Queen Charlotte Walkway
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.