All passengers need to check in 30 minutes before their departure time. This is to allow enough time for boarding.
Booking & transfer FAQs
When do I need to check in?
Where do I check in?
Cougar Line’s office is located at Picton’s Town Wharf – look for the purple flags. Please see our location map for directions.
I’m mountain biking the Queen Charlotte Track. Can you transport my bike?
Yes. Let us know when you book that you are bringing your bike and we will safely transport it, and you, to your chosen starting point on the track. Bikes are transferred at an additional charge of $5 each way for standard mountain bikes, and $10 each way for e-bikes.
Will I get seasick?
The inner Marlborough Sounds is very sheltered and does not experience the large rolling sea swells seen in Cook Strait. While often the Queen Charlotte Sound/Totaranui is extremely calm, the sea can become choppy, particularly in the afternoon. Normally these conditions last only a short time as we move between sheltered bays and inlets.
I’m arriving in Picton by ferry. Can you pick me up?
If you’re travelling with the Interislander, ask us about our pick-up service from the ferry terminal. Those travelling with Bluebridge can take the Bluebridge bus to the Town Wharf, where our check-in office is located.
I’m walking/mountain biking the Queen Charlotte Track, and staying overnight. Can you transfer my luggage to my accommodation?
Yes we can to many accommodation points along the track. Ask about our luggage transfer service when booking your trip with us.
Our Round Trip Track Pass includes daily bag transfers.
Can I bring more than one bag onboard?
Yes. The luggage limit is 23kg (2 items per person). There is a $30 charge per item applied for extra freight, thereafter.
We strongly recommend that all luggage should have a waterproof liner and contents in plastic bags, so that in the event of a heavy rainfall when bags are being transferred from boat to jetties your belongings are protected.
I need to get somewhere in Queen Charlotte Sound/Tōtaranui at a time outside of your schedule. Can you help?
When is your office open?
We are open daily, except Christmas Day.
Summer (September - February): Monday - Sunday 7am to 7pm
Winter (March - October): Monday - Sunday 8am to 4.30pm
Do you accept walk-in passengers without prior bookings?
Yes, when space is available. We always welcome visitors to come in for a chat about what they’d like to see and do in the Marlborough Sounds, and to find the best way to get you there and back again.
Please note : Around boarding times we can be very busy so it’s best to pop in prior and book or give us a call, particularly in the summer. Check in for boats is 30 minutes prior and when our boats are very full we can leave earlier if all booked clients are boarded. This helps ensure our schedule boat runs smoothly.
How big are your boats?
We have a fleet of five boats which are all comfortable and maintained to the highest safety standards. See more information about our fleet. We can't guarantee which vessel you’ll travel on as this depends on passenger numbers.
I want to walk/bike the Queen Charlotte Track, but not the entire length. Can you help us get there and back?
I’m organising a group tour and need water transport. Can you help?
Can you book accommodation along the Queen Charlotte Track for me?
Where can I park my car in Picton?
Picton has a number of paid parking areas which allow overnight stays. We suggest leaving plenty of time for car parking during busy summer months before your check-in time.
We suggest leaving plenty of time for car parking during busy summer months before your check-in time as a lot of the car parks fill up quickly.
I need to change my booking. Will I be charged extra?
For Cougar Line’s scheduled departures, date changes to your booking are possible up to two hours prior to your scheduled departure time at no additional charge, and are subject to availability. Depending on intended travel season, differences in scheduled departure times or rates may apply as at the date of rebooking.
For ‘special hire’ private charters, date changes to your booking are possible up to 24 hours prior to your scheduled departure time, and are subject to availability. Depending on intended travel season, additional charges may apply.
I need to cancel my booking. Will I be charged?
If your booking is cancelled within 48 hours of your scheduled booking, or on the day of your booking, a 100% tariff charge applies.
For Cougar Line’s scheduled departures, date changes to your booking are possible up to two hours prior to your scheduled departure time at no additional charge, and are subject to availability.
Track & accommodation FAQs
Can I camp on the Queen Charlotte Track?
Yes – there are campsites at Resolution Bay, Endeavour Inlet, Portage, Mistletoe Bay and Davies Bay.
For more information visit Accommodation along the track
Can I find drinking water along the track?
Water is available at accommodation along the track - to buy and on tap where you're staying. DOC campsites along the track have untreated tank water that must be boiled before drinking. You should always carry enough drinking water for the day.
What shoes should I wear to walk the track?
Sturdy footwear such as hiking boots or sneakers are recommended. The track is well-graded, wide and solid but there may be mud and slippery patches after rain.
Are there Department of Conservation (DOC) huts along the track?
No. The Queen Charlotte Track has a number of DOC and private campsites and a range of lodges, including budget-friendly backpacker options, but no tramping huts.
For more info on what's available see Accommodation along the track
Is the track open all year?
For walkers it is. Thanks to Marlborough’s temperate climate and the track’s low altitude, it is safe to walk throughout the year. Just ensure you pack plenty of warm clothing in winter.
For mountain bikers, Ship Cove/Meretoto to Punga Cove is closed from 1 December to the end of February each year – the stretch from Punga Cove to Anakiwa is open year-round.
What mountain bike grade is the track?
Some sections of the track are a higher grade than others ranging from Grade 3/intermediate through to Grade 5/expert. For more detail, along with distances and times go to: Bike grades and distances
I only want to walk a bit of the track. How long is each section?
Each section is different in length and grade - with walk times ranging from 4 - 8hrs.
For full details on length, time to walk, gradient and difficulty go to Suggested Walk Itinerary
What should I bring in my day pack to walk/bike the track?
It's key that you are prepared, even on a day outing along the Queen Charlotte Track. We suggest you bring the following.
- enough food and drinking water for the day (there are no shops or water sources between lodges)
- any medication you need and a small first aid kit (or a least a couple of plasters)
- clothing for all conditions – even if you start your day under blue skies, the weather can change quickly in the Marlborough Sounds. Pack warm layers and a raincoat
- sun hat, sunscreen and insect repellent
- and don’t forget your camera for all those amazing views.
How long does it take to walk the Queen Charlotte Track?
Most people walk the full length of the 73km Queen Charlotte Track over 4 days, for example:
Day 1: Ship Cove/Meretoto - Furneaux Lodge
Day 2: Furneaux Lodge – Punga Cove
Day 3: Punga Cove – Torea Saddle
Day 4: Torea Saddle – Anakiwa
For details on this itinerary see our Suggested walk itinerary
How long is the Queen Charlotte Track?
The Queen Charlotte Track is a 73km walking and mountain bike track in the Marlborough Sounds, at the top of the South Island of New Zealand.
New Zealand’s longest dual-purpose track, the route passes through stunning coastal and ridgetop landscapes from Ship Cove/Meretoto in the north and Anakiwa in the south. Along the way, it takes in tranquil Endeavour Inlet and follows the ridgetops straddling Queen Charlotte Sound/Totaranui and Kenepuru Sounds, with stunning views across both.
Although the track can be started and finished at either end, or at several points along the way, most people choose to walk, bike or run from north to south.