Holidays. Designed to drag you away from the monotony of every day life, an opportunity to put down your home life responsibilities and relax. A great theory, but in the modern world of smartphones it’s hard to truly get away, to just disappear. For those brave enough to try it, we’ve found your solution of solitude.
Nestled deep in the New Zealand backcountry, stand a number of basic but well equipped huts. Historically these were built for hunters staying in the bush overnight, but with increasing amounts of land becoming protected and more controls placed on hunting certain animals at certain times, these huts have been left empty, looking for a new type of user. Providing everything you need to survive, shelter, somewhere to sleep, a fire & water, the huts have become a perfect place for mountain bikers and walkers to use as resting points.
The team soaks up the view from the bedroom...you won't be able to Instagram it from here though
Located out in the sparse backcountry, there is very little if no connection to the outside world, bar the path winding to and from the hut. No cell phone signal, no 4G, no emails, no Facebook. It is a serene feeling, and one of the few times you’ll be able to totally switch off, drop all responsibilities and feel like a kid again. Life takes a different speed out in the backcountry and very different priorities; you swim in rivers to clean yourself, build fires to warm yourself, snack when you feel hungry and sit chatting face to face with friends under the big sky.
Life is pretty serene out in the backcountry taking in a pre-sunset
Due to the hut’s unique locations in the dense forests and high on alpine mountains, access is via singletrack or helicopter. Old paths often cut in by deer hunters and gold prospectors to access remote land blocks now provide some of the most epic singletrack leading right to the huts. Long ribbons of perfect trail flow like a river, through ancient forest and over scenic mountainsides delivering you to places of deep tranquility. Some of the most perfect sections of trail we’ve ever ridden; loamy, rooty, natural and technical trails deliver you from high points down into hidden valleys. But don’t get too caught up in the excitement, look up from the trails, at the stunning vistas, magnificent giant ferns, thousand year old trees and listen to the sound of silence. The sparse locations and amazing surroundings merely magnify the experience making it more memorable.
Loamy, rooty trails lined with moss and beech trees, the perfect breeding ground adventure
Aaron threading the singletrack trying not to look at the ferns
Riding into the hut you’ll be fully self-sufficient. Carrying everything you’ll need on your back may sound obstructive to riding enjoyment but if you’re smart you won’t be carrying much more than a long day ride. Searching and foraging for firewood, and water from taps in the hut means you can travel light, adding not much more than a pack lite sleeping bag, merino thermals and food into your normal daypack. With packs on, riding into the wild to sleep feels like a proper adventure, where lifelong memories are made – where you never quite know what you’re going to experience but you know at the very least there will be great stories.
The only way out, across the field, through the forest and over the mountain
And of course across the river on a swing bridge
With access to backcountry riding and huts on both Native North and Alpine South tours, adding in an overnight hut trip is a real adventure. A unique experience, but one you’ll likely get a little hooked on and come back wanting more!
Aaron rolling one of the many ridgelines in the area