IntroductionThe 27 km Nydia Track offers walkers and cyclists great views and varied track conditions. Plan on an overnight stop at Nydia Bay where you can explore the history and coastline.
The Nydia Track is a 2-day tramping or 5-8 hr mountain biking track. It passes through lush coastal and regenerating forest, climbs two saddles with superb views and crosses farmland.
Duncan Bay to Nydia Bay campsite (4 hr)
The first hour follows the shoreline with glimpses of the sea through lush coastal forest - giant rimu, nīkau, beech trees and tree ferns. Pipi Beach, 15 min from the track start, is a good picnic spot.
At Ngawhakawhiti Bay the track climbs to Nydia Saddle (347 m) - take in the great views of Tennyson Inlet. The track then drops down to the campsite in Nydia Bay. On this shady, southern side of the saddle, the track is likely to be damp, and making mountain biking a little treacherous.
Nydia campsite to Nydia Lodge turn-off (1 hr 30 min)
From the Nydia Bay campsite the track goes through regenerating native forest, in places crossing private land. Just before the lodge turn-off you have to ford a wide stream. Nydia Lodge is a 30 min walk around the shore from the turn-off.
Nydia Lodge sleeps up to 50 people (bookings required and minimum charges may apply).
Nydia Lodge turn-off to Kaiuma Bay (4 hr)
At the turn-off the track leads across open farmland beside the stream, crossing it twice. The climb to Kaiuma Saddle (387 m) through beech forest and regenerating scrub has superb views, including of Marlborough’s highest mountain, Tapuae-o-Uenuku (2885 m), in the distant Inland Kaikoura mountains.
From the saddle, the track drops quickly to cross a stream. The track then climbs a little into the forest and sidles around to a point above Kaiuma Bay, before dropping to the car park.
This is a bike ride for those who like a challenge. The track is quite technical and rough, with many rocks and roots to negotiate. In wet weather it is very slippery and best not attempted.
The track is best ridden from the Tennyson Inlet end. Allow 5 to 8 hr; longer if you don't have transport to both road ends.
This is a shared-use track. Follow the mountain bikers code: respect others, respect the rules, respect the track.
Hunting is allowed, except from sunset 22 December to sunrise 9 February. Hunting in the vicinity of Nydia Lodge is not permitted when it is occupied.
Hunters must have a DOC permit. Hunting dogs are allowed with a permit, but must be restrained on private land.
Nydia Lodge is locked, and bookings are essential year round.
1 May to 31 October: You will receive a lock box code on confirmation of your online booking. The lockbox will have a key to access your bunkroom, the kitchen and bathrooms.
1 November to 30 April: A hut warden is present who will unlock the premises.
Tennyson Inlet end
Turn off State Highway 6 just north of Rai Valley, then right onto Opouri Road and follow to the end. It is 27 km to Tennyson Inlet; the last section is windy, with beautiful bush and wonderful views from Opouri Saddle. The track starts at the road end and carpark at Duncan Bay.
Kaiuma Bay end (Havelock)
From Havelock, turn off at Te Hoiere Road, 2 km north of Havelock, then right onto Kaiuma Bay Road. Travel 21 km to the track start on the roadside marked with a large sign. Kaiuma Road is narrow in places, windy and unsealed.
Another option is to take a boat to Shag Point, 4 km from the track end at Kaiuma.
Charter launches and the mail boat run are available to take passengers from Havelock to Shag Point, Nydia Bay or Duncan Bay.
- Weather - the weather in the Sounds is generally mild, but conditions can change quickly. Carry warm and waterproof clothes. If you are going out on the water, check the marine weather forecast.
- Fires - are not permitted along the track, at campsites or Nydia Lodge.
- Water - boil, filter, or treat drinking water.
- Wasps - in late summer and autumn carry antihistamine if allergic to wasp stings.
- Private land - the track passes through private land from Kaiuma to Nydia bays. Please respect the owner's rights and property.
- Domestic animals - horses are not permitted on this track. No dogs are allowed at Nydia Lodge, but are allowed elsewhere with a DOC permit. Dogs must be kept on a lead on private land.
- Rubbish - there are no rubbish facilities. Please take your rubbish with you.
Landform and seascape
The Marlborough Sounds have formed over millions of years as rising seas and a constantly sinking landmass combined to flood ancient river valleys. This is the only part of New Zealand where the land mass, weakened by several long faults, is sinking. There are few big rivers or valley flats in the Sounds; all that remains above the sea is the mountain peaks. If the sinking continues, today’s headlands, linked by narrow necks to the mainland, will be islands tomorrow.
In the forest
In Nydia Bay the forest is regenerating. It is dominated by tall mānuka and kānuka, with a variety of future forest giants on the forest floor. In summer, native orchids decorate banks beside the track.
On the drive to Tennyson Inlet there are magnificent mixed forest of podocarps and beech - what the Sounds looked like before the logging era.
On the higher hills and ridges you'll see beech forest and kāmahi.
In the wetter gullies and undisturbed lower slopes there are pukatea and podocarps. Rimu, mataī and miro form the canopy and māhoe, kawakawa, nīkau and tree ferns in the understorey, as well as many mosses, small ferns and climbing plants such as supplejack and kiekie.
Birds to look out for
The songs of bellbirds and tuī and the sudden “swooshswoosh” of a flying pigeon (kererū) will be heard in the dense, mature forests. Smaller birds such as the fantail, robin, and tomtit flit among the mānuka and kānuka trees looking for insects, while weka roam the forest edge and shoreline.
Sea birds such as shags and gannets fish the deep waters of the bays, while waders like the reef and white-faced heron stalk the shores, looking for a feed in the shallows.
There was a pa/fort at Nydia Bay called Opouri/Place of Sadness.
In the 1870s, milling of native timber began at Nydia Bay and continued until around 1920. A 300 m long wharf was built and a settlement sprung up. Little remains of the logging era today.