2 Feb: Pelorus Bridge, Maungatapu Track, Nelson
The morning was spent winding along the twisting coastal roads, a periodic break in the trees revealing a stunning view of the sounds. After a long while on pavement, and our first spotting of the magical New Zealand pigeon called the kereru in Pelorus Bridge, we hit dirt.
The temperatures rose as first we took on our first New Zealand dirt road, and then hit the Maungatapu Track. Reading of others’ experiences on the trail, and seeing the elevation profile of our route that day, we knew this might be one of the more challenging days of our trip. And still the temperatures rose. The steep track, while as wide as a dirt road in places, was covered in fist-sized rocks, making traction impossible with loaded bikes. Much of the day was spent hiking up the mountain, taking breaks in the shade to recover from the unrelenting sun. By the time we hit the top, we had run out of water.
The descent came as a relief, but we realized it was not going to be easy. Steep grades and pointy rocks punctuated the path between us and Nelson – and water!
We made our way to town, found the famous Free House, and ate heaps of chips.