Reefton: Queens Birthday Weekend, 2017

With fine weather forecast for the coast, 15 of us left a cold, grey day in Christchurch for a long weekend of mountain biking in Reefton. After a coffee and bite to eat, we headed off on our first ride, Blacks Point. This is a loop ride of approximately 15kms (760 meters of elevation during riding) which started and ended in Reefton township. After riding along the road for a few kilometres we started off road with a climb up a wide track which developed into mostly well-benched single track (intermediate grade) with a few steeper, technical sections thrown in, all amongst beautiful beech forest. Sarah drew first blood of the trip after clipping her handle bar and taking a tumble down the bank. She picked herself up and stoically completed the ride, a bit bruised but in good spirits.

We were rewarded with glorious views overlooking Reefton before descending down a four wheel drive track back to the road and cars. On heading to Waiuta Lodge, our accommodation for the next two nights, there was another wee mishap. Dean pulled over on the side of the gravel road to let a vehicle pass, and ended up sliding into a ditch and needing to be pulled out! All ended well, with bikes, car and people safe and undamaged. After a wonderful pot luck dinner Ellen kept us entertained with a quiz and card game. The next day dawned fine and clear, though a little chilly. We pedalled to the Waituta historical ghost town, had a look around, and then headed up the track towards Big River Hut. It follows an old benched pack track and passes various old mining sites along the way. Again, we were privileged to ride through beautiful beech forest covered in vibrant green moss.

I thought it was like being in a mythical, fantasy land. There were some rather challenging moments as we dealt with slippery roots and rocks, narrow track, short and steep uphill pinches, and longer steep uphill parts which we (I) pushed the bike(s). I think most of us got flipped off at one time or another, all with different style and grace—or not! After about 3 1/2 hours we finally arrived at the hut rather weary, cold and desperate for food. With our tummies replenished we headed back out of the hut to be greeted with a very chilly wind and slight bit of sleet. Needless to say our ride out was slightly quicker, as there was still quite a large segment of bike pushing. This is an in and out track of 28km total, with a total elevation of 1400 metres. We arrived back at the Lodge all in good form pleased to have completed another demanding yet rewarding ride.

That night Steve treated us all to a glorious meal of chilli and rice with all the trimmings followed by dessert, even. After a rather sleepless night for most, the less said about the snoring the better (haha), 11 of us drove to Blackball and started the last ride of the weekend, Croesus Track. It was a beautiful blue sky day, and the track was in superb condition, having just been freshly cut back. We climbed 1000 meters on well-formed single track made up of mainly rocky sections with some smoother, leafy sections further up the climb. Once we reached our destination of Ces Clark Hut, we had excellent views of Lake Brunner and the main divide. It was a very quick descent, fabulous downhill all the way, back to the cars and the Blackball Hilton for a congratulatory beer before making the long journey back to Christchurch. Thank you everyone who came along for the ride. It was an excellent weekend away with such good company and great rides, oh and the weather remained perfect throughout.

Marilyn Gray