After our failed attempt at North Island hiking we boogied on down to the South Island via a pub crawl in Wellington (NZ makes some excellent craft beers but you will pay dearly for them). The most northern point of the South Island is Ship Cove and is also the start of the coastal Queen Charlotte Track (QCT). The track is 70km long and is recommended to be done over 3-4 nights. If your in shape though it could easily be done in 2.
We took an afternoon ferry that dropped us at Ship Cove at around 3:30pm, our first campsite being only 4.5km away at Schoolhouse Bay. After having a poke around Ship Cove we started the uphill trudge to a viewpoint and then started back down the hill and arrived at our campsite in 1 hour. We quickly realized that we would not need to rush at any point along the track as we were ‘killing it’. With 4 hours until sunset we passed time drinking some wine and walking the rocky beach, the water was a little too cold for either of us to brave a swim. Also we had to constantly chase off the ever curious Weka birds who seemed determined to steal our gas canister (they like shiny stuff). We had the place to ourselves and were quite happy about that until an Outward Bound group (20 teenagers) tramped into camp. To their credit the youths were very polite and ended up setting up their camp a bit up the hill from us so it remained pretty quite for the night.
The next few days went as follows; wake up as late as possible, take as long as possible to have breakfast and break camp, walk the stunning (and very well maintained) track to the next campsite taking lots of breaks to drag things out. It never failed that we’d be setting up camp by 2pm. The walk itself is beautiful, and there are lots of different options to explore the area from bringing your own gear and camping, to staying in 5 star resorts and having your luggage shuttled ahead to your next stop. You could do half the track or just a one day hike with all the boats servicing the area.
We ultimately really enjoyed this hike, and would highly recommend visiting the area. Having never done a coastal walk before we have nothing to compare it to but we think the QCT deserve the hype it receives.