21 Day BIG NZ Tour

Rotorua to Christchurch and most places in-between…

After a warm up day in Rotorua we headed out for some ‘Real MTB Riding’ on the wild and remote Moerangi trail. There has been some fairly impressive water damage since our last trip in December after this area caught the tail end of a tropical cyclone.

Shot on down to Taupo afterwards for some pleasant riding on the Kinloch trails, sampled the full length of the Waihaha to Waihora track there and back, (55km without the drop down into the bay and back up).

The weather forecast was looking ominous as we headed across Pureora Forest to start the first leg of the Timber Trail, and the rain forest ride lived up to its name and laid on a minor deluge of warm rain for us!

The rain had abated by the time we reached our overnight stop at Black Fern Lodge which gave us plenty of time to dry out before taking on the second part of the trail the following morning.

The day dawned bright and we were treated to a dry second half with a pleasant ride all the way out to the trail head at Ongarue. The huge suspension bridges are always a feature of the second half of the Timber Trail. Also this time we spent some time looking around the Ongarue Spiral created to allow the trains to lose height at a steady gradient, this involved some pretty serious rock work with picks and shovels…

We then headed for Ohakune where for a while the temperature gauge hit 26 degrees before the southerly kicked in across the Volcanic Plateau and we dropped to 16 degrees as we arrived in Ohakune.

An easy day the following day so we headed up the Old Coach Road to take a look at the old and new viaducts.

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Then it was time to take on the Bridge to Nowhere (plus a few kilometers more road ride having got the times wrong and missed the shuttle! Rob’s a commuter so we knocked off the extra 25km pretty smartly…)

A couple of sunny days down on the Kapiti Coast…

before heading south on the ferry and tackling Dun Mountain in Nelson.

I thought I would throw in a picture of the new mountain bike on a mountain before it gets too old, (not the rider!) The descent from Coppermine Saddle is still a gnarly, rock strewn descent all the way down into the valley below, only one pinch-flat from ‘that guy’ still riding with  tubes…

Over to the Rameka for the next ride, a rain soaked track kept the camera in storage but the Rameka extension just keeps getting longer and longer as the local guys extend the trail network.

Back to home base in Nelson to prepare for The Old Ghost Road two day adventure with the weather forecasters issuing a weather warning for that part of the country…

The day dawned grey but reasonably calm as we set off for the start point at Lyell in the Buller Gorge where we were met by a good steady rain that persisted for the rest of the day, but again the rain was warm.

The track surface is excellent and drains really well which is quite useful for these parts where several metres of rain fall annually.

once you get out onto the open tops some good rugged mountain biking is there for the taking, best to stay on the trail as some of the drops are big!

Our overnight accommodation looked a little gloomy perched at 1200m in the clouds but the wood burner was going in the main hut and we cooked up a hearty (re-hydrated) meal and most food tastes good when you’re hungry. The up/down bunk room in the sleep-out was cozy and we drifted off to sleep with the wind and rain beating on the roof.

The rain eased in the morning and we munched up a good breakfast and headed out on the 55km trip out to Seddonville. The single track sections along the first stage are just amazing, real grade 4 technical riding high up in the mountains and the single track just keeps going and gets progressively more flowy, but there are still a couple of tricky sections down the Mokihinui Gorge before finally popping out at Seddonville.

After that epic adventure we retired to The Old Nurses Home in Reefton for some refueling with a good meal at the local pub washed down with local ale.

And on another sunny day in Reefton I took the guys on a short tour of Blacks Point which isn’t a big ride but has lots of old relics (to compliment the riders!)

After sufficient rest, relics and recuperation we headed over Lewis Pass to Hanmer Springs for some single track riding on the purpose built trails around town.

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These were just a warm up for taking on The St James Cycle Trail where we were rewarded with 60km of big country riding under big blue skies.

We diverted off to Lake Guyon for a spot of lunch before returning to the trail and continuing on towards our turn off for Edwards Pass.

Stopped off in a small hut once over Charlies Saddle and Dale boiled up his billy for afternoon tea before the final push over Peters Pass and down to our waiting vehicle at the St James Homestead.

A great day out on a ‘Great Day’ a Real Mountain Biking Adventure… nicely followed up by a visit to the local fish-n-chip shop in Hanmer and a good sleep.

Our final outing was from the lovely location of Flock Hill nestled in the mountains on the road to Arthur’s Pass to take on the ever expanding track network in the Craigieburn Valley, 24km of supper single track at altitudes between 700 and 1300m and although the weather didn’t play ball, the riding was fantastic and a fitting end to 21 days of mountain bike riding in some of the best locations New Zealand has to offer.

Why not finish with a little bike-art on The Hogs Back Track above Castle Hill Village…

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