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Queen Charlotte Walkway

 

 

The Queen Charlotte Walkway is another one of those must do trips that involves some logistical difficulties. It is yet another one way trip, although it is possible to use water taxis or make a partial loop by returning on the road. This is one case where the road is not such a bad alternative. Like everywhere here, there are logging trucks, but it is a lovely winding twisty road, with lots of great scenery. In fact, there are several options in the immediate area with dirt/gravel roads as well as 4WD tracks and trails. We will definitely plan a longer trip back to this area.

One of the logistical difficulties is that while mountain biking is allowed on the walkway, it is restricted on part of the track during the summer - the peak walking season. Interestingly, the restricted part is at the far end of the walkway near Ship's Cove. The first section (from Anikiwa to Te Mahia) and this restricted part (from Punga Cove to Ship's Cove) are classified as walking track, while the middle part (from Te Mahia to Punga Cove) is considered a more difficult tramping track. This generally means is it steeper, and the footing is more difficult.

So to ride the entire track, or at least the two easier sections, we'd need to plan the trip in the off-season. We might have waited a bit too long though, as the rainy season has arrived here, and now the trails are getting a bit slippery. Parts of this track run through native bush and don't see much direct sunshine, so even with a few dry days, the trail could still be very slippery. We've found that the tandem slides quite well on wet roots!

But we'd been talking about it forever, and when our friend Simon called to see if we wanted to go away for a few days, we jumped at the chance.

Cara, Simon's partner, and Aria's mom, was off to Rotoiti, on a school camp, so Simon thought it might be a good time to do a mini-tour. He came around Tuesday afternoon, and he and John poured over maps, while Aria and I tried to learn to juggle. It was pouring rain at the time, but the forecast was for clearing Wednesday morning, a great day on Thursday and then rain again on Friday. Cara was to be back Friday afternoon, so we decided on a three day trip. We'd wedge the bikes, gear and the four of us into our little van and drive to Anikiwa to start. We figured that by the time we packed, did some grocery shopping, and drove out the rain would have cleared. Well Wednesday we woke to beautiful clear skies, so we rushed around trying to take advantage of the good weather. Of course, part of taking advantage of the good weather involved soaking in warm sunshine at a coffee shop in Havelock!

Since we didn't get the earliest start, we planned to do the first part of the walkway to the road crossing at Te Mahia, and then aim for a backpackers hostel in Portage. The start of the track was a granny gear grunt up from the parking lot, but thankfully it was quite short and the walkway was almost tame after that. We met a few walkers along the way, who would pass Simon and Aria first, and then after passing John and me would comment about the baby on the back. I always responded with a good whine that "I'm not a baby!"

Of course Aria was much braver on the back on Simon's bike. Often where I chickened out on a dodgy section, Aria let loose with squeals of joy. Nothing like being showed up by a 3 year old!

 

 

The view of the sounds was glorious. We popped in and out of native bush several times before coming to the high point. An exhilerating descent followed. It was quite slippery in places both for us and Simon, which led us to decide to pass on the middle section. We'll definitely come back and try again in dryer conditions.