After crossing the Molesworth, we made our way to the coast at Havelock, a nice ride through vineyards until the final, hellish 20 km of busy, narrow highway into a headwind. It was a blistering sunny day and we decided it would be wise to sit out the hottest part of the day in a sea-side restaurant and eat mussels, as Havelock is the self-proclaimed green shell mussel capital of the world. When in Rome…
Havelock sits on the shores of Pelorus Sound near the isthmus of a large peninsula where the Queen Charlotte Track runs from Ship Cove, at the north end on Queen Charlotte Sound, to Anakiwa in the south. The track is a popular with through hikers, and part of the Te Araroa Hiking Trail, but also popular with mountain bikers and touted as one of Cycling New Zealand’s Great Rides.
The plan was to cycle up Kenepuru Road on the west side of the peninsula and return on the track from Camp Bay. We hoped to have our panniers transported by one of several water taxis between camp sites so we could ride the track unloaded.
After the delicious lunch at Havelock, we set our sights on Moetapu Bay and the Department of Conservation (DOC) camp site there. A small, dead-end road runs out to the bay and to some houses beyond. From the road, a steep, narrow walking track leads to the camp site. We walked the bikes down and found what was easily our nicest camp site yet in New Zealand.
The camp site is situated on a small spit with a 200-metre-long sandy beach on the north side and a small, sandy cove on the south side. Two picnic tables, a pit toilet and a water tap are the only services offered but it was all we needed. We stripped off immediately and got in the water to cool off.
Sven wondered if he had enough food for the coming days as we would not be able to buy anything along the track. He dumped the contents of his panniers in the tent vestibule and we assured him he would not go hungry. A man living in the adjacent house came over to say hello, and told us we could use his driveway to get back to the road, a much easier option than the trail. We had a great evening. It was warm and we had this amazing spot all to ourselves.
In the morning, we grind up the steep drive way and the even steeper road back to Kenepuru Road heading north along the shore. It’s a classic coastal road: narrow, twisty with lots of ups and downs. It’s a fun ride with nice views of a turquoise Kenepuru Sound.
By mid-afternoon, we head up the final climb on Titirangi Road before descending a steep track to Camp Bay, another DOC camp site. We meet the camp host, a Canadian cycling in New Zealand but taking a break over Christmas to do a two-week volunteer stint as camp host.
After making camp, we wander over to Punga Cove Resort to make arrangements to have our bags shipped to the next camp site on a water taxi the following day. To our surprise, all three companies refuse, even though it is a service they advertise on their web site. I guess our money wasn’t good enough. We suspect they refused because we didn’t book passage with them to go up the coast, although nobody actually admits that. It’s disappointing because it means we will not ride the Queen Charlotte Track. Our loaded bikes are just too heavy for the steep track.
In the morning, we climb from Camp Bay back up to the road and return the way we had come. The weather is deteriorating, a usual cycle, it seems, after a few days of good conditions. We ride as far as Cowshed Bay and camp in the DOC site there for two nights, avoiding a very wet ride the next day.
We hike a short bit of the Queen Charlotte Track to have some views of the Sound but are resigned to the fact we won’t ride any of it. The next day we head towards Picton but camp about 20 km west of there in Momorangi Bay. The following morning, we ride a mountain bike trail partway into town to catch the ferry that will take us to Wellington and the North Island.
Christmas is nearly upon us now, even though it doesn’t feel like Christmas. We see the odd decorated tree or mailboxes decorated with christmassy stuff but it doesn’t ring true. Christmas is supposed to be in winter. It’s funny how these things are so ingrained in us.
From Wellington, Sven will head north on his own. We’ve cycled together for a month, traversing nearly the entire South Island, and we will miss his company, his easy-going demeanour and his fabulous smile. I have a feeling our paths will cross again.
We will take a break from riding and spend Christmas with our friends Enid and Richard in Plimmerton, a town on the outskirts of Wellington. We are looking forward to being off the bike for a few days and hanging out with friends. It will also give us some time to plan the remaining month of our journey. There is a lot to see on the North Island but, as always, time is our enemy.
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