Day 1: Ship Cove to Waikawa Bay - From Ship Cove to Milford Sound: the length of the South Island the hard way - CycleBlaze

March 6, 2023

Day 1: Ship Cove to Waikawa Bay

A disclaimer or two:

The bikes-on-boat pic on this journal's header is a little deceptive. We took our e-bikes on the Queen Charlotte track last week, riding to a lodge for lunch then caught the afternoon ferry home. So the photo does approximate the beginning of Bruce's epic ride, though in reverse, in darkness and with a different bike. 

His choice of steed for the Sounds2Sounds is his absolute favourite, a Specialized Epic mountain bike, which looks more like this:

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Scondly, the ghost-writer has to confess to falling short of expectations. Last week's ride along the Queen Charlotte track included a little whoopsie when I left the bike and dropped down a bank. A week later, my left hand is in plaster, considerably impeding my typing speed - but, on the bright side, I do have a lot more time on my hand(s).

Anyway, back to the subject of this journal.

Along with 90-odd other crazy participants (obviously the ghost-writer is taking liberties here), Bruce rolled up to one of Picton's commercial ferry operators in pre-dawn gloom for the hour's journey to Ship Cove.

ready to roll
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Ship Cove was one of the early sites of interaction between Māori and European seafarers. Captain James Cook spent many months there on his three voyages to New Zealand in the 1770s. Now, it is the starting point of the highly acclaimed Queen Charlotte hiking track. And from March 1st each year, the 74km track is also fully open to mountain bikers.

Unloading bikes at Ship Cove
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The ride begins with a steep rise on a well-graded track to a lookout point before dropping into Resolution Bay. After navigating a series of undulations, Bruce rode into the more expansive Endeavour Inlet, passing the once-grand Furneaux Lodge, still a popular accommodation option for hikers.

Furneaux Lodge - no stopping here today though!
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Just past Furneaux, Bruce did stop briefly. Adrienne, one of our book group members who lives right on the QC track, had been following him on Maprogress, the live tracking website, and rushed out of her gate to surprise him with a food parcel and a quick discussion of our current book. This was today's highlight, Bruce says.

From Endeavour Inlet, it's a long haul up the Kenepuru Saddle to the Torea Saddle, where Bruce and most other riders took the easier option of the shingle road to the next high point, the Te Mahia Saddle. The QC track began life as a hiking trail, with cyclists added to the mix as an afterthought. Much of the trail is actually unrideable for all but the absolutely crazy. Even taking the adjacent road option, many riders today found themselves hike-a-biking sections of the track.

Queen Charlotte view
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The final section of the track was a doddle in comparison and, by early afternoon, Bruce and a bunch of others were enjoying hot food and ice creams at the famous green caravan at Anakiwa.

The green caravan refreshment stop. Photo courtesy Kennett brothers, instigators of the Sounds2Sounds event.
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Anakiwa to home, the final leg, is very familiar territory for Bruce. The terrain is a mix of off-road trails (the Link Pathway) and the sealed scenic road that carries locals and tourists between Havelock and Picton. Not long after 4pm, his first day in the saddle ended when Bruce cycled up our driveway, tired but very satisfied.

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Today's ride: 97 km (60 miles)
Total: 97 km (60 miles)

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Rachael AndersonWow! What a challenging ride.
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6 months ago
Robyn RichardsHe really does like to challenge himself....Me, I'd be happy to gently ride in Europe!
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6 months ago