Wather Wet n Windy Welly Weather.

Wellington – Feb 2014
Windy Welly is known for its Wather Wild Wet ‘n’ Windy Weather, it is also very, very hilly. The many hills that are not covered in Urban sprawl are instead covered in thick, dense, near impenetrable forest bush and hiding throughout this dense bush many amazing cycle tracks have been developed, but like most places in NZ, to get to the top, you first have to climb.

Wellington from Christchurch is a 5 hour drive and a 3 hour ferry crossing. With a long holiday weekend ahead of us, we finished work on the Thursday, loaded the Ute with 4 bods and 5 bikes and roared off to backpackers lodge near the ferry terminal for a quick nap before the notoriously rough crossing early next morning.

Day 1. An awesome crossing, the gods had blessed us, off the ferry and a drive by the airport to collect the Boss whom preferred to sleep in his own bed and avoid 5 hours in the Ute. (Works for AirNZ so cheap flights for him)

It’s lunchtime now so with the typical Kiwi Kai in our pukus (traditional NZ food in our tummy’s i.e a meat pie from the bakers) we set straight off to ride the Wainuiomata (Why-Newie-O-Marter) bike park for a few hours before driving off to the motorlodge park where the 5 of us were to stay in a 3m x 5m shed with bunkbeds, cramped, but cheap and our token female was a little unimpressed with the lack of privacy for her.

Day 2. Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park.
So, with the free parking at the start of the bike park, complete with toilets, bike wash down, big track maps, sheltered seating areas, water taps and basic bike tools including track pump on chains. We saddled up Bro and set off for a ‘Mean As’ climb up the hill and get access to over 35km of hillside single track.

Nearly all the height was gained on the relative straight sections, with the hair pin switchbacks pretty much levelled out complete with high banked berms for the rather speedy descents. If you are ever to cycle uphill, on single track, this just had to be the way to do it.

The track building was so well thought-out and built that it made climbing the 400m peak, three times a, dare I say it, rather pleasant experience :-/ The trees and the bush were just so interesting, dense but interesting, with occasional breaks in the canopy to let you glance out over the ranges offering a well earned vantage point and appreciation of just how much height we were gaining so rapidly.
Cruising along in granny gear with the seat post extended to the point where it felt like you were on tip toes to turn a full pedal stroke, the uphills suddenly became enjoyable. With knees pumping hard, the occasion ‘layby’ would appear on the single track, usually with a bench, a log or stump to rest on. Hold on! I was taken aback; Has the Major been to these parts? I questioned myself in a split second of surprise! I was horrified! There, amongst all this fabulous beauty, on the side of a dense bush covered hill, a hill that has seen over 4,500 track building volunteer hours invested upon it, there, within all this Flora and Fauna, some disrespectful dirty hoon has discarded their old tube and left it swinging in the breeze. Then, a tyre, a rusty ole chain, a buckled wheel, WTF is this Bro? Who would do this? Then came my realisation, this is ‘Bike Art’! Sweet As Bro! Suddenly it was cool to dump your used parts in the bush or adorn a dead tree stump with a buckled wheel, a chainring or 20 nailed into a form of bike themed collage…..

At the peak for the first time of 3 visits today, just 18700km from Coed-Y-Brenin, with a magnificent 360 degree view of Wellington and its surrounding hills and a sky full of warm sun, it was time for one of our riding party (Our very own DJP of the Canterbury MTB Club) to fulfil his social media educed ‘Necknomination’ obligation, and skull a cold Corona. Whilst the rest of sat slowly sipping and enjoying the reward of reaching the top. The peak complete with decking platform, picnic benches and bike racks, all just on top of a hill, nothing else but the deck, a bench, a bike rack and the endless view. So much to look at, ferries in the harbour, wind turbines on the peaks, tracks snaking down every hillside.


Would we invest in this sort of thing in the UK? ….. Only if it was privately owned, an entrance fee was paid and a grotty old cafĂ© was printing money, you’d be battling the crowds to sit down, the air would be filled with ringtones, dodgy rap music screeching out some hoons iPhone and you’d no doubt be hogging in second-hand cigarette smoke from some greasy chap in a shellsuit that had just driven up in his Granada.

Instead, we sat, we ate, we drank, we rested and we watched the tranquillity in silence……Mmmm! Then reminded ourselves, “Hey Bro, we gonna smash these trails Hard As Bro”, saddle up bitches, time to eat dirt, we’re in for a Sick As Day Bro.

Day 3. The weather was a little more Wellington like, Wet and Windy. With the morning back up the hills, tracks a little too soft, but heaps of fun. Spotted a few advisory notices suggesting track damage is caused by over use in the wet so just half a day spent there. Thinking we would just sack the day early and grab a scoop in a bar instead, the city was heaving with crazy costumes as the Rugby 7’s were in full swing. After a beer and a feed we decided we would ride again, an old rail road, the 22km Rimutaka Incline railway line made slightly famous by it’s long dark tunnels and rail disaster back in 1880 when strong winds blew the train off the tracks as it traversed a bridge over a deep gorge killing 3 children.

The tunnels were odd, one of them so long and curved that there was no light at the end of the tunnel and thus pitch black. Advice is for cyclist to walk, Yeah Right, for 600m? Get real! So in we rode, single file, nice and slow with the light fading with every extra metre until it was close to pitch black! The odd sound of someone’s bars scrapping the tunnel walls. Of course, I was lead scout, those behind could vaguely work out a silhouette of the one in front! Nice, but me, I didn’t have that! With no lights, all we could do was keeping going, really slowly, with elbows poking right out so they touched the wall before the bars caught. For some crazy moment, I thought I’d see if I could ride no handed with both arms out stretched ready to feel the walls. It worked for what may have been 4-5m before I chickened out thinking the floor may have a divot that would have me off. I went to grab my bars again and in the total darkness, I fell short and completely missed the bars altogether, instead, in slow motion, thumped onto the damp floor. Oh how we laughed, grown men in the dark tunnel, all twisted together in a heap.

Day 4. Journey home. On the ferry, off the ferry and a short detour from the port to spend 2 hours riding the tail end of the very Famous Queen Charlotte Track. It’s a 70+km track and we basically rode for 1 hour then turned around. One word, Glorious. I’ll say nothing about it now as I will return to complete the whole track.