One of the things I love about road tripping in New Zealand is that you don’t have to necessarily commit yourself to anyone activity. In the ‘old’ days’ when I still lived here it wouldn’t be unheard of to leave home with a kayak and surfboard on the roof, and climbing gear in the trunk. Things have changed a little, I didn’t ride back then, but I most certainly do now. So when dad, Loke and I left Christchurch on a trip it was with 3 bikes and a surfboard. You never quite know what you will get up to ;)
Our first stop was an area known just as ‘The Sounds’. This incorporates three sounds (a bit like a fiords) Queen Charlotte, Keneperu, and Pelorus. My dad has a summer house in Keneperu which (after a long and windy drive) offers amazing views, fishing, shellfish collecting, and amazing walks/runs.
One of the great walks of New Zealand, Queen Charlotte, goes almost past the back of his property. Whilst our fishing endeavors while we were there did not bear fruit, Loke and I had a great mussel collecting mission and besides we had bought lamb chops as a back-up. The trail running here is nothing short of epic. Not only are the forests, both flora and fauna (plants and animals) amazing but the terrain is quite challenging. Every time I run here I take photos as it always blows me away, but it is hard to capture quite how crazy it is on a picture.Dad and Loke hiked up to the highest point in the area and me not being one to say no to a challenge, after my usual rounds in Mistletoe bay, joined them at the lookout.
The Queen Charlotte track is a pretty wide walking track but in recent years has been turned into dual use allowing mountain biking on it as well. When it was time for us to leave I took a bit of a head start and rode out on the track. It isn’t super challenging, but the scenery is stunning and the descents are looooong.
Our next stop was a bay called Kaiteriteri. The camping here is great, Loke always manages to make new friends and it has a Mtb park about 200m from the campground. Although I have ridden the park a few times before it did not happen this time. Instead I rode the Rameka track from the top of Takaka hill down into Golden Bay.This offers about 8 km of track constantly descending, first in native forest, then a little farmland, some pine forest, and at the bottom it just follows a river out to the flat. While the track is very ‘natural’ at the top once it emerges from the forest it becomes more designed. Some of the best riding is when it enters an area called Project Rameka, a private piece of land owned by mountain bikers, offering beautiful and well thought out singletrack. I will probably be repeating that sentence a few times here as I have yet to ride anything since then that ‘beautiful and well thought out’ does not aptly describe. The last time I was here the ride really ended after Project Rameka and you finished off rolling dirt road to get out. Now some lovely little trails have been put in, squeezed between the road and the river, that allow you to play all the way to the bitter end.
The best riding was yet to come though. I had an ‘after work’ date with Dylan from Alton Street Cycles in Nelson, to go riding up the Maitai, a stones throw (short ride) from town. Due to my punctuality I just drove straight to the bottom of the trails. I ended up in what would be the 2nd car park as there were many others that had the same idea as us. F**k it was hot! Dylan was sweating buckets, from the heat I am sure, but the ride up was over surprisingly fast. I had requested ‘fast and flowing’ when asked what trails I would like to ride. We were two on single speeds and two on fullys, it seemed an appropriate choice, and boy was I not disappointed! Wow! I started with chasing Dylan which was good cause it pushed me harder than I had ridden until now. There is nothing quite like riding so close to the limit on trails that you are not familiar with, watching the local rider in front, reading his body language and reacting accordingly. When I led I could hear Dylan close behind on the descents, only losing distance when we had to climb a little and he used his gears. Beautiful beautiful trails, it was hard leaving there, next time I will simply have to stay a little longer in Nelson…