NZ MTB: Prepping for the plane

Man, can’t believe my last post was in January! In the last instalment I talked about the steps to get my bike to NZ. There were a few other little things that I had to work out before getting on the plane.

As you will have spotted in the photos in that previous post, I was traveling pretty light. Bike bag + one travel bag, which meant taking my hydration pack on the plane (and I had one checked bag + the bike bag).

I had to wade through the contents of my bag and remove any dangerous items (matches, lighter, pliers, multi-tool etc.). I left my pump in there with no issues (I have had one query on a plane ride since). Being an international flight I also removed all liquids (didn’t fill the pack, and removed the 200ml sunscreen I had in the bag) and put all that in the checked luggage. I forgot to do this on the return flight, and thus it was confiscated during the security check. Not a biggie, but annoying given how much suncscreen costs nowadays!

Due to weight/size restrictions I wasn’t able to take a floor pump, but my hand-pump had a pressure gauge and this proved sufficient for my needs (and I borrowed the odd floor pump once over there from bike stores and the shuttle operator).

I’d read that I should drop the pressure in my tires, but later found out it wasn’t really necessary. As I changed my tires just before I left, I just left them down, but this had the unfortunate side-effect of not properly seating the tubeless ready tires into the rims (which I discovered when I did a quick test ride around Rotorua on my arrival). On the return trip I didn’t bother dropping the pressure (I was running ~30 psi for the trails there) and didn’t have any issues.

I’d also read (in numerous places) and also been advised that the weather could be a bit unpredictable, so I picked up a long-sleeve merino base layer just in case.

I also booked a small station wagon through Rent a Dent, as they offered the option of a bike rack, and pick up in Rotorua with drop-off in Auckland (albeit with a return fee). And accoms of course (but I’ll list those in future posts). As an Australian citizen with a valid license I was able to drive in NZ without any issue (right hand drive, left side of the road, very similar signage and road rules).

NZ MTB: Planning (pt 1)

Before jumping into the fun stuff (i.e. the rides themselves) I thought it might be worth just touching on some of the things that helped in getting over to NZ.

As I noted in my introductory post, I was originally booked on the NZ Epic tour with Wild Horizons. I used this as my starting point and began researching different rides and shuttle options.

There’s a tonne of info online about the various trails around NZ, but it can be difficult sometimes to get the nitty gritty details and pull it all together into something more coherent.

I connected via email with Dan from NZ by Bike and he was really helpful. I connected with a number of tour and shuttle organisers, and managed to link up with Ted at Tread Routes to join another group that had booked his shuttle to ride the Great Lake Trail during the period I’d be in NZ.

I was interested in the Moerangi trail and read some reviews of the ride that mentioned the Jailhouse Farmstay who ran a shuttle and accommodation there. Early in my research it had seemed the shuttle had ceased to run, but later I found the site above and discovered that the shuttle still ran.

However, I wasn’t able to link into any pre-booked groups during the period, and it wasn’t cost effective to go solo for rides that required a shuttle.

Once I’d mapped out a few key rides (like the Great Lake Trail) I had enough idea of what I where I needed to be, so I booked my accoms at Rotorua and Lake Taupo (I was planning to stay with a friend in Auckland). Lucky I did, because the weekend I was in Taupo was also the weekend of the Contact Huka Challenge, where thousands of riders descend on Taupo. I managed to find one room left in the city, so I nabbed that and set about filling in the remainder of my itinerary.

After a lot of back and forth, my final plan ended up looking like:

Day 1: Fly in and orientation (Rotorua)
Day 2: Redwoods
Day 3: Redwoods
Day 4: Drive to Taupo, Craters of the Moon MTB park
Day 5: Great Lake Trail (Orakau to Whakaipo)
Day 6: Great Lake Trail (Waihaha to Waihora)
Day 7: Drive to Auckland
Day 8: Woodhill MTB park
Day 9: Woodhill MTB park
Day 10–11: Rest and return flight

I would have liked to have to have done at least one more trail ride (rather than 3 MTB parks), but as a solo rider this was really difficult due to shuttle costs/co-ordination. The only way this would be cost effective is to link in with another group, which I was only able to do for the Great Lake Trail. I wasn’t able to get one for the Timber Trail nor Moerangi on the dates I was there.

NZ MTB trip 2014

Given my last post on mountain biking on this blog was about a mishap, I figured it’s well past time to post a more positive (and constructive) post about why I’m hooked!

Just over a week ago I flew back into Australia after a two-week mountain biking holiday in the north island of New Zealand. (I joked^ with Ang that I returned from the land of the great white cloud to the land of the great white Australia policy, but I digress…)

I was originally booked on the NZ Epic tour with Wild Horizons, but unfortunately they were unable to secure sufficient numbers to run the tour. Given my experience over there, this is a total shame—I really hope next year’s tour runs!! (But again I digress…)

For a bit of a taste of what was on offer, check out this vid from Australian Mountain Bike magazine:

Tempted by this, and with flights and annual leave already booked I decided to press ahead and see what I could arrange travelling solo. I used the Wild Horizons tour itinerary as a starting point and started to make enquiries as to what might be possible.

Over the next few posts I’ll share what I learnt in each space with a few pics (on occasion). I really wanted to blog as I went, but I deliberately left my laptop in AU, and wasn’t all that enamoured with using the iPad and/or iPhone I took to do anything too heavy in terms of blogging. But I did keep notes as I went, some of which I hope to share in each instalment.

^ I use the word “joked” for effect here, but the matter is obviously quite serious and no laughing matter. “Deplorable” is a word that comes to mind…