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Old 04-06-2014, 04:14 PM   #1
clintnz OP
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Sea to Mountains NZ - Clint & Rosie's 2014 South Is Adventure

Onroad, offroad, no road... Every time we ride down to the South Island we find cool new places to go. This trip was no exception & a great run of weather made for an especially good time.

It's still dark in Plimmerton when the alarm finally cuts through the effects of some good red wine & whisky, 4Skins our host & barista is already cranking up his espresso machine to sustain us for the last few km of North Island to the ferry. The previous afternoon we had ridden nearly 500km of highway down from Rotorua.



We've kicked off a few trips south this way, John & Jan's hospitality always gets the journey off to a good start, thanks for having us guys!

She's a nice morning in Wellington as we get loaded up for the 3 hr crossing of Cook Strait.



Rolling off the boat in Picton the fun starts almost immediately as we turn onto the twisty & scenic Queen Charlotte Drive to make our way around the Marlborough Sounds to Rai Valley. Waiting for us there is Jeff, we had arranged to stay at his place that night & he came out to escort us in over the curvy little roads.





The tar soon turned to gravel as we headed out towards Port Ligar.





About 70km out in the remote far reaches of the sounds we dive off down a narrow track for a few more km before getting to Jeff's place, which is a fantastically cool James Bond villain style semi underground concrete bunker crossed with a hippy off the grid eco house. With plenty of day left to play in we unloaded the luggage & set off up the back driveway / enduro hillclimb to continue out to the end of the road at Bulwer.



After passing inspection by the guard sheep we have a cuppa with some friends of Jeff's then head back up the hill to loop back via another track.





It was great to have a local guide showing us around his backyard! Then we settled in to try out some mighty fine homebrew, learn a bit about the art of mussel farming, enjoy some locally caught blue cod & generally have a most enjoyable evening.



Stay tuned for the rest of the week's adventures.

Cheers
Clint
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Old 04-06-2014, 06:31 PM   #2
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Day 2

After a leisurely start sipping coffee & gazing at the glorious view out to French Pass we eventually got loaded up & on the road south. Big thanks to Jeff for hosting us in such fine style



Of course we couldn't pass through the Marlborough wine region without getting something to go with dinner, so we called in to Fromm vineyards cellar door to taste a few reds & left with a bottle of their Syrah.



We then took in a little gravel out over Taylors Pass then made our way south via hwy 1 down the Kaikoura coast. After fuelling up we turned inland, then off the highway & up the Kahutara River.



We had obtained permission to use the road into the Clarence Reserve, so we dialled the secret code into the lock on the gate & started climbing up Driving Spur, & climbing, & climbing up into the clouds...



It's an awe inspiring track, with the beginning near sea level & the top at 1200m there's a lot of up.

File shot, what it looks like from the air on a clear day:



Meanwhile on our not-so-clear day, inside the cloud, we wound our way up to Blind Saddle with a misty abyss on one side & towering rocky outcrops on the other. Then the light started to get weird, shafts of sunlight lit up the alpine landscape, & we broke out into a brilliant day.



The way down the other side was clear, & the views out to the Inland Kaikoura Mountains were magnificent.





We descended down some groovy switchbacks into the Heron stream.



We passed the old Bluff Dump hut as the track levelled out a bit & dropped into the stream bed.



After splashing down the stream a little we decided it was time to make camp so we turned off to Black Spur Hut, not far from the main track but guarded by a bouldery stream bed disappearing up through a blink & you'll miss it slot in the rock.





The old hut was pretty neat but we decided our tent might be a bit more sandfly proof so we set that up nearby, next to a thoughtfully provided coat hook.



Dinner was a very tasty olive tagine which went very nicely with the Fromm syrah



Cheers
Clint
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The wilderness, the desert - why are they not crowded
.................................................. .....with pilgrims?

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Old 04-06-2014, 07:20 PM   #3
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wow! amazing pics!

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Old 04-06-2014, 07:51 PM   #4
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What an amazingly beautiful country!! Never thought NZ could be that nice. And awfully good riding too!! Thanks for sharing the pics!!!
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Old 04-07-2014, 11:09 PM   #5
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Nice pics Clint. have you got any pics of the outside of Undergrounds place? I've heard about it but not seen it yet. Might see you going thru Nelson if you are visiting the inlaws.
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Old 04-07-2014, 11:24 PM   #6
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Its always a pleasure to show adv riders around the neighborhood Clint, stay a bit longer next time and we'll get out on the boat.
padmei, we are only 1h 40min away
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Old 04-08-2014, 01:00 AM   #7
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Excellent pics Clintz and Rosie and it's always great seeing how much people like the various roads around here.

Some really nice riding out there Underground, a few years back I rode out to Waterfall Bay and stayed with some friends for a very pleasant week of hunting, sailing and fishing.
Beautiful area your in.
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Old 04-08-2014, 05:49 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Padmei View Post
Nice pics Clint. have you got any pics of the outside of Undergrounds place? I've heard about it but not seen it yet. Might see you going thru Nelson if you are visiting the inlaws.
No pics sorry, don't want to compromise Underground's plans for world Domination Actually being dug into a ridge top it's hard to get a good shot of it. We're already home now, ran out of time to get to Nelson, hopefully next time.

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Its always a pleasure to show adv riders around the neighborhood Clint, stay a bit longer next time and we'll get out on the boat.
padmei, we are only 1h 40min away
Thanks! We will definitely take you up on that one day.

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Excellent pics Clintz and Rosie and it's always great seeing how much people like the various roads around here.
Yep, lots of fun. I'd had a bit of a poke around the sounds a few years back, but after a closer look at the maps & a few yarns with the locals it seems we have a lot more to see out there.

Just about to get another couple of days worth of pics posted up.
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Old 04-08-2014, 07:17 PM   #9
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Day 3

After a good nights sleep we had a leisurely breakfast & set off for some exploration. When I first visited the Clarence last year with McCardigan (ride report here) we had travelled north down the valley so this time I was keen to check out the up river branch. First we made our way down the Heron to the turnoff.





The track winds it's way away from the river & is mostly fairly cruisy in the dry, however the odd boggy trench & rocky hillclimb demand some concentration. With the Seaward Kaikoura range on one side & the Inland Kaikoura range on the other we are well surrounded by mountains.






We stopped to shed a few layers as the day warmed up at the old Willows Hut. This area is conservation land now, attempts were made to farm it years ago but the harsh climate, harsh terrain, isolation & rabbits all conspired to drive the farmers away.



Over the hill we drop down towards the Clarence river & head upstream.



This huge, bare scenery reminds me of ride reports I've seen from the Stan's.



Eventually we get to the end of the line at the very tidy Palmer hut.





We cruise back down the track.





Returning to the Heron we follow it right down back to the Clarence.





Just downstream is the old Quail Flat homestead & woolshed.





Some of the land around this area is still farmed by Muzzle Station from across the river. Muzzle is probably the most isolated farm in NZ.

We loop back over the hill to Black Spur for a spot of lunch before packing up camp.



Then it's up, up & away back over Blind Saddle.



...then down & down to the highway. Despite being told that all the huts would be full of hunters at this time of year we saw absolutely nobody anywhere during our trip into the reserve.

It's quite a change of pace letting rip on the twisty inland Kaikoura Rd after many miles of being careful not to plummet off the side of a mountain.



On past Waiau & the Hurunui Pub beckoned for an afternoon pint & a look at the map to decide where to go next.



A campsite up in the Ashley Forest looked interesting so we made our way up there & settled in by the river.



Cheers
Clint
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Old 04-09-2014, 05:22 PM   #10
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Great report Clint. Looks like you guys had a great trip.

How many palms needed greasing to get into the Clarence?
I am heading back south next week to pickup the bike and return north, figured I might see if I can get a peek in there as well.
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Old 04-10-2014, 01:47 AM   #11
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Yay. Found your RR :)


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Old 04-10-2014, 03:25 PM   #12
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The next morning dawned grey and drizzly, so we wasted no time in packing up and continuing south along the Inland Scenic Route. We were pleased to have a short day ahead of us, and arrived at Clint’s sister’s place in Stavely at lunchtime, just as the heavy rain started.

The next morning was fine and frosty and revealed a dusting of snow on nearby Mount Somers.



Clare and Brad expected us to earn our keep, so the next day was spent helping to position some wooden beams for their new workshop fit-out, and building some workbenches for Liam and Flynn; the two budding carpenters of the house.



We’d given the boys a bench vice each for Christmas, so naturally they needed benches to go with them. The new owners gave the benches a very detailed going-over with a tape measure and a spirit level, but they passed inspection and were declared fit for purpose.



Having been discharged from woodworking duties, the next morning our friend Mike rode down from Rangiora and we continued south to the upper reaches of the Rangitata river.

The road turned into a bit of a track



Then turned into a riverbed as we followed the Rangitata river into the mountains



The land surrounding the river is farmed by Mesopotamia station, and the station owns several huts in the area. We borrowed the picnic table of one for our lunch break



From this point the Rangitata splits into the Havelock and Clyde Rivers, our track continued up the Havelock, but we had other adventures awaiting us, so turned around after lunch and went back the way we had come





The next stop on our adventure itinerary was Lake Tekapo, and the wonderfully long and gravelly Lilybank Road









At the end of the road... there was Danger



And the Macaulay river track



The mountains were a bit bigger than in the Rangitata, and the boulders were a bit bigger too. It was easy to lose the indistinct vehicle track, and find yourself bouncing over the boulders until you could locate the track again.



Eventually we came to the rather nice Macaulay hut. By this stage I was getting very tired, and somehow missed the nice easy track to the hut and only saw the boulder strewn hardman hillclimb approach. Normally I would stop timidly at the bottom, ruining all chances of a successful ascent, so this time I tried to be brave and hit it hard. I almost got up If I'd been a blouse and stopped at the bottom I could have avoided it entirely. Lesson learned



This hut is unusual for New Zealand, in that it is owned by a private trust, but is open for public use. It was very well set up, and even came with crockery and cutlery. And keas. These rather inquisitive alpine parrots have a mind like a steel trap, and a beak like a swiss army knife. They love to explore, and destroy, anything they come across.

Such as every piece of rubber on the outside of the rental Prado that was in residence. The door seals had been chewed up, and the windscreen sealing strip was becoming more ragged by the day. We were quite concerned for the welfare of our motorbikes, especially Mike, who had only recently brought his new 690 back from Dubai and didn’t like the prospect of riding home on the shredded remains of his new renazco seat. So countermeasures were put in place.



Right on darkness the keas descended on the hut, and made a beeline for the bikes. The last thing we saw before turning in for the night was a group of them with one kea chewing on my tyre, and the others eyeing up the rest of the bike. The keas stayed around the hut all night, calling to each other and sometimes scratching around at the solar panel on the roof (the hut used to have solar lights, until the keas did a bit of rewiring work on the back of the panel).

We awoke the next morning with the hut still surrounded by keas, and wondered if our bikes had survived the onslaught.
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Old 04-10-2014, 10:38 PM   #13
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Quote:
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....
We awoke the next morning with the hut still surrounded by keas, and wondered if our bikes had survived the onslaught.
Ohhhh noooo... it's like a TV cliffhanger...
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Old 04-10-2014, 10:54 PM   #14
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Wink great report guys

As a biased, confirmed South Islander I am loving your report - especially your pics.
I have passed through some of those parts and seeing them again is a treat.
Cheers
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Old 04-11-2014, 11:36 AM   #15
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Nice!
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