Thinking about it, I’ve always wanted to go to New Zealand. Everyone raves about it, and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to actually book a flight and go! The weather at home in Fort William has been so continuously wet and cold this Winter, the New Zealand Summer couldn’t come soon enough! I headed out with my boyfriend John, for two months of riding new trails, off-season training, exploring by camper van, and catching up with all our Kiwi friends!
Every trip from Fort William begins with a drive, and it took us 11 hours to get to London Heathrow, then flew via Dubai and Melbourne, then finally on to Aukland. I caught up on lot’s of good films using my new headphones, and drank loads of complimentary ginger beer, and just as the novelty was wearing off we had arrived in Aukland! Lying down in a proper bed after 46 hours of travelling felt like the best thing ever!
Our friends Gabby and Matteo picked us up the following morning, and we headed back to their place in Rotorua, about three hours South. It was so great to see our friends again, the sun was shining, we were driving through beautiful lush countryside, and our New Zealand adventures had begun! We planned to spend a few days with Gabby whilst we looked for a van to buy and found our feet, but we ended up staying for two weeks! We found a van after a couple of days, a 1996 black Nissan Elgrand, automatic, very fuel inefficient, two big sun roofs, and the best thing is the electric curtains! Vehicles here seem quite expensive compared to in the UK, and our little van was the cheapest thing we could find. Even so, hiring a camper is really expensive in New Zealand, and buying a car is really simple compared to the UK, so I would certainly recommend this option to anyone looking to travel about for as cheaply as possible.
The trails around Rotorua are some of the best I’ve ever ridden! They are loamy, rooty, fast and flowy, pretty physically demanding, through beautiful sub-tropical native forest, just so much fun! We used the South Star shuttle most days, it’s a great service and is always full of riders of all ages and abilities. We met so many lovely locals, everyone was so friendly and keen to show us their trails, cafe’s, lakes, hot springs etc., we were so spoilt with awesome riding and hospitality it was hard to leave! Especially lovely was Kimy McVickers, who went out of her way to help us the whole time we were there. Thanks Kimy!
One day we went on a great mission with our friends Sven and Anka. We rode the Moerangi trail, 36km of wild and remote singletrack in beautiful native forest. On the drive up the dirt track to the trail head, we were following some rough pig hunters, with their massive dogs sat on the truck roof ready to jump off if they sniffed out a hog. The dogs wear big radio collars, and are kept hungry so that they get keen on chasing a pig. They go for it’s ears so it can’t get away, then the men radio track the dogs and kill the pig. It was proper back country stuff, and felt like something out of the film Deliverance!
Once on the trail the only people we saw were a couple of scientists monitoring the bat population with echo sounders. It was such a stunningly beautiful trail and was a great little adventure, but it definitely felt like we did more climbing than descending! We were out for six hours and were all pretty exhausted at the end. En-route back to Rotorua we stopped at some natural hot springs for a long soak in the warm water, definitely an awesome end to the day!
It’s great to be in the sun and exploring a new place, riding my new Yeti SB66c is awesome, and it feels good to be living outside again and getting fit! Next stop Napier, then on to the South Island!
See you on the trails!