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Anakiwa to Mistletoe Bay – Queen Charlotte Track – Riding with Kids

By Jo 2 years agoNo Comments

When we make the effort and take the time to go for a ride at a fantastic destination, like from Anakiwa (the start of the Queen Charlotte Track) with kids, we want it to be an enjoyable experience. To have a ‘great adventure’ on the bike with kids there are simple things to think about, plan and do.

In this story we are riding from Anakiwa to Mistletoe Bay (part of the Queen Charlotte Track) with Sam and Hunter  13yrs old boys –  who mountain bike regularly. Hollie 11 year old girl – who mountain bikes occasionally but has a good level of fitness. We choose to bike pack (carry some gear) and stay the night at Mistletoe Bay and return to Anakiwa the following day.
Anakiwa at start of the Queen Charlotte Track – Where is it?

The Queen Charlotte Track is  located in the Marlborough Sounds at the top of the South Island. Anakiwa can be accessed from

  1. Havelock – 21 minutes drive along the scenic but windy Queen Charlotte Drive
  2. Picton – 32 minutes drive along the scenic but windy Queen Charlotte Drive.

The Anakiwa to Mistletoe Bay section is a dual use track (open to both walkers and bikers – all year round)

Anakiwa: ( start of the Queen Charlotte Track)

Anakiwa is home to the Cobham Outward Bound School and some permanent residients and holiday homes

           Facilities available at Anakiwa

Parking. There are parking options at the start of the track though the popularity of the track at summer can make parking a little limited at times.

Toilets. Toilet facilities are available at the start of the track as well Davis Bay.

Bike washing – A bike Washing Station is available

Accomodation – Anakiwa Lodge and baches/houses for hire

If you need to hire bikes the closest option is Sea Kayak Adventures – their base is on the corner of Queen Charlotte Drive and Anakiwa Road, just minutes from the start of the Queen Charlotte Track in Anakiwa. Mountain Bikes can also be hired from Wilderness Guides in Picton.

This stunning coastal track is the result of a unique partnership between the Department of Conservation (DOC), Marlborough District Council and private landowners. It is  For more information on biking the complete track see

  • http://www.qctrack.co.nz/on-the-track/bike-the-track/
  • https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/marlborough/places/queen-charlotte-sound-totaranui-area/things-to-do/tracks/queen-charlotte-track/
  • Great NZ Ride App available from Apple or Google Play.

Is it doable?

The ride needs to be doable for you and any riders (kids) you are biking with.

The length of this ride is 12 .5 km one way so 25km return. This is a single track through bush.

The riding surface varies from compacted dirt to tree roots and rocks to negotiate. This is definitely a mountain biking track which can get muddy. There are rocky creek beds to go through and wooden bridges to ride.

The riding terrain – the ride is undulating. However the overall trend is a gradual uphill of approximately 6 km no matter which way you are riding to the lookout and then 6km down again.

Fitness level required. An reasonable good level of fitness is required to bike the undulating and uphill/ downhill nature of the track and for the distance of 12.5km

Type of bike. Mountain bike with gears

Alternative options for day rides  Riding to Davis Bay and return. Riding to the lookout and return. There is also the link pathway that is being developed between Havelock and Picton and including  Anakiwa. Find out more information here

Our Adventure:

Day One

Left Anakiwa 11:30am – Biked to Davis Bay -stopped for a snack and hacky sac game. Biked to the lookout for a late lunch. Enjoyed the downhill from the lookout and arrived at Mistletoe at 2:30pm .

Stayed at Mistletoe Bay in the accommodation facilities. There are options of cabins, cottages and camping. Everyone enjoyed a well earned ice cream followed by a cold but refreshing swim off the jetty. There are a few small walking trails from the bay to enjoy as well as the stunning and peaceful environment.

Day Two

Left Mistletoe Bay 10:30am biked to the lookout for lunch. Down into Davis Bay for another hacky challenge before arriving back at Anakiwa at about 1:30pm. Where we washed our muddy bikes and more food was required ( I had left some additional food supplies in the car). Before heading home with happy slightly quiet kids )from being a little tired)


Stopping – on the track


A well deserved rest stop at the lookout to enjoy the view and re-fuel.


Stopping and getting off the bike to enjoy some discoveries along the way

Feeling Comfortable

It doesn’t matter what ride you are doing or where you are going, you want to feel comfortable. Check out the goRide guide How to have a “great day” on the bike for general information on how to make sure you are comfortable on the bike.

Water – I suggest you carry enough water for the whole length of the track. There would be option of a refill at Davis Bay campground (this is a short distance from the track)

goUnders- Kids Padded Bike Underwear

Protection – As this a mountain biking trail it is wise that riders have some protection to minimise the consequences of any falls. – bike gloves, covered arms, covered legs, shoes, good helmets, are some protection options.   Comfort on the seat can be a big factor so consider padded bike underwear – goUnders for Kids, see photo to right.  Worn under their shorts or leggings these ‘undies’ protect soft tissue & prevent chaffing.

Food –  This ride is about 2- 3 hours duration with kids – one way so taking food for the ride is required. Whether that be lunch and/or plenty of snacks.

If doing this as overnight trip as we did you need to consider dinner/ breakfast as well as supplies to get you through the return riding the following day. As space is always tight on the bike I always leave plenty of supplies in the car for a picnic of refueling after completion of the track. There is a shop with supplies at Mistletoe Bay so a simple dinner and breakfast could be pulled together from what they have available.

Being Safe

It doesn’t matter what ride you are doing or where you are going, you want to feel safe. Check out the goRide guide How to have a “great day” on the bike for general information on how to make sure you are safe on the bike.

Maps –  The ride is well signposted and you can’t go wrong follow the trail in front. When you get to Torea Saddle you have to bike down the long driveway into Mistletoe Bay. Which is fun on the way down but don’t remind the kids that if you are returning the same way or contnuing on that they will need to bike up the hill as well.

Carry a basic biking first aid kit in your bag or on your bike.  Have a more comprehensive kit in the car or a refill pack incase serious patch ups are required.  Grazed knees, elbows and irrigation for eyes are the most common minor biking accidents. Cell phone and ideally a personal locator beacon should be carried.

YouAm I safe to Mountain Bike Ride? A checklist to complete that ensures YOU are safe to goRide.
Bike – goRide pre-ride bike safety check – is it safe? A simple checklist to complete pre-ride so that you know your bike is in working order.

Having Fun

If you have worked through the points above then you will be more likely to enjoy and have fun on your ride. There is so much fun to be hard on any adventure.

If the weather allows there is swimming at Davis Bay and Mistletoe Bay (both tidal beaches). We rode in October and decided to take on the challenge of a chilly swim. Though cold…you never regret a swim so there were smiles all around

Ice Creams and drinks are available at the Mistletoe Bay Store. Simple but well loved rewards.

Enjoying the views/ spotting the Ferry/ watching boats and any kayakers or Outward Bound participants.

Mistletoe Bay is an eco village practising sustainability. These facilities are utilised by schools for school camps and educational experiences. Therefore are educational opportunities in walks and in the surrounding environment.

Kayaking is also available in the Bay


Does it fit?

The facilities available at Mistletoe Bay make this a great adventure by adding in an overnight. Biking and staying somewhere the night can be quite a unique experience.  If enjoying as a day ride – going there and back on the same track provides a good level of flexibility – you can choose the length of ride that will suit you and your family.

Anakiwa to Mistletoe Bay (Queen Charlotte Track) with Kids – get Inspired and goRide

Thanks for reading. Used together our stories, resources & products support you to achieve and develop as a rider.

Related Resources:

Craters of the Moon – Taupo

Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park with Kids

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