Motueka to Murchison via Tapawera

Motueka to Tapawera (50k)

This is one of my personal favourites and on this journey I will describe the route that will take you over the Lewis Pass to Christchurch. Highway 61 leaves Motueka and follows the Motueka river slowly inland. It is very slightly uphill but not so much as you would notice. It's a lovely day's cycle and passes through some remnants of old New Zealand. You will encounter several bridges on your right and if you take the one to Ngatimoti you will find a pristine example of a well-preserved and clearly well-tended bowling green. A gem of a place in a lovely setting close to the river.

Further on is Stanley Brook, a deserted settlement with just the old school, church and war memorial to remind you of perhaps, more prosperous days. The day winds down to Tapawera, (campground, pub and store). The railway once ran through this town and the old embankments still survive to give us an idea of how important this hamlet once was. The campground still provides a mixed range of crockery, saucepans and cutlery for campers. A rare service these days... and again, the place has the feel of part of an era that is now, sadly, passing away. I was fortunate to catch the Tapawera Christmas Parade one year. The whole community turned out and put together a number of brilliant floats. The enthusiasm, warmth and good humour of local communities in New Zealand is something never to be underestimated. As a stranger I wandered round and found myself engaged in conversations with large numbers of friendly locals... some of whom had farmed and lived in the area for generations. It was a grand, colourful and very memorable occasion.

Tapawera to Murchison (82k)

This can be a taxing day but the scenery is great. Most of the highway (highway 6) follows the course of fast moving rivers through steep ravines of bush and pine forest. Often you come across the remains of an old town, sometimes just an abandoned hall. Korere is still on the map, but little remains but the old Korere Valley Hall with a scattering of ancient tyres and long dead cars and tractors inside.

Remember to take water and supplies as there are almost no stores on this part of your journey. About 50 kilometres out from Tapawera the road climbs fairly steeply over the Kikiwa Hill and the Wairau Saddle to around 700 metres. Then it's all downhill to Murchison. Murchison I have described elsewhere and it's a good place to stop for the night.