New Zealand is stunning, full of wild landscapes and pure vistas - we should know, we ride and drive through them on our MTB tours all the time. We always seem to be trying to put the sights you'll see into words - it's always tough to quantify exactly what New Zealand looks like, especially if you've never been here! And we feel, if you've travelled this far to get here, we should show you the best stuff that "the other guys" don't. So whilst on your NZ MTB tours, bring your camera and get ready to start snapping anything and everything from the windows of our very own "Insta-Van" (yes that's Instagram & van.)
New Zealand is exceptionally lucky in it's geographic location. Sitting out in the ocean on it's own has meant large portions of the country have been untouched by civilisation and all that comes with it for hundreds of years longer than the rest of the world. The West Coast is a great example of this - particularly empty of people, yet full of beauty.
Large parts of the West Coast are covered by farmland bordered by mountainous forest ranges and wild coastal beaches. A harsh land to live from, the locals have made use of every aspect of what nature provides; from the mineral rich surrounding hills to the tonnes of driftwood washed up on the beaches and repurposed into animal shelters and commercial artwork. It's proved a simple, yet effective way of life. Those who move away in search of "something new" invariably end up back at home on the West Coast.
As our MTB tours travels south, the rainforests begin to disappear, overwhelmed by hardy tussock grass & gorse that thrives in these drier and arid environments. Wide plains divide mountains, providing rest-bite from the winding and climbing roads, and a chance for perspective.
Throughout the journey are some of natures wonders; how did the Punakaiki Rocks form over 30million years ago? What caused the 40million year old limestone boulders to appear in Castle Hill? What makes the water in the lakes so blue?
Passing New Zealand's tallest mountain, Aoraki, the landscape is covered in the bluest lakes you'll ever see, akin to the blue a child would choose to colour a lake in their school books. Fed by the glaciers in the background, their unique colour is attributed to glacial flour, the extremely finely ground rock particles from the glaciers. Taking on a modern twist, New Zealand's sustainable power dreams have utilised the outflow from this lake and a number of others into the creation of hydroelectricity for surrounding communities.
The mountainous journey continues as the MTB tours travels south, winding through some of Otago's stunning ranges and made significantly easier by sealed roads. For the original European settlers and later gold prospectors in the 1800's, Otago must have been a formidable area to access - mountains nestling next to one another occassionally split by a deep valley or uninviting windswept lake.
Although Queenstown has had a rich gold history, it's much better known these days for it's outdoor activities and bucket list activities. Multi day walks, heli biking, backcountry skiing - it's no wonder this has become such a highly demanded playground for those seeking adventure and freedom. The topography and endless paths leads those who are keen into a magical and serene world, devoid of the stresses of everyday life. A place where people come to escape, but no one wants to escape.
All the photos in this article have been taken from during Alpine South MTB Tours hosted by JustMTB. For more details and itinerary options, see JustMTB.co.nz