Sunday, October 28, 2007

Biking in the Hunua Range

This weekend I decided to try to get out of the city a bit, at least for a day trip. So after some quick web searches for appropriate places to visit, I settled on journeying to ride the nearby MTB tracks in the Hunua Range. My "how to get there" started at the Orakei train station near my homestay:

My versatile Surly Karate Monkey is paying dividends right now - yesterday this was a city bike, now it's obviously a MTB, tomorrow perhaps a fully loaded tourer? In any case, the train takes bikes so long as there is room and you pay an extra NZ$1.00.

After 40 minutes of stops I arrived in Papakura. I went to visit a bike shop (Ride Cycles) and talked with the friendly store manager. He was fresh out of maps for the Hunua tracks but invited me along on their weekly rides, in which case I would be able to hitch a ride to the MTB tracks. As it was I started off on the 28 km "ride to the ride" through some of the most beautiful farming country around.

Eventually I got to the entrance to the park. From here it was a sweet downhill (on singletrack) to the campground at the base of the Mangatawhiri Dam (BTW - "wh" is pronounced like an "f").
Here's the campground. What are those white dots on the hillside? Anyway, this place was picturesque but as I ate lunch my legs were getting bit up by some nasty black bugs. Aside from that, it would make a wonderful 24-hour MTB site.
I did the "lower Mangatawhiri Loop" after learning that the more masochistically enticing "challenge" loop was closed due to poor conditions. The conditions were fantastic and the track was a blend of 60% purpose-designed singletrack and some roads thrown in for connections. It all ran through "regenerating" native forest of spindly trees and huge tree-like ferns. A handful of river crossings were thrown for good measure.To keep the clay from ruining things the trail builders hauled in TONS of road base rock that had already blended into a buffed trail. Amazing. Some pics follow:
A river crossing amongst the ferns.

Lot of places to take a dip if it wasn't so perfectly mild.
See that little sign there? With the downhiller icon? They are all like that, giving me the impression that the trails here are all (figuratively) downhill for happy little mountain bikers.

Alas, after riding the 14k loop I was tired but happy. On the way I took some pics of the idyllic landscape:

There were some very orderly cows - they were happily trotting toward a gate while a farmer did tricks on his ATV.
Ah, so there they are! Sheep! Lots of 'em!
On the way back to Papakura I was taken aback by improbable implications of this sign. Fortunately I only had two wheels ;).

For those that care, here is a map of the ride. The little loop in the middle is the MTB part, the rest is on roads getting there. ~75 kms with 1200 m of ascent on the day, not bad! Time for a kebab!

If you click on the header of the above map from bikely a window will open that has a google map view of the ride - choose "satellite" or "hybrid" view to get an idea of what the terrain looks like. You can also export the data to google earth using the "export to kml" option. Cheers.

1 comment:

Marlene said...

Hi Bryon!
What beautiful countryside. I love how the cows posed for the camera..MW