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NZ Cycle Trails

MOTU MEGA WEEKEND

By | NZ Cycle Trails | 2 Comments

Nothing better than heading away on a Cycling Retreat with clients keen to explore a different part of New Zealand.  This one was going to be extra special for two reasons

1. I had never guided or ridden in this part of country

2. We were being joined by the local Cycle Coach Richard braving the company of 10 women!!

The Motu Trails consist of forgotten stunning gravel roads that meander through the hills behind Opotiki. For the brave the famous Pakihi Track, a narrow trail that drops down along the ridge lines to the valley floor below, where you follow the river back out to civilization. This trail offers no room for mistakes otherwise you will end up flying DOWN a long way.   Not a good option when riding a bike.

This place is the perfect haven for getting on ones bike and going for an explore.  Our goal for the weekend was to explore the community of Motu and then make our way back to Opotiki.

An introduction to Bike Packing being the main theme of the weekend made us all pack small.  It was great to see everyone embrace this concept and come with limited gear with the I CAN ATTITUDE.

New Zealand with its very changeable weather can be challenging at times but we came out conquerors as we battled through rain, strong winds and sunshine.

I expect this weekend will stay a favourite of mine for a long time.  It was made very special by being immersed into the Community of Motu.  Meeting the locals, having cups of tea and finding out first hand about the history of the place was fantastic.  They have made this place a destination to visit and stay.  If you just drive by you will probably blink.  Get on the bike of yours and come and say hi to the locals instead.

WHAKATANE CYCLE COACH – RICHARD HAMMER

https://www.whakatanecyclecoach.co.nz/

MOTU TRAILS INFORMATION

https://motutrails.co.nz/

Highly Recommend the Following Services

Accommodation – Motu Community House (Jane)

Food – Motu-vation Cafe (Karen)

Shuttles – Motu Trails Ltd (Ngaio)

CYCLE COACH – JANET STARK 

http://www.cyclecoach.co.nz/

For more information on Cycle Retreats, Coaching and Cycle Education please contact Janet direct on 027 404 3987 or info@cyclecoach.co.nz

ROTORUA GIRLS WEEKEND

By | NZ Cycle Trails | 4 Comments

With a grim looking weather forecast I packed up the truck with bike and gear in tow and started my journey down to Rotorua.  My windscreen wipers on their fastest mode I drove carefully over the hill and down into Rotorua.  My plan had been to get in a ride before all the lovely ladies arrived.  Too be honest I was feeling a little annoyed with the weather.  I LOVE riding in the Whakarewarewa Forest by myself and wanted a little me time before the busyness of the weekend overtook.

Arriving at the house I was super impressed with the layout and decided I had picked a ‘good one’.  I fell in love with the bike room and my spirits started to rise.  Was that sunshine peeping through?  I quickly set up the house, got on my bike and rode to the forest YAY I was now in my happy space.

With mud on my clothes, bike and body I arrived back at the house.  The ladies were starting to arrive and get settled in.  Everyone happy to have arrived safely and ready for some cycling action.

An evening spent getting to know each other with a shared meal and lots of talking!!  Must be a girl’s weekend!!!

SATURDAY arrived with the forecast much improved.  Still with a VERY fresh wind and not expected to get much past 10 degrees.  We all wrapped up warm and got ready for the arrival of our very own shuttle bus.  I had never hired a bus before and since we weren’t going to fill it I had contacted the local women’s cycling groups Rotorua Revolve https://revolverotorua.com/and Cranky Diva’s biketaupo.org.nz/page/363073  to see if anyone wanted to join us for the day.

With our bikes loaded and all settled on the bus we rumbled our way to Waiotapu – our starting point.  The goal was to ride back to Lake Rotorua along the Te Aha Ara Cycle Trail and then back to our accommodation, about 50km.

We set off in two groups – a huge thanks to the Lynda and Barbara for helping for the whole day.  There is something special about girls who ride bikes.  Didn’t matter that we were all strangers as we had a common factor – the love of getting outdoors and cycling.   The day made all the effort that I had put into brainstorming and organising totally worth it.  Ladies coming together of all abilities and enjoying the moment.

The Te Ara Ahi Cycle Trail https://www.nzcycletrail.com/trails/te-ara-ahi/ is not one of those on the top of the to do list. I certainly rate it as a good ride for those who wish to experience a NZ Cycle Trail but are not quite ready for something more remote.  It is a step up from the easier rail trails (Hauraki or Otago) giving you a taste of single track, riding under the road in a tunnel, gravel roads, quiet country roads and a concrete pathway along State Highway 5.   What’s more is its hot steam vents and creeks full of hot water – where else can you get that?

https://www.nzcycletrail.com/trails/te-ara-ahi/

SUNDAY we hit the trails in the Whakarewarewa Forest under the watchful eye of Riding Flow.  A few weary bodies this morning but all still SMILING.  That’s is what I love most about my job – the smiles!  Whakarewarewa Forest is my favourite place to ride.  This is where I fell in love with mountain biking all those years ago.  The trails never disappoint, and it was great to introduce the ladies to this magical forest that smells divine and has such fantastic trails for all ages and abilities.

The weekend wraps up after a lunch at the café.  Next time let’s hope the new hot tubs complex is open, so we can have a good long soak before heading home.

Thank you, Rotorua for giving us such a fantastic weekend and massive thank you to Allie, Sue, Caroline, Teresa, Lynda, Katrina, Catherine and Jo for signing up for the weekend.

Looking forward to the next adventure with you already.  Keep an eye out for when & where it will be.

https://www.facebook.com/cyclecoachjanetstark/

TIMBER TRAIL LODGE – WOW

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Now I just love going on adventures on my bike, but adding in friends, a birthday, good food and fantastic accommodation makes for a prefect combination.

This was my second visit to the Timber Trail http://www.timbertrail.co.nz/ in 2017 and I can tell you now I would ride it again.  There is something special about this place.  Magical looking trees, joyous bird song, along with the sound of the wind in the trees.   The total feeling of being in the middle of nowhere, the serenity of it all.  The pure joy of friendship, biking and the knowledge that we were heading to the Timber Trail Lodge to be well looked after.   http://www.timbertraillodge.co.nz/

It didn’t take much arm twisting for me to say yes to experiencing the Ultimate Timber Trail Two Night Package at the new Timber Trail Lodge in October.  My thoughts jumped immediately to who would join me.

With Leanne & Christine in tow we drove to Ongarue to be greeted by Epic Cycle Adventureshttps://www.thetimbertrail.nz/  Our bikes loaded for us and into the dusty van we set off for a bumpy ride to the Lodge.     The road is not well maintained and certainly adds to the atmosphere of going on an adventure.

We arrived at the Lodge looking forward to our evening ahead of us. To our surprise we discovered we were to be the only guests for our two nights stay, having snuck in before a big party that was expected to arrive on the day we were leaving – double bonus.   I fell in love the the Lodge from the moment we walked into the main dinning/lounge area, the big doors pushed open making you feel you were part of the valley.  I could of sat there for hours.

The next morning, after still feeling full from dinner and breakfast (OMG the food was amazing) we headed off to the start of the trail.  This time being shuttled by Pa Harakeke Shuttles through locked gates and private land made for an unforgettable experience http://www.paharakeke.co.nz/

The weather was stunning.  The decision had been made to conquer Mt Pureroa along the way.  We had ridden past the sign on a previous trip but had not stopped.  We had all day and knowing that we would be well looked after when we returned to the Lodge – why not.  With lunch packed we rode to the start of the walking track to the summit.   It was soon discovered that bike shoes and a non maintained trail do not make for easy walking.  The climb was worth it with clear sky 360 degree views – WOW – and lunch was eaten YUM YUM.

I totally loved my two days riding with Christine and Leanne.  The downhills and ups all a pleasure in such beautiful surroundings.  The rush of life was gone to be replaced with friendship and time to think and just be immersed with nature.

Day 2 of riding consisted of another big breakfast (again still full from the night before).  Our bags all packed and lunch all made, we head off for the second half of the trail.  Now Day One is fun but boy I sure do love the second day.  The history of Tramway and how harsh life must of been sure makes you contemplate how easy we have it today.  The trail is easier on the second day and makes you want to just keep riding and soak in the pleasure of it all.  Rivers, Bridges, Historic Features and oh my DOWNHILL riding.  I don’t want my two days of riding to come to an end.  I want to delay the return to Auckland and just ride it all over again.

A huge thank you to Bruce, Daniel, Will and Dave for letting us come and stay.  WE LOVED IT and see you again in 2018

THE GREAT LAKE TRAIL

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The Great Lake Trail Women’s Retreat

One of my favourite things to do is to encourage other women to get out of their comfort zones and experience new things on a bike.   Hosting a weekend in the very changeable weather of Spring down in Kinloch, NZ turned out to be just that!

We braved wind, rain and cold temperatures while taking in glimpses of the beautiful Lake Taupo and down to the waters edge.   The trail is split into three parts making logistics at little bit complicated.

We used the services of Chris Jolly Outdoors and had Erik as our driver and all round good sort.  http://chrisjolly.co.nz/

On the Saturday Erik came and picked us up from the holiday home we were staying in.  Kinloch is a fantastic base if you want to ride these trails.  We used a house from the Bookabach site.  Prefect for a group. https://www.bookabach.co.nz/baches-and-holiday-homes/view/24340

Erik dropped of us at Whangamata Road car park all ready for riding the first two sections of the trail

Orakau to Kawakawa Bay 9.8km

Kawakawa Bay to Kinloch 9.2km

What a stunning trail, mostly downhill and only small bits of uphill riding.

We spent Saturday afternoon drying out and relaxing waiting for the sun to come out.  About 4pm we got on our bikes and rode to the start of the W2K & Headlands track.  The decision had been made that we would just ride to the Lookout and back to the house due to the lateness of the day.

W2W Track Kinloch to Whakaipo Bay 13.5km

Headlands Loop 9.5km

Sunday came around quickly with Erik picking us up and taking us to the start of the Waihaha Trail.  Wrapped up in lots of layers and waterproofs we started off with the treat of rain in the air that soon turned into rather wet stuff!

Waihaha Bridge to Waihora Bay 32km

This trail was more demanding than the other two with its elevation and trail conditions.  Lots of muddy patches, twists and turns, ups and downs.  It tested the girls with a flat tyre, cold temperature and rain.

But WOW what a trail.  This is the highlight of the three.  The remoteness, bush and setting is something very special.  I will be back to ride this trail again.

TIMBER TRAIL ROMANCE

By | NZ Cycle Trails | One Comment

My kind of date is spending the day on my mountain bike riding with my hubby, Brett. So, it was very fitting to celebrate our 26th Wedding Anniversary on our bikes exploring The Timber Trail.

We woke up to a very overcast and rainy day. This would not dampen our spirits, especially after a fabulous breakfast provided by Rem at The Flashpackers in Ongarue. After being dropped off at the start of the trail, our journey began in the pouring rain. Something nice about riding in the trees with the rain seeping through. The forest smells alive and fresh.

Not long from the beginning of the trail you start to climb at a nice gradient that just goes on and on. Winding your way through magical looking forests to the highest point of the trail. It sure is a nice feeling to get to the top at about the 14km mark. Then the real fun begins with downhill bliss, stunning bush, birdlife and bridges. Don’t be surprised when you must ride uphill again, the legs will hate you for a few minutes while they get used to that climbing action again.

We had decided to ride the trail in one day, testing out my new Giant Pique and Brett riding on his Single Speed. The plan was to ride to Piropiro Flats for lunch and then out to the end taking in the scenery and just enjoying being out in the middle of nowhere. By the time we got to Piropiro Flats the rain had cleared and the sun had come out. Prefect timing to enjoy our packed lunch made by Rem.

Now that the sun had come out it became rather obvious that we were covered in trail grit everywhere!!! We stopped off at about the 65km mark and went for a dip in the stream. Took your breath away and that was in the middle of summer. Feeling refreshed and ready to go again we got back on our bikes eager to continue.

I certainly wasn’t disappointed with the second half of the trail, great climbs and riding through the cutting with their mossy sides and muddy sections. However, the best was yet to come, the Ongarue Spiral – winding up and riding along the trail to the totally unbelievable downhill section. My bike just wanted to zoom. You could probably have heard us laughing so much from Auckland. If my legs hadn’t been feeling a little worn out I would have biked up again and zoomed down again.
Ha Ha I will just have to wait till the next trip because I will be back again and again. This is just one very cool trail to ride.

With arms up high Brett and I rode into Ongarue wahooing at the top of our lungs. We had done it – the Timber Trail in one day. The body felt good (a little used), ready for a shower and the fantastic 3 course meal prepared for us at Flasher Packers. Great company and entertainment then followed by a soak in the spa – bliss – the prefect date.

http://www.timbertrailhub.co.nz/

HEAPHY TRACK FUN

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Heaphy Track – Queen’s Birthday Fun
Located in the Kahurangi National Park at the top of the South Islands West Coast. If you want remote and rugged, this track should be at the top of your list. You will experience lush forests, rivers, mountain views, tussock downs, Nikau palms and the sound of the roar of the waves crashing along the West Coast beaches.

Auckland to Golden Bay – Friday 2 June 17
We started off with a delayed plane trip from Auckland to Nelson and our bikes not on board. Too many bikes (9 all up) and they didn’t fit on the plane. Thank goodness, they arrived on the next flight. We all crammed into the cars with our bikes, gear & food then drove over to Golden Bay. Driving over the Takaka Hill was an experience with its tight turns and gorgeous views. It is worth stopping at the top.

Takaka Airport – Green Paddock – James McKay Hut – Saturday 3 June 17
We woke up to a chilly stunning morning, bikes and gear all sorted and off we went to Takaka Airport. A 5 Seater Plane awaited us for a 10-minute trip to a paddock about 4 km from the start of the trail. Bikes secured upside down on the wings – FAR OUT. Only place in the World – a total MUST. The trail starts off very pleasant and quickly turns into an uphill rocky pathway riding through the trees and plummeting straight down on the edge of the trail in parts. Don’t look down!!

It took us 8 hours to get up to James McKay Hut with lots of stops to take photos and admire the view. At one stage, I just stopped and listened to the bird life amongst the trees – priceless. We rode along rocky trails and crossed many steams up to Perry Saddle Hut where we stopped for lunch. The wind was cutting and we were now surrounded by tussock and less trees. The highest point of the trail is Flanagan’s Corner at 915m, not far from Perry Saddle Hut. Make sure you take the short side trip to the lookout point. From Perry Saddle Hut, we started riding downhill and the track soon became smoother and more flowing. This was my favourite part of the ride for Day One – tussock for miles, bridges and narrow boardwalks.

The James Mackay hut was a pleasant sight with the day starting to darken, getting ready for the early night sky of 5pm. The Hut was full of good conversation and new people to meet. A nice warm fire and gas available to use to cook one’s dinner, sure made it a pleasant evening. There were even flush toilets close to the hut, so no long walks in the dark to be had. What an awesome day surrounded by people you love and cycling.

James Mckay Hut – Kohaihai Shelter – The Last Resort Karamea – Sunday 4 June 17
With a bit of cloud in the sky and not so cold we set off for a fantastic downhill section that I just didn’t want to end. Originally, I had planned to zoom down as fast as I could, but it was just way to pretty with magical looking forests and stunning scenery. We popped out by the Heaphy River and started riding towards the West Coast. The bush changed to grooves of Nikau Palm trees and if it hadn’t been winter you would have thought you were in the Tropics. Sand-fly’s and the sound of the crashing waves on the beach confirmed we had arrived on the West Coast.

With heavy looking sky’s we made short stops along the coast to have lunch and rest breaks. Lots of short pinch climbs, sand and rocky streams to cross made for a fun ride. The rain came and the temperature dropped. We had opted to ride from the Kohaihai Shelter to The Last Resort in Karamea, about 17km in icy rain. They call it ‘The Road from Hell’ and now I know why. With icy driving rain and a road that looked like it went on forever. Thank goodness for my Helter Skelters from Ground Effect – they saved the day. The Last Resort couldn’t have looked better with its warm fire, heaps of food and the locals all made for a good laugh. With full tummy’s and dry clothes, we headed to bed realising our trip was almost at an end. Yes, the Heaphy Track was great but the people that you rode with and meet along the
way made the trip the best ever.

The Last Resort – Karamea Airport – Takaka Airport – Monday 5 June
This is a MUST. Flying back over the Kahurangi National Park was amazing and such a perfect way to end out trip. A 30-min flight up and over with views of the mountain and where you had biked. I was put in the chunder seat at the back of the plane and was glad it was only a short trip. I felt queasy for the rest of the day.
All up we rode 96km with 1632m evaluation gain, carrying all our gear to survive for a couple of days, not a bad effort and totally worth it. I rode on my Giant Pique and it just ate it up. My bike was made for this trail. Would I ride this trail again – TOO RIGHT.