14 day Tour –South Island —March 2017.

Hanmer Springs to Queenstown…

Chasing the earl autumn sunshine around the South Island we had a good hit rate with only a couple of wet travel days and two grey days down in Queenstown, the rest of the time we had those big clear blue New Zealand skies.

Hanmer Springs; A good weather forecast meant we could commit to a shuttle drop off at the furthest point on the St James Cycle Trail and bid farewell to our driver Andy and head over Maling Pass into the big wild and remote Waiau River Valley and the start of a 70km return to Hanmer Springs through the St James Station. This is big country with views to match of the surrounding 2000m peaks, throw in a couple of suspension bridges over the river and three passes to climb before the return to town over a final pass and a newly reopened pack-track down onto the Hanmer Plain, and you have the recipe for an epic adventure ride .

Let the pictures tell the story…

In Reefton we had a trip around the old mining tracks at the back of Blacks Point; there are some great sections of single track linking the mining sites, sometimes we were rewarded with relics from abandoned mine workings slowly disappearing back into the forest surroundings.

A fine West Coast day was the perfect excuse for a Heli-Bike trip up on to Croesus Knob sitting at 1200m behind Blackball. Chad and Peta were keen to go and so after an early call to Alan from Airwest Helicopters, we munched a quick breakfast at the Old Nurses Home in Reefton before I dropped Chad and Peta at Airwests base just outside of town and I headed on with the bikes to the pickup point up in the hills behind Blackball. This gave Chad and Peta an extra take-off and landing and 50km of flying which seemed to go down pretty well!  The weather was outstanding with views out over the Tasman Sea and of the Southern Alps and Mt Cook far to the south; the only difficulty was trying not to stop too often to take photographs…

After a stop at Ces Clarks Hut for an early lunch we then diverted to Garden Gully Battery to help explain the difference between this style of battery and a Duracell 🙂 before finishing with a glass of beer in the Blackball Hilton and heading on for Hokitika.

Catching a dry day on the West Coast meant we could take on the West Coast Wilderness Trail and knock off the best section from Kumara back to Kaniere giving us 60km of grade 2 cruisy riding, but just so that it wasn’t ‘too cruisy’ I added in the 7km of the Old Water Race track which cranked up the difficulty to grade 3, grade 4 with some step sections thrown in, this made sure Chad and Peta were properly worn out, therefore receiving excellent value for money times distance travelled!

The rain caught up with us for the next couple of days and we used some of that time travelling the 500km down the West Coast to Queenstown with an overnight in Makarora on the way.

In Queenstown we had a warm up ride on a cool day around Jacks Point…

and followed that with a circuit of Moke Lake, bumping into a few locals along the way.

On the day the clouds lifted we took on the classic Queenstown ride with multiple runs  incorporating ‘Rude Rock’ (note the shape of the rock perched on the hillside) ‘Pack, Track & Sack’, the relatively new grade 5 link which leads down on to the classic ‘Skippers Canyon Pack Track’, these three tracks give something over 600 vertical metres of descent and 9km of prime single track with a few scary bits thrown in, as well as a neat old stone hut where Chad had time to read the visitor book before our shuttle arrived…

in-between times we had a few runs of ‘Zoot’ and finished off the day with the ridiculously steep Slip Saddle which drops you into the gentler ‘Bush Creek’ ride through many creek crossing all the way back to Arrowtown. It would have been more sensible to join the paragliders and descend gentle to earth rather than plummeting down Slip Saddle!

Departed Queenstown for Tekapo and an overnight stop in a neat Shepherds Hut 7km along the lakeside where the following morning we had a ride through the local forest and on the trails above the town with great views of the lake and the Southern Alps.

And to complete 14 days of epic mountain biking we saved the best-till-last (in my humble opinion!) by riding the Craigieburn trails and especially the Edge Track high in the Craigieburn Mountains on yet another clear blue skies day…

I get to do this all over again sometime… some folk have to go back to 40 degrees in Perth… darn good excuse to call by this way another time I would think!

Finished off the tour with a few beers to help fill the kitchen shelf and a pie from the famous Sheffield pie shop.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s