There is no road to Ship Cove so you need to arrange boat transport to start your ride here.
Captain James Cook made Meretoto, which he renamed “Ship Cove”, his New Zealand base. Between 1770 and 1777, Cook and his crews spent 170 days sheltering there. It was at Meretoto/Ship Cove, that the first sustained contacts between Maori and Europeans took place. Cook named the sound “Queen Charlotte”.
Māori tradition explains the origin of the Marlborough Sounds, called “Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka a Maui”, or “The Prow of the Canoe of Maui”. Legend tells how Maui, the Polynesian explorer was paddling his waka with his brothers when, with a magical hook, he pulled up an enormous fish, which formed the North Island. Jealous, his brothers capsized the waka, which became the South Island, its intricately carved prow forming the Marlborough Sounds.
The track begins by climbing from the beach through a largely unmodified forest, where the high canopy is complemented by an understorey of diverse shrubs and small trees. The track is steep to start with and has been damaged by water runoff, but it is worth the push where it is too steep to ride. The Department of Conservation plans to re-route the track through to Schoolhouse Bay in 2018 on an easier grade. On the ridges higher up, beech trees dominate.
After 40 minutes pushing and riding, you reach a lookout point at a saddle, where you can enjoy good views of both the inner and outer Queen Charlotte Sound. Beyond the saddle the track drops into Resolution Bay, where there is a DOC campsite at Schoolhouse Bay and further along, private cabin accommodation. Many riders may choose to start at Resolution Bay to eliminate this initial steeper part of the track. After Resolution Bay, the trail makes another climb up to Tawa Saddle before descending and following the coastline to Furneaux Lodge which is a good stop for a drink and maybe some extended rest in this magnificent place!
From here, the track follows the coast around the bay, with the odd short uphill challenge. Closer to Punga Cove, the track is slightly more challenging. If you stay in Punga or want to stop here anyway, then take the turnoff clearly marked accordingly. Otherwise, continue up the Queen Charlotte Track: Kenepuru Saddle
Queen Charlotte Track is a multi-use trail. The trail is typically completed over multiple days. For information, see, here