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Adventures in the Top of the South

Three weeks ago I packed up the car in Dunedin and headed off on route to Rotorua where I have just started my first real job! I was excited to see the new road past Kaikoura and do a few adventures on the way. This was my first time doing this stuff by myself and it actually wasn’t too bad, NZ is just so cool you have to get out there and see it!!

Here are a couple of must dos that I am still fizzing about:

  1. Mt Fyffe – Kaikoura
    Although a bit unplanned, this was totally worth it! After reading that the camp sites around Kaikoura were all more expensive than staying in Mt Fyffe hut for $5, I was sold and desperately wanted to go up there. Some friends had gone up last year and I missed out so now was the time. On a hot clear evening I left the town at 5.30. I parked outside the police station in hope this was safe with the car full of almost all of my stuff… don’t tell my Grandma this! In the back of my mind was some uncertainty about how long it would take to get to the hut. It can be hard to judge based on walking times when you’re on the bike. This just added to the fun with a bit of adrenaline and time pressure and the thought that if it all worked out I would be stoked. After a pretty flat ride to the base of Mt Fyffe it went uphill really fast, and really steep. It ended up being more of a hike a bike up and I made it to the hut about 7.40pm just in time for a nice sun set. Next morning I got up early and ran up to the top about 30mins away while the sun was rising, man it was cool! I didn’t want to go back down again, the views were just awesome – way out to sea past the Kaikoura peninsula and all around to different mountains and valleys. The bike back down took no time at all and I was back at the car (which was in one piece and still full) by 9am!28579716_1986993804647390_186269651_o
  2. Queen Charlotte Track – Marlborough Sounds
    Arriving in Picton that night I had in the back of my mind that I wanted to MTB the Queen Charlotte Track. At this time of year the first 25 or so km from Ship Cove is closed to bikers but there was still, by the looks of it, a decent section open. A water taxi was leaving at 8am the next day to Camp Bay where you could bike from. Sounded like a cool way to spend my last day in the South Island for a while! After a below average sleep in a crammed backpackers I hopped on the boat with my bike. The weather was perfect once again which was a lucky thing… this day did not go as smoothly as hoped for! Anyhow it was such good riding and some of the best views around. Quite different to Dunedin, Central Otago and Chch where I had come from. The track is what I would call “real” mountain biking, a nice surface where you can get some good speed up on at times, but with just enough roots and rocks to keep it interesting and keep you on your toes. A few steep nasty pinches get your lungs going but the downhills certainly made up for the effort. A wee note that In the wet this track would not be so much fun as it is a clay type surface and would be slippery as ever.


An hour in my back tyre felt bouncy and was ever so slowly losing pressure. After a while I decided I better stop ignoring it and put some air in, should have been a quick job but it was not to be… my pump screwed onto the valve and got the tyre nice and hard but I could not for the sake of me get the pump screwed off without unscrewing the tubeless valve too! Every time the air would all come gushing out. I don’t know who thought of a screw on pump for a screw on valve!! (Maybe there is a simple way but I couldn’t work it out, along with the help of a couple of passing walkers). After trying and failing miserably I thought it best to just put my tube in. But my one and only tube had a hole in it! So a reminder here to always check your tube is intact before going out for a mission like this! At this point I was stuck and pretty gutted but hey I was in one of the nicest places in NZ on a sunny day so it could have been a lot worse. Off I went walking my bike with a completely flat tyre, trying to push the thought away of how much better it would be to be riding. I still really wanted to get to Anakiwa but it was a good 25km away.

Then out of thin air (well not really) but up behind came best Swiss dude in history. I had passed him right at the start and completely forgotten. Problem was he was on a 29er hire bike and had only one spare tube himself. He insisted he was not going much further and while I was sceptical about whether a 29er tube would work in my 27.5 inch wheels, at this point anything was worth a shot! It worked!!! The rest of the ride was awesome, definitely felt so lucky and thankful for the help, as my day would have been very different otherwise! Would highly recommend this ride. The section I did was easily do-able in a day and I made it back to Picton just a couple of hours later than expected to meet my friends for the ferry next morning.

So yes, great trip up here. Bring on lots of adventures, exploring and new races in the North Island woohoo!! J

Written by: Mary Gray – Torpedo7 Athlete


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