With bad old Christchurch be-calmed in a grey blanket of drizzly smeg, Ditte and I headed for the clear and cloudless Ashburton Lakes in the Canterbury High Country.
Seven years ago 29 miners died in the Pike River Coal Mine disaster on the West Coast of New Zealand. Last year DOC announced plans to create the Paparoa and Pike29 tracks in Paparoa National Park. The tracks were proposed
by the miners' families as a living memorial to those who tragically lost their lives, and as a thank you to the region and nation for the support they received in the wake of the disaster. 65 km of new and existing multi-use walking-biking tracks will link Blackball, Punakaiki and Pike River.Construction started a few months ago. Due to be completed in April 2019, there will be various single and two-day options to climb and descend through lush native forest, and traverse the spectacular Paparoa tops.
In March 2017 the Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tane Conservation Park, like much of the North Island, was hit hard by cyclone Debbie. Ditte and I were hunkered down in Rotorua while torrential rain drummed for three days solid on our accommodation's corrugated iron roof. Fast forward to spring 2017 and the Herculean effort to repair the road is still ongoing. It took all of four months just to join the dots so the locals of Minginui didn't have an hours drive through dodgy forestry roads to get to Murapara.
Since opening in 2015, the Old Ghost Road has rocketed to the top of every kiwi mountain biker’s must do, or must do again list. It’s so popular that when Cherie suggested a Ground Effect work junket back in September, the first Saturday night she could book the Ghost Lake Hut was in April this year. After a collective gasp of disbelief around the office, all 20 bunks in the main hut and the two sleepouts were duly booked and paid for. Family and our Ground Effect ‘Revolutionary’ sponsored riders were enlisted to join us, food and logistics sorted, and golden weather pre-ordered.
Mountain biking is now permitted from 1 May to 30 November.
The New Zealand Conservation Authority has approved an amendment to the Kahurangi National Park Management Plan allowing the longer seven-month mountain biking season that will run for the first time this year.
Find out more in the DOC Media release here.
The infamous James Gang hung out on the wrong side of the railway tracks for the most part, as we all have at some stage in our lives, but this didn't stop them from scoring a sainthood somewhere along the way.
On the promise of a sunny long-range weather forecast generated by some hobbits in Norway, Ditte van der Meulen, Joe Arts and myself headed to the west coast for an overnight jaunt on the Heaphy. September's clock was counting down the last few days of the Mtb season and our gang of three were intent on not missing out.
The spring has sprung
The grass has grizz
I wonder where the mountain biking izz?
With yet another perfect weather pattern in the misty mountains, Ditte and I headed for the high country via - the Culverden Bakery for the customary pre-ride consumption of possibly the best pies in the entire galaxy.
The Heaphy Track is a multi-day backcountry ride with no equal in New Zealand - 78 outrageous kilometres of benched singletrack snaking its way across the top of the South Island.
The historic coal town of Blackball is tucked away on a terrace above the West Coast's Grey River. Once famous as the birthplace of the Labour Party and our nation's trade union movement, it's now a shadow of its former glory.