A week in the sun. Okiwi, Nydia, Waikakaho, Whites Bay
Summer has fully kicked in this week, and it fitted supremely with our plans. A long weekend was spent at Okiwi Bay near the Marlborough sounds with good friends. Much boating, fishing, drinking and telling of stories was done. Being outside of the Blue Cod ban in the sounds meant we got to eat a lot of fresh Blue Cod, along with Snapper and Kahawai. Super Yum!
There is a nice little track from Okiwi Bay up to to a viewing point. It has been built by the community, and although built as a walking track they do allow mountain bikers to use the track. A nice little 400m climb to get some wonderful views out over the bays followed by a fun ride back down.
We left Okiwi Bay on the Tuesday, and headed around to Anikiwa so Jo and I could ride a little of the Queen Charlotte track. Wonderful views and a very nice piece of track. Jo and I had a very nice ride.
The next day we met up with Tim so he and I could do some riding. First track on the list was the Nydia Bay track which happens to be one of my favourite rides, although it does require a large shuttle to get from one end to the other. The mix of technically challenging and fast flowing single track combined with the lush forest and wonderful views out over the bays combine to a wonderful experience. About 5 hours of riding, and generally only the fit and technically competent riders will enjoy this ride! For an altitude map etc have a look at my previous post https://mountainbikingzane.wordpress.com/2010/01/14/nydia-bay-boxing-day/
After our lovely driver picking us up at the end of the track, it was decided that a nice dinner at a winery over near Blenheim would make good payment for driving, so we headed for the grape vines. We ideally wanted somewhere we could camp, and either stumble or ride a short distance to get to the good food and booze. I had a chat to the staff at a likely looking winery restaurant, and we ended up camping right next to their restaurant. We drank plenty of nice wine, ate lots of good food and really enjoyed ourselves!
The plan the next morning was to ride the Wakamarina track, but when we arrived at the access road we found it to be shut until Xmas time because of logging operations. Bummer. Plan B was quickly decided, which was to head into Cullens Creek (Waikakaho Walkway). A ride both Tim and I had been meaning to do but had not yet done. It is another old gold mining area, meaning there are old pack tracks which make for good biking. We headed in from the Blenheim side. Dropped at some farm buildings we set off through farmland. I quickly discovered that not filling my camelbak before I left was a silly idea, as the river we were riding beside was dry as a bone. Spying some irrigation out in a paddock I had a fun game trying to get my camelbak filled from the sprinkler jet. I managed to get a litre or two in the bladder and at least 3 litres all over me!! Was a nice warm day and climb that headed pretty much straight up to an 800m saddle soon had sweat dripping off me. I was very glad I had bothered to battle the sprinkler! Most old pack tracks from the Gold mining days have a steady gradient, and this track was no exception, however the gradient was much steeper than the usual. Bike was put in lowest gear at the bottom, and it pretty much stayed there all the way to the top! It was steep!
From the Pass there was a on the bike/off the bike sidle to get across to a ridge before quickly dropping down the Linkwater side. The 800m fell away very quickly, at first through challenging beech forest root tangles and then quickly through pine forest switchbacks.
From here Jo and I said goodbye to Tim as he had a Lyell Saddle mission planned on the West Coast http://www.vorb.org.nz/first-mtb-ascent-the-lyell-saddle-t109978.html
Jo and I headed for Whites Bay, where there happens to be a very nice mountain bike singletrack loop, and a lovely DOC campground. Beautiful spot to stay, and a fantastically fun technical singletrack. It was a great way to end a week away!!