As Totaranui (Queen Charlotte Sound) was a well-known waterway, it is unsurprising Maori established a settlement there. This was known as Te Wera a Waitohi (the burning of Waitohi) and had a population of around 200. The area is now Picton and this track gives a good overview of the area.
Ranui Street is the first on the left after Queen Charlotte College and the new subdivision on entering Waikawa. At the start of the track there is an unmarked track (not the Picton Waikawa Track) which leads 15 minutes uphill. This is separate from the mountain bike track. It’s a bit scabby through the gorse and joins the end of the gravel road from Harbour View carpark. The start of the track is shortly signposted to the right.
Harbour View Carpark is the preferable place to start. To reach Harbour View carpark by car from Picton centre, follow Waikawa Road and take the fourth on the left into Sussex Street (Victoria Domain signposted). Continue 1.7 km to the ridge summit and parking area by the locked gate. This is a one-way road. Watch for walkers. Park at the locked gate and continue 30 minutes to the low point in the ridge where the start of the track is signposted to the right.
The metalled track undulates along the ridge top. There are views west to the bays of Queen Charlotte Sound, from Onahau Bay to Blackwood Bay. These culminate after 30 minutes at the Queen Charlotte Viewpoint, which looks straight up the axis of the sound. The snouts of the protruding headlands interweave in harmony. You can easily imagine how this was once a valley system before inundation by the sea. An information panel provides a panorama with the bays named and some history.
The track continues 40 minutes through broadleaf forest of five finger and mahoe. There are area of lycopodium and manuka.
When wet you can almost ski down the track, which finally exits at the snout of the Snout. Sit on the bench and watch the busy waterway with the seagulls soaring.
On the return it’s two steps forward and one step back. Views of the Picton ferry terminal come to view after the Queen Charlotte Lookout.
Original vegetation cover was probably hard beech forest with pukatea/tawa forest in the gullies. Fires for grazing denuded this cover and although regeneration occurred other accidental fires, the most recent in 1963, have hindered substantial regrowth. Various stages of secondary succession now form a patchwork of differing forest types including scrub, low tea-tree forest and introduced species such as gorse and broom.
One Maori name for the Snout was Te Ihu Moene, referring to a 30 cm worm, a prized food for both humans and kiwis. The legend goes it became a taniwha with the job of separating the headland from the mainland. It became trapped in mud at Waitohi Pa (Picton).
Another name was Te Pahoahoa, meaning the ‘back of the headland’, possibly a reference to the fact this was a good lookout to sight the approach of impending attackers.
In the 1840s the New Zealand Company sent Francis Bell to purchase land from the Maori, an arrangement displacing Maori to Waikawa. Various names were tossed around for the new settlement including Horne Bay, Newton Bay, Cromwell and Beaconsfield. Picton was finally introduced in honour of Sir Thomas Picton, who died in the Battle of Waterloo as a general of the Duke of Wellington.
Picton quickly became a thriving port servicing the antimony mines of Endeavour Inlet. Copper, coal and gold from the Pelorus Valley were also exported. Farming produce from the hinterland was shipped from the port and the settlement steadily grew.
The Victoria Domain was originally called ‘Greensill’s Folly’ after a local proponent for the area’s preservation. It was re-named in 1897 by the Council to commemorate the diamond jubilee of that surly queen. The 200 hectare domain was established as a recreation area but during the pioneer days the land was leased for grazing and burned.
When the railway link to Blenheim was completed in 1964 Picton became the main inter-island travel port and the regional capital. It now basks in a quieter atmosphere than Blenheim.
The sleepy town is a hive of activity during the summer when Christchurch bach owners come to enjoy the endlessly sunny summers and get out in their boats. Like Stewart Island cars here play second fiddle to boats. As the gateway to the Sounds and the Queen Charlotte Track, a boat is essential and both Picton and nearby Waikawa have extensive marinas. Boat builders and certifiers line the shores, with marine services commonplace.
South Island ▷ Marlborough ▷ Picton / Marlborough Sounds
Showing 13 reviews of 29.
05Oct18. Joined this from Bobs Bay Track. Some of it is along a gravel track with no shade. It was sunny and warm when we walked it.
We didn’t do the complete walk, just to Queen Charlotte’s Lookout. There is a drop loo there and a picnic table. Good walk
Really nice walk, easy access, good views.
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A lovely walk in the Marlborough Sounds. The view is impressive at Queen Charlotte lookout. After that, the walk gets harder and slippery until Snout Head. There is a nice grassy spot at the end and a nice, but less impressive view of the Sounds.
Very well marked track just outside of town. Takes about 3-4 hours return.
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The Snout Track was fun. A great view and a short walk. The walk to the top was hard but then you go back down so that makes it easier. It was after a rainy day so the ground was a bit muddy but not something that would disturb the trip.
Good, amazing spots.
First walk in New Zealand, okay but there were better ones to come, very windy on the Snout.
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It is ok, really nice walk. About 2 hours to get there. Not many people on the track and one of the best views I have ever seen!
Amazing view of Queen Charlotte Sound and Picton. Do not miss it if you are staying several days in Picton.
Phenomenal place for a run. Or a tramp with the kiddo. Beautiful scenery abounds.
Short, nice walk.
Ahmed Mohsen Aly
Exhausting track but well worth the view! We even had a kiwi bro chilling with us at the end of the track as we ate jelly beans and waved at the boats.
Nice leg stretcher through forest area. Nice views and a very windy front end of the track.
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