It’s June 1st and it’s the official start date of Winter and time for Peak 21. Winter…? What Winter?
Soaking up the rays in the Malborough Sounds for my Birthday Peak, it was apparent that Winter was still a way off for some parts of New Zealand. For the rest of the South Island though, the snow was piling in, ready for a killer ski and board season. A middle-range 17C meant that my 21st Peak was going to be a shorts and t-shirt affair.
Starting from around sea level near Rarangi Beach we (myself and Caralyn) headed up the Mt Robertson Loop track clockwise. The start was quite steep up a 4×4 track which turned into single track through lovely beech and fern forests. The sun shone through the trees and we reached the loop junction (the route down) within 40 minutes. Not too bad having climbed 500m in around 3.5km.
We ran along the ridge c.700m in altitude and then the last climb began. The route up from the ridge was winding and zig zagged all the way up to the summit where we were promised incredible views overlooking the sounds and to the North Island (according to the DOC information). The route was rocky but not exposed, still in the woodland all the way up to the trig point and mast/golf ball radar on the summit. We got there, ready to be blown away, but the trees covered all the views and we could only get a slight glimpse of the surrounding sea and sounds.
After a bite to eat, we descended very fast. This was the fun bit (but not for my quads…) the descent was 6.5km through intensely gorgeous forest sweeping corners and blue sky.
We passed a couple of mountain bikers pushing their way to the summit for an awesome downhill ride – but we were going well and they never caught us. Pushing a bike up there looked incredibly hard work!! Lots of tired and angry faces.
Still we made it to the Port Underwood Road, crossed it towards Whites Bay and the sea.
Hitting the sea was awesome – descending the full 1036m from summit to the coast felt like an awesome birthday achievement. Great shots and video footage (above) of the beach too.
Unfortunately we had to climb back up to the car after that, sitting at around 200m… but not too difficult after the rest of the day’s activity. 18km in total and number 21 under my belt – bring on the rest of “Winter”!
The following day we headed to Queen Charlotte Track from Anakiwa. What an awesome track it is; well maintained, multi-use (bike, horse, walk, run…) and stunning views across the sounds. We ran the first quarter of the track to Te Mahia Saddle and back to Anakiwa. The height gain was pretty much one long slow climb up to around 300m at the lookout point which meant for an amazing run back down to Anakiwa at the end. With 13km under our belt, we reached the saddle and thought that was enough after a peak the previous day and headed back to the car. Then the rain started – we were so lucky!! Still, we had enough daylight to head to the vinyards for a few wine tastings before closing time. Yum!
Still that amount of activity wasn’t enough. So on Monday we drove back into Blenheim and mountain biked to Wither Hills MTB Park, nestled into the hills that overlook the vinyards and town itself. We traversed the park from one end to the other starting from the river side towards the sea. Another 28km of biking to add to the list, and the rain held off again!
Time to relax? Or just keep on adding these peaks… that’s the next decision.