Monday, January 16, 2023

Mavora Bikepacking

 If you are going to walk along a 4WD track, why not bike it instead? Ideally, you'd want a mountain bike, but if all you have is a gravel bike, now serviced and upgraded to thicker beefier 40mm tyres, well that's what you pack up and head off with.

This trip was really an excuse to go hutbagging, and to work on my fitness by getting my heart rate up considerably higher than it gets tramping. And also to fine-tune packing my bike.

My Cannondale gravel bike has two bolt holes on the front forks that don't seem to fit any cage whatsoever, but when trawling the internet I found someone else had solved the problem by drilling an extra hole in some Blackburn cages and Bob's your uncle. I already had those cages so I made short work of it and soon had two extra places to load gear. Since they are front forks I put 500g loads on each side ( a tarp and my helinox chair respectively) which freed up some space in the other bags. It's still pretty tight fitting everything into bike packing bags but for only an overnight trip I don't need to carry much food.

I drove down to Mavora Lakes and parked at the campsite at North Mavora Lakes, loaded the bike and set off along the 4WD track. The thicker tyres made short work of the sandy track, but my fitness meant I still needed to walk up some of the hills. It was a hot day with little wind, and aside from passing a few trampers I saw few people all day.

I stopped in at Carey's Hut for a late lunch before walking up the steep hill to then cruise down and along to Boundary Hut, where I planned to spend the night. 

There was no-one else there, so after claiming a mattress I headed off up the valley on foot to bag one more private hut before returning to Boundary for a quick dip, dinner and bed.

Picturesque Mavora River just near Boundary Hut

Looking downriver towards North Mavora Lake, Boundary Hut on left

Looking up the Mavora Valley, this is private land, with cattle grazing

Private Hut at Bush Creek, lovely stream nearby

These rugged landscapes show you how glaciers scour out valleys

The next morning I retraced my route a couple of kms before veering off to visit Forks hut. That required crossing both the Mavora River and the picturesque Winton Burn and following a rough 4WD track up valley.

Moody morning crossing the Mavora

I soon realised I'd be hike a biking more than I'd be riding, so I ditched the bike behind some tussocks and continued to the hut on foot. A lovely wee spot for a cuppa and snack before returning to the bike and rolling back down to the main track. 

Ditched the bike somewhere around here

Forks Hut

Back across the two rivers...

Winton Burn


By the time I got back to Carey's Hut I was so hot I walked straight into the lake fully clothed. What a relief!!

I had a late lunch, chatting to a TA walker having a siesta, then discovered my front tyre was almost flat. After pumping it up I couldn't find the leak so decided to push on. The tyre kept leaking despite being tubeless with sealant inside, and I just stopped from time to time to pump it up again. After the second or third time a couple in a 4WD stopped and offered me a lift, so I took it. The day was too hot for heroics, and I'd already cycled the same road on the way in.

Back at the car I still couldn't find the leak and since I'd forgotten to bring the magic can of BAM, I decided to cancel the second portion of my hutbagging bike packing trip and just knock off one of the huts along the Mt Nicholas Rd. This one had been a checkpoint on last year's Godzone and was a cute historic hut made of wood slabs.

Trip aborted I headed back home to Wanaka. Hutbagging count for this trip 5, and over 350 in total. Not bad effort in five years!

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