Monday, November 2, 2009

Back into the Back (NZ part 8)

(NZ part 1 here)

We decided to ride inland up the Motueka valley from the coast in order to get off the beaten track again, and we are feeling like we have made a great decision. Our overall goal is to head toward the west coast, passing the Nelson Lakes area on the way. We could have taken the asphalt Highway 6 out of Nelson, but we settled on this road, which backs up to one of the larger tracks of wild country on this part of the island.

Our campsite was on the main road between Motueka and Tapawera, but we have now slipped off onto a side road that is dirt for most of the way, and goes through the towns of Kiwi and Kaka (both NZ birds?). As we ride further, our surroundings get better and better. To our west are the Marino Mountains, the Matiri, Radiant, Scarlet, and Lookout Ranges, the Wangapeka Track, and Kahurangi National Park, to the northwest, the Tasman Mountains, the Domett, Marshall, Arthur, and Snowden Ranges, and the coveted Heaphy Track.

At first we ride in farm country, then we begin our climb, and the farms get smaller and the landscape more mixed, with pastures surrounded by woods. It reminds me of Vermont in many places. The forests here look less managed here than they have in other places we've ridden through. We ride along a small creek that has carved a small gorge, then the ride stars to really wind upward with more intent and the trees closed in around us - we may be leaving the watershed. We reach the crest after much switch-backing and enjoy a long gentle descent into the Hope River valley and back to Highway 6.

We ride on from Glenhope to the turn to Lake Rotoroa, then up to the Lake and find a campsite just as the rain comes. I climb into the tent as Dan takes on dinner duties.

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