Kahurangi Point

Craig flew down on Friday and went biking for a day with Reagan. We all ended up at the flat on the hot summer evening eating pizzas that I magicked up. We packed my car and Craig and I drove to Paines Ford later in the evening and camped at Hangdog despite it being “fully full, man”.

Inge, who Ellen and I had met climbing at Cable Bay arrived punctually at 9am to find Craig and I finishing off breakfast in the carpark. We headed up to the Crag and spent the morning climbing there doing a variety of easy climbs at Track 5. I felt particularly bad at it but despite this it was good.

Ellen turned up early afternoon and we did a few more climbs before heading back to the grass beside the carpark for lunch.
We packed up and drove into the oncoming weather. It changed from sun to grey and rain and we camped North of Collingwood for the night.

The following day we drove across to the West Coast and followed the windy road to the south. The road is interesting. It runs along the side of a big inlet and then through native bush and farmland. We stopped along the way to look at the beach before arriving at the road end.

After the usual gear faff we were packed and crossed the Anatori river at the car park. We walked the short way to the coast and started down the beach.
As the tide was low we could avoid the 4wd track and walk along the beach the whole way. It was amazing. We had big cliffs to the left to begin with and boulders on the beach to navigate. A seal scared us but it turned out it was also scared and made a quick escape to the sea.
We had to walk quickly to catch the low tide at the two tidal river crossings along the way. It was sunny but with a breezy head wind and we were all bare footed.

As we reached Big River it looked like the crossing would be very easy but as we got closer we could see a deep channel. We followed the instructions we’d found and headed up river to the remains of an old tractor where we crossed easily with the water up a little above our knees.
We picked our way around the rocks on the other side and soon found a place for a quick snack. Then it was just a short walk to the hut.

The hut is unusual. It’s a DoC hut but it was the old lighthouse keepers house so it has many rooms and unique for DoC huts, it has a bath.
We were thirsty when we arrived and set up the cooker outside, settling on the benches for an afternoon of lazing. Out came the whisky after cups of tea.
We decided we should try the bath in the evening and that we would need a fire… Craig set about finding bits of drift wood and Ellen started sawing them into small pieces.

The fire heated up our bath water as we ate dinner. We took turns bathing in between drinking whisky. We lit a bonfire outside the hut as the light faded and continued to drink.
We clambered into bed around midnight after a nice evening.

The following day we went for a walk to a waterfall further south, down the coast. We went for a short cold swim in the big pool down stream. It was very refreshing. We then climbed around and the rocky coast, as the waves came surging in threatening to get us wet. The topomap said we were directly below the lighthouse so we clambered up the dubious sandstone and up a steep scrubby bank to arrive at the tall white lighthouse.

After lunch, back at the hut, we walked out again along the beach catching the high tide. This time we had the wind on our backs which made walking easier. We swam briefly in the river and then started driving back. It was already around dinner time so we stopped at the end of a side road on the hill and cooked up some food in the warm evening.

Mountain biking the Heaphy

I set off for a three day mountain biking trip of the Heaphy Track. I had planned to start on the Golden Bay side and cycle through to the Karamea end and then return again by bike. The weather didn’t play nice and I cut the trip to two days but it was still enjoyable.

On Thursday night I drove to Brown Hut at the start of the track and stayed the night there. I shared the hut with a family who had the fire roaring.

On Friday I set off earlyish and followed the saddle up to Perry Saddle and then on to Perry Saddle Hut. There was a mix between sun and cloud but it was generally quite ok. The track is wide and well formed like all great walk tracks are. It’s quite a solid climb up to the first hut and I had morning tea there before continuing.

Leaving Brown Hut (MTB Heaphy Oct 2020)On the first ascent (MTB Heaphy Oct 2020)Track (MTB Heaphy Oct 2020)More track (MTB Heaphy Oct 2020)

1) I set off from Brown Hut in the morning. All smiles. Pretty much.

2) The track is mostly smooth and wide like all great walks are.

3) The track climbs steadily to Perry Saddle.

4) More track.

I followed the track as it wound it’s way down from the saddle and onto the flat tussock lands. The descent was quick as the track had turned to a smooth sandy highway. The Gouland Downs hut is an older thing that’s been painted in red and green and looks great. It was packed full of hikers eating lunch so I continued on to Saxon Hut, just 5 km away. The weather had deteriorated somewhat. It had turned grey and windy. I ate my lunch in the hut and got back on my bike.

I thought I’d head on towards the next hut and if the weather were still good drop my stuff and go for a ride further along the track. Unfortunately as I rode across a bridge I did a silly thing. I was faffing around with my GoPro on my handlebars trying to record the bridge crossing. I clipped the wall at the side of the track over compensated and rode/fell off the side of the track to the left. It was a bit of a drop and it could have been unpleasant but I wasn’t at all hurt. After lifting my bike back onto the track I discovered the front brakes were jammed on and then shortly after I discovered I’d put a whole in the sidewall of my back tyre. The goo inside the wheels was struggling to patch the hole.

Descending from Perry Saddle Hut (MTB Heaphy Oct 2020)The Gouland Downs Hut (MTB Heaphy Oct 2020)View across the tablelands (MTB Heaphy Oct 2020)

Still sunny (MTB Heaphy Oct 2020)

Blue sky (MTB Heaphy Oct 2020)Disaster (MTB Heaphy Oct 2020)

1) From Perry Saddle I descended towards the Gouland Downs, a flat scrubby tableland.

2) The Gouland Downs Hut is a pretty old style hut that sleeps 8 people. I took a peak into the crowded hut and then continued on my way.

3) There are a bunch of streams and rivers running across the downs.

4) It was still sunny as I made my way towards Saxon Hut.

5) View out across the plains.

6) Oh, oh, disaster strikes. A moment of inattention cost me an hour of bike repairs.

It took about an hour for me to unlock the brakes and put a tube in the back tyre. By this stage the weather was looking not so good and I decided just to try and get to James Mackay Hut. My brakes were jamming again as I rode the last few km in the first spots of rain. The hut was big and spacious and had a fire going in the corner. I met a bunch of nice people and we spent the evening chatting away.

Due to the weather and bike status and forecast for Sunday I bailed on Saturday morning and rode back the way I came in the cold and rain. There had apparently been snow at Perry Saddle in the night but it had all melted by the time I got there. After stopping at Saxon Hut to warm up my socks on the fire and grab a bite to eat I decided to carry on  at Perry Saddle rather than stop. I bumped down the track passing people heading out on bikes for the weekend. It was dry but grey at the car and I bundled my muddy wet gear into the car and drove back to Nelson.

Riding out in the rain (MTB Heaphy Oct 2020)Misty trees (MTB Heaphy Oct 2020)

1) It was a cold and wet ride out but it was unpleasant as I was climbing enough to keep warm.

2) There was some mist during the descent to Brown Hut but it cleared as I got lower. The mud remained though. There were people walking and riding up the track. I wonder what they will think of the worsening weather.