Zen On Dirt

Boats, friends, mountains, and huts

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I have to say, I’ve never started a bikepack with a boat ride. But there’s a first time for everything, and I think it’s fair to say that the boat ride was the smoothest, both literally and figuratively, mode of transport we’ve tried so far.


24 hours ago, we didn’t really have a plan of what we wanted to do. We knew that it was time to move on from Queenstown, but where to go? But after a wander into the Department of Conservation Office netted us two nights on huts on the Kepler Track, the one Great Walk that I had been told not to miss under any circumstances, and a plan to take a New Zealand Cycle trail to get there, we were set to go. Sometimes things just fall into place when you let them.

We spent a leisurely morning wrapping up loose ends on the Internet, drinking coffee, making fun of my brother, and grocery shopping before heading over to the 1pm boat that would take us to the other side of the lake and the start of our route.


Donkey Bike has never been on a boat before, it was excited as I was. Mostly a tourist cruise, we definitely didn’t take a straight line to our destination. But who’s in a hurry?

Once dropped off, we watched the boat chug away, and we were on our own at a farm station in the middle of nowhere. Time to pedal.


I’ve come to love NZ Cycle Tracks. The Molesworth-Muster route, our first ride here was one, the Old Ghost Road was one, and now this one – beautiful roads through beautiful country.


We ran into Andrea again, the bike tourist from Oz who we’d met in Hanmer and again in Queenstown. She was off having adventures on the Routeburn track while we were on the Greenstone Caples route. She’s always a fun one to talk to.


There was only one major climb of the day of less than 1,000 feet, and we even had a tailwind for a few miles of the route. Of course, it soon turned headwind-esque, because, really, we’re still in New Zealand.


All in all, beautiful cruising until we turned off at South Lake Mavora and headed north, past the smoothly graded road, past the campsite with the group of Coloradoans in their camper van, through the massive puddles, and through the sandy and gravelly lake front of North Mavora Lake.


It was slow going, but as the valley opened up, our jaws dropped. This place continues to amaze me, every single day.


We’re shacked up at Carey’s Hut, right on the lake with beautiful views of mountains on all sides. We’re sharing it with a couple from Invercargill down south who are section hiking the Te Araroa, the long trail of the island who proved to be great dinner partners. They’d spent time visiting the US, touring through AZ and UT, and we had a fun time comparing NZ to the US. We decided that people in both places don’t get out to explore their backyards enough.


It made me miss my deserts and canyons a little bit. A lot bit. But it is amazing here, and with a solid weather forecast for the next several days, I can’t wait to see what we find.


One thought on “Boats, friends, mountains, and huts

  1. I am enjoying your trip as if it was mine. Keep having fun.

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