Nev's Blog

Alexandra Cycle Touring Group - 4 weeks touring NZ cycle Trails

Let the adventure begin. 28 days of cycling throughout New Zealand. 9 friends (at the moment) spending time ticking off as many of the NZ great rides (or part there of) while traveling around the country.

The Team

WHO ARE WE:

Barb and Nev Grubb - Cycle trail pioneers and original Trail Journeys owners. Nev enjoyed putting the tour together for the group. Barb a retired teacher who likes Mountain Biking, (yeh right)  looking after the grandkids, playing tennis and drinking coffee with her friends. (And riding an e-bike)

Snow and Judy Hamilton: Judy just retired ACC Manager and looking for adventure - Snow a retired farmer who works for Trail Journeys and loves tramping and cycling. (Both e-bike specialists)

Stu and Annette Beattie: Annette retired farmers wife and vineyard owner - Stu is a retired farmer, a guy with 9 lives, business operator, investor and boutique vineyard owner and all round good guy with stories to tell. (Stu rides e-bike as a result of some pretty horrific injuries, Annette slogs it out on her trusty mountain bike and is a legend)

Dave and Marg Mitchell: Margie is a retired legal secretary from Invercargill and now living in Alexandra with husband Dave, a retired accountant. Both are avid bikers having traveled overseas on some of Nev and Barbs cycling trips and can be seen most days out on their bikes in Alexandra. ( not that they will admit it)

Tony Lepper: Irrigation manager, past Central Otago Mayor, husband of legend Bernie, loves biking and always looking for the next cycling adventure. A hunter gatherer, deer, ducks, quail and fisher. (Tony thought about an e-bike 😀 Just kidding)

After traveling from Alexandra to Ross on the West Coast of the South Island the group settled into the Empire Hotel for the night. Good old West Coast hospitality made the group feel at home and the evening meal was exceptional and just what the doctor ordered. If we thought dinner was good, breakfast was unreal and we couldn't eat it all. A good binder to start the day for the cycle to Lake Kaniere. The first day on the West Coast trail provides a great experience through the native bush with the occasional road section from Hokitika to Lake Kaniere but the overall experience is very good. The celebrations during the evening complimented the riding and a lot of fun was had by all. All looking forward to tomorrow.

Lake Kaneire to Kumara and onto Murchison.

The group away in the wet from Ross on the West Coast, but still happy.

An early start for the team, Nev transferring the van to Kumara and biking back to meet the group. (Hopefully getting to Cowboys Paradise - but didn't) for the rest of the group this ride provided some challenges amongst other things meeting a herd of cattle who took exception to people biking through their territory, this negotiated, some uphill trail biking and morning tea at the Cowboys Paradise cafe. The ride on back country roads, lovely trail through the bush with a welcome lunch at the Kumara Hotel. From here we travel by van through to Murchison to stay the night at the Lazy Cow backpackers where we were made very welcome and enjoyed a lovely meal cooked by the owner. Everyone tired and no whisky tonight.

SUMMARY - West Coast Wilderness Trail.112kms over 2 days.

This trail provided a variety of riding with reasonably easy gradients and is achievable for the average rider. Lovely West Coast scenery and considering the amount of rain they get the trail surfaces were very good. All in all the group thought this trail was definitely worth doing.
We did not do the section from Kumara to Greymouth however Nev had done this previously and thought it was also a good option with coastal riding on a well formed trail.

Murchison to Motueka (driving) Motueka to Kaiteriteri - Motueka to Nelson ( biking)

At Trail Journeys in Mapua

After an early night the night before we traveled to Motueka to stay 2 nights at the Top 10 holiday park. The intention was to do the 2 sections of the Great Taste Trail between Kaiteriteri and Nelson. We set off in the van to Kaiteriteri and headed back towards Motueka after getting unpacked. This section of the ride starts in the Kaiteriteri mountain bike park with some windy uphill climbs and many switchbacks, as there had been a lot of rain the surface was a bit slippery and the odd tree fall which made this section rather interesting. After exiting the forest we had a gentle ride on well formed tracks to our base at the holiday park. The rain came for the last 10 km and we arrived back drenched, a spa helped warm us up along with a couple of whiskies.

The next day we headed off to Cycle to Nelson. First section to Mapua on well formed trails some following the road and a section with a rather steep climb on a farm track and formed trail. The downhill made it certainly worth while and the view was excellent. A stop at the Jester House cafe for a coffee was welcome and then a short ride to Mapua. Stu drove the van on this section and he had the beers lined up at Mapua for our arrival. Lunch was at the Smokehouse fish shop and it was all we could do to eat it all. Fantastic fish and chips, right up there with the best we had ever tasted. Nev took over the driving and loaded the bikes to head to Rabbit Island as the Mapua Ferry was not operational the day we arrived. The group biked the next section to Nelson on a variety of trail and boardwalk and were picked up at The Honest Lawyer pub after a quick couple of beers. Takeaways for tea and a couple of drinks and off to bed for an early start the next morning to catch the ferry to Wellington.


SUMMARY Great taste trail.
72km riding over 2 days.

This trail was most enjoyable and provided the odd challenge because of the weather conditions, the MTB park obstacles and the one steep section between Motueka and Mapua which made some of the group work a bit harder. Once the other sections of the trail are completed it will provide and circuit of around 170km and this will be of worthwhile trail to put on the "to do" list. The surface on most sections we did was very good and the boardwalks through the wetlands were well constructed and easy to ride.

Motueka to Martinborough - (driving/ferry). Maymorn to Cross Creek biking the Rimitaka Trail.

Poppies winery Martinborough

Today we left Motueka and drove to Picton via the scenic Queen Charlotte road to catch the 10.45am ferry to Wellington. We were meeting up with Tony who was joining the group today after flying up from Queenstown. He biked from the airport and we picked him up on the motorway towards the starting point for us at Maymorn Station. It was terrible horizontal rain when we set off to tackle this section of the Rimataka cycle trail. Snow took the van through to the end meeting point at Cross Creek and biked back some of the way to meet us. A couple of steep sections and 4 tunnels added to the variety and the scenery was great through the bush. Pity about the weather as we could not see much into the distance and would imagine on a nice day it would be quite spectacular. We arrived at Cross Creek just before dark and headed to our accommodation at the Top 10 holiday park in Martinbourgh. A quick shower and drink before the taxi picked us up to take us for tea at the lovely Martinborough Hotel, a great feed, watched the rugby and home to bed after a quick nightcap. ( is there a theme developing about food and drink?????) Marg managed to bike the trail today with her front wheel and forks around the wrong way, what a legend and the so called mechanics in the group had egg on their faces when we realised what she had done. To elaborate, when we load the trailer we have to turn the handlebars around to get them to fit and so when we take them off it is necessary to turn them back, only this time they were turned the wrong way, think it was the rain and maybe the result of the previous nights session that impeded the judgement of the so called mechanics, you can be rest assured it won't happen again, YEH RIGHT.

SUMMARY - Rimitaka tunnel section - 25km over 2 hours

As indicated, the weather took the gloss of this ride as I would imagine on a nice day it would be spectacular. The gradients were not too bad and the tunnels add to the flavour of the trail. One section where a bridge no longer existed required a bit of pushing up the other side. All in all the surface was not too bad and would recommend this ride (on a nice day)

Martinbourgh - biking the wine circuit - driving to Napier - biking on the Napier cycle trails.

At Napier outside Jim Bowdens house

Up around 8.30am and showered, packed up and headed to town for breakfast at a great cafe in the centre of Martinborough. Unloaded the bikes and started the wine trail. We called at Poppies winery for a sampling and met Poppie and Shayne, the owners who were friends of Nev and Barbs daughter Maree. Some of the group couldn't resist buying some wine which I am sure won't get back to Alexandra. We called into a bike rental company and Nev chatted with the owners and we all had a look at their e-bike conversions. Got Nev thinking about what could be done with the Trail Journeys fleet. As we had 4 e-bikes in our group it was interesting to see other options. Loaded up the bikes and headed for Napier. We arrived around 5pm and we were staying with Jim Bowden, who most of the group knew as Jim came on most of our biking holidays overseas and many of the group had also been together on some of these trips. Good old Jim had converted the garage to a bedroom as he didn't have enough room for all of us, and he vacated his bed to sleep in the office on a air bed ( which went flat overnight). Many drinks later and side splitting laughter we headed off for bed to catch up on some sleep from the night before. No more biking today, getting ready for a look at the Napier trails tomorrow.

Woke up to the second sunny day in a row (some sort of record). A good breakfast and off on the bikes after a few minor repairs, to follow the trails around Napier. First stop, COFFEE in Napier city after a ride around the port area. Along the waterfront and out to Pukitapu following the river and back to Taradale for late lunch, meeting up with Jim as the poor bugger had to work. Shower and clothes washing the order of the day and out to the Speights Ale House for tea. Reasonably early to bed getting set for drive to Gisborne the next day.

SUMMARY - Napier/ Martinborough trails - 65kms

Easy riding on both trails, the wine trail on the road all of the way but low volume traffic so no issues. Napier trail well formed and set out and good surfaces. Easy gradients, plenty to see and do.

Napier to Gisborne by van - Nev and Tony some biking in MTB area above Gisborne.

With Kevin O'Connor at Moengiengi station

We say goodbye to Jim and head off towards Gisborne. Along the way we stop at a farm managed by Nev and Barbs son in laws parents, Kevin and Lesley O'Connor and after a cuppa head off in the 4wd utes to the top of the farm. It is huge and the ex farmers in the group enjoy the experience as did all of us. Down to the local pub for lunch with the O'Connors and onto Gisborne. Staying the night at the Top 10 holiday park next to the beach. Some go for a walk and Tony and Nev head off to the mountain bike trails above Gisborne. A bit late in the day and the night riding is heaps of fun even though Tony has a crash and we get a bit lost after dark in the hills. Thanks to a friendly local we are put back on the right track. Back for a shower and off to a nice place for dinner. (This food and drink is harder than the biking and if we thought we would loose weight on this trip I think we all got it wrong)

SUMMARY - Gisborne MTB Track - 15kms

As only Tony and Nev went biking, not a lot to say. The mountain bike area in Gisborne was fun, steep climbs to the lookout and a a bit slippery in places and the night riding is always fun.


Barb and Marg cracking up probably at Stu's latest joke

Whakatane by van - Biking the Motu Trail

Today is the first real big test for the group, THE MOTU TRAIL.
Up early and away at 7.30 for the 1 hour drive to Motu. A 6km drive on the narrow and windy Motu road to the drop off point. Stu decides today would be a good one to drive the van and Barb thinks he will need a co-pilot as the weather is atricious, strong wind and cold rain coming in from the southeast. The team still keen to bike so out we get and set off for Opotiki. We split at the junction and Tony and Nev bike the Pakihi Track and the others carry on via the road. A bit of an adventure capped off by a 24km ride into the wind and rain on the road for Tony and Nev. We all arrive safely at Opotiki and the staff of the local I-site were very helpful and offered showers to the group. We travel to Whakatane and stay the night at a local motel. Time to clean the bikes and biking clothes, celebrate the day and have a lovely meal prepared by the girls.

We are all proud of the team for not succumbing to the terrible conditions and look forward to returning on a nice day (maybe some of us)

SUMMARY: 1 day ride Motu Trail - 60km for the road group and 52 for Tony and Nev

With conditions like we struck it would be fair to say we did not get the best out of the experience. Tony and Nev thought that the Pakihi Trail would be great to do on a better day, that said we really thought it was an adventure never to be forgotten. It was great to see the team embrace the conditions and put up with the discomfort to tick this one off. Full credit to Stu and Barb for organising the showers and keeping in touch to make sure we were all ok.

Tony sheltering from the rain at the Pakihi Hut halfway through the ride

Whakatane to Tauranga - No biking today

The cooks at work in Tauranga Air B&B

We travelled from Whakatane to Mount Maunganui. Had a lazy day today catching up on the washing, servicing and repairing some of the bikes. Stu and Annette went for a massage, Snow and Judy read and blobbed out and the rest of us went shopping and had a look around the Mount. A lovely meal in the evening prepared by Barb and Marg and the BBQ cooked by Tony. Marg and Dave had some friends around after tea and Tony caught up with an old girlfriend who joined us also.

SUMMARY: As no biking today, nothing to report on that front. The place we stayed was an Air B&B and was pretty luxurious with all mod cons, a good choice close to town.

Tauranga to Waihi and onto Cambridge by van - biking Hauraki trail to Te Aroha.

The big bottle at Paeroa.

Today we leave Tauranga at 9am and head for Waihi to start the Hauraki Trail to Te Aroha. Overcast conditions with a northerly wind which was in the face from Paeroa to Te Aroha. Dave and Marg drove to Paeroa and biked back to meet us. Coffee along the trail at the converted railway station at Waikino and onto the big tunnel. Finish the ride from Paeroa to Te Aroha and a welcome soak in the mineral pools. Take away healthy lunch at Te Aroha and drive to Cambridge for the evening. Thai takeaways eaten at the motel and met some others who were staying there as well. I think I remember there were a few drinks with dinner.

SUMMARY: 1 day ride on Huaraki Trail - 50km

Easy ride on a relatively flat trail. The first section from Waihi to Paeroa was the most scenic through the bush clad gorge. From Paeroa, into a stiff north west wind it was through farmland with not a lot to see. Snow started off on his e-bike to give it a workout, unfortunately when we caught him he had a puncture ( that will teach him) Barb, on her e-bike assisted Tony and Nev through to Te Aroha ( good old Barb) The destination was better than the journey on this section.

Cambridge/Hamilton to Lake Marietai by van - biking for Tony and Nev to Wakamaru Dam

Nev at the Wakamaru Dam.

A mixed day for the team today. After an early start from Cambridge we drove to Hamilton to bike the river trail through town. The weather was marginal but the bikes were unpacked, the team got ready to bike and the heavens opened up. The consensus was to put the bikes back on the trailer and head for a cafe (good call). As we had planned to bike some of the Waikato Trail later in the day getting wet at this stage was a bit silly. After a coffee, we headed in the van to Lake Marietai and the lodge we were staying at. On the way we decided that we should get our lunch and stopped at a cafe at a service station, BIG MISTAKE. The food took forever to get, a chance encounter with members of the Mongrel Mob kept us checking the trailer with the bikes on and after some pretty terse words to the management to get our food we headed off. We checked into the Lodge and Tony and Nev got on their bikes and headed for the Wakamaru Dam, a ride of 30 km return. Great trail with some steep sharp climbs and flowing corners.

SUMMARY: Part day ride of 30km

Nev and Tony bike the section between Lake Marietai to Wakamaru Dam. A superb ride with the odd challenging uphill but nice flowing corners. Some boardwalks through the swampy areas and a detour where the trail was flooded from recent rain. Weather was raining for some of the ride however could not fault it. Would have loved to done more of the trail but time did not allow this.  (Next time👍🏻)

Lake Marietai to Pureora by van - biking the Timber Trail day 1

Close to the highest point on the Timber Trail at 1000 meters above sea level.

The second big challenge for the crew starts today, "THE TIMBER TRAIL". After hearing so much about this trail the mood is one of excitement and some apprehension for those who have not done a lot of off road biking. The day dawns with a very heavy frost  so a cold start loading the van. Care is taken on the roads as there is every chance of ice on them. We drive the 40 minutes to Pureora and after some mucking around finally find the place where we are to leave the van for the 2 days we are on the trail. No one is there so a note is left to make sure they know to pick us up at the end of the trail and store the van for us in the mean time. The weather is rather cold from the snow covered hills surrounding us. We finally set off on the trail through some lovely bush, however it does not take long to realise that we may be heading into some pretty muddy and difficult terrain. A bit of concern regarding the narrower tyres on the e-bikes but to the credit of those riders (and the bikes) we are amazed how they handle the terrain considering their inexperience of this type of riding on bikes which in hindsight probably were not the best for the conditions we were experiencing. We climbed to around 1000 meters and came across quite a bit of snow on the trail, it was cold even when we emerged into the sun so the order of the day was to keep moving. Once we dropped in altitude the conditions got a bit warmer and the riding a bit easier. A welcome sight was the new Timber Trail Lodge and after giving the bikes a clean and lubricate we enjoyed the company of the staff. What a great asset this is to the trail and congratulations to those responsible for building it. Enjoyed a lovely meal with Bruce and his crew and off to bed for a well deserved sleep.

SUMMARY: Day 1 Timber Trail  - 40km grade 3+ trail.

A fantastic day on the trail not without its challenges especially for the e-bike riders. We are amazed at how the riders and the bikes managed on some rather muddy and rougher sections. Climbed 900 vertical metres over the day to an elevation of 1000 metres and dropped to 550 at Timber Trail Lodge. The Lodge was very luxurious considering the isolation and Barb meeting Clement Holgate who she taught at primary school provided another highlight. Clement and his partner Nicola were the managers of the Lodge but were soon departing for Rotorua and another job. Bruce Maunsel was behind the establishment of the lodge and managed the project and it was great to have dinner with him and the staff. All looking forward tomorrow.

Starting day 2 from Timber Trail Lodge in 10 degree frost - hardie souls


Day 2 cycling on the timber trail - drive from Pureora to Taupo at end.

Barb on one of the many incredible swing bridges on the Timber Trail

All the team up early and ready for another adventure. We say goodbye to the staff at Timber Trail Lodge and head off in a minus 10 degree frost (no problem for our hardy group of intrepid travelers). The first section on well formed trail and not a lot of muddy sections, but wait with the rain that they had  we soon found the mud. A couple of reasonable climbs over the day kept the heart rate up. Once again the e-bikers kept up the pace on their skinny tyres and the riders not really used to the type of riding they were experiencing (go them). The 45 kms riden today took about the same time as the 40 kms cycled the previous day (approx 3hrs 45 mins biking and 5.5 hours overall each day allowing for stops) so a bit more downhill on day 2.

SUMMARY: Day 2 on the Timber Trail - 45kms

Well I think that all the group thought that the trail was "AMAZING", it offered challenges, excitement, surprises and some wonderful feats of engineering. The interpretation boards gave you an idea of what conditions and hardships the workers faced along with some great information about the area, flora and fauna. Is one of the highlights of the trip for me so far and would jump at the chance to come back and do it maybe in the summer in drier conditions. (It looks like our Wednesday night group are keen to go in December and link 2 days on the Mountains to Sea trail as well - go us)

Rest day at Taupo - time for a breather and catch up before doing the Great Lake Trail.

Jude in front of the spa at the Top 10 holiday park, Taupo

Ariving at Taupo, a quick unload and over to the spa pool at the Top 10 Holiday Park. Nev takes Tony to the airport to head to Auckland for a meeting and then joins the group in the spa. A great complex which has a bar in the middle and a big screen TV showing kids movies. We all welcome the relaxation and have pizzas delivered for dinner followed by an early night. 

Day 2 Taupo, a day for cleaning and servicing the bikes, washing the van and doing the washing. NO BIKING TODAY, just a good catch up day with a bit of retail therapy for the girls.

Day 3 Taupo, another reasonably early start to meet the shuttle at Kinloch to take us to the start of the Great Lake Trail. Guess what ?, it is raining and a bit cold however as always, no one complains and we get sorted with the bikes and head off in the rain to cycle 30kms on what has been described as a relatively easy trail with a few ups and downs and with lots to look at. Hmmmmm?? I guess the wet conditions made this statement a bit off the mark and some of the group struggled a little. At the end of the trail there is a huge slip which took us about 45 minutes to get all the bikes through. We met the boat and as it was getting a bit late we decided not to do the other  trail called the headland loop Y2K trail. (leave this for another day sometime in the future)

Day 4 Taupo, Having an extra day in Taupo allows Nev and Tony to bike the Huka Falls trail through to Aratiatia Dam and back. A great ride on some single track. The rest of the team have a shop and generally chill out at the camp. The spa pool is a big hit and we all head there later in the day

  

 

 

 

 

 

Nev on the Huka Falls Trail to Aratiatia Dam and back.

SUMMARY: Taupo - Great Lakes Trail Waihaha Bridge - Waihora - 30kms and Huka Falls Trail - 30kms return to Aratiatia Dam.

Well the Great Lakes Trail turned out to be a real adventure. The wet conditions created some exciting moments for the team and the damage caused by the rain and very wet conditions made this ride a lot more challenging than it was supposed to be. Many switch backs were challenging in the conditions especially for the heavier e-bikes. It rained off and on over the ride, sometime very heavy making visability hard at times but when it cleared the views were to die for. As we climbed several times we could view the lake at many parts of the trail (weather permitting) It was interesting to see how close we were to farmland at times. the most challenging parts was carrying the bikes through the big slip near the end of the trail. This will be a massive job to clear and some serious money will be needed to do this. We were picked up by Simon, from Chris Jolly Boats, a bit later than expected but most of the team were pleased to get on board for the 25 minute trip back to Kinloch. Simon was great to talk to as he had just been at TRENZ where Alana from Trail Journeys had been while I was away on this trip, so got some feedback from him. The guys washed and loaded the bikes onto the trailer while the girls organised some very big and welcomed hamburgers at the local cafe. All and all a great experience and once again we were surprised how some of the less experienced riders gutsed it out (well done team another one ticked off)

Huka Falls trail to Ariatia Dam and back from Taupo - Tony and Nev only did this ride and it was a bit of a hoot. We had both done the section to Huka Falls previously however it did not dampen the enthusiasm and we had a great, reasonably fast ride. Mostly single track with some short but steep uphills. I would call it a fun track without too much causing any anxious moments.

Travel from Taupo to Tauramanui - ride the rails at Forgotten World Adventure - Stay the night at Tauramanui

Well a change of pace for the group today - we head off reasonably in the morning and drove to Tauramanui. Coffee on the agenda before booking into our motel which doubles as the headquarters for the Forgotten World Adventures experience. This is a disused rail line which a guy called Ian Balme got concessions to use as a tourism adventure. www.forgottenworldadventures.co.nz . He has converted golf carts to ride the rails along with some people powered carts and the experience we did was for about 12km out and 12kms back, through 3 tunnels and afternoon tea at the finish of the out leg. This was something different and we are all glad we had done it. It travelled through some impressive country, we wish Ian well with his venture. The guide was very good and had a lot of local history to share with the group. The guide told us that Tauramanui had lost around half of the population when several big businesses closed down in the area and they were hoping that tourism would provide many more jobs for the towns residents, we wish them the best.

Travel from Tauramanui to Ohakune - ride the Old Coach Road trail - 15kms of biking

We start off the next day to drive to Ohakune. A change of plan has been made at Taupo to not do the 2 days on the Mountains to Sea trail so a re-arrange of accommodation was made and we stayed 1 extra night at Taupo and ended up 2 nights at Ohakune. We were advised by Bruce at the Timber Trail Lodge and verified by the shuttle and jet boat driver on the MTS trail that with the extensive rain they had had and the e-bikes that some were riding that it would be advisable not to attempt this section of the trail. Good advice. We at first thought that a night at Blue Duck Lodge at Owhango might be a good idea with the group biking into there on the road, however when we could not get the night we wanted we would have had to backtrack about 2 hours from Ohakune on the Sunday, we decided to stay put at Ohakune. We stayed at Station Lodge accommodation and had some lovely units with spa and luxurious furnishings. I had met Jane and Darren once before and Jane was a great hostess. She offered to take us out to Smash Palace to start the Old Coach Ride back to Ohakune so we took her up on the offer. We biked this section of the trail that afternoon and after some persuading, Barb joined us and really enjoyed the ride.

The next day Tony was the only one to ride as the rest of us blobbed out and caught up on some emails and blogs. Nev had a bad day straining his Rotator Cuff the day before (not a bike injury, lifting the bloody trailer) in the shoulder so did not take part in any activities. Tony biked the Ohakune mountain road for about 20km, and arrived back very cold and miserable, nothing a spa and hot drink wouldn't cure.

SUMMARY - Old Coach Ride - 15kms

Some great trail and good views, the highlight being the huge viaduct which we could ride across. The interpretation boards were great and told us the history of the logging operations that took part in the forests. Everyone enjoyed this ride and for once we had no rain while riding. We liked Ohakune and found a nice cafe and a pub not far from where we were staying where the men had a reasonable session on the first night.

Travel from Ohakune to Wellington - no biking today or tomorrow

Well our North Island section is almost over and we head off to Wellington in the van to stay the night at the Thorton Hotel (a bit of luxury to finish). After some debate we went out for dinner to a Vietnamese restaurant not too far from where we were staying (a bit marginal food) and then back for a reasonably early night.
I changed the ferry booking to go on the later one in the day so we had a chance to take in Te-Papa (Snow and Jude), Weta Workshops and the Museum Gallipoli exibition. (Stu, Annette,Barb and Nev)
We dropped Tony and Dave and Marg off at the airport as they were leaving us to head home and we did the tourist stuff. We caught the ferry at 2.45pm and arrived at Picton around 6.00pm and booked into the Lodge we had booked, a couple of drinks and relatively quiet night.

Travel from Picton to Hanmer Springs - 4 of us biking from Picton to Blenhiem today. 33kms.

Not too early start, packed up and away by 9.30am. Nev, Snow, Judy and Annette biked to Blenheim from Picton. Annette trying out one of the e-bikes which Stu said she can have when she turns 70. To be honest I think she can go faster on her own bike as she is a strong biker which she proved many times on tour. Barb and Stu went through to Blenheim and visited the Omaka Peter Jackson exhibition of planes from the 2 world wars. After a coffee in Blenheim we all headed to the exhibition and to be honest I think it was as good as if not better than the Gallipolli exhibition in Wellington. After lunch there we moved on to Hanmer, arriving just on dark and checked into a nice motel for the night. A meal at the Monteiths Bar (poor service) and back to the motel.

Travel from Hanmer Springs to Christchurch - all of us biking in the forest at Hanmer for a couple of hours. - 20kms

We get up to a rather cool morning, drag the bikes off the trailer and mount up and go for a ride through some of the forest tracks around Hanmer. We did easy rider and perception trails and was a good blow out before settling in for a coffee (as usual). Stu and Annette and Snow and Judy had an hour long massage and Barb and I went to the hot pools to soak for a hour, a good way to finish the biking part of the trip. After the massages were finished we headed off to Christchurch where we all stayed the next 3 nights with Nev and Barb's daughter and son in law, Maree and Pete. We finished the tour going to watch the Highlanders almost beat the Crusaders on the Saturday afternoon, a disapointing way to finish but some consolation was we did play well and we look forward to the playoffs. The next day we head for home and the rain that has plauged the tour from day 1 continues until we get to Central Otago.

SUMMARY OF THE TOUR - Thanks to the team for contributing.

Nev:

From a discussion over a couple of drinks with Stu and Annette and Snow and Judy who also went on tour with us to Sth Africa a couple of years ago a plan was hatched to do something in NZ for a change and as we had all been somewhere else in the world cycling at some stage, this seemed to be a great option. How often we head off overseas without first seeing what we have to offer in NZ so the opportunity presented itself and it was full steam ahead.
If you ever wanted to go away with a group, this would be the best mix of friends (yes we are stll friends after spending 4 weeks in close proximity) that you could do this with. A mix of more serious cyclists and very recreational cyclists seemed to gell well. One of the most impressive things for me was how everyone stuck it out even in some very trying weather conditions (rain, wind, cold and snow) and considering the experience of some of the group how they managed some pretty challenging trails was nothing other than "AMAZING".
There were many highlights for me, I think the Timber Trail was well up the list and the impressive Lodge in the middle of knowhere and at the end of a cold hard day was a welcome site. The West Coast Wilderness Trail does not require the same fitness and skill level and has some great scenery. Some trails are still developing and some infrustructure has some catching up to do.
I guess I will always compare the trails with our own Otago Central Rail Trail and to be certain I think it provides the opportunity of a wider range of cyclists to experience it. The gradients are gentler than most of the trails we were on and the range and number of accommodation places are testimony to the time that the trail has been operating and I think it will take some time for other trails to meet the high standard set by the OCRT.
There are many of the trails I would like to do again in maybe better weather as we did not really experience the best of them, The Motu, Timber Trail, Great Lake Trail, Rimitaka Incline and of course the Mountains to Sea which we missed out on this trip. We will be back and at the moment a plan is being hatched with Nev and Tony's Wednesday night group to head back for 6 days in early December to tick off the MTS (which we missed) and Timber trails again. "Bring it on"
Thanks to everyone for making this trip truely memorable and putting up with my sometimes stressed state when we had to make some late minute changes to the itinerary - who wants to come to Greece and Turkey cycling next year?????.

Barb:

As a recreational cyclist this trip was an exciting way to take in many parts of New Zealand that you would not see cruising in the car. Nev planned this adventure and I tagged along, very much unaware of the challenges that lay ahead. (I was used to the Rail Trail and the river track). What this proved to me was that everything is achievable when doing it as a group because the dynamics and support you recieve keeps you going through the sun, rain, snow and muddy tracks. It came down to the end of the day and the stories always got bigger and better over a relaxing wine. It took me out of my comfort zone in some places but what a way to go (on my trusty e-bike) with a group of friends who helped make it a wonderful experience.

Tony:

I went on this trip (1) because I like biking and finding new trails (2) because I needed a holiday (3) because I thought I would enjoy the company of those who were going. I achieved all three, there was some great single track riding and spectacular places to experience. The evenings, travel, stories and food were outstanding. It felt like a holiday because I read some books. It could only have been made better by Bernie being with us.   

 Dave and Marg Mitchell:

The cycling was awesome. A lot of the trails we cycled were very challenging at times, taking us outside our comfort zone but making it all the more rewarding.This was a trip to remember alright and made even better by the great group of people and wonderful social interaction we enjoyed.

Judy and Snow Hamilton:

We loved this trip for the variety of biking and the amazing organisation.  We would probably never have done anything like this on our own. There was a great variety of accommodation and the whole trip went like clockwork.  We enjoyed the different types of tracks from single track, gravel road, train tracks, logging tracks and amazing swing bridges.  Highlight was the Timber track and the lovely lodge.  It was always fun at night re capping on the day’s biking and planning the next day. Couldn’t have asked for a better group to go with.  Thanks Nev.

Stu and Annette Beattie:

First thank you to Nev & Trail Journeys for giving us the opportunity to ride the trails in the top of the South Island & the North, for making it so special by lending Stu (my husband) an electric bike as otherwise wouldn’t have managed with all his health issues, that was special.

The trails were varying & challenging riding in the rain quite often wasn’t too bad with it being warmer, the time of the year was perfect as no other riders were on the trials apart from The Old Coast Road in the North Island. 
The Timber Trail was amazing to climb about 900 meters up into snow, ice, ruts & mud through the forest and end up in a beautiful lodge was the ultimate, warm, friendly people and delicious food, after a great night’s sleep back on the bike to finish the track, reading the signs of yesteryear of the networks of tramways that were established to remove the native timber. The Kinloch track was testing starting off in the rain & finishing with 3 big slips at the end to the boat, a challenging track but enjoyable especially the hamburger & fish at the end at the Recreational Reserve.
The trip was one of a life time, well organised and great company such a great variety of activities also an appreciation of some wonderful single malts, then to end up watching Crusaders & Higlanders at the AMI Stadium was pretty special!  Thanks Nev.