Here are the top five events to aim for, according
to Queenstown Times reporter Olivia Caldwell.
Competitors and views from January's Big Easy ride, which
starts at the Snow Farm. Photo supplied.
1) The Big Easy, 48km, January 26, $85.
The hardest thing I have done in my life! But I loved it.
The course covers it all - hillclimbs, descents, gravel
roads, farmland and a forest.
Beginning at the Snow Farm, riders make their way to the top
of Mt Pisa and once that hard work is out of the way the fun
begins on the giant downhill to Luggate. The course then
heads towards the Clutha River before another short climb,
through grassy paddocks, and around the edge of the Clutha
River finishing at the Albert Town Tavern.
2) Bannockburn Mountain Bike Classic, December 30.
Sport $30, recreational $20.
There are three categories: Classic ride: This is about 35km
of mountain terrain, gravel roads and 4WD tracks.
The biggest climb is about 600m, so, great for your first
ride. The total course takes between 1hr 30min to 3hr.
Sport ride: About 22km of the same, although some fun
downhills and river crossings to enjoy. Takes between 45min
and 1hr 45min Recreation ride: About 10km of gravel road/farm
Ideal for first-timers or families with children over 10
years. Estimated time 30min to 1hr.
3) Bannockburn Gutbuster, November 24, $40.
I haven't done this one yet, but I have heard great things
The adventure Pub-to-Pub crawl begins at Garston and heads up
Nevis Bluff Rd before plunging down into the top of the Nevis
Valley. Plenty of river and stream crossings here, and some
of the fords are deep, according to a colleague who tackled
the race once and got very wet during a ford mishap. He says
pray for a southerly tailwind to help you hoon down the
valley, and save some energy for the final climb to Duffers
Saddle, as it's huge! Riders climb about 800m in 12km before
setting sail down the Bannockburn side on a scary descent.
Then it's on to a sealed road to the finish at the
4) Tour de Wakatipu, March 30, $75.
This is one of the most enjoyable big bike events near
Queenstown and one for the Queenstowner.
The race begins at Millbrook and leads on to the new
Queenstown Trail and through Dalefield roads such as
Speargrass Flat Rd, Slope Hill Rd, Lower Shotover Rd and
Domain Rd. The course then heads on to a scenic single track
that follows the Shotover River, across the Shotover bridge
and follows a gravel road to join the Kawarau River track and
then across the Kawarau River bridge for some highway riding.
The ride ends at Chard Farm winery, where a barbecue awaits.
Options are. - Recreational: 36km. Sport: 45km. Elite: 45km.
5) Motatapu Bike Race, 47km, March 9, $140.
While the previous is for the Queenstown rider, this one is
filled with Cantabs and Aucklanders in lycra. That's fine.
Not ticking this one off as a local rider is like living in
Wellington and not attending the National Rugby Sevens.
It doesn't need much of an introduction, as it has become the
most popular Otago ride by far, with 2000 cyclists competing
each year. The price is steep and so are the climbs, so if
you have the extra cash to spare, sign up.
The race starts at Glendhu Bay near Wanaka and ends in
From Glendhu Bay, the race takes you through some fantastic
The off-road course then climbs to Motatapu, Soho and Glencoe
Stations, which are only open to the public once a year.
The best part of the race would have to be the countless
crossings through the Arrow River, because by then you know
you're not far from the finish line.