Tuesday was our day for wine tasting in Marlborough. After checking out of our peaceful B&B, we pedaled out for some wine tasting. We hit a number of spots, found some excellent Sauvignon Blanc, discovered
the emergence of amazing Pinot Gris in the area along with some other aromatic whites, and had an excellent lunch along the way at Herzog Winery.
We found our way back to the campervan in time to catch the water taxi to Punga Cove Resort, our next stop. Tane, the skipper of our boat, doubled as a stand up comedian on the way out and had a tendency to leave the wheel and go and talk to everyone in the boat as the boat was moving at top speed. It was somewhat disconcerting to the land lovers on board, to say the least. We stopped at Furneaux Lodge along the way and Tane gave us an impromptu tour of the old growth forest in the area, explaining that his ancestors were early settlers in the region.
Punga Cove Resort itself is in a spectacular setting in a quiet cove. It is a spectacular place to visit.
The next morning we headed out to ride the Queen Charlotte Track (QCT). The Track extends from Ship Cove to Anakiwa, approximately 70 km away. The Ship Cove to Punga Cove segment is closed to bikes until March, so we couldn’t do that portion. Instead, we rode the 23.5 km portion from Punga Cove to Portage Bay/Torea Bay. The ride starts with a big hump up the hill to the Track from Punga Cove. At this point, we took a left onto QCT and proceeded along the track. The trail itself is an overgrown double track with some steep climbs and rocky descents along the way. It roughly follows the spine that separates the sounds on both sides. It would be a good trail for a very fit rider with modest technical skills as the trail didn’t not present serious technical challenges. Periodically, a spectacular view opened up of Queen Charlotte Sound (on the left) or Kenepuru Sound (on the right).
One thing that we haven’t mentioned before about the riding in New Zealand is the insect noise. The cicadas are so loud at points we can’t here our Chris King hub!. We are talking seriously loud! This has been true on both the North and the Sound Islands and is most intense under the full forest canopy.
The day was pretty warm and muggy and with the frequent steep climbs along the way we were feeling pretty worked just as the trail turned into an extended descent to the saddle between Portage Cove and our water taxi pick up spot at Torea Bay. At this point we had passed all of the hikers (trampers, maybe 20 to 30 in total) that had left Punga Cove first thing in the morning so we were able to let things rip a bit more.
We didn’t see another cyclist the whole ride. A nice fast rocky descent took us to the saddle. We had plenty of time to head down to Portage Cove Resort to enjoy some food and adult beverages before the water taxi arrived. We were disappointed to find that the restaurant, not more than a stone throw from a mussel farm, was out of Green Lip Mussels. It was shocking and appalling, to say the least. We had to settle for fish and chips and still had time for a nap on the lawn before we headed back to Punga Cove.
Queen Charlotte Track Pictures: