Cullen Point Lookout Track

Cullen Point Lookout Track

Queen Charlotte Drive


8 Rankers Reviews

8 Face-to-Face

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

Nau mai, haere mai

I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.

I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!


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400 m return | 10 minutes return

There are views towards both Havelock and Mahau Sound initially. Then after the track loops there are further panoramas up Mahau Sound from near the trig. A well-placed bench sits nearby.


Cullen Point Lookout is signposted 8.5 km west of Linkwater and 3.1 km east of the Queen Charlotte Drive turnoff just south of Havelock. A sealed single-lane road leads 200 metres to the parking area with nearby toilets. The track starts from the end of the parking area


The metalled track leads up to the point, then branches to perform a loop.


During the last 5 million years the Kaikoura Orogeny has renewed the thrust skyward however the uplift has been checked by the general north-east tilt of the land to the west of the Alpine Fault, which runs along the Wairau Valley and through Cook Strait. A transverse fault associated with this movement is currently uplifting the Wellington side, conversely down-thrusting the Marlborough Sounds side.

During periods of global glaciation over the last 2 million years, vast quantities of water became locked up in the ice sheets. At the height of the last ice age around 18,000 years ago, sea levels were 120 metres lower than today. Farwell Spit was joined to Taranaki and Cook Strait didn’t exist. During relatively warm periods (inter-glacials), this pent up water is released back into fluid form and causes sea levels to rise. Those north-easternmost valleys of the Richmond Range became inundated, causing the drowned river valley system to evolve.

Polynesian History

Several Maori legends relate to the Marlborough Sounds. All show a close connection with the waterways based on mental maps and generational knowledge, passed on in the absence of written words and maps.

One of the earliest creation stories tells of a time of darkness. Out came Maku (moisture), who married Mahoranuiatea. Their love bore a son called Raki, who in turn married Pokoharua-te-po. Their sons were Aoraki, Rakiroa, Raaraki and Rarkiroa and they all lived in the heavens. One day Raki fell in love with another woman, Papatuanuku (Earth Mother) and descended to earth to marry his new-found lover. Angry at their father’s infidelity, Aoraki and his three brothers decided to visit Papatuanuku and jumped aboard their mighty canoe Te Waka o Aoraki. After meeting Papatuanuku they realised their father’s complete love for her and decided to return home to support their mother.
Aoraki commenced a sacred chant to enable the heavenward journey but made errors in his recital. They were earth bound and sea condition grew stormy. The waka was thrust onto its side and the brothers climbed atop the hull. Their calls for help were in vain and over time their bodies became stone and their hair white. The brothers now form the snowcapped peaks of the Southern Alps, with Aoraki (Mount Cook), the tallest. Their canoe became Te Waka o Aoraki (South Island), later named Te Waipounamu (The Greenstone Waters). The prow, which had been a finely crafted maze of carvings, disintegrated and became partially submerged to form the Marlborough Sounds.
Another notable legend recalls the legendary explorer Kupe, who tussled with a giant octopus. During the struggle the many tentacles gouged the land into the labyrinthine curves of today. Kupe eventually won over the monster of the deep and scooped out his eyes, tossing them into the ocean where they metamorphosed to Ngawhatu, the Brothers Islands off the head of Cape Koamaru.


Feature Value Info


DOC Marlborough

Central government organisation


South IslandMarlboroughPicton / Marlborough Sounds


  • Walking
  • Free


Dawn Dodd 's avatar

Dawn Dodd


Ranking: 8/10

Nice views - steep hill.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in January 2017

Stephen's avatar



Ranking: 8/10

A proper good walk. Great for the calves as it was pretty steep.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in March 2016

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Emma-Janes Hughes's avatar

Emma-Janes Hughes


Ranking: 10/10

Took the wrong turn and ended up doing the 3.5km loop walk. Was well worth it!! Very steep so be prepared for a big climb back up. Amazing views.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Lazarela's avatar



Ranking: 9/10

Amazing short walk to the lookout and it was worth doing it for the view!

Reviewed almost 6 years ago and experienced in January 2016

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Michaela Bartotini's avatar

Michaela Bartotini


Ranking: 7/10

Nice small hike up to a viewpoint over the Sound. Only takes about 10-15 minutes and nice clear views at the top!

Reviewed over 6 years ago

Elodie's avatar



Ranking: 8/10

Beautiful narrow and winding road with a scenic view. Too few lookouts to stop and take pictures though.

Reviewed over 12 years ago and experienced in November 2009

joramv's avatar



Ranking: 9/10

Nice view upon the Marlborough Sounds.

Reviewed over 12 years ago

DOC Managed

Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍

Cymen Crick's avatar

Cymen Crick

Rankers Owner