Cycling through the sounds
264km Seddon to Picton
It’s nearly time for us to start heading north, across Cook Strait and then up the North Island to Auckland, where in just over a month’s time we’ll board a plane for San Francisco. But we don’t want to get on that ferry. Not yet.
We think the picture says it all. It’s hard to find too many cycling photos that rival this view – the gorgeous sight as you reach the end of the Marlborough Sounds and look towards the North Island. Stunning, simply stunning.
Needless to say, the South Island’s charm has grown on us and we’ve forgiven it all those wet and miserable days at the start of our cycling here. Now we’re ooohing and aaahing at the many roads that run through the middle of nowhere and across hilltops, with views down over the cliffs to the aqua blue water far below.
It’s Kenepuru Road that’s caught our latest fancy. Right at the top end of the South Island, between the mussel capital of Havelock and the ferry docks at Picton, it dips and twists its way around a seemingly endless string of bays and sandy beaches. The traffic is light, there are practically no shops – just mile after mile of breathtaking landscapes.
We resolve to take it slow out here. Who needs to rush with five days of food on board, a plastic bottle full of petrol for our stove (it’s back to more primitive methods here for carrying extra fuel, none of these ‘approved filling containers’ for us) and a decision to give up showering for the better part of a week? These are the sacrifices we make for beautiful roads!
It’s three days – half of that on dirt – before we cover the 70km to Titirangi Bay, where the road runs out. We pitch our tent in the field of a rustic campground and do nothing other than play cards, feed the wekas, make endless cups of tea and read our books on the beach.
The next day we move on, stopping at one of the few shops for miles around for an ice cream before we reach our next destination, Mistletoe Bay. It’s another sheltered cove that’s so beautiful you can just sit happily and stare at it for hours on end. While we’re admiring our latest home for the night, a local fisherman comes by and shows us where to harvest mussels. Too bad it’s high tide and we’ve just missed our chance for a free seafood feast.
By now the food is running low and we know we have to head back to civilization but not before we hop on the Queen Charlotte Track for a bit of mountain biking. Normally we wouldn’t take on these rocky, muddy tracks but we just can’t pass up the chance to ride through a lush rainforest. Who knows when we’ll ever see such scenery again?
After a few nights feeling like we were really in the middle of nowhere, the short distance back to Picton is easily covered and we decide a celebration is in order. With lamb steaks, mussels straight from the wharf and a bottle of local white wine, we toast our successful tour of the south. Now it’s on to the north and hopefully many happy miles yet to come.