The Most EPIC New Zealand High Country Winter of Riding

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by RMOTO, Oct 16, 2018.

  1. Varkenjaab

    Varkenjaab Middle Age Crisis

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    Excellent trip. Might have to look at crossing the ditch and having a go. Well done.
    #21
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  2. RMOTO

    RMOTO Anticipating summer...

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    #22
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  3. RMOTO

    RMOTO Anticipating summer...

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    As we progressed up the valley, we reached a point where the 4X4 tracks fade away and the rock wrestling begins

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    #23
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  4. RMOTO

    RMOTO Anticipating summer...

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    After a couple of decent river crossings we made our way up to the hut we planned to use as a base.

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    With plenty of daylight left, we dropped our gear and shot off to have a look up one of the nearby valleys.

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    While there was a lot of rock wrestling and some challenging line picking to cross some of the rivers, we successfully made it to the planned destination and had some pretty impressive views.

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    #24
    Jeff Sichoe likes this.
  5. RMOTO

    RMOTO Anticipating summer...

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    When daylight started to run thin we made our way back to the hut. We used the bikes to collect some firewood and settled around a warm fire for the evening.

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    Later that night I pulled out the tripod and played around getting some cool night shots. I was on the camera, Mark was working the fire and Ian did some light painting. The combined efforts produced this photo :)
    #25
  6. RMOTO

    RMOTO Anticipating summer...

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    While the hut was appealing in a rustic manner, the number of holes allowing strong draughts to whistle through meant we could almost fly a kite inside the hut! Combined with below zero degree temperatures, it was far from tropical :) All the bikes had a decent layer of frost on them come morning.

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    While it was all blue skies the day before, this day brought a decent covering of cloud. With all the rock wrestling lined up for the day, it wasn't a bad thing. It stayed at a perfect temperature for this type of riding.
    Reference Link: Cabot Ridge Waterfall

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    Breaking through the ice.

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    As we headed further up towards Unknown Valley we were presented with some fairly challenging river crossings.

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    #26
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  7. RMOTO

    RMOTO Anticipating summer...

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    Finally we reached our destination of Unknown Flats, a large grassy bench near the valley headwaters. We stopped here for a bit of a rest and a bite to eat.
    Reference Link: Unknown Flats
    #27
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  8. RMOTO

    RMOTO Anticipating summer...

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    After heading back out of that valley, we were off to have a look up Weka Stream and the nearby hut before heading out of the High Country and back home.

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    We managed to find the elusive hut located in a thick section of bush. An awesome little spot.

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    Reference Link: Weka Stream Valley

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    The final views down the valley as we made our way back to the gravel roads and then back onto the tarmac to rejoin society!

    This was yet another great High Country trip. If you are interested in riding these routes you can find all the route information and downloadable GPX files here: Wilberforce Explorer.
    #28
    schlum1 likes this.
  9. RMOTO

    RMOTO Anticipating summer...

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    With repacked bikes, we set off for what was likely to be another fairly epic challenge. The three of us (Ian, Mark and I) were heading up to the Godley Valley but instead of just stopping at the first glacier lake, our goal was to reach the second lake at the foot of Godley Glacier.

    Satellite images didn't install a huge amount of faith that we would be able to get up there however. The terrain was predominantly rocks the size of suitcases, cars and small houses so we knew it would be interesting. The challenge was set and we were off…

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    With the twin track route in fairly good nick, it didn't take long to get the majority of the way up the valley before we stopped for a bite to eat by Red Stag Hut.
    #29
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  10. RMOTO

    RMOTO Anticipating summer...

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    As we neared the glacier lake the terrain became increasingly rockier.

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    #30
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  11. RMOTO

    RMOTO Anticipating summer...

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    I've been at this lake a number of times and it's always mind-blowing. The ice bobbing around in the water gives a pretty good indication to the temperature. There was no skinny-dipping on this trip.
    Reference Link: Godley Glacier

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    Reaching the first glacier lake was pretty straightforward stuff. Attempting to reach the second lake however was where the challenge began.

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    There was lots of navigating fairly decent sized rocks and boulders

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    Ian and Mark in the distance
    #31
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  12. RMOTO

    RMOTO Anticipating summer...

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    We covered a decent distance but our initial fears soon became reality. It was simply impossible to progress any further as the majority of the rocks from this point forward were pretty much armchair size.

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    We weren't disappointed as we had prepared ourselves for the reality that terrain simply wouldn't allow us to get through. To be fair, the ride up to this point was absolutely awesome with epic views. From there, we decided to head to a nearby hut for the night and get a good campfire going.

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    One of the challenges that stood in our way to reaching the hut was the crossing of the Godley River. Just a couple of kilometres upstream, ice was bobbing around in the lake that drains out and forms the Godley River. We needed to be smart about this crossing as low water temperatures like these need to be treated with respect.

    With the glacial silt built up on the large rocks and almost no visibility into the water, it made for a seriously challenging crossing. I have crossed hundreds of rivers to date but this was hands down the slipperiest crossing I have ever tackled.
    #32
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  13. RMOTO

    RMOTO Anticipating summer...

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    After getting the bikes across the river, we made our way to the hut.

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    The bikes were used for collecting some firewood. The AltRider Hemisphere bags are pretty handy for firewood collecting.

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    We had a cracking fire that night. It was essential though, it’s hard to pick from the blue skies in the photos but the majority of the trip was barely above 0°. We dropped our gear at the hut around 4pm and within 30 minutes anything that was wet soon froze solid. Riding gear, socks, luggage etc all became hard planks.

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    With the below zero temperatures outside, our cosy little hut was mint!
    #33
  14. RMOTO

    RMOTO Anticipating summer...

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    The next day we were off on our hooves and walked up to Classen Glacier Lake. This place is simply awesome. At first I was a little reluctant to go for a walk rather than ride my bike, but I am so glad we did. Simply epic views!

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    #34
  15. RMOTO

    RMOTO Anticipating summer...

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    After our walk, we started making our way out of the valley on the bikes. Presented with more boulder fields right out of the gate soon warmed us up on this chilly morning. The goal for the route was to head further downstream to cross where the river braids.

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    We managed to strike three braids rather than one single flow. It made it slightly easier, however it was still as slippery as ice.
    #35
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  16. RMOTO

    RMOTO Anticipating summer...

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    After what was an epic weekend of exploring, we made our way out of the valley.
    #36
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  17. RMOTO

    RMOTO Anticipating summer...

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    While I have lived in various places around the South Island, a good portion of my adventure riding has been when I have lived in Christchurch. As any Canterbury adventure rider knows, departing Christchurch means you are faced with a fairly dull stretch of tarmac through flat and lifeless farmland before reaching the more interesting adventure routes.

    After dozens of trips riding various gravel roads in order to create a route that removes the mundane straight stretches of tarmac, I put together a fairly interesting loop route called the MCGB (Mid Canterbury Gravel Blaster). This is a loop route that departs Christchurch and heads up to the stunning High Country. The entry and exit legs to the High Country use different routes so there is only a small bit of overlap near Christchurch itself.

    Just last week I lead my regular riding crew through this route and they had an absolute blast. They had no idea these fun twisting gravel roads even existed!

    The photos below are from one of my last solo trips while piecing together the final MCGB route. To make the most of the good weather, I also camped up a night in the High Country. Good times!!

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    #37
  18. RMOTO

    RMOTO Anticipating summer...

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    #38
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  19. RMOTO

    RMOTO Anticipating summer...

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    #39
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  20. Critic

    Critic More or less!

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    Looks like a lot of fun to me! Thanks guys.
    I have ridden North Island tip N to South Island tip S, but nothing like your ride! Although, on day one the first night around dusk; a group of women riders on dirt bikes showed up to the cabin/house next door to me, and left at day light. I did not know, that dirt biking was an option for NZ.
    The GS650 I rode was fun to tour on, just would have preferred dirt.
    #40