Aotearoa - New Zealand Road Trip Part 1 - South Island

Mar 7, 2013 at 14:26
by Big Mountain  

For a small island country floating in the vast South Pacific, New Zealand packs a punch, a big punch. Think of squeezing the landscapes of the United States into the state of Oregon: glaciated peaks, steaming volcanoes, rolling green hills, sweeping beaches, wide-open plains, perfect lakes, rushing rivers, deep fjords and lush rainforests; this is New Zealand. And the people are amazing, straight up pumped on life and super passionate about riding mountain bikes. I'd had the pleasure of traveling and working in New Zealand in years past and when it came time to develop a New Zealand trip for Big Mountain Adventures I knew that it had to be a one that if you were to go to NZ once in your lifetime, this would be the trip. Without hesitation I called my friend Dan McMullan, owner of FreerideNZ and the planning began. The result is a 12-day road trip starting in Queenstown and ending in Auckland, and in-between lies a whole lot of singletrack, a helicopter, a boat, hot springs, some venison, spear fishing, a few local characters and a few cold beers. This is a two-part photo-essay from this epic road trip. Welcome to Aotearoa...the land of the long white cloud.

Photos Pure Pixel NZ & Chris Winter.

New Zealand Road Trip with Big Mountain Adventures -- South Island.
Bikes packed on the shores of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown. Time to hit the road.

New Zealand Road Trip with Big Mountain Adventures -- South Island.
Helicopter drop on the summit of Mount Burke, a 4000 ft. descent and a short XC pedal straight to the Lookout Lodge for cold beer.

New Zealand Road Trip with Big Mountain Adventures
Seattle-based Andres Ruiz getting a taste of the scenery. Not bad.

New Zealand Road Trip with Big Mountain Adventures -- South Island.
Mid-heli drop descent stop to catch our breath and take in the sights.

New Zealand Road Trip with Big Mountain Adventures -- South Island.
That's right, postcard views. This is the view from our digs near Wanaka.

New Zealand Road Trip with Big Mountain Adventures -- South Island.
Trail riding in dusty semi-arid Alexandra where fragrant sage infuses the air.

New Zealand Road Trip with Big Mountain Adventures -- South Island.
The trusty van pulling into Lake Ohau. A few key scenes from Lord of the Rings were filmed in this area. Beauty place.

New Zealand Road Trip with Big Mountain Adventures -- South Island.
Robbie Davidson with the hammer down high above spectacular Lake Ohau. Go Robbie go!

New Zealand Road Trip with Big Mountain Adventures -- South Island.
When an old car and singletrack converge it gets all artsy.

New Zealand Road Trip with Big Mountain Adventures -- South Island.
Sometimes it's nice to just go fast!

New Zealand Road Trip with Big Mountain Adventures -- South Island.
Rider and farmer Tom Rowley showing the group his prized Merino wool. Tom's farm has over 100 years experience.

New Zealand Road Trip with Big Mountain Adventures -- South Island.
Andrew Knott doing what he loves on the slopes of Mount Hutt.

Big Mountain Adventures Road Trip -- South Island
Most of the forest in the South Island was set ablaze by the Maori while hunting the now extinct Moa bird. In some places the forest has returned to its former glory.

New Zealand Road Trip with Big Mountain Adventures -- South Island.
Did you know that New Zealand ranks 19th in the world for beer consumption? Not bad. The Czech Republic blows everyone else out of the water.

New Zealand Road Trip with Big Mountain Adventures -- South Island.
Guide, hunter and architect of good living, Dan McMullan riding awesome Craigieburn singletrack.

New Zealand Road Trip with Big Mountain Adventures -- South Island.
The spectacular beach in Kaikoura on the northern east-coast of the South Island. A nice spot to chill.

New Zealand Road Trip with Big Mountain Adventures -- South Island.
From the ocean to your plate in a few hours. Fresh. Dinnertime.

New Zealand Road Trip with Big Mountain Adventures -- South Island.
After eating an award-winning pie in Springfield the crew met up with local mountain bike guide, Cantabrian Scott Walker.

New Zealand Road Trip with Big Mountain Adventures -- South Island.
Another great ride before hopping back in the van and continuing the journey north.

Stay tuned for part II of this road trip. Next instalment: the North Island. For more information on this trip click here.

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40 Comments

  • + 19
 NZ rocks
  • + 4
 Its funny cuz this article pretty much fully described kiwis. Let alone the riding. . .
  • + 3
 @smalthey you must be blind, did you try and catch up with the FreerideNZ guides? They're based in wanaka! Tons of trails within the entire region, especially Alexandra (half hr from Wanaka) and queens town has tons of single track for years thanks to the gold miners! Sticky forest in wanaka is awesome! You need to go on this trip and see what you missed out on !!
  • + 2
 I think he must be trolling. Or, sadly, a really disagreeable rider.
  • + 5
 Missing home even more!!! I noticed that the Nelson/ Marlborough riding was missed.....Top of the south has some of the best riding in NZ I'd say..
  • + 7
 Riding aside, what a beautiful country.
  • + 6
 I love NZ! If I ever go back it's to live there!!!!
  • + 5
 Mean Maori mean! Have a L&P for me cuzzies! I miss home....
  • + 5
 Wish I was still living in NZ :/ That scenery looks amazing!
  • + 3
 Just leaving NZ right now actually. In the airport typing this. The place was made for mtn biking. If they commit to it NZ could be a Mecca for mtn biking.
  • + 1
 I already is! I think it's the cost of getting there that keeps most people away. If it were a 4-hour drive like Whistler is for me, I'd be there more often.
  • + 2
 This trip is worth saving for and doing next summer ! Keep an eye on Big Mountain website
  • + 2
 I miss Speights. And I am bummed that I didn't discover mountain biking until I came to Canada - because that looks amazing. I need to do some exploring when I go home next March ...
  • + 5
 And this is just one of the many reasons why I miss New Zealand.
  • + 4
 One of the best landscapes ever!
  • + 4
 Looks goods, need to take a week off and go riding.
  • + 3
 Didn't hit up Nelson huh?
  • + 3
 Nelson = home, I miss the riding. I could jump on the treddly from the back door and could be up The Brook, Maitai valley etc in less than 5 minutes. Now I live in shit hole Indianapolis which is flatter than a fracken pancake. I'll probably move back home when I'm 90 and incapacitated lol.
  • + 1
 It's weird, I talked to one of those guys on a shuttle Day in nelson... He told me about this. So they were here. No idea why they didnt write about it!
  • + 2
 No we werent in Nelson as part of the trip. One of the guys Andrew spent another couple of weeks in NZ after to explore even more trails ! We advised him to go to Nelson as well as a few other places that werent covered on the trip. Considering Nelson next time as the riding is epic! Hope that gondola is there by then !
  • + 1
 Haha yea that's who was there Smile I don't know if the gondola is coming anytime soon!
  • + 1
 wow - the Czechs are alcoholics en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_beer_consumption_per_capita - NZ and Canada are pretty much tied
  • + 3
 Any one know where the last picture was shot?
  • + 4
 The edge, craigieburn.
  • + 4
 shhhhh quietly demo dood man!
  • + 1
 Just when i though New zealand was just about sheep and funny accents Razz
looks like amazing scenery for riding wish i could go.
  • + 11
 Funny, I thought that described Australia!
  • + 1
 Haha Good call!! Smile
  • + 3
 I need to live there!
  • + 2
 Ah man Ohau Lodge...what a spot.
  • + 1
 I miss nz
  • + 1
 A journey is very good.
  • + 1
 cher demodude
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