The second half of the trip has flown by! I can’t believe we’re already getting ready to head home this week! After the Dodzy Memorial Enduro we drove down the West coast straight to Queenstown. The views were absolutely stunning, big sweeping vistas down the coast line, vast beaches and endless lush native forest. The sand flies were absolutely hellish though, so we had to jump out and take a quick photo then run straight back to the van again. It was a shame to rush the journey and not stop off and explore, but that can be saved for next time!
Driving towards Queenstown, through the vineyards and mountains in the evening sunlight, was absolutely stunning! Queenstown itself was really busy. Compared to the rest of NZ which is pretty sleepy and seems to shut down really early, Queenstown definitely felt like a resort town straight away. It wasn’t the easiest place to find somewhere to camp in the van as wild camping is strictly forbidden, but we eventually found a sweet doc (department of conservation) campsite near the 7 Mile trails and right by lake Wakatipu.
Initially, I had planned to keep our visit Queenstown relatively short and then head somewhere quieter. There were coach loads of Tourists taking pictures with their ipads and a constant queue of people outside the infamous Fergburger, even at 10am! Once we found a sweet cafe (Vudu – amazing food and coffee!), a good camp spot, a good selection of trails, a nice yoga studio, and a good feel for the place, it turned out a great place to be, even if it was a bit busy. It is awesome riding new trails in different places all the time, but it’s also great to get to know an area and get into a routine of riding in one area. I find it’s way more productive for smashing out a good training ride without having to look at a map every 5 minutes. Queenstown was perfect for both bigger rides up Coronet Peak and down to Arrowtown, and also smashing out training laps of Gold-digger and the 7 mile trails.
Two and a half weeks in Queenstown whizzed by, and it was time to head to Christchurch. It was another stunning drive, through ‘Merino’ country and picturesque farm land. We passed plenty of fruit farms which had little stalls outside, and it was good to stock up on fresh snacks for the drive, straight off the trees over the fence. In Christchurch we stayed with Tory and Justin Leov, Blenky and Alysha, Amy and Cam Cole. It was great to visit friends at their home in the off season, as we only ever see each other around the world at the races! We went on an awesome ride at Craigieburn with a cool group of peeps… Justin, Cam, Blenky, Rob Parkin, and Kieran Bennett. It was great to ride with all these awesome Kiwi riders! The epic views and awesome riding meant one ride there definitely wasn’t enough!
Luckily we got our big ride in and tired out our legs, as the next day an epic storm arrived. It turned into the biggest storm and flooding Christchurch had had in 100 years! Everyone was pretty much house bound, with branches flying around outside and crazy flooding!
Once the storm passed through, we hit the road and headed up to Nelson to visit good friends Anka and Sven Martin. The week we spent at House Martin was awesome! We stayed in their cool little ‘sleep-out’, a lovely wooden outbuilding on the property. It even had an outdoor shower overlooking the valley! Every day felt like a health retreat!
That week we packed in loads! Being shown lot’s of wild trails and sharing adventures with like-minded people was great! The Nydia trail was one of my favourite rides. It was a solid 5 hour point to point ride, through beautiful lush native forest, with the trail dropping down to the blue sea then up into the hills again. With the single 34 tooth chain ring I run on my SB66c, my legs were pretty done after a day of sustained rooty climbs! When we get home I think I might change to a 32 tooth, but the 34 has certainly made my legs strong!
Thanks Sven and Anka for all the good times! The Abel Tasman water taxis, Wharariki beach with the seal pups, the peacocks and coffee cake, the Rameka trail, the Mussel Inn, Yoga classes, the Nelson market, the 629 trail, cable bay swimming… it was a time to remember and I can’t wait to go back!
The last stop is back where we started our trip, Rotorua. Being back at Gabby’s house kind of felt like going home again! It was so nice to see Gabby, Kimy, Matteo, Solo the dog and Puster the obese cat. Cyclone Lusi was in full swing when we arrived, which forced us to do jobs and not touch bikes for a few days before going home. Being a couple of small islands in the middle of the South Pacific, all sorts of weather systems seem to hit NZ pretty hard for a day or two before passing through. Our last day here will be a few laps of the Rotorua forests, one or three flat whites, boxing up bikes and packing bags!
This trip has been a great taster of what NZ has to offer, I can’t wait to explore all these places more in-depth next time! Kiwi’s are so hospitable, kind, funny and relaxed. Everyone we’ve stayed with and met along the way have been awesome and made me love the place even more! It’s feels great to go home feeling nice and fit, having ridden and done loads the last few months. The weather forecast in Fort William right now is for snow and minus temps, so it looks like we’ll be skiing when we get back!
Cheers NZ and everyone who’s made it a time to remember!