As an avid mountain biker, Marlborough never ceases to impress me with the options available for enjoying the outdoors on a bike.
On Wednesday last week the Department of Conservation held a guided ride, as part of its current Summer Explorer Programme, up the Pukaka Valley track.
Even though it is just a 15 to 20 minute drive from Blenheim the track, which can be walked or biked, seems to be somewhat unknown.
A small turnout of eager riders arrived for the ride, including young Ethan Neal, 10, and Christian Dillon-Williamson, 9, keen to explore a new part of the world on their bikes.
"I've lived here forever and never knew about this track," said Jason Neal, who brought his son Ethan out.
The track starts at the end of the Pukaka Valley Road, off Pembers Road, and if you wanted one could start at the turn off and cycle the 5.4km long Pukaka Valley Road which begins as sealed road and soon becomes a good gravel surface.
This stretch climbs gently into the valley with just one hill of any note and is scenically very beautiful.
You can of course also start closer to the end of the road to tailor the length of your ride.
The track itself is around 1.5km of well maintained, wide single track that snakes up the valley following the Pukaka Stream through native forest. Beech trees are even present and the tall forest provides great cover from the sun on hot days.
"It was a great ride, really good fun," said Synergy Youth Mentoring mentor, Gina Wells who had brought Christian out for the ride.
At the end of the fairly manicured section of the track it takes a turn and heads steeply up the valley on a more technically challenging surface, which one can tackle if you like.
"You can actually head up to Mount Robertson and loop round to Whites Bay if you are feeling up for it," explained DOC'sSouth Marlborough Area community relations ranger, Clare Duston.
The Marlborough Express