Mountain Biking the Marlborough Sounds

Picton, you have rightfully earned the name Epic-ton. We may have joked about it as we arrived on the ferry a couple of days ago, but after today’s mountain biking adventure above the Marlborough Sounds, we conclude there should be no other name for it.

To be honest, this is not quite the epic feeling we were experiencing this morning as we looked out from the Tombstone Backpackers at a fog as thick as mud. Everything is white. We know that no matter what, we want to go mountain biking today, but a bit of a view would also be nice…

Taking on Picton’s new track: The Link Pathway

Tombstone Backpackers’ complimentary shuttle drops us off in town so we can go to where our adventure begins: Wilderness Guides. Although they offer sea kayak hire too, we are pretty keen to try out their mountain bikes and hit the trails of the Marlborough Sounds.

We really have so many trails to choose from, but we decide on a brand new walking and biking trails called the Link Pathway (not the most adventurous name, we know). The great thing about this trail is that you can cycle to the start of it, unlike the famous Queen Charlotte Track where we would need to catch a boat.

Helmets on, a test run on the bikes around the car park, and we are ready to go!

A foggy lookout A foggy lookout
Mountain biking in the atmospheric forest Mountain biking in the atmospheric forest
A break in the clouds! A break in the clouds!
Waaaaa, look at these views! Waaaaa, look at these views!

A mysterious lookout

The Link Pathway is well hidden along Queen Charlotte Drive, only a small sign well within the track opening helps you identify that you’re in the right place.

Things don’t exactly go off to a flying start, as there is about a 10-minute climb to start with, but from then on we stay mostly at height. We don’t have to over exert ourselves to death!

Only a minute along the track is a lookout… only, at this point, we are just looking out into the mysterious white fog.

An atmospheric forest (and spotlights)

That being said, the fog creates quite the ambiance in the forest. Moisture drips from the ferns and cob webs, and the sun is doing its best to break through it all. Once, it does, dramatic rays of light burst through the fog and trees almost creating a spotlights on us. We are the stars of the forest, ladies and gentlemen!

Perhaps it’s more like our bikes that are the stars here, because they are working so well for us. We manage the small uphill sections pretty easily, (once we got into the rhythm of putting power to the peddle).

And then, this…

Wow… Just Wow…

The sun beams turn into a blue sky. We approach an opening in the trees and woah! Look at that view! Mountain peak after mountain peak bursts from out of the fog across what we can only assume is the water in the Marlborough sounds. With that, the view is changing so fast here. We watch for about 20 minutes as the clouds thin out, move to the side and reveal Marlborough Sounds like it was a day in summer. The turquoise blue ocean twinkles in with the sun’s reflection and forested mountains look wild and untouched.

Downhill blasts!

Epic views continue on the highest section of the track. With the highest section come some fun downhill blasts. Great for right now, but that’s going to suck when we bike back up the track later…

Is that a hammock?

Back in the forest, we pass little streams and then…

“Is that a hammock?!” Laura exclaims, jumping off the bike and lying straight on the damp hammock. It’s nature’s way of telling us we need to rest. (Yes, because hammocks grow on trees).

Sunbathing in paradise

Soon enough, we reach our turn around point. Two benches facing a view fit for kings! The sun is belting on us from above, we feel like we have the best views in the whole of New Zealand right now, this is the ultimate picnic spot!

We spend so much time here that we’ve had a full conversation with some hikers about sheep shearing, had our lunch, and Robin has taken a nap on the bench. Some might say that we are just enjoying the paradise-like views. Others would say that we are procrastinating from biking back up these steady by relentless hills on the way back…

A rest in the hammock A rest in the hammock
Robin takes a nap Robin takes a nap
We could stay up here all day... and we kind of do We could stay up here all day... and we kind of do

 Uphill struggles

Time to dig deep. It’s not pretty. Our heavy breathing can probably be heard from miles around as we peddle slowly but surely back uphill. Admittedly, we do take a few breaks, maybe to take in a few more views. We have demolished all of our water, but Robin finds a stream to refill. He checks for any weird colours, but the H2O looks clean so we’ll only find out later if he is wrong.

Mysterious view revealed

It’s a great feeling to finally find a long stretch of downhill once again, along with all its twists, turns and bumps all the way to that very first lookout. It’s a whole different story now. The mystery is revealed! The fog has disappeared and here we have a lookout of the one and only Picton (Epic-ton).

A speedy ride back down to the Tombstone

Now it’s downhill on sealed road all the way down to the Tombstone Backpackers. As you can imagine, it gets pretty speedy. We arrive covered in mud, looking windswept, but, damn, it was a good day!

For the rest of the night, it’s all we can talk about: the trail, the challenge, the changing views… the hammock. It really was the most epic way to end our stay in Epicton, we mean, Picton. Tomorrow, we head inland to explore a Hobbit filming location by kayak! See you then!

Laura and Robin

The Picton Lookout along the Link Pathway
The Picton Lookout along the Link Pathway Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Want more?

Wow, really?! Then you can check out these articles:

We got some awesome photos of the Link Pathway, so check us out on Instagram. We also post New Zealand travel tips on Facebook. Finally, check us out on HerePin!

See you tomorrow!

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