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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
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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!

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    SOOOOOOOOOOOO awesome. Jeez.

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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
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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
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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...

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  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
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    Very cool thread. Awesome pics and adventure. Subscribed!
    "We can always find excuses if we want to find them, but if we really want to do something, we have to just go."

  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, shit kicker wearing, Glenorchy chicas, blasting country music and all. You never know what might happen in NZ...

  26. #26
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    Awesome man. Are you planning to ride the Skyline downhill in Quenstown?

    Queenstown Mountain Biking – Skyline Queenstown Bike Park, New Zealand

    Haven't done it myself but hiked/tramped the Ben Lomond track in December and at the start/end of the hike crossed the downhill trail a couple of times and saw a few downhill bikers fly by. Looks awesome.

    Hope you liked Queenstown. I'm a North Islander but Queenstown is my favorite NZ destination.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwi_GR_Biker View Post
    Awesome man. Are you planning to ride the Skyline downhill in Quenstown?

    Queenstown Mountain Biking – Skyline Queenstown Bike Park, New Zealand

    Haven't done it myself but hiked/tramped the Ben Lomond track in December and at the start/end of the hike crossed the downhill trail a couple of times and saw a few downhill bikers fly by. Looks awesome.

    Hope you liked Queenstown. I'm a North Islander but Queenstown is my favorite NZ destination.
    I was actually heading back down there today but having issues with the van...spewing coolant and staying pressurized. Hoping it's a bad thermostat or radiator cap but I unfortunately suspect a cracked head/headgasket blown. Not something I particularly want to deal with but shit happens...

    But yes, I was planning on riding the Skyline!

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by -Chainslap- View Post
    I was actually heading back down there today but having issues with the van...spewing coolant and staying pressurized. Hoping it's a bad thermostat or radiator cap but I unfortunately suspect a cracked head/headgasket blown. Not something I particularly want to deal with but shit happens...

    But yes, I was planning on riding the Skyline!
    Bummer!

    Hope the van repairs aren't too serious/expensive!

  29. #29
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    Excellent, excellent, excellent!!! You Sir are doing what we all should be doing. Say hello to Hillslammer! Great report and nice to see that you are going to take up flyfishing. Try some pig hunting in Malboro will ya?
    There is a big difference between ripping and skidding.

  30. #30
    'Tis but a scratch
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    I totally envy you. Thanks for sharing so we can live vicariously through you. Subscribed.

  31. #31
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    Re: New Zealand Bike Bum Passion

    Quote Originally Posted by Chalkpaw View Post
    Try some pig hunting in Malboro will ya?
    We prefer to call it Marlborough.

  32. #32
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    'Slap,

    Keep it up, I'm enjoying your story line. Say hi to Shakey town for me. I missed the fun by one hour. T'was fortunate for me to be leaving on that day as my B&B of my last night went from three stories to none.

    I miss New Zealand badly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NordieBoy View Post
    We prefer to call it Marlborough.
    Perhaps we should rename you NitpickBoy.

    BTW I'm from Taupo but please pronounce it ToePaw.

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    Re: New Zealand Bike Bum Passion

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwi_GR_Biker View Post
    BTW I'm from Taupo but please pronounce it ToePaw.
    But that's up north and you're all weird there anyway...

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chalkpaw View Post
    Excellent, excellent, excellent!!! You Sir are doing what we all should be doing. Say hello to Hillslammer! Great report and nice to see that you are going to take up flyfishing. Try some pig hunting in Malboro will ya?
    Will do! No pig hunting yet, but my "make a wish foundation" dream was to go feral pig hunting in Texas in a helicopter yelling "Get Some!" Full Metal jacket style...

    Pulling the head off the Death Star this week. And thanks to Kiwi generosity and helpfulness I have a shop to help me do it in exchange for doing a bit of wrenching on customer cars while I am there. Saves me a lot of headache doing it in the driveway with minimal tools, and a lot of money. I think you would be hard pressed to do that in the states...I'll post some pics and updated status on the van this week. In the meantime, here's some other random pics...

    Sweet Landcruiser bushcamper that I wish I could have:




    Yours truly on Flying Nun trail in thee Port Hills:




    Posing on the way to Queenstown with Mt. Cook in the background in full sun. Apparently a rare sight?



    Charlottes Web:



    Ordered a Mocha and got a bowl of it:





    Sea Kayaking at Abel Tasman:


  36. #36
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    Re: New Zealand Bike Bum Passion

    I grew up in Golden Bay, running and kayaking around the bays and inlets.

    Now I've got to get back there on the motorbike and MTB.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NordieBoy View Post
    But that's up north and you're all weird there anyway...
    Whatever you say Marlboro Man.

  38. #38
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    Great post, dude.

    Cheers from a fellow Arizonan.

  39. #39
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    Bump.. any updates on your travels OP???
    "We can always find excuses if we want to find them, but if we really want to do something, we have to just go."

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by sodak View Post
    Bump.. any updates on your travels OP???
    I'm still in Christchurch waiting for my -second- new cylinder head to arrive today. It has been a saga getting the van back up and running, along with having back to back colds, allergies, and crazy insect bites. Kinda comical the luck I've had over the past couple weeks...but things are looking good!

    The clifs notes version of the van saga:

    - Realized it had a cracked head or blown head gasket.
    - Ordered new head
    - Tore down old head while waiting for new one.
    - Learned that this van is a unique one year only water cooled turbo model, and some previous hack mechanic had blocked off a coolant line from old head, thus probably changed before.
    - New head showed up
    - Ordered some needed parts from Mitsubishi last Friday.
    - On Monday, got parts and started installing new head but soon realized the new head was incorrect, valves were not recessed like needed.
    - Second head ordered on Tuesday.
    - New head will be here today and hopefully I can get it all buttoned up this weekend...

    This has been my last week and a half:








    Will say, I'm learning a lot about small diesels and could probably start a side business replacing heads on these 4d56 motors...ha. I've also done all work with a cheap tool kit minus borrowing a breaker bar, extension, and torque wrench. Real simple motors when it comes down to it.

    In the downtime, I've still been riding up to the Port Hills from Avonhead, did some wrenching at my friends work, and toured around the city some more. Pretty familiar with Christchurch at this point! Also spectated the National DH race in Victoria Park this past weekend. Wreck fest of a race where I was at, and unfortunately I forgot my camera for that. Doh!

    Hopefully some ride stoke soon...

  41. #41
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    Damn...gotta love a true adventure!

    SPP
    Rigid.

  42. #42
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    your welcome to come back to AZ and delete dots. Otherwise, overcome, adapt, conquer!
    "Fart in a paper bag, after eating the #17 plate from filibertos. STRAVA!" M77Ranger.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockman View Post
    your welcome to come back to AZ and delete dots. Otherwise, overcome, adapt, conquer!
    I still see dots and 20cm misalignment's in my dreams...

    I think your sig sums up how I feel!

  44. #44
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    Thanks for sharing your adventures! Makes me want to get back there again. The last two trips were family trips, but I hope to get back for a bunch of riding the next time.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by sgltrak View Post
    Thanks for sharing your adventures! Makes me want to get back there again. The last two trips were family trips, but I hope to get back for a bunch of riding the next time.
    Glad you like it!

    Little update...

    Got the van back together this weekend and put a few hundred kilometers on it today and yesterday.

    A pro xc/enduro rider from New Mexico is staying with us right now so I showed him and his gf around today in the Port Hills. When they head out I'm debating going up to the North Island and Wellington/Taupo/Rotorua or back down to Queenstown. Leaning towards the NI since I haven't been yet and should probably get up there before I run out of money...tough life choices and what awesome destination to ride, I tell ya!

  46. #46
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    Rotorua is good, I live in Tauranga ( 65 km ) from Rotorua & get over there riding as often as I can.

    Was down in taupo doing some riding & sight seeing 2 weeks ago.

    We have just brought a camper van to get around & see a lot more places.

    If you get to Tauranga there is a cold beer for you here, & a hot shower.

    I will also keep an eye out for your van in Rotorua when we are there.
    Raising money, my friend broke his neck Mtbing, Please Share link. http://givealittle.co.nz/cause/elliottkeys/donations

  47. #47
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    Thought I'd subscribed to this thread, really awesome and saddening at the same time - NZ, the one place still on my to visit list

    Watch out for Muzz, seems like a nice guy, but be careful he's a bit of a Neener zealot Sure he'll treat you right and show you some good trails if you do look him up though, Neener and all
    Last edited by LyNx; 02-04-2014 at 12:43 PM. Reason: fix a smilie :D
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    Hey Chainslap, if your passing through the Manawatu on your way to Rotorua, I can take you up our local trails here in Palmerston North, great climb with an epic descent. Your more than welcome to come for a bbq or welcome to stay the night.

  49. #49
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    Aloha, awesome post. Thanks so much. I'll be headed out there in March..........

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    Wow that looks like some awesome riding, and I wish I could get a diesel Delica in the states.

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