Queen Charlotte Drive is a scenic coastal road in NZ

Located in the Marlborough Region of New Zealand's South Island, Queen Charlotte Drive is a spectacular winding road that links the towns of Havelock and Picton. It's one of the most scenic coastal drives in the world.

Queen Charlotte Drive

How long is Queen Charlotte Drive?

The road is 33.2 km (20.62mi) long, running west-east from the town of Havelock (at the head of Pelorus Sound) to Picton (the gateway to the islands and inlets of the Marlborough Sounds).

Is Queen Charlotte Drive challenging to drive?

The road is fully sealed. It’s open all year round and climbs three gentle hills. Don’t expect to average more than 40km/hour, but ultimately, it is well worth the effort as the views through the ferns to turquoise bays are magical. Watch for cyclists as this is a popular route for them. The road is narrow in parts, and there are lots of bends. The end of September is school holidays so the road may be quite busy, especially if the weather is good. The road really does twist and turn uphill and downhill, but you don’t meet many vehicles and have lots of time to take in the wonderful views.

Is Queen Charlotte Drive worth it?

Meandering through the peaceful vistas of the iconic Marlborough Sounds, plan 50-70 minutes to complete the remarkable drive without stops, although you may want to block out extra time to stop, take photos, and explore the region it passes through. It has some scenic parts, running along the southern shore of Mahakipawa Arm. It is an incredible winding road taking you past lots of hidden bays and through native forest. The views along the road are some of the best you will see on the road in New Zealand. There are many lookout points along the way. Take care and take your time driving and pull over where and when possible to look at the awesome scenery. This winding road is fringed with native forest and offers one of the most scenic drives you're likely to encounter.