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James Renwick James Renwick

This was supposed to go up yesterday, hence the “midweek” in the title, but Billy’s off foraging in the woods and I’ve been busy commissioning videos for the coming year (check back for more on this, you’re going to love it!). Anyway, it’s come that time of year when a bunch of lucky gits swan off to somewhere dry to ride bikes for months in the sun, then send us words and photos to really rub it in. Introducing Jimmy Carling and Luke Sergent…

Words: Jimmy Carling
Photos: Luke Sergent

So… here we are … November. The world cup has been and gone, the tears have almost stopped flowing from Dr Peat’s historic champs victory (Sheffield steel for life baby!) and the transition into the off season is virtually complete. Of course, while the latter is true for those reading this in the northern hemisphere, where I’m living, things are only just kicking off. Spring lambs are losing their cuteness by the day and are just becoming regular fat sheep, the blossom from flowering trees and shrubs is being replaced by fresh green leaves and most importantly, the trails have woken from their winter sleep to receiving lashings of TLC from excited local riders. This special, unique part of the world to which I’m referring, is the land of the long white cloud – New Zealand.

This new weekly supplement to the site marks the start of an extensive insight into the rides, riders and post ride activities that make this place unlike any other in the world. You’ll have to excuse a major bias to Queenstown and the central Otago part of the South Island, but over the coming weeks you’ll see why this part of the world has captured the hearts (and minds) of those who live and ride here.

Built on the gold rush of the late 1800’s, Queenstown was named so as it was deemed a place so beautiful it was fit for the Queen herself. Since then the all the obvious gold has gone, and the only true gold you’ll find lies in the hearts of those who have worked tirelessly to make mountain biking what it is here. There are too many people to start naming them all. They all have day jobs, but also possess the passion and guts to take their spare time and put in hundreds if not thousands of unpaid hours managing the politics, driving diggers, slapping spades and raking soil. Thanks to people like this, New Zealand is no longer just a place to skive off the winter. It is a premiere mountain bike destination in its own right.

Enough of the talk. You get the idea. Recenty the Vertigo downhill track, which is situated on Skyline, has had a complete makeover from Nathan Greenwood and the boys from Vertigo Bikes. Think serious digger action as opposed to light spade work… Combing existing trails with new sections through previously unridden parts of the woods, V-Line as it has affectionately been referred to, has drawn a lot of attention from both amateur and advanced riders alike. Due to its smooth, wide and jumpy nature it can be either plodded or pinned and allows for fast progression for less experienced riders. It’s not everyday you see smelly, knuckle dragging dh-ers being followed down by Mr and Mrs Smith with their 2.4 children. It’s a huge difference from what was there before. Skyline features a lot of technical trails and as such was only previously ridden by the more core bike enthusiasts, but the range of riders now hitting up Skyline can only be a good thing for the growth of the sport down here. Here’s to a successful summer!

One of the additions to “V-line” – the creation of some super-g berms. Yeeoo! My old Bighit may be 3 years old and been the victim of some harsh abuse but she still goes.

Dan Thwaite, of Vertigo Bikes Queenstown and Ticket 2 Ride BC, samples part of the new lower section, as the steam powered T.S.S Earnslaw chugs on by in the distance.

Matt Wragg manages to stop thinking about aussie women long enough to float a wee stepdown!

  1. smiller

    what’s it like to find seasonal work ou there for the summer?

  2. Chris

    I did a tour of NZ last year and it was awesome. The main issue is getting your hands on decent, well maintained bikes if you don’t pay to put your wheels on the plane. Vertigo Bikes stood head and shoulders over the opposition with the smooth running Glory they hired to me.

    PS If you head to NZ you have to check out the singletrack at Rotorua too.

  3. David

    NZ is an awsome country and the mountain biking is much the same as the uk apart from the fact the weather is real good. I dont think NZ is as good as France yet.
    I went over this year i first tried to fly quantas and they wanted £1100 baggage extra for me taking the bike, so I phoned air NZ and they took my bike for £50 so always fly with them if you are going. If i had the chance to go again i would’t take my bike cause its a long way to drag your shit and most of the tracks are push ups and it’s that hot you push up to the top and your wrecked and dehydrated. Best thing to do would be to enjoy NZ and hire a bike on the days you want to ride and also get the bikes on days they have uplifts. Defo check out Rotorua and Queenstown (Cornet peak has chairlift, im not sure if its open this summer so check) they are the best spots to ride also maybe dunedin i never rode there but heard it was good. One last thing for a guide around Queenstown try NzFreeride Dan the owner is a top lad and a good rider… Hope this helps

  4. gaz

    having spent time with dan in whistler , hes such a great lad and nows how to sort your bike out and also ripps on a bike,so any thing dans involved in will be worth while.

  5. Mat frm NZ

    if you ever come to NZ, you gotta cum to christchurch. just up from queenstown it has one of the largest public/legal DH parks in NZ

  6. Your mum says...

    Ahh, NZ what a place, a little like the uk but without the chavs and the crap weather.

    definatly come check out Duendin, the bike scene here is getting bigger and bigger with the help of the wright support from one of the local bike shops Otago Bikes, owned and managed by Justin Leov and famaly. they are allways on hand to help out. they also run an uplift service on Sundays, good way to check out Signal Hill DH trails. Signal hill has seen some trail maintenace lately and talk of some more with new trails in the pipeline. With the Oceania’s coming to Dunedin and a round of the South Island Nationals thing are only getting better.

    Check out http://www.vorb.org.nz/ for all NZ bike goodness

  7. Tobias


  8. Matt Beer

    I recently returned from a tour there. I came down from Canada and brought a bmx and my downhill bike in one box. The extra fees were definitely worth it. A 6 or 7″ bike is enough for most places. One little spot I loved was Napier, which has two small areas called Eskdale and Aropaunui or something. If you like slime and loam, get yourself some spikes and head over there after some rain!

    Just chat up the locals and ask for info. They are usually more than willing to help any visitors.

  9. Scott Harrison

    Lucky enough to be living in Central Otago for the last 2 years, 90kms from Queenstown. If people want to try something different get over to Alexandra, its like riding in a Spaghetti Western. Lots of dry steep rocky gullies to crawl up but hammer down. Plus, in nearby Clyde there are 2 downhill tracks which can be accessed by 4×4. Cannot believe my luck in landing a job here. Best bike for the area is definately a lightish 6″ travel, a Nomad is ideal. Enjoy.


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