Passes and Breaks - Marlborough

One of New Zealand's top outdoor adventure photographers, Camilla Stoddart, documents her adventures through the Marlborough region.

Camilla Stoddart completed a trip around New Zealand's South Island, travelling in Kombi campervans alongside mountain biking professionals from Canada. Follow her as she leaves Christchurch and ventures on to Marlborough.

Marlborough, South Island

Keeping the dream alive we left Christchurch with the final cogs of our wheel in place. We had Kelly McGarry and the bright yellow camper van and were on the way North… I know the post is entitled Marlborough, but I had to squeeze a few cheeky photos of Kaikoura in there, which is part of Canterbury!

So our first night camping full team was at the popular camping spot just north of Kaikoura on a surf break called ‘Meat Works’ This place is truly magic. Watching the stars come out with a cold beer in hand, cooking a stellar feed on the BBQ and then to our delight watching a golden moon rise from the water before having a sweet nights' shut eye in our brilliant Kombi’s. This was the life!

Kelly tried to catch some waves, but unlike the dolphins he couldn't make the flat sea rideable! So it was paua and crayfish hunting time as we meandered up the coast. This happened to be our only day of rain the entire trip, so I cant complain! Next stop Blenheim. Kelly caught up with some friends to show us a secret trail on a friend of a friends' farm amongst the Marlborough jungle, I played Tarzan for a bit, hanging off vines to get the shot and it was time to call it a day. The next camp spot was North of Blenheim at Robin Hood Bay, just over the hill from Whites Bay. I hadn’t been there before so it was great to check out a new spot! And what a wicked spot it is! We found a sweet place to watch the sun rise.

The next part of our adventure was to take us deep into the Marlborough Sounds to a trail off the beaten track called Nydia Bay. It is a walking route but is open to mountain biking and takes you Nydia Bay which is a stunning spot only accessible by boat, foot or bike! Here you have the option to camp or stay in 'On the Track Lodge' at Nydia Bay, which I cannot recommend more! This place is a wee slice of heaven! Another brilliant thing about this ride is that you get to start the trail at the top of the Opouri Saddle and bike down into Duncan Bay before you start the accent over into Nydia Bay. Some sweet single track here.

The trail was pretty technical in places and you wouldn’t want to ride it wet, but the rooty, rocky and sweeping in places downhill made the struggle of pushing/biking uphill worth it! I have to say I was pretty slow (I blame carrying my camera bag!)

Thanks so much to Duncan, Norma, Tom and Grandpa at the On the Track Lodge for having us. After a well-needed shower, an exquisite home cooked meal, a few beers and a hot tub it was such a comfortable night sleep in our cabins. I didn't want to leave! This place is  MUST for anyone thinking about visiting the Marlborough Sounds, such an awesome secret gem. It made the two-day ride so doable not having to carry camping gear, or food, we even got made a packed lunch for the ride out! What excellent people.

It was another huge day over a couple of saddles, but we made it back to the smiling face of the red VW Kombi in time to take our tired bodies to the yellow Kombi at the beginning of the trail and get ourselves to Nelson - our next port of call.

Have you got a great story to tell? Add your own article