Hurunui Hut Mountain biking

13-14 October 2018

It was a grey day for the drive in to Lake Taylor. Snow from the recent southerly lay on the ground where we parked the car and in the manuka trees around the lake. But by 10:40 we were cycling under a blue sky. The fresh snow on the mountains and shimmering sunlight on the lake was stunning.

As we weaved around the puddles, an occasional slug of snow would land on our heads, and a jacket was needed against the cold wind. We passed the junction to Lake Mason, so I looked up to take note of the hills above – that’s the way back tomorrow. The track into Loch Katrine and the wide open Hurunui valley beyond is flat, which made easy riding even with overnight panniers & packs. We stopped for a snack and to photograph the view and the many kowhai trees in bloom.

With bikes there was no problem getting around the locked gate and on a firm grassy track we quickly covered the 4 km to the flowering beech forest and swing bridge where we unloaded our gear and left the bikes. The hut is 20 minutes further on and situated in a clearing so we could enjoy an early afternoon tea in the sun. Later we explored a short way up the valley (not to the hot pools). Graeme chopped logs for the fire; an early dinner with time to read before bed.

Sunday was a little drizzly at first. Back to the bikes by 8:30, we re- loaded and waved to a couple of fisherman camped nearby trying their luck in the stream. Soon we were walking the 4WD track up to the saddle leading to Lake Mason. We tried not to disturb the many mums with lambs fenced in here, so it was over an hour before we reached the top. We crossed a fence (I don’t remember that there last time), before the joy of riding down-hill. Clumps of matagouri lower down looked worse than they were. Beyond that it was easy bush; on the gentle, eastern verge around Lake Mason. Luckily no punctures.

After a quick look at the station hut on the opposite side, we were gliding downhill beside the South Branch of the Hurunui. Unfortunately, Graham had a close encounter with one of the messy puddles churned up by cows. The symptoms of Mycoplasma bovis have not yet developed! Then there was the large hill crossing before we were back looking over Lake Taylor and the mountains beyond.

A very enjoyable weekend thanks to: Graeme Nicholas. Graham Townsend, Chris Leaver (CL)