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Thursday, June 27, 2013

...some more of New Zealand and the Kiwi Connection

When looking into bike rides, I like to go for the ones that appeal to me because of their character. Hopefully they will be simple in terms of logistics, have reasonable remoteness and involve trails or dirt roads as much as possible.  
Unfortunately in New Zealand, most of the adventure rides need intense logistics. Juggling cars, renting boats, helicopters drop offs and pick-ups are all common.
Bike riding appeals to me because it is a simple way of moving around, if shuttles come into the picture, it looses some of its charm and generally I find myself obsessively trying to get rid of the logistics to do the ride on my own means.
That’s how I ended up linking three rides I've been eager to do in one big loop: The 42 Traverse + Kaiwhakauka Trail + Mangapurua Trailconnected by long backcountry gravel roads. I called the interesting result: The Kiwi Connection (due to being one of the most populated Kiwi bird habitats of the islands).
The ride consisted of 200+ km in three days, from snowy mountains to cloud forest bush and back to snow, most of it in remote, pristine New Zealand bush. 

Highlights of the ride: getting to hang out with Tongariro and Ruapehu mountains on their winter clothes, meeting the Whanganui river with some of its current inhabitants (Dan and the Blue Duck Station crew) and its historical spiritual inhabitants and (on a more personal, non the less very exciting note...) trying me new Shimano MT-91 SPD boots. First time ever I can enjoy riding my bike with SPD pedals and then go for a hike without feeling like a “ballet dancer” in the woods. 

-- Volcan Tongariro desde National Park Village

-- Start of the 42 Traverse and a descriptive DOC sign to welcome you...


-- 50 km of isolated 4x4 track. Several deep river crossings and some muddy sections on a mostly downhill flowy ride make up the popular 42 Traverse.


-- As in most of the North Island of New Zealand, water is an abundant resource.
Here the head waters of the Whanganui River  and its tributaries.

-- I was lucky enough to end the first long day at the "Blue Duck Station" where Dan and his crew greeted me with chocolate, a nice hot shower and an amazing camping spot. In the morning they invited me to a nice dark coffee and shared with me their interesting conservation-farming project. I will be back to visit and learn more about them soon.

-- After breakfast my brunch was 18 km of some of the most remote single track I've riden so far in the islands. Again DOC did an amazing job opening such a track in a land of rain and bush.

-- The Salsa El Mariachi lost in a jungle of ferns.

-- Some sections of the remote trail hang above the canopy. Iam still amazed of how much effort is put by local governments on developing the New Zealand Cycle trail (Nga Haerenga).

-- Grip system: Continental Trail King 2.2 + Shimano MT-91 boots keep me happy on the mud.

-- La Colorada resting against a totara pou carved by hand by Maori artists.
The pou symbolize the "ngahere" (forest) and provide spiritual safety for the visitors.

-- One of the few people I saw on the ride. A lonely farmer in search of his cows...

-- View from the "cockpit"

-- Full moon at dawn.

-- Cold morning on my way back up to National Park.

-- Endless train tracks at Horopito.

-- ... More Tui birds hidden on the ground.

-- Volcan Ruapehu from the distance.

-- ...3 days later back to where I started for one a last view of Tongariro.

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