Avanti 30th Birthday Competition - Penny Watson shares her NZ trip prize experience.

DAY 1 Arrival in Queenstown

The day started well at the Cairns airport where I accidently left a pair of nail scissors in my bag, oops, there was much frowning done by security.

Arriving into a chilly Queenstown we picked up our Land Cruiser Prado and head to the Novatel Lakeside which was really great. It was bottom floor with doors opening onto the grass with views onto the lake. The staff  were very friendly and accommodating. The continental breakfast was needed to keep us going for the day.  Queenstown is clean, well set out and prepared for adventure minded people like us. All puffed out and full of burger from Devil Burger it was time for sleep.


Up early to be greeted by sunshine and clear skies. Parasailing is first on the list. What a great way to get our real first glimpse of Queenstown.


Whilst up there Kel and I saw a ride below us called the Hydro Attack. It is a ride where a passenger sits behind a trained driver, Dave in my case, in a sealed capsule and do crazy turns and jumps. After about 15 min I started not to feel so good. My ride was over.

So off to the Shotover Jet we go next. Wow so fast and so close to the rocks, I found myself ducking away from rocks and trees, glad our driver was on top of his game. Thanks Mike.

With what we had left with the rest of the day we did some retail therapy including a stop at the Fudge and Lolly shop where stocked up for the bike ride ahead. Unfortunately it didn’t all quite make it to the trail.


Today we are going up to Bob’s Peak on the Gondola and do a few runs on the luge. The views are outstanding.

A drive to Coronet Peak for lunch was a good idea. Many skiers were taking full advantage of the ski fields before they melt for another year.

Peter from Bike It Now collected Kel and I to take us to Clyde so we could get all set up for our great adventure. He gave an informative tour through Arrowtown, Cromwell and at the Clyde Dam.

At Bike It Now we are met by Fletch and Duncan whom were just as excited to see us as we were to see them. After coffees and hot choc Tony helped us get our bikes and equipment sorted and with a few instructions and a tool kit

We went around to CBD Accommodation where Kay met us and showed us our room for the night. She left a healthy breakfast for the morning, we were going to need it.

Off we go, all geared up hitting the trail, Kel and I with two bikes and no clue what we were in for. First stop Chatto Creek was our first stop where Leslie served us much needed soup. I highly recommend the Donkey Doo treats.

The scenery is so amazing, I have taken so many photos already of mountains with snow and green hills that go on forever.

We started our uphill climb-up hill being maybe a degree of incline- but when it goes for a number of km’s it seems like 10°. As we approached the town of Omakau we took a detour through the little mining town Ophir where we crossed a bridge to take us back onto the trail.

Lauder School B&B was the stop for the evening where we were welcomed by Esmé and Bruce. Our back sides were sore from the bike seat and we needed somewhere soft to sit. Dinner was across the road at the hotel where Nobby served fish that was very sweet and just fell apart which was washed down by a couple of beers. It was an early night as we were both so tired.


A bit sore this morning and with a bit of extra cushioning in our bike shorts off we go. Heading on we get to Poolburn Gorge and Tunnels which were a bit freaky.

Oturehau is where we got hot pies from the Gilchrist Store, it being Otago’s oldest operating general store. Heading out of town there were cross winds and thought “oh know” we about to start our climb to the peak of the trail. Some people were coming the other way and we chatted about the conditions. Lucky for us as we started winding up the trail those cross winds turned into tail winds!! WE MADE IT!! What a great feeling so we took some pics, had a snack and water and rode the tail winds all the way down to Waipiata. Yes!

Our evening was spent at Tussock Lodge which was very comfortable and warm. We even got a bit a clothes washing done, the bags were full of dirty clothes and not much else. Dinner was spent at the local pub, as was all the evening dining, our host Mark was the owner of the pub and Tussock Lodge. After a couple of beers it was time for bed again. We are so tired.


Out the door at 730 feeling motivated knowing we have a 55km downhill run into Middlemarch. Nearly into town and we pass two girls going the other way, they have just started their journey. Kel and I remembered how fresh we looked three days earlier. We had a laugh.

A celebratory lunch was had at Quelch Café in Middlemarch-coffee, hot chocolate and toasties.

Thanks to Sandra at Trail Journeys for taking our bikes and giving us a comfy lounge to sit on. I was a little behind in the times and bought a pair of bike shorts, maybe I should have bought them at the beginning of the ride. I might have to wear them on the flight home.

Just as we started to relax it was time for us to go to Pukerangi to get on the Taieri Gorge train. Thanks to Dave the conductor whom gave an informative commentary about the gorge and the local area on the way down to Dunedin.

Our last night was spent at the recently renovated Distinction Dunedin Hotel. Amazing! We had a suite to die for. Unfortunately this is our last night, the adventure is over and it’s time to go home.

So many photos have been taken by the camera and then there are those that will be locked in our minds forever.  This was a great trip for us and we recommend it to those who like bike riding and to the people who enjoy the outdoors.

There are so many people to thank for this once in a lifetime adventure

Ainslee at Sheppard Cycles-without her none of this would have been possible

Avantiplus Cairns

Bike It Now – Clyde for supplying us all our gear

Kay at the CBD Accommodation in Clyde

Esmé and Bruce at the Lauder School B&B

Mark and Nikki - The Tussock Lodge in Waipiata

A big thanks to my riding buddy Kel

and finally to the person who stole my pushbike from the shops allowing me buy a new one so I could enter this competition.