Ever since watching the Follow Me premier and seeing Steve Smith and Gee Atherton ride the trails in Queenstown, New Zealand I have had a fixation on going there. So when my family started planning a month long trip to New Zealand I was ecstatic to finally get a chance to ride there. After months of planning and preparation we had dates set. I was first going to do some backpacking in Australia then meet up with my parents in Queenstown on February 28th .
Being my first time out of the country since I was diagnosed with Leukemia in April, 2011 I was a bit nervous to board my flight. Usually, flights are just another part of the journey for me but this flight was special. My journey started in Vancouver with the long direct flight to Auckland from there it was on to Brisbane. My two weeks in Australia was spent doing what any budget traveler does: staying in suspect hostels and eating the cheapest food you can find. Regardless, I had an amazing time and only wish I got to spend a little longer in Australia.
After leaving the backpacking life behind in Australia I was introduce to the complete opposite way of travel life: delicious food and awesome accommodation courtesy of my parents. The next portion of my trip was what I had really been waiting for, riding my bike in Queenstown, New Zealand. For most our stay in Queenstown friend and fellow racer, Remi Gauvin, stayed with us. Remi had been in New Zealand for almost a month already racing the New Zealand National Rounds. We had not even been in Queenstown for an hour and had already built up our bikes and headed to the Skyline Gondola for the first run. The bike park in Queenstown is located right downtown so riding is central and easy to access. The first laps were some of the best and riding on dusty trails was an awesome change to BC winter slop. Trails in the bike park are similar to what you except from any well-established bike park. Hammy’s Track, a green trail with an awesome flow and perfect for beginners; Vertigo, a mix of high-speed berms and jumps; and World Cup, a steep track with lots of lines and no shortage of technical sections much as you’d expect any World Cup track to be like. These trails along with a host of other awesome trails made the bike park in Queenstown a perfect place for off-seas on training.
Along with my downhill bike, I also brought my cross-country bike o New Zealand. There are arguably just as many or more XC/all-mountain trails in Queenstown as there are downhill trails. The guys working at Outside Sports in Queenstown were awesome and helped us find out about the XC trails as well as gave us any assistance we needed maintaining our bikes after such intense riding. Of the great XC trails I rode my personal favorites were the Seven Mile Track and Moonlight Track. Each was totally different. Seven Mile is a collection of trails located on the shore of Lake Wakatipu and Moonlight is a backcountry mountain trail that weaves its way behind the Skyline Gondola. My only disappointment was that I wish I got to ride more XC trails while I was there.
Much like Whistler, a lot of the best trails weren’t located in the bike park but rather accessible by shuttle in the mountains surrounding Queenstown. The Queenstown Bike Taxi is a locally owned and operated downhill bike shuttle service that charges a small per-lap fee and will shuttle you for as many laps as you can ride. We did shuttles to Wynyards, home of the Dream Track, Dirt Park, Zoot’s Track and the Remarkables track.
The riding available in Queenstown is immense from a lift-access bike park to amazing shuttle service to unreal bike shops and best of all world-class trails. With all the options available I thought the downhill riding in the Queenstown area was some of the best I’ve rode and I really hope I get to come back again.