On your marks. Get set…… Go!
Standing in the Octagon in the center of Dunedin, snuggling into my boyfriends arms, and everyone around us starts counting 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…. Happy New Year! The year starts with a bang as the fireworks spray colour all over the black backdrop of night.
Another year has started, and we are ALREADY in February… I can not believe it. Thank goodness that 2016 is a leap year!!! Imagine all the extra productivity we can achieve with a whole extra day!
Lets throw back to last year… (It wasn’t that long ago, who else is still writing the date with 15 at the end? #guilty!).
Once the turkey was cut, the prawns were eaten and pressies unwrapped. My handsome boyfriend and I packed our bags (I wish I had a magical bag like Mary Poppins so I could take everything I owned – bikes and all! Anyone with me on the Mary Poppins quotes?? Let’s go fly a kite?) and escaped the humidity of the Australian Summer, for the land of the long white cloud. While we were looking forward to unwinding out of 2015, and easing gently into 2016, neither of us really knows how to slow down…. Our holiday destination didn’t exactly promote lazing around with far too many exciting things on offer, and much to my delight, is extremely bike friendly…
With New Zealand just being over The Ditch (yes, capitals are needed), it makes for a great holiday destination. Easy to get to, reasonably priced, not many language barriers (be mindful of talking about your thongs loudly in public!), and cooler weather. Tick, tick, tick, tick. Perfect.
While we did a fair bit of hiking, we were both surprised at the cycling (road, touring, and mountain bike) facilitates that are on offer around NZ. Here is a glimpse into some of the options that are in the South Island…
Kayaking, jet skiing, swimming, SUP-ing, down-hill mountain biking, normal mountain biking, cycling and luge-ing… The list can go on and on, though March is quickly approaching so we’d better get to the point. Queenstown is awesome, and everyone should experience it. A hustlin’ and bustlin’ town where everything is hip and happenin’.
During a post kayaking laze on the side of the lake, we decided that we wanted to do a day of mountain biking the following day. So we thought we’d check out some of the bike hire shops that afternoon. Here’s what we discovered…
Make sure that you: Check out a few of the shops for the best deal. Don’t walk into the first one and go with what they have to offer.
We found a great locally owned shop called the Green Toad . Two brothers own the business, with one running it as a ski shop in winter, and the other as a bike shop in summer. The owners are really lovely, staff very helpful and their bikes were great and reasonably priced!
We grabbed a map…
And off we went…
We went from Queenstown, around to Kelvin Heights along the lake, through Arrow Junction, to Arrowtown TO GET A PIE!!!
As a road bike rider, I looked at the map and calculated up the round trip and didn’t think any more of riding 75km’s. A walk in the park, right? This was the day I learned that 75km’s on a mountain bike is very, very, VERY different to 75km’s on a roadie.
Once we got our Pie (again, capital needed) from Arrowtown we rode back through Speargrass Flat and back into Queenstown six and a half hours later.
One big, lovely, long loop. Some hills, and beautiful views. One Pie and one delicious Brownie. Arrowtown is very pretty too, though when we arrived I had food blinkers on, and didn’t enjoy the true beauty of the old mining town.
After a day on the bike, jumping into the fresh waters of Lake Wakatipu was very welcomed.
While this is just a tiny snap shot of a day on the bike in Queenstown, there are many, many more options. Check out Queenstown Trail for more ideas.
Wanaka: (Wana-ka….ome ride your bike??)
After six and a half hours on a mountain bike in run shorts, we (or maybe just me) weren’t ready to take on another full day of riding just yet… So on an early afternoon stroll through town, we stumbled across a store called Outside Sports where this lovely man works. I think his name is Rex or maybe it is Rick (we will call him Mr R). He was training for a 24 hour mountain bike challenge and was pretty interesting to talk to, cheeky and with an excellent sense of humour. Once again, superb and personable customer service.
This time we didn’t grab a map. Mr R gave us some directions that went a little somethin’ like this… Go down the street and turn left when you see the lake. Go along the lake front, and over a little bridge. In about 3 km’s stop at the vineyard for a couple of drinks. Then continue along the path along the lake… We kinda did what we were told, thanks Mr R! We enjoyed a beautiful scenic roll along the lake, and we only skimmed the trail. It wraps right around the lake.
After returning the bike before dark. (And by the way, I think it would be impossible to return the bike after dark as there is daylight saving. Dark time happens around 10pm. And 10pm is well and truly past our sleep time. We are wild party animals eh!?) We nipped down to the lake edge, jumped into the cool water, and sunbaked until after 7 o’clock at night…
If you didn’t ride for six and a half hours in a pair of running shorts, or you had padded cycle knicks (you must also have a magical Mary Poppins bag, as you were able to fit them in!!!) and wanted to do something more extensive than a scenic roll around the lake. There are plenty of places to go… Here’s a map that shows you only a small fraction of what is on offer around the lake… Or check out Wanaka Bike Tours for ideas.
New Zealand has a fantastic network of Railtrails, and these are all easily googleable. When we were driving around, we passed this awesome looking place which lead me to the Christchurch to Little River Railtrail. This trail takes you (as it describes) from Christchurch, to the town of Little River (there is a river, but the name of the actual town is Little River…got it??). I’d do this trail, just to stay here….
An innovative, stylish and eco-friendly place to stay for the night or nights. Drum roll please… Introducing SiloStay. This alternative accommodation has given the old humble grain silo a second chance at life as a stylish, modern and unique apartment. I can’t wait to get back to NZ to stay here!
New Zealand has some great options for an active holiday. I’d highly recommend it, and I’d go there again and again and AGAIN! Breath taking views, beautiful climate, and brilliant cycling facilities. If you wanted to take your own bike, it would be easy enough to pack it up and fly it over. Though we found that there were great local bike shops, that were affordable, and provided excellent local knowledge. If we had our own bikes, we would have missed out on the laughs and stories we shared with the local bike shops…
For now its back to work to save money for the next adventure! Time to day dream of more travel and trails!
Happy riding girls xxx