A Bit of Up (and Down) in New Zealand's Backcountry

Travelled by Brucini on 7 June 2011 | 1 Comments

Travelled By

Brucini Brucini

Brucini started seriously travelling after attempting to move to Queenstown, New Zealand, in 1996.Inspired by drunkenly meeting a world of travelers on a Kiwi Experience bus, he changed his plans and roamed the world for a year. ...Find out more!

A Bit of Up (and Down) in New Zealand's Backcountry

“This way!” yelled Dan, and with that I followed him down the rough track off the side of a hill on our mountain bikes, dropping  down 500 vertical metres in about 15 minutes. The down at least was better than the up, it was after all why we had come here, to Dalrachney Station, a working sheep, cattle and deer farm near Lindis Pass, on New Zealand’s South Island.

The trusty topo map coming into its own.

Earlier in the day when Ed Aubrey from Dalrachney Station had pointed out on a small topographic map representing his 5000 hectare property and explained that there was “a bit of up” on the mountain bike trails we would take over the next three days, I didn’t really appreciate his laconic under-stated description.

No wonder Dan had yelled which way to go at the top, he had powered up the trail on the first afternoon of our ride. This ride off the main trail was an optional “fun” excursion without the weight of sleeping bags and food on our backs. After pushing my bike up most of the tough trail, I understood the concept of “a bit of up” a little better.

New Zealand has increasingly targeted cycle tourism in recent years. Like bushwalkers, the cycle tourist spreads their tourist dollars to regional areas. Trails and facilities, both public and private, have grown to meet the increasing demand. Dalrachney Station is symptomatic of this trend.

A bit of down.

Ed and his father, Rick, have recently built the highest privately owned hut in the South Island on their property, the aptly named Lindis Ridge Hut. Sitting at 1500 metres, the hut has inspiring 180 degree views from its verandah. Mt Aspiring and Aorangi/Mt Cook, NZ’s highest mountain, can be seen from the ridgeline on which the hut sits. It’s epic country. Sitting inside the very comfortable, insulated hut drinking a cold beer and then looking at the stars emerge after the sun had dropped behind the ranges is a memory I’ll long savour.
The hut can be reached as part of a 3 day/2 day night walk or mountain bike ride. Or for the time poor, experienced as an overnight experience via a helicopter or gnarly 4WD vehicle ride.

Home away from home.

The first night of our trip is spent on the farm’s traditional musterer’s hut. Forks Hut was built in 1928 and is still used seasonally when shepherds round up the sheep for shearing or drenching. Warmed by a rustic fireplace, the place dripped with nostalgia and echoed the lives of working men and women who had passed through over the years. It’s hard to think of a more historically iconic place to stay in NZ.

The final day of the ride was essentially a roll along the ridgeline and then another rapid zig-zagging drop down the face of the hillside on a 4WD track, its rocky gradient challenging our nerves and the quality of our brakes. At the bottom of this biggest descent, there’s a great sense of satisfaction – for all of the up there was a lot more down. This new tourism frontier and experience will be hard to top, it’s a place I long to return to, and others will surely venture to in increasing numbers.
For more info check out http://www.lindisridgehut.com

Top Travel Stories

  1. 01. England Explained (Northern Monkeys vs. Southern Fairies) England Explained (Northern Monkeys vs. Southern Fairies)
    by Jamie Bowlby-Whiting
  2. 02. Be a Badass. Take a Road Trip and Live in Your Car Be a Badass. Take a Road Trip and Live in Your Car
    by Lauren MeLink
  3. 03. Things You Should Know Before Traveling to China for the First Time Things You Should Know Before Traveling to China for the First Time
    by Amanda Williams
  4. 04. The Best Backpacker Movies The Best Backpacker Movies
    by Brucini
  5. 05. Why Choose a Bed and Breakfast Location? Why Choose a Bed and Breakfast Location?
    by Jan Ross