At the end of a long season the team at PureTrails feel the need for a little pampering. Well pampering or pain – whatever you like to call it! This year it was decided we needed to review our assessment on what constitutes a ‘wrinkle’ (or hill in layman’s terms) in order to improve on our guiding skills. Several large hills were duly chosen for our ambitious 4 day tour and we (the whole team bar Kevin & Megan who had other engagements) set off in the second week of May.
The first wrinkle, the Hakataramea Pass – 965m above sea level, was conquered without too much bother apart from some wet feet in the fords just below the summit. Having started at 1pm from Dog Kennel Corner near Tekapo, the 315m climb to the summit was aided in part by a stiff tailwind, however the 93km distance to Kurow proved too much for most of us in one afternoon, with only Terry going the full distance (Bob would have made it easily had he not volunteered to drive the bus the first 16km). In Kurow we were rewarded with an outstanding meal and comfortable beds at Waitaki Braids Lodge (see below).
The following day the first wrinkle was a lap of the new 4km section of Alps to Ocean Trail recently opened to the north of Kurow. We all agreed it was a fabulous addition to the A2O, removing a narrow highway section and providing elevated views of the braided Waitaki River. The climb up onto the trail from the north was graded a ‘minor’ wrinkle by the team (well all except Peter who chose to view the wrinkle from above rather than ride it). After coffee back at the Lodge, we then cycled the final 81km of the Alps to Ocean Trail to Oamaru. The A2O people have done a lot of work on this part of the trail over the last 12-16 months, and we all enjoyed the sections of trail most of the team had not had a chance to ride yet, particularly the lovely run out of the Rakis Tunnel to Windsor. There were a few ‘moderate’ wrinkles involved but nothing that could not be ridden. There was time for a quick pint at Scotts Brewery at Friendly Bay before busing up and heading to Wedderburn for a night of Maniototo hospitality.
After a stormy night, the following day dawned perfect conditions for our penultimate wrinkle, Danseys Pass. Dissecting the Kakanui Ranges at 935m, Danseys Pass is regularly closed due to snow and with a rough gravel surface, is not to be sneezed at. We had planned to ride from Naseby 63km to Duntroon. However following the pains of the previous few days it was decided we’d drive to the Danseys Pass Coach Inn (570m) and ride the 47km from there (all except Bob who started 8km back and caught us half way to the summit). Now at this point, I must confess that I opted to ‘test’ an ebike for this ride, having not ridden one before, along with JohnW. I can report that eco-mode still gives a good workout, and that ebikes are very handy for photographers. However, the rest of the team did a valiant job of conquering this sharp wrinkle. The scenery was beautiful. We enjoyed our lunch on the summit of the second, even sharper wrinkle, in warm sunny conditions with not a breath of wind, before dropping down to Duntroon. From here it was a quick trip up the valley to Otematata where a celebratory feast was enjoyed at the pub.
On day 4 all that was left of our pampering was a final climb up the famed A2O Tarnbrae (900m), from the Quailburn side 20km over to Ohau Lodge. This most certainly was reclassified as a moderate + wrinkle, not aided by the chunky rocky trail, but rewarding in both calories spent and the spectacular views of the alps, lake and basin. Sadly blood was spilt from two team members as our excitement at the final descent got the better of us. However after a quick check up at the Twizel Medical Centre all was deemed fine, and we headed home via Fairlie for Bakehouse Pies for afternoon tea. What a trip! View the photo album here.
If this sort of adventure, with 50-80km of grade 2-3 cycling a day on rural South Island roads sounds like you, keep an eye out for our new ‘CHALLENGER SERIES’ coming soon, which will be run in our off season periods. Contact Us to register your interest.
Having operated tours on the Otago Rail Trail since 2004, we felt it was time we tried to capture the essence and history of this great trail on film. Thanks to James Hustler for his amazing videography work and all those who agreed to take part in the filming!
Otago Rail Trail is a timeless trail that allows you to experience a huge amount of history of one of NZ’s special places, and one that will exceed your expectations time and again. See the full itinerary here.
All our Alps to Ocean Trail trips will be spending a night in the small community of Kurow from September. Local identity Kate White and her wonderful team have converted a former store built of local limestone in 1888, into a wonderful 7 ensuite bedroom lodge complete with a cafe/restaurant, Waitaki Braids Lodge.
The town of Kurow is situated adjacent to the braided Waitaki River, and has a nice relaxed vibe with a few short walks, local wine tasting, and a museum. It is the famed hometown of All Blacks legend Ritchie MaCaw and the local pubs on the mainstreet broadcast all the provincial and big rugby games live.
The PureTrails team spent a night at the Lodge in May as part of our staff trip, and we look forward to sharing the wonderful Waitaki Braids Lodge hospitality with our groups from September. View our Alps to Ocean Trail EPIC and EASY itineraries.
PureTrails NZ’s support of the Ohau Conservation Trust continues into 2018 with a donation of $5,600 made in March, which equates to $10 for every person who travelled with us in 2017/2018. The Trust are planning on installing some information panels along the A2O route eside Lake Ohau to highlight some of the very special natural values found in the Ohau Basin. PureTrails is thrilled our donation has made this possible. Read more about our partnership here.
PureTrails NZ was awarded the Qualmark Silver Award following our annual audit last Spring, which scrutinises not only business systems but also environmental crudentials. Visitors to our Christchurch depot are often intrigued by our innovative ‘bike wash’ system, whereby bikes are washed in a big purpose built bath tub with the water used being recycled to minimise water use.
Our plans for future developments include harvesting rainwater from our building to use for washing bikes, sourcing our electricity needs from 100% renewable resources, and developing solar panel charging units to charge ebike batteries.
With increasing pressure on resources it is rewarding to be able to minimise our footprint as much as possible, and preserve and enhance our natural environment for future generations. Read more about our commitment to sustainability here.
PureTrails were thrilled to been able to find a use for our random bike bits & pieces that we have accumulated over the years. RAD Bikes, aka ‘Recycle a Dunger’ is a central Christchurch based not-for-profit community bike shed run by volunteers. It is a workshop space where anyone can build or repair a bicycle for themselves and/or help restore bikes to give away. On a beautiful late winter day in August our bike mechanic Dean delivered our booty to RAD, featuring a plethora of bike frames, wheels, tyres, handlebars, saddles, brake leads, reflectors and more. We hope the parts can be recycled to bring someone else some joy on two wheels.
The team at PureTrails are thrilled to have joined forces with the Ohau Conservation Trust to support conservation efforts in this most beautiful of South Island locations. The biggest problem in this part of the country is the spread of the invasive wilding pines, and as well as lending financial support, which has been calculated at $10 for every person who joins one of our cycle tours, the team look forward to getting involved in working bees to help eradicate the pines and other weeds, and replant areas with natives. Read the full story here.
Cycling the South Island’s cycle trail network has never looked so attainable thanks to the growing availability of electric bikes. PureTrails has invested in a fleet of e-bikes which are available for hire at a price of $450. The bikes feature a 250w mid-drive motor, 9 speed gears and 5 electronic assist modes to choose from depending on the terrain, fitted on a lightweight hybrid mountain bike. There is no throttle so you still need to pedal to activate the motor.
Electric bikes are becoming commonplace in Europe and Australia and are being seen more and more outside the domain of the urban cycle commute. They are a great alternative for people with limited mobility or health issues to be able to join in with friends to experience the thrill, beauty, and sense of achievement that cycling through a visually stunning landscape brings. Being able to keep up with, or indeed overtake, your cycle mad partner can now be a reality.
Get a boost up those hills and start ticking off your bucket list challenges today!