One of the attractions of the Queen Charlotte Track is that one can take the ferry from Wellington to Picton and access the Track by water taxi without the bother of renting a car. There are trips especially for birders on offer as well. The trip on the ferry across Cook Strait and up the Queen Charlotte Sound offers some pelagic birding as a bonus. Motuara Island may also be visited where South Island robin and the South Island saddleback may be found. The area offers the only opportunity to see the King Shag.
The 71 kilometre Queen Charlotte Track can be done in 3-5 days but one does not have to do the entire trip as it may be accessed at a number of points. Most of the track is wide and benched, and all major streams have been bridged. For walkers, boots and a good level of fitness are required.
Ship Cove is the start of the track and Anakiwa, “the cave of Kiwa”, named after the chief of the substantial pa which was once here, is the end of the track.
Queen Charlotte Sound, Totaranui, was an important trade route for Maori, providing an hospitable climate and abundant sources of food for the many Maori who lived there.
The explorer Captain James Cook made Ship Cove, Meretoto, his New Zealand base and spent more than 100 days there between 1770 and 1777. The bellbirds are still very much the dominant song bird as they were in Cook's day, although no longer so numerous.