It sounds like the start of a joke; an Englishman, an American and a Spaniard walk into a bar...
But no, this collection of nationalities were some guests on one of our recent New Zealand mountain bike tours joining us for a briefing session on the next days's big adventure - heli biking the stunning North Island backcountry. For visiting guests, New Zealand heli biking has turned out to be one of our most popular days out over the 2015/16 season - a mix of private swoopy singletrack, stunning views & vistas, and breath taking helicopter ride.
First things first, if you've never been in a helicopter, it's a must do. Add it to your bucket list immediately! Few things feel as un-natural compared to the helpless pitch and roll of a helicopter as it battles through rising thermal pockets merely a hundred feet about the ground. Likely the closest many of us will get to experience how birds see the world - some things must be done to be understood.
For some of the guys, this was their first time in a helicopter, never mind heli biking - stoke levels off the chart as we came into land. Never does it get old seeing guys gawp as they see the slither of singletrack below and the realisation that this is real! Pilot Ben dropped the group onto one of the highest points in the area yielding stunning 360 views. A vast expanse of rolling native bush, snowcapped volcanoes & pristine nature all around and not another human outside the group to spoil it.
Brian was stoked on the heli biking experience on his first MTB trip to New Zealand. A mandatory photo shoot at the top to help savour the moment - overlooking a snowcapped volcano, Mt Ruapehu. Singletrack trail heads don't get much better.
Where does the trail go? Over the scree and into the valley! OK then!
The flowing singletrack leads right to the helicopter pickup. It always ends up a trade off, everyone wants to carry on riding the flowing alpine singletrack, but it's always so difficult to not take in the beauty of the current surroundings. Rubén made a good go of it, shredding whooping and hollering down every meter of trail!
But stunned by the sheer beauty of surroundings, opts to stop for a Kodak moment. Who can blame him, the untouched New Zealand backcountry is as pure and un-tainted as it was 1000 years ago!
As the guys headed East, the singletrack continued to wind away down into the valley below and back to the helicopter. Tired bodies, hot brakes, but it would be rude not to take in a second lap wouldn't it?
Big smiles and many miles of prime New Zealand MTB trails down, the guys gave New Zealand heli biking a big thumbs up. Would they do it again? - "try and stop us" they said! What better way to finish a day than BBQ & natural thermal hot pools to soothe and refuel the body!