You've likely seen hundreds of shots of NZ. Taken by professional photographers with thousands of dollars of equipment, and hours painstakingly waiting for the right light. But we wanted to prove New Zealand was ACTUALLY stunningly scenic for those who visit on a mountain biking tour with a smartphone and no sense of photography. So we enlisted the help of JustMTB and jumped on one of their NZ mountain biking tours to show us around and set our I-phone to "pano" mode to see what we could come up with.
We began with North Island, on a stunning East Coast road. A hidden paradise full of vibrant colour, ever-changing landscapes, and relatively empty of humans. The winding roads drop from the arid and desert hills where the mountain biking singletrack swathes through meadows to the sparkling sea, where you'll sporadically find tenacious surfers in search of the perfect wave.
There's been plenty of history in this pocket of NZ, and a great resting stop on our mountain biking tours. Many people have lost their lives trying to make use of this little gorge, the waterfall far left and the bustling river that feeds it all. As the water rushes past it's a reminder of the pure power of nature and how small we really are in the world.
Fast becoming one of New Zealand's must do rides, the Old Ghost Road features on JustMTB's Alpine South mountain biking tours. 85km of singletrack flows through some very remote and beautiful parts of South Island - and for those adventurous few a chance to stay in these mountain top huts. Getting up at sunrise has never been more rewarding!
Exploring the solitude of NZ's island communities is much like turning the clock back in time. A place where rolling mountains meet vast blue seas, life is simple, pleasure is high.
The mermaid rocks haven't necessarily ever seen a mermaid, but if they existed, there's every chance they'd hang out here. An un-sanitised part of NZ, where there are no health and safety signs instructing not to walk through the caves, explore the blow holes, scramble the rocks and swim to the islands.
Glacial lakes, snowcapped mountains and big blue skies - quintessential South Island. Whether mountain biking in Queenstown or just sightseeing, it always puts on a show. The small former gold mining community has transformed itself into the adventure capital of NZ, but it certainly hasn't lost it's stunning landscapes. The best way to explore is certainly via mountain biking, getting away from the touristy side of town and getting back to nature.
Check out part 2 here