The Queen Charlotte Walkway is one of my favourite trails. It is New Zealands longest single track, at 71km, and runs along the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sounds, at the top of the South Island, New Zealand. My last trip here was back in 2005, so I was really looking forward to this!
Unluckily, the trip almost finished before it started, when my ferry was cancelled due to 9m waves along Cook Strait. After some frantic phone calls, a visit to the ferry terminal and airport later, I managed to get on a flight into Nelson. I was picked up by Marty, and managed a few hours sleep before getting up far too early (3.30am) to pick up the rest of the Nelson crew. Once we had Murray, Mike, and Rachel on board, we loaded up on coffee before starting our 2hr drive to Picton, where we met up with John and Sean from Brisbane.
After beating down the door of the village bakery, we fed ourselves with hot pies (never start a trip on an empty stomach), and loaded up the water taxi to take us to the start of the track. The little boat bumped along as we cruised the Sounds until we arrived at Ship Cove, site of Captain Cooks landing in New Zealand in 1773, and the start of the 71km Queen Charlotte Walkway.
After setting up our unis and posing next to the Captain Cook monument, we started our ride. It was straight uphill, but the gradual climb bought us to some amazing views of Resolution Bay. At the rest stops we were visited by curious little Wekas in search of food.
We stopped at Furneaux lodge for lunch, huddling around their fireplace munching hot chips and ginger beer. Despite the bright clear skies, it was still a chilly winters day.
After lunch we continued to Mahana Lodge, perched in a secluded spot in Camp Bay on Endeavour Inlet. The amazing thing about the Queen Charlotte Walkway is that whilst being away from civilisation, it has fantastic accomodation with hot showers, hot food and amazing views, all serviced by water taxis. Our gear was dropped off by water taxi, so we only needed to carry water, snacks and cameras during the ride.
We were welcomed by the lodge owners Ann and John Martin as soon as we arrived, who had a roaring fire waiting for us at the lodge. After a hot shower, we were treated to a delicious 3 course dinner with much of it home grown fare from the property. Despite protests by Martin and Murray, they ate their nasturtium salad: “Shhh…don’t tell anyone we had flowers for dinner!”
The next day saw us up bright and early, but we were sad to leave Mahana and our generous hosts. We headed off on another big climb, but our legs were feeling much better after being fed and rested. We enjoyed more stunning views out into the Bay of Many Coves and Kenepuru Sound.
From there it was a gentle ride with some amazing singletrack all the way down to Portage, our next stop. The views of Portage Bay was even more incredible, as we looked over the Punga Fern shoreline into Kenepuru Sound. Another cosy dinner at the resort restaurant and it was off to bed.
Our third day would take us back to Anakiwa, but with some amazingly fun single track the whole way. We were left with permanent smiles on our faces as weaved through the native forest with views of the sounds on either side.
It was a good way to conclude the trip and an amazing weekend of fun riding, incredible views, good food and good company. If you had to choose one Muni trip in New Zealand, this has to be top of your list.
For more photos check our our Facebook Page
And Marty Richards writeup of the trip: http://www.nelsonmountainbikeclub.org.nz/2013/05/21#a4046