New Zealand is on the bucket list of many travellers and has a lot to offer for mtb riders too. Tina and Ben spent some time on the island and found a great trail that they want to introduce you to.
Monday – slightly cloudy summer day, perfect temperature to head out for a day mission on the bike. Lucky us we could arrange with Shane from the Bluemoonlodge in Havelock to join a bike shuttle to the Wakamarina track start.
A group of Australians booked this shuttle but they were short 2 persons to completely fill the shuttle. The group is visiting the region around Nelson for briefly a week and is on a tight schedule with multiple epic rides on the plan, including the Nydia track as well as a day at the Wairoa Gorge.Shane proposed a change of plans for the group and ride the Nydia track today and the day after the slightly easier Wakamarina track in the rain. The group let us decide since we were joining them only one of the two days. Easy decision, we only heard good things about the Nydia track and it was on our #nzmustdo list of trails to ride anyway. I think some of the group might have been relieved with this turn of events.
So what’s in it that makes the Nydia track a bit difficult to ride in the wet? The first downhill from Opouri saddle towards Duncan bay is manageable in the wet. It’s a fun grade 4 track with some fast sections that get you quickly down to Duncan Bay. Duncan Bay is where the actual Nydia Track starts. The downhill is basically a warm up for the riding that follows. I think we all agree that it is also nice to start your day with a bit of downhill before the climb starts. This hasn’t been often the case since we arrived in New Zealand.
In the marvelous Duncan Bay starts the first uphill of the Nydia track. This climb is probably the rootiest uphill I ever rode. Not just roots. But also heaps of offcamber sections, huge roots and often exposed sections that were mostly rideable in the dry but really need lots of skill to conquer in the wet. Both of us did agree that the uphill was fun (in the dry) and challenging. Neither of us would want to ride it in the wet, though. Some people refer to this uphill as the best uphill on the world, or at least New Zealand. After pedaling up I can understand why.
Since the first uphill was so techy it didn’t really surprise us that what followed was technically challenging as well. The ride down to Nydia Bay was a wild mix of rockgardens, roots, small stream crossings and offcamber sections. Again, often a bit exposed. It reminded us a bit of some hiking trails back home in Switzerland. If there was a fast way back to the top I would have ridden it again, such a great track! But I guess one of the reasons this trail is so damn good is because you do have to earn it yourself and need a shuttle to get there. Unfortunately it was too hard to stop in the challenging parts of the trail to stop, just too much fun. Additionally it did help to just keep moving to clear some of the obstacles. Only some of the streams had to be crossed off the bike.
There is hardly any cellphone connection (only on the 2 highest points of the track you briefly have the ability to call someone) and we didn’t really meet a lot of people on the track either. Means, you always have to find that balance of pinning it without risking too much. Which is sometimes a bit difficult to manage. But definitely a new experience and different to what we are used to in Switzerland.
Lucky us we didn’t have any major crashes, nor did we have any mechanicals and arrived safely in the absolutely stunning Nydia Bay. Turquoise water, a couple of boats in the bay and a few houses hidden behind trees in the shades. And in the middle of it the “On the track lodge”. The perfect spot to stop for a coffee and carrot cake to before attacking the next uphill.
The next uphill was far less entertaining and far steeper, too. Not many rooty obstacles to play with. This made the uphill feel at least twice as long. We did suffer a bit but made it to the top of this last saddle. What followed was again a difficult downhill to start with but this time it got faster the further down you got. I think I preffered the first downhill, but this one nothing short of fun as well. We kind of expected from this long climb to ride directly down to the awaiting shuttle but were surprised with another climb. This time short and flowy uphill that lead into a similar downhill. Super fast, not technical and heaps of flow. Perfect way to end the day and enjoy the last few turns. At the end of the trail we were welcomed by Shane with his shuttle bus and a cold beer to make this “one of those days”.
Tired but with huge smiles and very happy we both conclude that those 35km and 1200 meters of uphill count to our favourite trails ridden in New Zealand. All the stories we heard about this track were true. If you love technical riding and a bit of backcountry feeling, this track just must be on your list – #nzmustdo
Further information and contact to Tina and Ben: outsideisfree.ch
Words: Tina Gerber Photos: Armin „Ben“ Wurmser