Many people strolling along the track that hugs the Wanaka
lakefront probably don't appreciate they are on the 3000km Te
Araroa trail, which winds through New Zealand from Cape
Reinga to Bluff.
Where: Lake Hawea to Glendhu Bay on the Te Araroa
Estimated riding time without stops: 2 1/2 hours.
Sections of The Long Pathway, as it is also called, are still
being completed all around the country, but the proactive
Upper Clutha district is in the happy position of having its
portion finished, thanks to the incorporation of previously
established tracks and the efforts of the Upper Clutha Tracks
Trust, the Department of Conservation, the Queenstown Lakes
District Council, the Otago Regional Council and various
other groups and sponsors.
While Te Araroa is first and foremost a walking track, Wanaka
mountain bikers are fortunate, as they, too, can enjoy much
of the trail across their patch.
In today's first Summer Times bike ride, we'll head from Lake
Hawea to Albert Town, then over to Lake Wanaka and out to
Glendhu Bay, all on the Te Araroa trail.
Our ride starts at the Lake Hawea outlet control gates and
heads south, following the true left bank of the Hawea River.
The riding is easy, as the terrain is mainly flat and the
gravel track wide as you cruise through kanuka groves along
Near Albert Town, the track leaves the river for a time, then
swoops down to a lower terrace and crosses the river via an
impressive new swing-bridge.
From here, follow your nose to SH6, cross the main road
bridge (you've ridden 12km to this point) and, just over the
Clutha River, turn right back on to the Te Araroa trail. This
is the familiar Outlet Track, a scenic favourite with
mountain bikers and walkers for years.
The track follows the Clutha up to its origin at the Lake
Wanaka outlet and while, at times, it's mildly technical, in
other places it joins gravel lakeside back roads and is hard
and fast. Soon you'll be riding past swanky lakeside "cribs"
and enjoying wonderful views across the lake to the Southern
Follow your nose into Wanaka's CBD. After 24km of riding, you
might just about deserve a coffee and muffin. Plenty of
The next section of our ride takes us west on the Waterfall
Creek track, built some years ago but now incorporated into
Te Araroa. It heads along the Wanaka lakefront, offering
stunning views over the lake to the mountains, before passing
Edgewater Resort and heading out of town.
Once on the Millennium Track section of the trail, we finally
encounter some small climbs.
However, halfway to Glendhu Bay, we take the new Damper Bay
track and here things get a little more serious. The trail
goes up and over some big bluffs, including a couple of
decent hill climbs and corresponding steep downhill sections,
and is classed as an intermediate ride rather than one
suitable for the beginner or the couch potato. Of course, you
could always push your bike on the steep or scary bits.
Once the track reaches Damper Bay, the going becomes easier
and it's a nice cruise to our destination, the Glendhu Bay
camp. It's 15km from Wanaka via the track, so if you started
at Lake Hawea, you've done 39km for the day.
Now, to ride back to Wanaka or grab a cab?
Riders can also head northeast from Lake Hawea township on
the Te Araroa trail, via the new 6.8km track along the
southern shore of Lake Hawea to the Gladstone reserve, then
out to the Timaru River on the Dingleburn road. From here,
the going is more suited to trampers, as the Te Araroa trail
heads into the mountains and climbs over into the Mackenzie
Likewise, at the southern end, from Glendhu Bay, the trail
takes to some serious mountains above the Motatapu Valley
only suitable for experienced trampers - not the best place
for riding a bike.
For more information on the Te Araroa trail and detailed maps
for today's Upper Clutha ride, visit: www.teararoa.org.nz/index.cfmYou
can also pick up the leaflet "Wanaka Outdoor Pursuits" from
the i-Site log cabin on the waterfront - it's an excellent
guide to local tracks.