds

The difficult bit about this walk is getting there. French Pass is a historic detour route from the Rai Valley (off State Highway 6 connecting Blenheim to Nelson). Check out the French Pass road trip for details. Outstanding, however, the trip is on a no-exit road trip on gravel winding roads. Take in views of rolling farmland, epic views of the Sounds, and the extraordinary sight of the treacherous tidal surges between Te Aumiti French Pass and D’Urville Island.


Do you need a car to get to French Pass? Up to 40% off – cars, campervans, check out now!


Get a water taxi from Picton and stay overnight to fully experience a remote Marlborough Sounds Island and its magical walks.

Wairau Lagoon

As befitting one of the top ten places to visit in Marlborough the area offers glimpses into the world of wetlands, estuaries, birdlife and a deeply significant archeological Maori site. The boardwalk and rusting shipwreck is an Instagram favourite with sunset throwing orange-tipped hues into the background. For details check out Top 10 Things to do in Marlborough and get inspired.


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Royal Spoonbill New Zealand bird resident Wairau Lagoon
Royal Spoonbill New Zealand bird resident Wairau Lagoon
Rai river swing bridge over the Rai river below, at Pelorus, Marlborough, New Zealand.
Rai river swing bridge over the Rai river below, at Pelorus, Marlborough, New Zealand.

Pelorus Scenic Reserve

A tiny reserve captures Aotearoa New Zealand’s outdoor excellence. Another top experience with a multitude of activities from forest walks, swimming in the crystal clear green waters of the Pelorus River, soaking up the sun’s warmth on the rocks, kayaking through a move set and camping in a picturesque campground.

Wither Hills Farm Park

Wither Hills farm park offers a brilliant range of walking and mountain biking tracks on a 1,100ha working sheep and cattle farm just minutes from Blenheim’s town centre. Either climb to the lookout points for sweeping views of Cloudy Bay or stroll along the base of the hills. Mountain biking. There are trails for all skills. The basic single track Rifle Range Trail along the base of the hills to the difficult Mt Vernon Traverse over the ridgelines offer choice. You can ride to the park from Blenheim centre, using the Taylor River Trail to the Taylor Dam Reserve.

Wither Hills, working farm, open to public, Marlborough, New Zealand
Wither Hills, Marlborough, NZ


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