Thursday, 17 March 2016

Ashhurst to Maruia, Day 6 and 7

In the morning I pretty much wore everything I had as it was cold and still raining, again I left in the dark and onto the main Highway but it wasn’t for long. Onto the Manawatu River Trail which pretty much lead to Palmerston North. Once reaching the outskirts of Palmy (as I like to call it) I headed back towards town to find some food. The first place was a BP with a Wild Bean Café in store, I ordered a coffee and bought a pie, I think it was Bacon and Egg and when that was gone I went to get another one but I had just eaten the last so Butter Chicken was the next choice. I don’t normally eat pies but they went down a treat but it was hard to get started again, at least the rain had stopped. Eketahuna was the next stop for a few supplies and another pie was consumed as well as a piece of Carrot cake. I took my photo of the largest Kiwi in New Zealand and headed of on my merry way to Masterton.

From here I am seriously struggling to remember the ride, I have looked at the cue sheets and the Classic New Zealand Cycle trails description and I have even googled images of Masterton but I am still drawing a blank on this section. I do remember at some point as I was getting close to the Rimutaka Cycle trail and then the cycle trail itself. The Trail started of a very nice single track but soon opened out to what you would expect of a Rail Trail, it was a nice gradient to climb and even with the mist the views were great. I enjoyed the climb up and the tunnels but the downhill was even better.


From here it was about 45km to Wellington via 30km’s on the Hutt River Trail , once at the flatter part of this I again called the Bluebridge and Interisland Ferry to try and get onto the 9pm sailing. I had been told by both companies earlier that this was a freight ferry and they don’t really let walk on passengers on board. I tried to explain that I am not a walk on I have a vehicle (considering you actually ride on with the cars) this was true. The Bluebridge said no they were now full and the Interislander was rather un-committal. At about half was a friend Mark Wallace came down to meet me and rode with me to Petone, thanks so much Mark the company was just what I needed and we discussed what to do about the Ferry and he reckoned I should just turn up at the Interislander and see what happens. Otherwise it meant waiting until a 2.30am sailing on the Bluebridge and it was only 7pm now, I was rather undecided and just about headed up to Jonathan Kennett’s house, but in the end I decided to take Mark's advice and I took my chances with the Ferry. Arriving at the Terminal the ticketing area was closed but one of the cleaners came out and told me to head down to the vehicle check in booth, I really can’t understand why it had not been able to book over the phone when I rang the first time much earlier in the day. The lady was very friendly and she instantly booked me on, once she had printed my ticket I asked her what time do I have to be here to get onto the Ferry, it was now 8pm and she said 8.15. Oh ……. I didn’t say this, I just thought it as I needed dinner and supplies for the next day, I had already searched for a Supermarket on my GPS so off I went. I rushed through bought something for dinner, don’t know what and supplies for the next day, then straight back to the Ferry Terminal making it there at 8.17pm and went straight onto the Ferry. I tied down my bike and took off all of the bags so I could re organise them over the next three hours and then found a comfy spot for the trip. It was pretty quiet on board as it was mainly a Freight Ferry full of trucks, I started unpacking and decided to dry my wet gear from Ashhurst
No body seemed to mind.
I pretty much occupied a whole seating area but it really didn’t matter. Even if there were more people I don’t think they would have wanted to sit next to me as it had now been three days without a shower.  I washed my clothes in the sink ate dinner and tried to sleep, it was a bit hard at first as it was a bit of a rough sailing but I fell asleep eventually, I maybe got about 90 minutes. It was a bit of a rush for the next half an hour to repack all my gear and head down to the vehicle deck to load up my bike. Once in Picton I went in search of somewhere to spend my next 2 hours to wait out my mandatory 6 hour break. I found the perfect spot, set my alarm for one and half hours and settled down for a sleep on the decks of the Pirate ship in the children’s playground. I heard the alarm this time, ate breakfast, Muesli, fruit and yogurt packed up my sleeping bag and it was back on the road sometime around 2.15am. I have ridden the Queen Charlotte sounds road quite a few times before due to riding the awesome Queen Charlotte track, I definitely need to get back up there to ride it again. When I got to Havelock I was so tired and I looked for somewhere to have a kip for 30 minutes or so but I didn’t find anything that I felt comfortable with so I carried on. I was so tired and eventually had to stop around 6am in what I thought was an old derelict building and jumped up to bed down for a much needed sleep. It was actually a small shearing shed still in use and it was just what I needed. I set my alarm for 30 minutes and instantly fell asleep, back on the bike and Pelorus Bridge was not too far now, a quick stop for water and Hotcross Buns and I headed up the valley. It was starting to warm up and daylight was on its way, so I stopped briefly to take off some clothes and saw a light coming from behind me. It was of course another TA rider, he told me that he had started from Pelorus Bridge that day and off he went. I soon set off but had to stop again for the call of nature and to take some more clothes off. I eventually caught back up to this rider on the Maungatapu Track and passed him but only to be passed by him again on one of the steeper sections as I had to walk. I was running a 1 x 11 speed setup with a 34t chainring up front, he had at least 2 x 10. It was hard to keep traction and my tired legs couldn’t turn the pedals anymore so I got off and walked. I stayed with him through this section and as soon as it eased just a bit I jumped back on the bike and we rode to the Maungatapu saddle together.
Scott Emmens at Maungatapu Saddle
There we met the other two riders that he had been riding with over the last couple of days, I knew one of them Scott Emmens and we talked a bit and he warned me of the downhill. It was pretty fast and rough, once the downhill was over it seemed like an awful long way out the Maitai Valley. Eventually I arrived at the I-site café in Nelson and decided that would do for Breakfast. I ordered French Toast and I was seriously disappointed upon it's arrival, it had cost me $19 and it was tiny. It was nice but it was defiantly not big enough for me right now nor on just a normal breakfast outing. Scott and company had arrived and what they ordered looked much heartier, they had obviously arranged to meet friends there and had quite a crew around the table. So I didn't hang around for too long and I headed of in search of supplies and a second breakfast. This came in the form of muffins and fruit from the Countdown Supermarket. More Muesli bars, fruit, muffins, savoury scrolls and chocolate for the rest of my day and I was just about off.  When a gentleman a bit older that myself stopped for a chat and my bike and setup, he was intrigued with what I was as he was an old school cycle tourer. Back on the road/cyclepath and I met another random cyclist who was in Nelson for a Hockey Tournament and we chatted for the next 5 km’s or so. I had some messages from friends that my tracker showed that I was in Wellington and they wondered what was going on. When I reached Wakefield I called Tony from Spot NZ to see what was going on. He suggested putting in some new batteries (I should have taken the spare set at the start that I said I don’t need) he said I need to buy Lithium ones or at least high drain alkaline batteries. I saw the price of 4 AAA lithium batteries and just about fell over, $38. The alkaline batteries were going to have to do and they did, I put them in and gave Tony a call and he ran me through a quick process and I was back on the tracking map. Scott Emmens and company rolled in as I was leaving and I said politely I hope I don’t see you again todayJ From here it I was soon onto a gravel road heading towards Dovedale it was nice and quiet and the shade of the tress in places was welcomed. Then it was out onto State Highway 6 and onto to Tapawera.

Old Stanly Brook School at the Junction to State Highway 6
I went into Tapawera for lunch and more supplies. Lunch was a toasted Panini in the local café and then to the four square for hotcross buns, fruit a pie and an Almond Magnum to consume then and there as the Panini was nice but not enough. Back down the road and onto the Tadmore Valley Road this was all a pretty un eventful section to Lake Rotoroa and I was feeling good and enjoying the riding. It was a bit later in the day when I arrived at the lake and I would have loved a swim but it wasn’t quite as hot as earlier in the day, So I took some great photos of the lake instead.
Lake Rotoroa
Lake Rotorao from the bridge across the Gowan River

From here it was a climb up and over the Braeburn Track, but once at the top it was pretty much downhill all the way to Murchison. First stop was again the local four square to stock up again as I was consuming a lot of food to keep the engine going. Next it was the local Hotel which I had been to before for a burger and chips and it was same again thanks. Whilst eating, there was a group of about 8 blokes on a blokes MTB trip and they had just ridden the Ghost road and thoroughly enjoyed it. A ride I have to get too soon along with the Heaphy. They were intrigued by what I was doing and when I left they said make sure you get some sleep as I had been on the road from Ashhurst with very little sleep. It was now around 8pm and I had started the day before at 5.30am, I did have my 6 hour break but maybe got a total of 3 hours sleep plus 30 minutes in the shearing shed. I guess I looked pretty wrecked but there was still time to ride. I was heading for Maruia Saddle, it was a nice ride and I passed a couple of TA riders held up for the night in the porch of an old house, I continued up to the saddle on the way up I could hear this noise and I wondered if there was some power station up here. when I got to a bridge the noise was seriously loud so I had a look at the river with my head torch. It was the Matakitaki River and it looked serious, there was a lot of water massive boulders and the river had some serious gradient. A friend told me later that he thinks a TA rider Ian Huntsman has paddled some of the upper section of this, crazy. Once at the saddle I attempted to take my mandatory photo and as you see it didn’t work out very well.

I decided to head down from here, I put on my rain jacket and buff for some warmth but I was pretty cold heading down to state highway 65, it was now around 11pm and I was pretty tired, I rode about 5km and then looked for somewhere to stay. I went down bit of a track which in the end was a driveway to a house. The house was empty but still in use, I considered sleeping on the porch but thought better of it and pitch my tent back up the driveway and off into the trees where I couldn’t be seen. It had been a massive day or so, from Ashhurst, well just about  two days really. 41 and ½ hours had passed with approximately 3-4 hours of sleep and 581 kilometres. I definitely felt that and it was straight to sleep. 


  1. That, Jake, is an epic Almond Magnum powered day... thank goodness those pies did kick in too, even if the Nelson brekkie was tiny! You must have been in another world if the OGR Riders said you needed sleep. Good stuff