Unicycling the Queen Charlotte Walkway- 67km of singletrack heaven

Just got back from New Zealands longest continous singletrack ride- the Queen Charlotte Walkway. Too sore to do anything today so here I am sitting in front of the computer sipping Cocoa and writing up our trip report.

The Ride: Queen Charlotte Walkway, top of the South Island, New Zealand
Distance: 67km
Days: 2
Riders: Rachel, Pete, Steve and Ken
Equipment: 29’ers x4

Fri 10th June
2200: Ken finishes work, gets home, meets up with Steve, last minute packing. Should we bring a spare inner tube? Or just lot’s of patches?

Sat 11th June
0130: Catch the Interisland ferry from Wellington to Picton. Very little sleep in the ship lounge

0430: Ferry arrives in Picton. Two very tired unicylists camp out in the ferry lounge, getting very little sleep as a guy vacumms the ferry terminal very slowly with a very loud vacumm cleaner.
Ken discovers that the KH saddle makes for a comfortable pillow.

0730: 3hrs of keeping our eyes shut pretending to sleep, we decide it’s time to get some food.

0800: A big mug of coffee for Ken, Bacon and Eggs for Steve

0900: Get on the Watertaxi to Anikiwa- “are you guys riding that???” The watertaxi captain thinks we’re a bit mad.

0930: Pick up Pete and Rachel in Anikawa- head up the Queen Charlotte Sounds on the Watertaxi. Steve ask Rachel which way up she likes her nuts :astonished: , as we change her tyre to a 29’er.

1030: Dropped off in Ships Cove, start of the Queen Charlotte, yay! The track follows alongside the deep blue waters of the Queen Charlotte Sounds.

1130: Rachel get’s the first punture of the day- ARgh- it’s the valve! Is it patchable? Luckily she has a spare inner tube. Steve offers dogbiscuits to the first person to draw blood

1130-1400: Singletrack bliss…

1200: Steve grazes his knee, and rewards himself with a biscuit.

1400: Lunch at Furneaux Lodge. We sit by the beautiful clear waters at the edge of the Sounds. The people at the lodge attempt to ride our unicycles.

1430: We bump into a Llama and a big ugly pig

1430- 0500hrs: More singletrack bliss. We race to the get to Mahana Lodge before it gets dark.

1500: Steve falls down a bank, loses his glasses, finds them, retrives his unicycle

1700- it get’s dark. Luckily we get to the lodge in the nick of time. The friendly owner show us around, tell us to get showered, then dinner at 6, before his famous glow worm tour at 9pm.

1800- Showered, watered and OOoohhh…HOT FOOD! Lot’s of it!

1900- eyelids start drooping but we try to piece together a 1000 piece jigsaw. Attempts to be polite and answer lot’s of questions from the other backpackers, occasionally nodding off in the middle of conversation.

2030- a journalist staying at the lodge interviews Pete and Ken, while Steve and Rachel are sensibly tucked away in bed by now.

2100- we snore away happily knowing that the glow worms will be safe, without a dozen backpackers and unicyclists gawking at them.

Sun 12th
0740- Pete: “hey wake up, it’s twenty to eight!!!”

0740-0815- a very hurried breaky. It’s drizzling!

0830: some final group poses for the other backpackers, then off for another 45km of singletrack riding.

0830-1300- the track goes up, flat, up, flat, up again.

1300hrs- yay, cellphone coverage. (although some waving of cellphone at the top of the hill was needed). I send a txt to Tony Melton, who couldn’t come on the trip because of a bad flu’ virus. I try to send a pic but couldn’t get the phone to work.
Awesome views of the Queen Charlotte Sounds!

1300-1430- 8km of sweet singletrack downhill to Mistletoe Bay! Ohhhh…incredible. I chase Pete down the hill, twisting and turning and getting occasionally airborne off the jumps.

1400- Rachel blows her valve :frowning: We spend half and hour attempting to patch the valve. Steve discovers the culprit to be a jagged piece of aluminium jutting into the valve hole. Got it working again- long enough to ride the final 1km down to Mistletoe Bay.

1430- Mistletoe Bay- we invade the local store, warm ourselves up with Hot Chocolate and chips, buy an inner tube for Rachels 29’er (luckily 26" inner tubes fit on 29" rims)

1500- We’re off again- 2hrs before dark, and another 22km or so to go!

1600hrs- the final run into Anikiwa- we’re running short of light but with some of the sweetest singletrack around, and beautiful views of the Queen Charlotte in the Sunset, we’re not too fussed.

1700- Pete and Ken race ahead to get to the carpark in the fading light. The last bit of track is the most fun, even more so when you can’t see where you’re going. I finally turn the light on and realise that it’s no fun following a bright dot in front of you. We end up walking the final kilometer to Anikiwa.

1730- Paparazzi! Pete and Ken are blinded by the flashes as Petes parents and uncle simultaneously blind us with multiple cameras.

1810- a very tired Steve and Rachel arrive to our applause!

1930- Back in Picton, we invade the local Subway and stuff ourselves with foot-long rolls. Yum!



pete, steve, rachel,somewhere2.jpg

Ken, really nice write-up…that looks like a GREAT ride. Can’t believe some of those views of the Sound. Wish I could be there to ride along, and especially to take a crack at riding across that swingbridge!

There is a similar bridge here out along the Skookum Flats trail out by Enumclaw/Greenwater. No need to travel all the way to NZ just for a bridge. :slight_smile:

Here’s a picture of Tony on the bridge from 2002 after Unicon.


Poor Tony was supposed to come on this ride- he even bought airtickets. Alas, he couldnt’ come because of a sore throat virus :frowning:

please excuse me, but what exactly is single track?


The best kind of cycle trail- a narrow track which would cause problems if you deviated from it. It’s fun to ride because there are lot’s of twists and turns and you get the sensation of going much faster than you would on a wide track.

Something like this (Rachel dogding some roots on the QCW):


And then there is double track or sometimes called jeep track. Double track is wider and often tracks that 4WD vehicles or ATVs can drive on. There will be two parallel tire tracks created by the 4WD trucks or ATVs. Sometimes you can find old double track that is being allowed to grow over and become single track.

Single track is much more fun. But even double track can be fun on a Coker.

Sounds like a great trip! Too bad I was struck down by the sore-throat-headcold lurgy and couldn’t make it. :frowning: On the positive side I moved my flights to September, so I’ll get to enjoy some of the Nelson singletrack fruitiness then.

By the sounds of it I would have missed the return flight by several hours! Do you think this track would be better done as a three day trip, Ken? Or maybe in summer, when there’s a little more daylight?

The Queen Charlotte track is one of the few tracks in NZ national parks where it is legal to ride a bike (or uni). The track is shared with trampers. Let’s hope the Heaphy is re-opened soon. That’s definitely worth the trip.

Here are some maps of the QC Track.

Sweet ride…Nice pics and writeup…
Are sure you didn’t do anything else at Mistletoe Bay?

glad it was you that wrote all that not me!
yeah it was an awesome trip, my legs are still a little sore today after what was by far my longest ever ride on a uni (or bike for that matter). The track was awesome, really fast and winding, in some of the downhill you could just race along on a 29’er with roots, overhangs and lots of corners to consider - Awesome.
And the weather wasn’t too bad, riding in the rain made it especially fun!
Had to go rock-climbing for 2 days straight after, but I think that probably helped loosen up the muscles. But yeah definatley an awesome ride. :smiley:

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