Poulter River Valley MTB Ride

 After much to and fro decisions by various people to go or not to go and whether to stay overnight the final crew of 5, 1 day riders and 3 overnighters was established for the ride up the Poulter river valley. The planned day to start was Friday (Waitangi day) but as time went on, the weather on Friday was not looking great so at the 11th hour the decision was made to go for the Saturday start which ultimately proved to be the better choice. We left Rangiora around 6.30am. The ride up the Poulter River starts 25kms along Mt White station road from the Mt White Bridge where the Coast to Coast competitors start their kayak leg of their journey, not far from Arthurs Pass. The road was passable without 4WD vehicles as we deduced later but we organised 4WD’s just in case the side stream wash-outs were too rough. From the carpark, it is 27kms to ride to the trust Poulter hut.We were on our bikes by 9.30am, ready for a day or two’s cycling in one of New Zealands wilder regions. The first section of the track was very rough with washouts and steep rocky terrain but this evened out to the typical river flats of 4WD tracks with occasional rocky streams to cross. With the dry weather we’ve had lately there was not a lot of water in these streams to give us any grief crossing them but you can see from the photo that the previous seasons rainfall has had some major impact on the terrain and the tracks through the valley. With the weight of all the extra gear on our backs or panniers required for overnighting the three overnighters were soon left in the dust of those riding to the Poulter hut and returning the same day. We met them again around mid-afternoon on their return from the Poulter Hut. They worked harder for their supper that day. We had about 6kms to go to get to the Casey hut which is approx. 6kms short of the Poulter hut. Jeremy (14) was a bit done by this point so we decided to stay the night at the Casey hut instead of pushing on the Poulter hut. The Casey Hut is the bigger and better of the two huts and as the afternoon stretched into evening more people had arrived.They had arrived by bike or tramped in through a variety of tracks and so it was interesting to talk to them to share stories and experiences. During much of the ride in to the hut, the track was alive with mice, hundreds of them crisscrossing the track in front of you and jumping around in the grass. I don’t know how but we managed to avoid riding over any of them but never felt that crunch under the tyres. You may be aware of the mice plague affecting Arthurs pass recently mentioned in the news so not surprising to find them in great numbers here also. Apparently all due to the overabundance of Beech and/or other forest flora seeds this year. The other common pest in this territory, the sand-fly was ever present also in great numbers so good to have wire netting on the hut windows to have some reprieve from the bites of the persistent little bastards. After a feed of the usual ‘Country’ dried meal and a good cuppa we had a little time to chat or wander around before fading light turned our direction to our sleeping bags and a good night sleep- the best I’ve had for some time in these huts as there is normally the strange sounds of the bush and mice clambering around looking for food and the odd snorer-so didn’t hear a sound and woke refreshed ready again for a days riding. We had to get Jeremy back by 6pm so not being sure of the time to get back, considering the time it took us to get there, we left reasonably early on a beautiful clear high country morning. We made it back to the car park mid-afternoon with no drama except for one damaged derailleur hangar bent after Jeremy had an off going down one of the last rocky slopes towards the end. He found he had to push his bike for the last few hundred metres or so.