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  1. #1
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    New Zealand Bike Bum Passion

    Last December, I made a decision to bypass the winter in Flagstaff, AZ and head to the southern hemisphere to do a van dwelling mountain biking trip in New Zealand for an “extended period of time”. I bought a one way ticket, packed my 2012 Pivot Mach 5.7 in a case, and headed to Christchurch. I have some good friends living in Christchurch, so I set up my base of operations there and quickly bought myself a van, and started riding around the area.

    I’ll try and keep this updated somewhat regularly with pics of my rides and travels.

    The first ride I did was at the Living Springs area in the Port Hills on the southern edge of the city. I quickly learned that the Port Hills are the destination of choice for riding around Christchurch (Chch). There are a slew of tracks throughout the hills, a dedicated DH bike park, pump track, and jumps all in the city park. Pretty awesome:




    After spending the first few days zipping around on a scooter to get used to driving on the left, I headed out in the borrowed 4wd Mitsubishi Delica to ride in the Craigeburn Forest:




    It’s a rather grueling 7km climb up to the top of the ski area. Along the way I was able to watch my progress up from the valley floor before heading up to the treeline and eventually the ski area.




    Waiting in line at the ticket booth…




    Nobody here…




    This ski area still uses rope tows!




    At the base of the rope tow, the singletrack begins and immediately contours along the scree field:




    After a bit of pucker factor scree skiing on the bike, the track leads into the beech forest, and this is when the real fun begins! The trail contours along the forest beautifully and has none of the typical pinch points like you find on USFS trails. This piece of primo singletrack heads all the way back down to the valley floor in this fashion. I didn’t see a single soul the entire time as well. Truly spectacular…





    Reppin my home state at the Helicopter Hill Overlook:




    Craigeburn was my first real adventure on the bike on my own and will probably always be one of my favorite rides. Maybe it was just the fact that it was my first real experience in NZ, but it was one hell of an introduction to kiwi riding. I certainly won't forget that ride.

    More to come...

  2. #2
    CrgCrkRyder
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    More, More - thanks for a great Passion post.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by CraigCreekRider View Post
    More, More - thanks for a great Passion post.
    Ditto!

  4. #4
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    More, more, more!!! I LOVE NZ!!

  5. #5
    more carbon=more awesome
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    Chainslap are you planning to see the whole country?
    Posting on the basis that ignorance shared is ignorance doubled.

  6. #6
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    Looking forward to more...

    My wife and I were in NZ last year (Queenstown and Rotorua). We had such a great time; excellent riding and scenery. Just need more time to explore!

  7. #7
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    SOOOOOOOOOOOO awesome. Jeez.

  8. #8
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    Your gonna love your time here, cant wait to hear more. We are off to Rotorua for the long weekend, cant wait

  9. #9
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    Jealous!

    Do your self a favor and do some flyfishing for trout while you are there too.
    Sent via my heady vibes from the heart of Pisgahstan

  10. #10
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    One way ticket? Excellent choice!

    The last time I bought one-way ticket there, I stayed 4 years

  11. #11
    more carbon=more awesome
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    I was riding in Rotorua two days ago and got talking to a girl from San Francisco who had just arrived in the country four days ago on a working visa. She had arrived in town at 9 the previous night and wasted no time in hitting the trails. We invited her to tag along with us. She had no real agenda and no idea where she would end up. Pretty cool I thought. She did say she was heading to Christchurch in the next week, but not for how long.

    Oh to be young and free.
    Posting on the basis that ignorance shared is ignorance doubled.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Understater View Post
    Chainslap are you planning to see the whole country?
    Yup, spending most my time on the South Island, but I'll be heading up to the North at some point and possibly even Australia before heading back to the AZ.

    Continuing on...

    On the 15th of December, still being without a vehicle of my own, I decided to do a big loop from the house I was staying at up over the Port Hills and down to the coast.

    Making my way up:



    I decided to be rebel and go on the closed road as I was curious to see some of the earthquake damage. Sure enough, rocks still littered the summit road:




    Along the way, I met Rob, who offered to show me the way toward Taylors Mistake Bay. We first stopped at one of the old WWII era turret mounts.



    Heading towards Taylors Mistake




    We descended a sweet bit of flow trail aptly named Anaconda which dropped us straight into Taylors Mistake bay, which as I recall was named after a captain who mistake the tiny bay for the correct one in Lyttleton and ran aground here. Nowadays it is apparently the hangout to tan and drink beer. Open containers are allowed here, unless posted otherwise. Rad. I also knocked off a bucket list item of riding my bike to the ocean.




    After a quick snack, I headed back up the hill towards Christchurch to check out the damage and reconstruction efforts in the city center from the 2011 earthquakes.
    Shipping containers are used everywhere to hold up hillsides and keep debris off the roads.





    Downtown (CBD) is rather eerie as most roads are now deserted and there are empty lots everywhere where buildings once stood. Many buildings are still up bet red flagged for destruction so no one can enter them.

    After cruising through the CBD, I headed through Hagley Park which is a rather enormous park in the city center. I even watched a cricket game for a few minutes before I remembered I don’t understand the game whatsoever, even though I lived in England at one point as well. It’s just so damn slow…




    A few days later I purchased my home and wheels to get around the island:



    A sweet as 1994 Mitsubishi Delica 4x4 with a 2.5L turbo diesel. It's kind of like driving a school bus with the handling of a boat over waves, but I love the thing!

    Set up with a simple kitchen set up in back:



    And it has two beds that can also be converted to one bed...just in case.


  13. #13
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    Awesome write up and pics. You will have a blast around the South Island. Enjoy!

  14. #14
    Gnarly
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    Enjoying your post chainslap! Beautiful region to explore
    F*ck Cancer

    Eat your veggies

  15. #15
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    Sounds awesome ... wish it were me!

    One day...

    SPP
    Rigid.

  16. #16
    CrgCrkRyder
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    Love that van. I don't think I have seen one here in the US like that. Looks to be the perfect mountain bike exploration vehicle. Thanks for the pics - those abandoned areas look so eerie.

  17. #17
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    Chainslap, I can't keep turning in falsified time sheets for you. Time to end this vision quest and come back to AZ pronto.
    "Fart in a paper bag, after eating the #17 plate from filibertos. STRAVA!" M77Ranger.

  18. #18
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    Wow that looks awesome
    BICYCLES ARE FUN!!!!

  19. #19
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    Great thread

    Not sure if you have heard of Expedition Portal, but I think you might like, and the people over there would also love to hear your stories

    Expedition Portal Forum

  20. #20
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    Sweet! Brings back good memories of my 6 week trip there 10 years ago. NZ and the Kiwis are truly awesome.
    baker

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattnmtns View Post
    Jealous!

    Do your self a favor and do some flyfishing for trout while you are there too.
    That's one of the things I would really like to get into while I am here, along with white water kayaking. Probably since it is so much harder to do in AZ. I have fishing pole mounts on my van already so just need the equipment now! And a lot of practice...

    I was riding in Rotorua two days ago and got talking to a girl from San Francisco who had just arrived in the country four days ago on a working visa. She had arrived in town at 9 the previous night and wasted no time in hitting the trails. We invited her to tag along with us. She had no real agenda and no idea where she would end up. Pretty cool I thought. She did say she was heading to Christchurch in the next week, but not for how long.

    Oh to be young and free.
    Sounds pretty much like I am doing! There's a lot of younger folks down here, especially from England, Canada, and Germany. Most seem to be on a gap year break from school, which is encouraged unlike in the US it seems. "Backpacker" hotels/hostels are everywhere. My hosts were keen to point out that when we did a three day backpacking trip, it is actually tramping.


    Love that van. I don't think I have seen one here in the US like that. Looks to be the perfect mountain bike exploration vehicle. Thanks for the pics - those abandoned areas look so eerie.
    Nope, you can't get them in the US thanks to diesel particulate emissions nonsense from the 70's mostly. This van was actually exported from Japan in 2001, which is real common down here. Which also means you get nice touches like having the fuse panel in Japanese...These vans are in Canada though so if you got crafty you could potentially bring one in.


    Chainslap, I can't keep turning in falsified time sheets for you. Time to end this vision quest and come back to AZ pronto.
    Better idea, have Matt falsify both our time sheets, and you come down here and ride!


    Not sure if you have heard of Expedition Portal, but I think you might like, and the people over there would also love to hear your stories
    I am actually a member on there already, maybe I'll do some cross posting. I half debated lifting the van up and putting a snorkel on it, but not really worth it unless I was here long term.


    Sweet! Brings back good memories of my 6 week trip there 10 years ago. NZ and the Kiwis are truly awesome.
    I concur. Everyone has been awesome, even when I do stupid tourist moves, or can't understand them. When I first got coffee the barista asked "have here or take away". I had to ask her three times to repeat that because it never clicked in my head, ha.

  22. #22
    locked - time out
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    Very cool thread. Awesome pics and adventure. Subscribed!

  23. #23
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    Just before Christmas time, a few other friends from Arizona came over to visit for a few weeks. It was a action packed couple of weeks that consisted of overnight tramping trips, white water rafting, bungy jumping, mountain biking of course, and even some sea kayaking.

    Akaroa Bay




    Camping near Nelson Lakes National Park




    We then headed out to Nelson Lakes with Angelus Hut for two nights, and to spend Christmas. New Zealand has an amazing hut system where you can hike in and stay at huts for a small fee usually around $20 a night. The huts can be basic shelters, to modern cabins like Angelus which slept 28, had a wood stove, kitchen area, and potable water. They are typically in very remote areas and are built and re-supplied by Helicopter.

    We first took a water taxi to the start of the hike/tramp:




    It was a 12km hike with about 1000 meters of climbing:





    We got there just before the 70kmh winds hit and the rain started. The hut is situated along the lake in one of the most picturesque places I have ever been to. A bit reminiscent of Colorado…




    The next day we made our way to Angelus Peak, right at 2075 meters.





    The Hut:




    Hiking back down:






    Next up was the Copland Track and Welcome Flat as our destination. 17km hike to the hut that is set in a steep valley with hot springs next to the Hut.




    First swing bridge!




    And one of my favorite pics thus far. This has everything New Zealand, lush forest, steep mountain peaks, glaciers and teal blue runoff water, and even a rainbow on this day. I feel truly privileged to be able to see places like this. And this was only about 100 meters from the hut…




    The fellowship at Welcome Flat Hut. Great group of semi-rowdy Americans…





    Abel Tasman sea kayaking coming up next...

  24. #24
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    Great thread dude! Keep it coming. Threads like this make me proud to be a Kiwi.

  25. #25
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    This past weekend (January 11-12), my friend Tim and I headed down to Queenstown for the Coronet Peak Enduro. Queenstown is about 6 hours drive time from us, and I had to wait for Tim to get out of work on Friday at 4:30. So that meant we had a mad dash to Qtown arriving at the shuttle pick up around 11:30 Friday night. We decided to just sleep there on the side of the road, with our backup in case we get into trouble: play a dumb American tourist. Easy enough for us. Fortunately no problems, and I would bet less than a dozen cars went by all night.

    In the morning, we fired up the trusty JetBoil and made some premix bulk bin style oatmeal and coffee and chit chatted with some of the other racers who gradually started to show up. The shuttle took us up to the ski area where we got a brief rider meeting before making the slog up to stage one.

    I was apparently one of the only people who had never ridden any of the trails, or the only person willing to raise their hand when asked "who has never ridden here". Yup, locals might have the upper hand...

    The race consisted of four stages including the World Cup DH track, rude rock, skippers, and a new track in the high grass that was a whole new learning experience for me. Turns out you can't use the rear brake on grass...

    I had a blast, but had a mediocre finish. No help that me, being used to flying finishes, blew through the finish check and sat around wondering why everyone was yelling at me to get my card scanned at the finish...damn it!

    I didn't take any pics, but here's a couple from stage four of yours truly:





    And some other choice pics are up on the Queenstown bike festival site: Rockn' Roll Enduro » Queenstown Bike Festival

    We camped that night near Glenorchy outside of Queenstown and even had a visit from four booze cruisin, **** kicker wearing, Glenorchy chicas, blasting country music and all. You never know what might happen in NZ...

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