Brilliant scenery and a temperate climate is an ideal combination for holiday outdoors exploring wild Marlborough from the iconic Queen Charlotte Track to coastal walks and forest trails. There are contrasting landscapes from podocarp forests to lush frond filled fern gullies. Combine these short walks with heritage walks and trails exploring Marlborough’s past. For further information check out Marlborough culture & heritage trails. Discover stories about local legends as you explore Marlborough on foot.
PICTON SHORT WALKS
The town with hospitality in its bones is a treasure trove of walks with the well-known Queen Charlotte Track as its centrepiece. 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 12 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 Visiting the Lagoon | Grovetown Lagoon Restoration Project and get inspired about what the locals are doing in their backyard.
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 French Pass road trip for details. Outstanding no exit road trip on gravel winding roads through 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.
Get a water taxi from Picton and stay overnight to fully experience a remote Marlborough Sounds Island and its magical walks. D’Urville Island Wilderness Resort, located in the beautiful Catherine Cove on d’Urville Island NZ is the quintessential getaway from it all destination.
QUEEN CHARLOTTE SOUNDS SHORT EASY WALKS
The iconic Queen Charlotte Track is the definition of a brilliant multiple day New Zealand walk. For many visitors fitness levels dictate the walk is not possible. There are a number of short walks and lookouts where bite sized distances mean visitors can soak up the serenity of the landscape. Experience the joy of walking the Queen Charlotte Track the ‘short way.’ Check out further details about the Queen Charlotte Track and, as day passes are required ensure you have ticked this box if required.
- 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.
TIP: 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 short. Visitors have two walking options. Join a Cougar Line cruise 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 2.45pm for the return journey to Picton. Walk Ship Cove/Meretoto – Resolution Bay. NOTE: 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 Queen Charlotte Track returns walkers to the campground / beach where the walk started. No Queen Charlotte Track pass 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.
NOTE: 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 though 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)
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.
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. Check out further details in Pelorus River Scenic Reserve attractions.
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.
BEST BITS TRAVEL GUIDE