Waking up to a dawn chorus is always amazing. Even more so when you know you’re going to ride your mountain bike that day. So I can only imagine the excitement that TJ & Brooke felt facing their first day’s riding on some of New Zealand’s best single track. A drive south east, straight into the sunrise spreading it’s warmth over the dairy fields of the Waikato and we arrived at the famous Rotorua trails.
Every time I ride here I’m blown away by the place, so much high quality single-track everywhere. Riding through the access roads trails dive off to the sides, snaking into the forest and tempting you to explore their delights – though there’s never enough hours in the day! That said there are certainly some bits of single track that are better than others, and a lot that just disappears into the forest and ends up a few miles away in a different valley - I’ve always been grateful to have spent years learning the area with some great local guides.
We set off, sampling some of the lower trails to begin with before moving up to the higher stuff. Berms, jumps, sweeping corners and roots adorned the trails and both TJ and Brooke took them in their stride. With a little coaching and encouragement, it was great to see their technique improving, and confidence sky rocketing, hitting trail features faster and harder. Scything through the prime single track we climbed a little and found ourselves out in the open. You’d hardly believe it was mid-winter here in New Zealand, blue skies, no clouds, riding in jerseys and beautifully tacky trails – what a way to spend a Tuesday! Confidence growing we dropped into the lower section of one of the classic enduro stages in the Whakarewarewa forest. More looping single track, roots and rollers featured here and were once again ridden expertly and with huge grins. Energy diminishing, we looped back towards the start, riding a few flow and jump trails to keep the grin factor at max.
Revitalised by a shower & lunch, TJ & Brooke embarked on some of the geo-thermal marvels of the area. With the hot springs on form today, the steam pouring off them was breath taking, and of course featured that classic sulphur smell. Sometimes pictures don’t do the place justice, the steam from the pools surrounds your being but doesn’t even show up in photos, so it was amazing to get such a steamy sulphur photo!
A short drive and we were at Hobbiton marvelling at the movie set from Lord of the Rings. With the history and stories behind Hobbiton, it’s great to visit such a place – you can certainly understand why Lord Of The Rings was filmed in the beauty of New Zealand! Exploring the famous Hobbit Holes and visiting The Green Dragon Inn serving Hobbit Ale is certainly a unique experience, if not a little surreal having seen it on the big screen. As the sun began to lower, golden hour closed in, the place came alive. Windows glistening in the sun and ripples dancing across the water’s surface reflecting UV rays, it’s a truly magical place to visit and a great place to finish a day’s guided tour!