THE LAND BETWEEN THE MOUNTAINS AND THE PLAINS
The land between the Southern Alps and the plains of the South Island of New Zealand is mostly occupied by the high country stations. I’ve explored this region by bike in the past and always wanted to connect a route through this awesome landscape. After many evenings examining Google Earth, reading horse trekking blogs and searching 4WD and off-road motorbike chat sites I came up with the initial route.
I thought about what experience I wanted to create for myself and others. The route changed, it got harder, it got easier, it got harder again. I spent forever chasing up contact details for landowners and even longer trying to get in touch with them. I sent a proposal out to riders whose opinions I valued. The route changed again.
And here it is; the Tour Te Waipounamu, a bikepacking race the length of the South Island of New Zealand/ Aotearoa.
The Tour Te Waipounamu is an opportunity for adventure; a chance to challenge ourselves with a seemingly impossible task and to discover who we are and what we are capable of. In its purest form it is a solo event, testing your resolve and resourcefulness and your capabilities. You may find it enriching, humbling or demoralising.
In riding the 1300km of the route you will discover the incredible diversity of the landscape of Te Waipounamu. Lush forest with walking tracks traced with tree roots, vast valleys criss-crossed by mountain rivers and endless roads that fade into a horizon of rugged mountain ranges that have unlikely passages through them. Just when you think you have adjusted to each environment, the geology, the vegetation and the trail under your wheels morph to something new and once again you are a novice in this landscape.
The information provided on this website is designed to create a level playing field so all riders have access to the same information. While it will give you a good understanding of what's to come, there's no predicting what the weather will be at any point. The New Zealand mountains are renown for rapidly changeable weather and the severity and speed of their storms, with locals knowing all too well the severe consequences of being caught out in exposed terrain. Even a minor storm system will make the experience vastly different for riders who are only a few hours apart. Study the route, make contingencies and try to gain an understanding of the ecosystem that you are entering.
Brian Alder, Route Creator
So who came up with this? Who do you yell at as you haul your bike through another river? It's me, Brian Alder. I've been at these sort of offbeat adventures since I was a kid many decades ago and I intend to keep at for quite a long time more. Thanks to support from Apidura and Hyperformance Hardware (Santa Cruz NZ)