Queen Charlotte Drive
The 35km Queen Charlotte Drive between Picton and Havelock is a picturesque and spectacular journey that we did not want to miss! It is a slow and winding drive. We made sure to take our time, and got out multiple times to wander from the road and take pictures. One of the most recommend stops is at Cullen Track – a 10min walk from the road leads to spectacular views. The view out across the sounds from this spot at Cullens Point is an image that will stay in my mind for many years – it’s breathtaking. More on that in the next post!
There are numerous water taxi companies offering convenient access to fabulous out-of-the-way spots. It may therefore seem crazy to try to see the Marlborough Sounds by car. Especially since we were looping our way around narrow and twisting roads, driving at an average speed of 40km/hour. We were, however, highly impressed with the magical views of the turquoise bays through the ferns!
“Navigate the spectacular winding road that links Havelock to Picton. This is like cruising the Marlborough Sounds without a boat.”
The Ferry Crossing
We woke up, bright and early, to make our way down to the port in Wellington. Since we wanted to get a full day of explorations in, and we had quite a bit of driving to do on this day, we decided to take one of the early morning ferries. The car rental company had already booked our ferry tickets when we paid for the car, so thankfully, that was all sorted.
We waited in a line of cars, and then pulled up onto the ferry. This was definitely a first for both of us – driving a car onto a ferry. Once we had parked, and double checked that our hand break was on, we gathered a few things and made our way up to the passenger deck. The journey took roughly three hours, and the ferry was very clean, comfortable and accommodating. There was plenty of seating, movies, tons of delicious food and drink options, a massive indoor playroom, and live entertainment for the kids.
On the Top Deck
After watching a magic show, Eli and Justin went down to the playroom. I managed to sneak away for about 20 minutes to take some pictures of the Marlborough Sounds from the top deck. It was so incredibly windy that I had to hold onto the rails, while making my way across the deck. Sheltered in a small secluded corner near the front of the ferry, I was able to enjoy a couple of minutes looking out at Picton, in the distance.
Queen Charlotte Lookout
We were excited to get back into our car, and begin driving again. Justin had been feeling a little motion-sick due to the swaying motion we were subjected to while on the ferry. In fact, he ended up falling asleep on a bench for a little bit. I doubt that napping helped much, but getting off the ferry sure did!
The Queen Charlotte Drive starts in Picton, so we made sure to get out at the very first lookout and get a view of Picton from above. Not knowing what we would find after the 35km drive, we stocked up on ciders, food, and snacks.
Not Much of a View
As the driver, Justin really didn’t get to see much from the car. In fact, because we remained at roughly the same elevation for much of the journey, he barely saw anything. We really did think that more of the water would be visible, but there were a lot of trees lining the drive, so sometimes there would only be a few flashes of water and then it would be gone. The truth of the matter is that when you’re winding around tight bends, there really isn’t much chance for the driver to look up and enjoy the view.
We were thankful for any opportunities to pull over, and get out of the car to see more.
Towards the end of the drive, we pulled off somewhere to have a picnic. Shortly after setting up, we realized that there but there were a gazillion bugs. We were getting bitten up every two seconds, and it was hard to ignore. In fact, it was miserable. Rather than sit there and get our blood sucked, we quickly packed up and got back on the road.
Unfortunately, we didn’t find another rest stop so we ended up eating while we drove. This Mama put a lot of meals together in that car! We were grateful for every bit of cooked food we could find – the roast chickens, hummus, and slices of cheese were our favorites.
In our Next Post: Cullen Point
(one of the lookouts along the Queen Charlotte Drive)