NEW ZEALAND part I South Island
Bikepacking from Queenstown to Picton
Riding through the vast and empty, uninhabited landscapes, incredible, diverse nature, meeting friendly locals and enjoying awesome beers and burgers! That's a long story short about our trip from south to north of New Zealand that we made on two Treshombres Pirates.
The entire route was full of adventures, crazy and demanding stages and fantastic descents!
We’ll try to pack all these stories below, so that you can get at least a little bit of the adventure we have experienced on our tour from Queenstown to Auckland.
Riders: Rafal Ramatowski & Thomas Calcagno
Distance: about 2100km
Duration: 25 days of touring incl. 4 non-cycling days (a little bit of chill-out is needed right?)
Gear: TRESHOMBRES the PIRATE
How the adventure was born
The idea of the project was already born around April 2016, but still very rough (originally we wanted to ride the south Australia, but realised, New Zealand can be much more unique, due to the diversity of its landscapes) We both had heard about New Zealand being an extraordinary bike touring destination and as we both love mountains, we decided it would be the right choice.
Planning in details started in the end of 2016. We already had an idea of the routes and started getting all the required gear ready. By the time, we were finishing the prototype phase with the Pirate and took two of them with us to put them to the proper test. Since the Pirates are pure road frames, we had to put 28” tires on the Treshombres 5.0 rims to make our rides on unsealed roads more confortable. That decision probably saved our butts a couple of times later on!
We packed all our stuff in the rackless bike bags, which made our bikes compact, light and easy to handle. Have a look at our setup:
QUEENSTOWN - MEETING POINT
We met in Queenstown on the 19.03.17. Rafal brought two frames with him to New Zealand in big boxes, he looked more like a DHL agent rather than a cyclist, but we knew, we would have to get rid of the boxes as soon as the bikes would be assembled, so using bike bags didn't appear to be the right option.
Thanks to the helping hands of the guys from Bikeaholic store, our bikes were assembled the same day, so that we could kick off our trip on Monday the 20th.
DAY 1: QUEENSTOWN TO WANAKA
For our first stage, from Queenstown to Wanaka, we rode around 80km with 1000m elevation gain, climbing up the scary
Crown Range. We were quite lucky at the beginning! Our friend Lina, who happened to have been staying in Queenstown for some time already, decided to become our roadie for the first 4 days. These days were like cycling paradise for us. She basically carried our bags in her car, and was always happy to prepare some yummy things for us at the end of each day! And we were simply enjoying cycling through NZ Alps :D
DAY 2: WANAKA TO OMARAMA
After a lovely breakfast in beautiful Wanaka we moved on towards Lake Pukaki. We didn´t actually know, whether we could reach the other lake or not the same day, but in the end we were too relaxed and more focused on enjoying the sceneries, so we ended up in Omarama after 110km and 1150m of elevation gain.
DAY 3: CAMPING, WE LOVE YOU
Day 3 was rather easy, we did only 45km to get to the amazing Lake Pukaki, where we decided to camp on a spectacular free camp site.
DAY 4: EASY RIDE, EASY LIFE
Day 4 was another easy day in terms of distance, just 58 km along Pukaki and east to Lake Tekapo. The road was a bit exhausting though, since we had more than 40km on gravel with some nasty ruts. Those breathtaking landscapes made our efforts worth the struggle though!
DAY 5: GOODBYE, LINA
We had to say bye to our dear Lina since she had to head back to Queenstown. It meant for us, it was the first day with our bikes fully loaded.
Not so easy to keep up the pace with heavier bikes. Nevertheless, we managed to ride the 115km (mostly under the rain) till a forest close to Mayfield, where we set a camp, and let our bodies get some rest around a small fire.
DAY 6: PLAN A ROUTE BUT BE READY TO CHANGE IT
The sixth day was one of those that challenge your adaptative capacity. We had to change our route quite radically. Initially aiming for Christchurch and Akaroa, we decided to go over the Alps again due to the bad weather on the east coast. The west coast wasn’t looking very promising either, but we decided to give it a try!
And so we made around another 115 km up to the quiet and hidden Lake Lyndon. The tough climb on the gravel road, the rain and the low temperature sucked out all our energy. Luckily enough we met some local fisherman, who welcomed us with some beers and hot food! Cool dudes who were always carrying their emergency food box in case of an earthquake!
Apparently, a good thing to have when living in New Zealand!
"The sixth day was one of those that challenge your adaptative capacity. We had to change our route quite radically."
DAY 7: DEFINITION OF AWESOMENESS
It was a challenging but an awesome day! We got over the mighty Arthur’s Pass and descended towards the west coast with the intention to set up a camp in little town called Moana.
Rainy, slippery and tough, but god damnit, this nature!
DAY 8: FINALLY, GOOD WEATHER
Day 8 welcomed us with a beautiful weather, finally, which is no common thing on the west coast. We cycled to the city of Greymouth, where we enjoyed a good IPA at the waterfront and our first sunny day in five days!
Then we rolled along to the beautiful Rapahoe stuffed with cheese and wine to enjoy the amazing sunset and a night under the stars! That day was not a big deal, just around 50km, but we earned some chill out after crossing the big mountains the previous days!
DAY 9: SUN, SEA, SUNSET
Day 9 was another blast! Sun, sea on the left and green mountains on the right, and a sort of fog connecting them. Just look at this!
After around 95km we reached Cape Foulwind passing through some completely different landscapes the same day!
We ended the day on the beach and enjoyed an other unbelievable sunset before going on a quick walk to a spot closeby where sea lions gather at the end of the day.
DAY 10: GOOD FOOD, GOOD BEER
We started the day woken up by the bunch of Weka birds and cycled to Westport for some good breakfast! Westport was a cool town. Good food, good beer and a lot of pot from the local fishermen. We loved it! We rode on up towards Nelson after the good time in Westport and found an enjoyable place to set up camp. 70km in total and some wine for the evening!
DAY 11: WILD CAMPING BECOMES %#!@%#^&ÖLQFQ
We woke up the next day and continued up north. We reached the little town of Kohatu. Another sunny day, another wild camp at the river and 110km completed!
DAY 12: SANDY BAY
Day 12 was a cool ride to the Sandy Bay, close to Motueka! Beautiful place, so we decided to take a day off
the following 13th day and enjoy the beach and some good food in order to revitalize our bodies and minds for the rest of the trip!