On Sunday 20 March 2016 a portly group of us hit the AKAs for some biking, starting at the unearthly time of 7.45am.
The Akatarawa’s or the AKAs as they’re affectionately known is a beaucoup forest in the Tararua Range. Home to the legendary Karapoti Classic bike race, the forest sports some of Wellington’s best riding – if you can find your way around them.
As we all locked and loaded in the car park a great sense of adventure came across me: you are literally going into the heart of darkness. The AKAs are a maze of old roads, logging tracks, gravel roads and unmarked trails. One wrong turn and you could be lost, perhaps for ever.
Our guides carefully navigated us through valleys, over rivers, up step escarpments and down some of the best single track I have ever experienced.
It’s no coincidence that one of the tracks is called Ho-Chi-min. On occasion, walking and riding through this forest you could mistakenly believe your in the middle of Vietnam, traipsing through the jungle: it’s enchanting.
And of course in the Vietnam war there were untold casualties from the harsh terrain and the guerilla fighting tactics of the Vietnamese. Just like then, on Sunday there were casualties too.
Causalities, a necessary evil of any war…
20 kicks (maybe more) later, after some hard hitting riding we were back out from the wilderness. The finishing straight is the ‘Yet to be named Whareroa down trail’, which is a flowy, yet to be sanctioned trail which traverses what can only be described as a cliff face. As we were told from those involved in earlier mishaps, falling off the edge is a death defying experience.