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Hiking the South Island's Queen Charlotte Track

One of the best ways to experience New Zealand is a hike along the Queen Charlotte Trail

Locally sourced food is served at restaurants along the Queen Charlotte Track in New Zealand.
One of the best ways to experience the true nature of New Zealand is to hike deep into its forested mountains alongside turquoise lakes, taking in the native flowers, ferns and spectacular views along the way.

The Queen Charlotte Trail along the northern tip of the country’s South Island is one such hike not to be missed. It winds through mountainous land stretching between long, narrow inlets where the native Maori lived for centuries. Captain Cook and his crew landed on its shores in 1770, and the area remains almost as sparsely populated today as it was at the time.

Travelers attempting one of the many several-day treks offered though a variety of outfitters and tour companies are advised to be in good condition, though the experience is decidedly low key with easy walks punctuated by water taxi lifts, delicious dining and luxurious accommodations.

One such tour operator, the Marlborough Sounds Adventure Co., offers guided and self-guided programs along the trail, with overnights at lodges. All that hikers need to carry is a daypack.

Marlborough’s four-day program starts with the boat ride that runs the length of Marlborough Sounds to Ship Cove trailhead where Cook made his landing. After a nine-mile hike, the first night is spent at Furneaux Lodge where accommodation is comfortable and extraordinary meals are presented amid incredible surroundings.

Day two includes a seven-mile trek through lush landscapes to Punga Cove Resort. Dinner includes some of the region of Marlborough’s finest wines.

The third day includes a steep 600-foot vertical within the several mile hike to the final night’s lodging at the Portage Resort, though participants always have the option of taking a water taxi directly to the hotel. The four-day trek ends with a boat to Waterfall Bay and a walk along a trail overlooking crystal clear water.

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