I feel privileged to spend so much time exploring my home country. To some it is an insect sucking, wet & simple part of the world but to me it provides infinite opportunities to explore. The people who I am fortunate to travel with, value a sense of adventure much like me, it is contagious and I love it.
With the wind and sun (sometimes) on me I ride the VBT bike with up to 20 guests down some of the most beautiful highway in the world. I hear the waterfalls, see the tree canopy above me and feel so much more on a bike. Being on tour allows me to balance the food indulgence and physical activity perfectly!
With up to 6 tours a Summer, the time away from Wanaka can be tough. When driving & riding toward Central Otago I see the shades of green fade and the tones of brown remind me of home. It’s great to be back.
I am currently in Hokitika during the 3rd tour of the season and we were just treated to another epic sun-set. Enjoy the shots from the tours so far along with a favorite quote.
Look deep into nature and you will understand ~ Albert Einstein
Few people will venture beyond the sealed road along the Matukituki valley. Especially with a mountain bike! I had ridden this track to Aspiring but before, but this time we planned to stay over night.
Within 2.5 hours we drove out of Wanaka and ridden up the valley while taking photos along the way. Only a few river crossings to tend with which made both driving and riding great fun! Memories of jumping in puddles those years ago flood back to me.
It felt good to see the local people believe in the value of tourism. Especially those that lived near the conservancy. Health care, education, transport and general well being are heavily supported by the revenue gathered from tourism. This video is dedicated to the Rangers of Borana and Lewa Conservancy. Many thanks to Flick & Sam and the owners of Borana Lodge, Michael and Nicky Dyre. Support from Icebreaker Merino and Say Yes to Adventure Magazine is very appreciated. Nick Yuki and the Masi locals at Ololokwe for their beautiful music.
An opportunity to travel to Kenya does not come up very often. Especially with some adventurous people and the destination being a luxury Eco-lodge nestled on a remote ridge called Borana. We were 4 hours north of Nairobi and close to Mt Kenya. With lions and hyena calling during the early hours of the morning, it was easy to wake up and enjoy the view.
Jacqs Yoga Pride Rock
Mountain biking at Borana Lodge
Mt Kenya looking to the South
Borana pool side
Spring water from Mt Kenya
Set high on Kenya’s Laikipia Plateau, Borana’s 32,000 acre conservancy was about to treat us very well. Owned by Michael and Nicky Dyre and managed by Flick (Hollie’s sister) & Sam Taylor. Sam has an important job of looking after many of the rangers that patrol Borana protecting the animals, specifically the Rhino. Lewa conservancy neighbors Borana and the two of them combine is a massive 100,000 acres, home to countless species.
Say Yes to Adventure – the magazine has come to life. Hollie Woodhouse has been dreaming of producing a magazine for over 10 years and last week her dream came true. I can happily say that I have have a part to play with some photography and my very own 4 page story being published! Hollie needed a snowboarding story, so I shared my Japanese adventure which happened a year ago.
While hanging out with Dad, we decided to go for a last minute flight over the local rivers. He flew in the red & grey Moth and for much of the flight we flew side by side.
Classic Flights Wanaka took us on a flight of a lifetime. These Tiger Moths bring the soul back to flying. In total over 8,700 Tiger Moths have been built, 4,200 for the RAF alone. This type is credited with training thousands of pilots for the Allied war effort and remained in service until as late as 1951 in the UK and 1955 in New Zealand.
They were developed in the 1930’s and had 120 – 145hp engines. These particular Tiger Moths were built in New Zealand in 1941.
Check out this 50 second clip of the Tiger Moth experience.
2014 finished of with fun travels and great news! I have been fortunate create a relationship with a company born and bred here in New Zealand that I have looked up to and respected from day one. Icebreaker have chosen me as one of their ambassadors leading into the new year. Stoked!
It all started when they needed snowboarders for a commercial during the winter. I put my hand up! Before I knew it I was sitting down with their Marketing Co-ordinator and Inhouse Producer a few weeks later. They kindly sent me new merino threads which will be great for the antics ahead – and because it does not hold odor, I will be doing less laundry. Happy days…
Some other good news is finding out that my story on Japan has been selected to feature in Say YES to Adventure Magazine! An amazing New Zealand publication that is raising money to help protect the Rhino and Elephant on the Laikipia Plains in Kenya. Read more about it here. Perhaps your story will feature in Volume 2?
The food coma started to set in… Only 10km from Pienza. We crawled into the small yet lively town. As our bikes bounced over the cobblestone streets, the atmosphere was lively. It was Saturday afternoon and the bustling markets were still thriving. The smorgasbord of Italian delights had overwhelmed us from our lunch stop. We preceded to find a shady spot under some trees and passed out next to our bikes.
After seeing some of Croatia 4 years ago, cycle touring through her neighbor Italy, has been a dream for some time. Every tour is a chance to experience and meet the locals and landscape while enjoying the food grown from their land. That extra meal and snack can always be justified when clocking up the kilometers each day! Hollie and I rode around 500km from near Bologna to the outskirts of Rome.
What we didn’t have when starting out each day we picked up from local shops and markets. Food tastes better when it’s bought from the grower and the owners of shops – especially when asked for in another language. Yes, we mastered a few phrases! An instant level of rapport and connection was made when we used Italian to get what we wanted. Of course using your hands added to the experience!
An unexpected and favorite place we stopped for lunch one day was Grieve. Seriously the best Gnocchi and Ravioli ever tasted! A beautiful balance of flavor and texture washed down with some vino. Responsible amounts of wine, of course were essential so that balance wasn’t compromised. An Italian breakfast consisted of an espresso and cometto (Italian croissant). A fairly rich start to the day but a delicious one at that. “Keep right!” sounded strange at first but important nonetheless as we pulled out onto the roads after lunch with full bellies.
We continued along some incredibly beautiful countryside enjoying the smaller things that often made the difference. I remember clearly these moments, for example a smile and wave from a farmers tending their crops or a curious group of kids checking out the bikes and we had a few interesting looks! The chance of them meeting two Kiwi’s on tour was probably small, plus Hollie did look pretty good in Lycra. Sometimes it probably looked like an Icebreaker commercial as we peddled our way South. We decided to ride as far as Orte and catch the speedy train into the heart of Rome.
Rome was huge. It was not even peak season, however we got a good taste of the city as a whole including seeing the museums, art galleries, exhibitions, the Pope and local relics. Sometimes good old fashion people-watching was all the entertainment we needed as we ate lunch on the Spanish Steps. The shopping was pretty good! I resisted the urge to buy a leather fanny-pack and opted for the leather jacket and Italian suit instead. In the back of our minds we visualised how much space we had left in our luggage and how realistic it was wearing it all on the plane to save space!
We had the fortune of acquiring a crevice between a wall and an elevator at the base of an apartment building. It was perfect for stashing out boxed bikes while Hollie and I escaped the city for a few days and checked out the Almalfi coast. Air B&B was useful to find affordable accommodation in just the right location. Once we arrived on the coast we settled into a B&B and hired a scooter which was AWESOME! We clocked up over 100km exploring the narrow roads which lined the stunning coast. Colorful houses checkered the cliffs above small beaches
Incredible canvas near the Sistine Chapel
A fisherman working his nets
Leaving Pienza… a favourite.
Sampling Bologna’s finest with Matteo
Testing the bikes out
Maori, Almalfi coast
A spot for lunch
It’s incredible what two passionate adventurers can pull off! I challenge you, the reader to choose a bike for part of their trip next time instead of the bus or car. You might surprise yourself how much more full-filling your holiday experience could be. Stay tuned for the video… If you have any questions on cycling and touring, just ask. If you’d like to sponsor our next one, then that’s great too!
“Pay Attention” I tell myself as I set off down a narrow path riding two wheels in the woods. I’m following a group of locals who know the twists and turns well, which inspires the growing confidence in me. These locals have become good friends of mine during my season in Whistler which has made my season even more special. What better way to finish a Winter by spending most days exploring the immense trail network in the Whistler Valley area. Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton and even some Vancouver trails kept me entertained during the last weeks I spent in Canada.
Below are some of the photos I snapped along the way including maps of the area using my Garmin cycle GPS.
British Columbia has plenty of trails to keep a keen biker entertained. I was fortunate to get a taste of what the area can offer. Returning to B.C in the future is definitely an option and these days spent in the forest with friends has only inspired me to enjoy a Summer… Soon.
Now that I have returned to NZ the biking is still near the top of my priorities. Old and new trails while exploring with friends continue to get me stoked. This weekend some friends and I will drive North and fly into the Heaphy Track with the bikes! Watch this space…
It seems we sometimes loose awareness of how beautiful this country really is. As Christina and I rode past native bush, along the West Coast and over mountain passes or senses were over-whelmed by pure awesomeness. The smells of moisture evaporating from the roads surface, thick forests and silage reminded us every kilometer how rich this experience is. Apart from the black & white stealth bombers (Magpies), the trip was a relatively smooth one.
As I did no training for the ride, I was a little anxious with Christina’s ‘keen’ itinerary to average 120km per day. The encouragement we gave each other – not to mention the countless RWC supporters giving us plenty of room and honking their horns was fantastic. With an All Blacks flag secured to my bike, I soon found the best way to create maximum ‘flappage’, while ensuring that it was free from my hungry chain.
Considering we rode along a coast renown for over 2m of rain each year, we stayed relatively dry. Apart of course from the epic hill climbs where sweat was pouring from us like bullets… “Be sure to keep breathing…” remarked Christina the Yoga instructor/massage therapist as we climbed higher and higher into the Southern Alps. Riding from Hokitika to Arthurs Pass was one of my favorite days. Climbing too 900m above sea level into a head-wind, we checked into a backpackers that reminded me of France – this was a real treat.
We were half way and our fitness was were it needed too be. Sunny days and incredible views bought us into Methven where we arrived in time to watch the rugby. A super windy day as we past Lakes Tekapo and Pukaki – Super exhausting day. However some superb Lamb Shanks at Omarama from Kahu Cafe prepared me for the final day – up over Lindis Pass and home to Wanaka.
Greeted by friends, family, wind, rain and even the Otago Daily Times – we made it too Wanaka 1026km and 8.5 days later. What a fantastic way to see some of NZ’s finest country and meet the people who live in small towns. We past about half a dozen other cyclists and hopefully inspired others to take on a similar challenge.