We decided to ride the Moerangi track in the guts of the Whirinaki forest park.
The plan was to ride in, spend the night in the sticks and ride out the next morning. The weather was set to stunning and the bags were packed ready for a weekend mini adventure. A couple of the group were well acquainted with the track as they’d ridden the whole length in one day (on a few occasions). Great fun with long thrilling downhills and plenty of corners and obstacles to make sure you stay on the ball. As a day ride, the Moerangi is a full day in the saddle – but at 5 to 7 hours you’d want to keep moving. This time was going to be different. We’d pack everything that we’d need for an overnight stay - sleeping kit, heating kit, eating kit, etc. I even packed a tarp and sleeping mat as there’s always a risk with huts that you may end up sleeping in a hut full of chainsaws at 2am in the morning. Luckily these items weren’t necessary this time.
The area we traveled through is home to the stunning Tanekaha otherwise known as Celery Pine. For me it’s always an extra buzz when I get a chance to ride along trails of Tanekaha. It’s a sure sign you’re riding in stunning native NZ forest. The Tanekaha drops little leaves which litter the track and when they dry it crunches under your tires – you know you’re in your happy place when you’re riding on ‘cornflakes’.
The whole trail to our lodgings for the night was stunning. Native everything and a genuine sense that yes, you are well away from, well, everything else. Following the stunning Okahu stream most of the way, there are plenty of very inviting looking waterholes for a REFRESHING (read brrrr!!) dip during the summer months. There’s also a great feeling that there are two of your favorite cans of beer in the ‘Hold’ which have been packed with care to ensure safe arrival at the night’s destination as a celebratory refreshment for the day’s achievement.
At night, you get to experience the joy of sitting around the camp-fire, telling (mostly bike related) yarns whilst gazing up at the infinite galaxy and listening to the night-time hooting of owls.
The next morning is spent standing in front of the hut with a bowl of cereal in one hand and a mug of freshly brewed steaming coffee in the other, knowing that you’ve lugged it all that way for that very moment, and the moments that will soon follow as you resume your adventure. You also notice that everyone else is standing around with a silly morning grin feeling exactly the same way.
There’s nothing quite like packing everything (minus the weight of the food and liquid consumed the previous day) into your bags first thing in the morning and heading off on your bike back into the forest. No driving required, coz you’re already there. An experience that’s difficult to beat.
A feeling of sadness may hit when the end of the trail is in sight. With most day long rides, the end usually heralds a sense of achievement – you made it back in one piece (if you’re lucky). Sometimes a colourful collection of dings and bruises will ensure that the sense of achievement can be stretched out for a week. After a night in the forest on a fantastic ride with an awesome group of friends, I tend to start spotting all kinds of side tracks and distractions. Maybe it’s just looking for a way to prolong the weekend adventure. But then again, there’s the trip back home which will undoubtedly brew up a complete new overnight adventure or three!