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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey, flew in from Queenstown last night, back to Melbourne. Had a great time. Managed to get in 5 rides over the two weeks.

I'll just give a overview now and will try to post up some pics later.

Firstly, I learnt quickly that nothing comes cheap in Queenstown. Organised rides with tour operaters range from $99 NZ to $400 NZ, depending on time of day, heli options etc.

First ride. Tour opertator - Gravity action. Location - Skippers canyon.
Set off at 8am ($99 NZ, later times $150NZ). Drive up skippers canyon road, very nasty, one of only two roads in NZ that you cant take a hire car. Bikes were Iron Horse, some kind of down hill bike, very heavy, crap cable discs and forks that had partially seized, 1 - 2 inches of travel. Two groups, easy track, hard track. Head off on hard track with 2 others and guide. Steep sections, flowy, stream crossings, almost no pedalling, heaps of fun. A few stops along the way. 10 - 15 minutes all up including stops. Probably 5 - 10 actual riding. Load up bikes on trailer, jump in van, drive back up to were we started. Do the track again, this time less stops, quicker ride time (knew what was coming around each corner.) Back in van, drive down valley a bit, get out and ride a km or so down dirt road to the shot over river. Then a drive back up the valley and back to queenstown around 10.30am. Probably not worth the $99NZ, but would not have been able to ride Skippers canyon otherwise. A bit short but fun.

2nd ride. Decided to hire a bike for half a day, 4 hours. Only $45NZ for full suspension, $29 for hard tail if interested, from Vertigo Mountain Biking. Got a 2007 Giant reign 1, mainly stock except 2.5inch high rollers. Also had Giant glory, scott ransom, and Giant anthems. Headed out to ride the vertigo, skyline down hill tracks. Only problem was the ride up the access road to the top of the gondala. STEEP. Managed to ride about 85%, push the rest. 40 minutes to the top. 2.5 high rollers arent great for climbing ! Plenty of options for the down. Not being a downhiller, I took the easier options. Started with VERTIGO (1), then ROCK GARDEN (3) then back onto VERTIGO(1) to the half way clearing, then ORIGINAL(6) back to the start of the access trail at the bottom.

WOW ! That was crazy. Steep, fast, rocky, technical, drops, jumps and berms. It had everything. Ive never had to hang so far back over the rear wheel and use the brakes so much, plus possibly the scariest and most fun ride Ive ever done. Well worth the steep climb to the top. Reign handled perfectly, glad I had the 2.5 highrollers. After a 10 minute rest, rode back up the access road to the top and did it all again. Could have tried other options but if that was the easiest way down, that was more than enough for me. All up 2.5 - 3 hrs. Plenty of riding and worth every dollar.

Could have paid $150NZ to do a tour with Vertigo bikes. Includes 2 rides up in the gondala (no climbing) and guided down hills. Vertigo are the only ones allowed to take bikes on the gondala. If you can handle the climb, I recommend hiring abike for $45NZ, much cheaper.

Sorry for the long post, but plenty to share. I will post again later with more ride reports such as SEVEN MILE, SUNSHINE BAY, JACKS POINT and others.

Cheers.
 

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Thanks for posting, it sounds like you’ve had a cool trip! :thumbsup:

Hiring a bike or riding your own defiantly sounds like the way to go, I guess that might be offset on shorter trips by the time you get a decent bike box and deal with baggage costs.

I’m looking forward to the rest of your ride reports and a few photos too! ;)

Dave.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Bigdamo, hard to say. Ive been trying to decide the same thing. Depends on what type of bike you own and how much its worth. Ive got a 2007 trance 0. 4 grands worth. Not sure if i would have been comfortable loading it on a plane, even in a bike box. On our return journey to Melbourne, my hard plastic suitcase was badly damaged, luckily only clothes inside. If this had been a cardboard bike box or one of those soft bike cases with my pride and joy inside, who knows what condition it would be in.

Also, on the above mentioned downhill tracks, I think the trance would have coped a fair beating. If i still had my Reign from last year it would have faired a bit better, but then I didnt have proper downhill tyres. If youve got a properly set up bike that suits those tracks, then maybe bringing your own would be ok. But the problem then is, if you go and ride some of the more XC trails with smooth flowing single track and heaps of climbs, your downhill setup bike would be a real pain.

I'll soon write up a report on some of the other trails I rode. One would have suited the trance ( 4 inch trail) perfectly, another suited an anthem (3 inch xc race). Luckily, by renting bikes each day I was able to chose the right bike for the trail. I saved my own bike from some serious abuse, both on the trail and on the plane and the tarago van was crammed with my inlaws, wife, two kids, myself and all the luggage, so it would not have fitted anyway, unless I brought or hired some sort of bike rack.

One other note, take all your riding gear, shorts, tops, jackets, gloves, padding, shoes, pedals and camelback. I took all this except pedals. Vertigo were good enough to put spd pedals on the bikes I hired, but some of the other companies wouldnt. So take your own if you use them. They do supply you with tools, tyre and pump, with the bike.

Hope this helps, cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Queenstown, Part 2

3rd ride. Again hired a bike from Vertigo. This time a 2007 Giant anthem 1. 3 inch travel xc. Didnt take much notice in the shop, but soon realised it had a 2.5 inch high roller on the front and a near bald Hutchison piranah 2.0 on the back:confused:

Headed out to do the Queenstown - FRANKTON ARM / KELVIN HIEGHTS - JACKS POINT track. At the end of this you have to back track the same way you came. Probably all up including return journey, 40 - 50kms and 3 - 3.5hrs.

From Queenstown the track follows the lake edge. Very flat, 2 - 3 meters wide gravel walking track ( watch out for walkers). Easy but nice. Then you come to Frankton, a small town just outside Queenstown. Once you cross the bridge the riding gets alot more fun. Still relatively flat and following the lake edge but it is now winding single track. Some sections are very rocky with sharp, short, technical climbs, others have a series of small 1 foot drops. Managed to ride about 98%. Some sets of rocky 'stairs' are fine to ride down but a bugger to ride up. This track continues along the lake edge to another little suburb called Kelvin Hieghts. At this point you start riding around the edge of the golf course, still following the lake edge. This part has you riding more single track with flowy lines and rocky sections to keep things interesting. This section is mostly through tall 'beech' trees. Quite dark and creepy in some sections as opposed to open and sunny on the previous parts. Heaps of fun and quite challenging.

The next section is the JACKS POINT TRACK. Fairly new track. Here it opens up again to the sun shine. Again tight single track with some nasty technical rocky section. Also some nasty climbs, probably managed to ride about 98%. At the end of this track there is a steep track that zig zags up the hill to a lookout. This is where it ends. Good chance to sit back, relax, take in the views and catch your breath before doing it all again in reverse to get back to Queenstown.

Would suggest, depending on your fitness and skill, that you either do this in sections ( you can drive pretty much to the start of the last section, Jacks point) or hiring a bike for a full day if you wish to take it easy. Half day, 4hr hire could leave some a bit rushed to get back in time. Anthem handled well. 2.5 High roller on the front didnt slow things down too much, helped in the corners and rear piranah only lost traction on a few climbs, but it was very dry at this stage. Would have to say my most enjoyable ride so far, ever.

More reports to come, takes me ages to type.

Cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Queenstown, Part 3

Wife just started watching Grays anatomy, so Ive got some time to finish off this report. Next ride was SEVEN MILE TRACK.

Again hired from Vertigo, great bikes, well maintained, good service. Wasnt sure on what bike to hire. Various advise from locals. Ended up with another reign. Probably would have prefered the anthem but got to the shop late and they had already been hired out. The reign that was left in my size was set up with a very short stem, 2.5 inch highrollers and a seat with no padding. I guess when doing alot of downhill you dont sit down too often. Lifted up the seat to a more trail friendly hieght and set off.

SEVEN MILE is about 6 kms from Queenstown along the road towards Glenorchy. Fairly easy ride along the road, a few long climbs. Found out later that there is a track called SUNSHINE BAY TRACK which would have cut out some of the road ride, but more on that later.

Track starts off with a fast descent with a few tight switch backs. This track then continues along the lakes edge, rocky and challenging, lots of fun. Then you climb a long nasty track, which I had to walk some of. You then come to section called the DREAM ARENA. Here threr are a few new tracks called OOZE, COOL RUNNINGS and IB55. You could spend hours here. Skinnies, berms, jumps, drops, fast flowing purpose built track. Perfect. IB55 is a downhill track that leads back down to the lakes edge, again heaps of fun. Then onto wilson bay carpark. Turn around and do it all again on the way back to Queenstown.

Perfect bike would be a more trail or xc setup reign or a trance. Allow heaps of time to play around in the DREAM ARENA. 4hr bike hire is enough. Very challenging and fun.

On the way back from SEVEN MILE a local pointed out ARAWATA TRACK. About half way back to Queenstown. Turn off left from road. Steep climb, had to push some of the way. A nice bit of single track at the top that leads back into town. Not too bad, better than riding on the road. Come back to lake and get onto the SUNSHINE BAY TRACK along the lake edge. You only end up riding a small sectionof this back to town but alot of fun.

Final ride was back on the FRANKTON ARM / KELVIN HIEGHTS - JACKS POINT TRACK. Hired the Anthem again. Had been raining heavily a few days before which made things a little slippery. Near bald piranah on the rear didnt like the climbs much, and I found some of the rocky and rooty sections alot harder to clear than last time. Continued back through Queenstown and onto the SUNSHINE BAY TRAIL. THis track is also heaps of fun, lots of roots, rocks and winding single track through thick forest, along the shore of the lake. Only 10 minutes each way but very worth it.

Overall Queenstown rocks. Heaps more tracks to do but not enough time. Had to spend some time with the family !

Cheers, pictures to come.
 

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Hey Sicwombat :)

Sounds great! My Wife and I are off to NZ in the 2nd week of April.... i'm hanging out for some NZ trails. Thanks for the tips. Pictures would be great :D

Talking of rides, i'm at Lysterfield with a group this Wednesday, Friday or Sunday..... one loop in light and one loop in the dark :D Fancy joining us? I've had some K's on the Trek now :D


Hope to see you join us soon man.

Cheers,

Paul
 

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Sounds like you had a great time -the gondala downhill track was what I was referring to in your post prior to going.We did it the easy way by going up the gondala(twice) and I can thoroughly recommend conserving your energy for the downhill!!;) Thanks for the report-look forward to seeing the pics if you get to post them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
More queenstown pics.....

Looks like they worked, heres some more. This time the skyline / gondala / vertigo downhill tracks. Unfortunately riding solo doesnt allow action shots and sometimes you ride a great section, but just dont want to disturb the flow to stop and take pics. So these are just a taste of what is there.
 

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You’ve got some great photos there!

You hear it time and time again, but it’s clearly on my “must do” list. I have heard about so many awesome trails and seen many photos of incredible locations, it's just incredible.

It sounds like a great trip!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thats the strange thing, in the 4 rides I did solo, (not includeing the skippers canyon ride which i did with a tour group) I would have seen maybe 3 other riders. One on the jacks point ride going the other way and two on the seven mile ride. The seven mile ride was even on a weekend ! I did set off at 8 - 8.30 am most mornings, maybe everyone else slept in. It was great to have the trails to myself, but it would have been nice to ride with some others, purely for safety sake. At times i would find myself riding really hard only to realise I should back off a bit because if i came off and injured myself, no-one would find me for days !:D Plus its always more fun to share the experience with others.

Cheers
 

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Yes, those New Zealanders are hard core riders.

I started riding in Queenstown many years ago. No chairlifts in summer, it was winter only. Riding you bike in snow and ice is not as much fun as you might think.

I would be cautious of flying over with your bike. Mine got dinged and scratched (but nothing worse) despite putting padding and protection everywhere.

I just got back from 3 weeks in Wellington. Most of their hills are around 1km high!

As soon as I had reassembled my bike the locals took me on a 6hour XC ride with 2.5km vertical of steep climbing. The first downhill was so steep I warped my brake rotor in the first minute. After hours of fireroad climbs followed by fire-road descents they took me to some singletrack. It was some of the craziest terrain I have ridden.
The track was borderline unrideable, with the following technical features: Thick mud too deep to ride through, ridiculously steep sections, 3 foot deep ruts, head sized loose rocks, very slippery clay, very slippery slime covered rocks, ultra-slippery slime covered clay, big trees across the trail just too low to ride under. The trail always featured at least three of these features simultaneously.
The ruts were so deep that at times I was riding with both feet off the pedals and kind of 'flintstoning' down while braking as hard as I could. It's very hard to stay on your bike when riding downhill in a rut over head sized rocks with your feet off the pedals. Some guys removed their seats for extra ability to get their weight back (I wish I had done that too).
There were slippery sections which were unwalkable. You would slip over straight away guaranteed. These sections were best ridden, because at least if you fell off you would be safely near the bottom by then.

At the end a stream flowed onto the trail, and the final section was a steep two stage waterfall into a bigger stream full of half-metre sized rocks. I had trouble carrying my bike down, and was shocked to learn that the riders ahead of me had hucked down it.

Apparently this was the driest the trail had been in a couple of years. Can't imagine riding it when wet (even slipperier and with a bigger waterfall at the end).

We then had a surreal ride out through tall grass, where all you could see was the head and shoulders of the riders in front, couldn't see your hands even. I have no idea how the front rider knew where the trail was. Luckily there weren't too may log rollovers. At the end of the section I commented I thought that type grass would cut through skin. They said "It does, but not if you ride at just the right speed". We must have been riding at the right speed. Visions of bleeding fingers, arms and legs came to mind.

This downhill turned out to be tame compared to the downhill in the Karapoti Classic race 2 weeks later.
 

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cheers for the ride reports, info and pics :thumbsup: sounds and looks like you had an awesome time.. definately on the list of 'must do' activities when i make it to Queenstown..
do you know if most of these trails are rideable in winter? or are they covered in snow / ice?
 
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