Back country jaunt

Before Christmas, I was treated to an enjoyable experience when I cycled the Around the Mountain guided trail between Walter Peak and Mavora Lakes.

I'd been told by two friends of mine cycling the trail was a must, but was advised to pick a sunny day. Fortunately for me and the touring party, we had just that.

The day began by getting to know the tour group, which along with two friends of mine, included a retired English couple and our tour guide, Chris Lebiecki.

An excitable bunch, we were more than eager to get on Earnslaw and whip across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak, where the adventure was to begin. The ride was a breeze and suitable for most ages and fitness levels.

Throughout the trip, Mr Lebiecki was close by, allowing us to hop aboard the van during any steep climbs or if time was running out.

However, we were a ''reasonably fit'' bunch, he told us, and time was never an issue while we enjoyed this perfect day in the countryside.

The isolated road running through Mt Nicholas Station was all ours, apart form the presence of a horse trekking group and the occasional farmhand.

On average, only five cars travel on this road in an entire day.

Scenes along the way included a fantastic view across the lake towards Glenorchy, the Von River below, the Eyre Mountains and, our destination before turning back, Mavora Lakes.

Although three of us on the tour had ''seen it all before'', we appreciated the beauty and privilege of the trip and this was heightened by the gasps and comments of our English friends.

Mr Lebiecki's knowledge of the farm, the land and the history of the area made it all the more interesting and the picnic spot at one of the sheep musterer's huts was a definite highlight.

Although we covered a lot of ground, over 35km of cycling, there was no real hardship suffered and the day was very relaxing.

For those seeking a workout, I would suggest going it alone and pulling out the stops.




Around the Mountains Walter Peak guided tour:

• Group size limited to 9 per guide.

• Picnic lunch, hot drinks and afternoon tea included.

• 3-4 hours leisurely cycling (depending on fitness).

• Quiet back country road through mostly gently rolling terrain.

• Moderate fitness required.

• Suitable for children 10 years and over.

• Season: November to mid-April, daily departures at 10am.

• Overall duration: 7hr 30min.

• Prices from: $199 adult (15+) $99.50 child (10-14).