Cycling along Hapuku Road out of Kaikoura, you look directly up the Puhi Puhi Valley, you can see the saddle at the top of the valley where you will arrive around 30 km later. The ride through Hapuku village and up Lovers Lane is a nice warm-up for the moderate climb once you start into the valley.
It's a classic NZ gravel ride, the same as you will find all across the country but with the unique Kaikoura flavour of being in the mountains within a stone throw of the ocean. The peaks are spectacular; winding your way up the northern end of the base of the Seaward Kaikoura range, mountains tower above you, including the second largest in the Seaward Kaikouras, Te Ao Whekere.
After the road was extensively damaged in the 2016 earthquake, views have improved where bush has slipped away from the road edge, but there are now many raw slips, and it will take some time for plant life to reestablish. Back from the road, there is plenty of bush and scrub. For years conventional farming battled the manuka that encroached on farmland, these days a lot of this country is used for manuka honey production and landowners are busy planting manuka!
I ride the Puhi often; Depending on the day, it can be an intense workout up to the Saddle Gate, or it can be a leisurely pedal up the valley; stopping to make photos, enjoying the views and eating peanut butter sandwiches beside a creek, the journey never gets tiresome. Sometimes though when I'm heading back down the valley, knowing I'm heading for home, it almost becomes an anticlimax and I yearn for a little more riding. Perhaps a little single track after the crunching gravel road, a little more views of the peninsula, a bit of bush after the openness. The Kaikoura Trail fulfils the desire. After exiting the Puhi Puhi Valley, turn right off the Hapuku Bridge to join the Hapuku Trail and follow the beautiful bush enclosed single track up to Grange Road. Then you can either carry on around the Kaikoura Trail or exit back to town on any of the many roads that head that way.
Puhi Puhi and a bit, it's a good day out!
Map & GPS
Hasn't stopped cycling since getting a bike for Christmas as a kid.
Not medically diagnosed, but may have a slight cycling compulsive disorder.
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