With all the worlds MTB press focusing on Rotorua Crankworx and the upcoming Enduro World Series, it’s easy to forget there’s another side to mountain biking. Long before berms where a thing, and back when a table top was literally the top of your dining table, mountain biking revolved around grabbing your map, planning a route along some dotted map lines and getting out there. With this in mind we embarked on an adventure, following one of these black dotted lines on a map with no idea what to expect.
It literally is like you've driven through a worm hole and ended up somewhere in a past land. The deeper you get into the back country here, the more solitude you find - time to think, time to appreciate what’s around you, time to reflect on what life might have been for early settlers to New Zealand. But don’t reflect too long as there is a world class trail to ride here – a true backcountry epic.
Giant ferns and ancient trees line a technical climb over loamy soil and roots which soon turn into a hike a bike up to the old burnt down Te Iringa hut. Roots as big as small trees meander across the trail, without so much as a chain ring mark on them – an indication to the traffic these secret back country trails see.
As an “out and back” ride, you get a really good chance to scope some lines for the descent, some of it just looks un ride able, turns out it all just about goes with a pinch of “man up.”
Continuing on from the hut site, the trail climbs for a while before heading down properly. Flowy, fast fun across the ancient beech forest dirt, the perfect hero dirt, sliding into corners and hooking the rubber up on the bank on the exit - good native forest fun! This ends abruptly at the tight switchbacks above the Tikitiki Stream and Kaipo River join – a great challenge for those wanting to prove their trials skills.
From here there is the opportunity to head onto the Oamaru hut, another 1.5hrs, for an overnighter. New Zealand’s DOC (Department of Conservation) have refurbished this old hut and it now provides sleeping for 12 plus a log burning stove. As this was only a day trip for us, we retraced our steps – climbing back up to just shy of 1300m before the real fun.
From the high point of the trail, this trail provides one of the most amazing descents. Dropping in through the ancient trees, whipping around the roosty beech forest corners and airing large rooty sections of the trail, it is reminiscent of a giant loamy bobsleigh run, with the addition of natural techy roots steps.
4km of this descent just isn’t enough, you will want more! It will leave a giant grin on the face of the most reserved riders and all others speechless.
We rode the Te Iringa trail with JustMTB as part of their North Island Tour.
So make sure to check out JustMTB before your trip to trail heaven, they provide fully supported New Zealand North and South Island tours across all sorts of epic terrain!www.justmtb.co.nz