Tandeming to a conservation vacation

It was November and time to get fit, so Jonathan and Bronnie decided to try a new way of getting to and from Rameka – by tandem power!

After catching a ferry across Cook Strait, they biked around Queen Charlotte Drive and over the mighty Mangatapu Saddle.

The route via Maungatapu Saddle might be 10 km shorter than the highway, but at 740 metres elevation, you can understand why it isn’t the main road. The downhill was steep and rocky in places – and it was a blast!

After a long day, we were ready for an early night, and a similarly early start the next day. We wanted to ride the highway to Motueka before the traffic built up. So we left at 6 am, while most drivers are still in bed.

Once at Totaranui, it was only a 2-hour ride to Takaka for lunch, before the final 10-km push up to Rameka. By then, it was raining solidly, and the thought of another early night was quite tempting.

The next day, the rain had cleared and our first task was to weed the trees that were planted in memory of Martin Langley in 2019. They ranged from only 30 cm short to 2 metres tall. Fivefinger was doing best, followed by ake ake in the open and wineberry if it had some shelter. Kapuka was struggling for some reason. Maybe the slope doesn’t get enough sun. We will weed them for another few seasons and see if they start growing.

We also spent time planning new projects, such as fencing off deep tomo beside the track, choosing a site for a sculpture and planning where a new sleeping pod could go – we might put it on temporary wheels so it can be moved around. Extending the sleeping options at Rameka will make it a whole lot easier for people to join us on our trips across.

After four days, which included more weeding and a committee meeting, we headed back via the Rameka Track, Canaan Downs and Nelson.

Our eight-day holiday was half riding half conservation work – a very satisfying balance!

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