By Chrissy Wickes, Ranger – Biodiversity in Te Anau
It’s that time of the year when the world turns bright orange and yellow.
My son Shannon enjoying some autumn riding near the Clutha River
A perfect occasion to put on your helmet and explore the brilliant bike trails in all their autumn glory while it lasts.
There are many trails in the Wanaka area that are golden with fallen leaves. A favourite of mine is the Upper Clutha River track, this follows the Clutha River all the way from the Wanaka lake outlet, under the Albert town bridge and on to Luggate. This track is classified as “intermediate” for mountain bikers.
The golden leaves of autumn
You can go as far as you want, lie amongst the autumn leaves, or just take a picnic and sit on the banks of the impressive Mata-Au/Clutha River. The entire track is 21.5 km long, one way.
On the other side of the river are two other great tracks; the Newcastle and Deans Bank for a slightly more challenging ride. These trails were made possible through the partnership of the Upper Clutha Tracks Trust, Bike Wanaka and DOC.
Shannon amongst the gold and red leaves of autumn
So what are you waiting for? Go plan your ride on the DOC website and find out more information about some fantastic tracks in your area.
Mum Jenny and Meg at the start of their first overnight tramp!
Meg had lots of day walks under her belt before our first tramp. We’d been up to Packhorse Hut and back, with minimal carrying and complaining, so we knew she could walk for at least three and a half hours.
So, despite threatening rain we set off – walking up the Boyle Valley, conjouling Meg along the way with pikelets.
Meg carried her own pack, with her soft toy and a jacket. A couple of hours in, we took the pack off her, just to get her through that last stretch.
Meg with friend Tahi in her backpack
We thought the swing bridges might be a problem – we wondered if she would be scared, but she wasn’t at all. If we sensed impending ‘scaredness’ we talked about how exciting it was and how brave she was being.
Meg bravely traverses her first swing bridge!
There was also a washout before the hut, and we had to a climb a steep bank. Again, we didn’t give her a chance to be scared but kept her moving, with motivating words and promises of more pikelets.
We didn’t take a tent, which was a bit risky. I would recommend one, just in case the hut is full, or so you can stop on the way if you need to cut the trip short. But the stars aligned over Magdalen Hut and we had it to ourselves. With its sunny little deck, six bunks, and double-glazed windows, it’s a really nice modern DOC hut, perfect for families.
When we got to the hut Meg was pretty excited to find a little house in the forest. We ate chocolate and played Uno, which was a great game to bring along, very compact. Travel Scrabble would work well too.
Dad Steve and Meg inside Magdalen Hut
After tea we all went to bed at the same time. Meg patted my head as she went to sleep, as she was concerned because it was so dark. The platform bunks meant I could be nearby to reassure her.
We got up in the morning and ate porridge for breakfast – with brown sugar as a treat!
The trip out from the hut was easier, as Meg knew what to expect. We played ‘all around the world’ again … and again … it’s amazing how long that game can last.
Tramping is fun! Big smiles all around while Meg and Jenny tramp
It was really good to do this trip as a family. We felt like we’d rediscovered our old life again and we were pleasantly surprised how much Meg could do. We could see a whole world of adventures opening up to us. Roll on summer!
“The bit that I liked the best was when we played Uno and I won and we played three rounds.”
“I liked when we went over the swing bridge – it felt scary, but wobbly and fun.”
“I’d like to go tramping again because it was fun and because I got to go over a swing bridge for the very first time.”