Recently I had a quick weekend trip to ride the Queen Charlotte track as a shake-down for an upcoming multi-day backcountry trip. I wanted to test some systems out on the bike and try out the Stealth 'Heaphy Harness' and to get my head and legs into bikepacking mode.
The forecast was really good, finally we were getting some proper summer.
The idea was to create a loop which I had ridden with a mate Brent Hartshorne back in the day. I started at Anakiwa and rode up to Te Mahia Saddle and then onto the Kenepuru Road. I'm not much of a road guy but this was pretty darn scenic. I followed the road up to Kenepuru Saddle passing a couple of great looking campsites, Kenepuru Head campsite looked particularly good, could be a good option if you are wanting to do this loop with kids.
From Kenepuru Saddle you can either ride north (closed from 1st Dec - 28 Feb), or like I did, south along the ridge tops heading towards the Bay of Many Coves campsite. This was quite a steep climb, totally worth filling up with water at this campsite as there is no water until the Black Rock campsite. In fact I came across some fairly desperate blistered up tourists who were all out of water half way between the two campsites, they were fairly happy to receive some water at this point.
I ended up bivvying at Black rock campsite as there are superb views into Kenepuru Sound and into the Queen Charlotte Sound. It was great to hear stories from other people walking this trail as part of the Te Araroa trail. To keep the stoke level high the riding is better from north to south as you get more descent time.
Day 2 involved some superb descent down to Torea Saddle but then you have some pretty brutal climbs along to Te Mahia Saddle. Great it you want to suffer. Some riders miss this section, avoiding the climbs and ride along the road from Portage to Te Mahia Saddle. This was followed by a pretty fun section along through mature beech forest to Anakiwa, finishing with a swim off the wharf, not a bad weekend.