Maungatapu Track

From Greymouth to Picton

Greymouth is the largest town on the west coast and located directly by sea. We went along a cycle path at the beach when suddenly my crank got loose and fall off. I tried to fix it but it fall off again after 2 km just in front of a warehouse. I bought new screws and washers to fix the arm proper. We cycled to Blackball via a quiet country road. In Blackball is a community house where we camped for 5 $ per person. As it was raining heavy the next day, we decided to stay in Blackball and spent the day on the veranda of the community house. I tried to fix Yen her gear shift, she can’t use the lowest gear that’s why mountain climbing is harder for her. But I couldn’t fix it, the chain won’t get on the largest sprocket. My sore throat was gone but my wisdom tooth starts aching a new teeth is coming through and push against the gums.

From Blackball we cycled 60 km to Reefton where we stayed in the motor camp. The next day we spent the morning in Reefton then we left at 2 pm and ascent from 200m to 700m altitude. We cycled through the Victoria Forest, it was a smooth climb. For the next campsite we did a little detour to Marble Hill that’s 5 km south of Springs Junction. The road 65 was busy with trucks. We left the highway and changed to a gravel road over Maruia Saddle. It’s a small windy road that is for 4WD only. We didn’t faced any traffic. But we couldn’t find a good spot to camp because the fields are behind fences. We camped close to a powerline there is always a swathe.

After 20 km on the next morning we reached Murchison and supplies (we run out of water again). From Murchison we had to go on the Highway 6, a busy road. We camped at Owen River (9$ per person). On the next day we left the Highway 6 at Kawatiri Junction and the road got so quite that it felt like riding on a big cycle path. We arrived at a beautiful campsite at West Bay (Lake Rotoiti). We got one of the last free places, there were campers everywhere. In the morning we watched rowers from France practiced with their boats in the lake. We took the Golden Brown Trail this trail goes along quiet country roads but it goes a lot up and down. We camped on a free campsite in Wakefield. Finally we didn’t get bothered by sandflies anymore and enjoyed our dinner outside the tent. 

From Wakefield we went to Mapua. We followed the Great Taste Trail, it’s a well signed cycle path and all flat. The trail took us through vineyards and apple orchards. We came to Rabbit Island. Many day visitors come her for the nice beach. From Rabbit Island we took the ferry to Mapua. This ferry is mainly used by cyclists. Mapua is a pleasant place. I invited Yen for fish and chips and ice cream. At the McKee Reserve (6 $ per person) we found a nice spot to camp, right behind the dunes and access to the beach. We had a rest day at McKee Reserve and walked along the beach. The weather was very good, Nelson Bay has 2500 h of sunshine per year (Berlin has 1700 h). The next day we went back to Rabbit Island and had another sunny day at the beach and cycled only 15 km to Richmond. Sounds like real holiday. The motor camp in Richmond was not nice there was no atmosphere and no place with shadow to put the tent.

From Richmond we went to Maitai River Valley, we made us an relaxed day to safe energy and cycled 25 km only. The next day we have to climb up to 700 m by starting from sea level. Friday the 30th January should became our hardest day on this trip. From Maitai Valley we took the Maungatapu Track to avoid the highway. The first 5 km we cycled on a normal gravel road. Before the track starts we met a local who warned us to take this track we may regret, it will be very difficult. But we kept going. Right in the beginning it was very steep and we had to help each other to push the bikes uphill. It was very hard, all the way to the summit was very steep. I’ve never been on a steep road/track like this. The track was full of loose rocks, it was slippery when you walk and not rideable. It was hiking with bikes. It took us 6 h to reach the summit on 750 m and 2 h to get down on the other side. Dusk was approaching and we looked next to the gravel road where to stay. We found a lonely house and knocked on the door. The farmer let us camped on one of his paddocks. After completed the Maungatapu Track we know whatever will coming next it will not be that hard as this track.

We started 10 km before Pelorus Bridge. It was a rainy morning, we had no breakfast and cycled first till Pelorus Bridge where we joined the highway. Here we stopped and I made scrambled eggs. We met other touring cyclists at this spot. After the Highway 6 we went on the Queen Charlotte Drive, a quiet and beautiful road. We camped on a DOC campsite called Aussie Bay. From Aussie Bay it was only a one hour ride to the ferry in Picton. On the way down to Picton we saw the Interislander ferry in the harbour. We didn’t booked our ticket in advance we just wanted to take the ferry who leaves first (the other ferry line is Bluebridge). We bought the ticket at the counter for 68 $ each and boarded the ferry directly. There is a comfortable passenger deck witch couches, chairs and food court. We had fish and ships for 6,50 $. It was windy and raining outside. The sailing to Wellington took us 3,5 h.