Snow, Ice and Blue Skies

After some serious hours planning for an upcoming three day ride, I assembling an EPIC High Country route. The route included a number of tracks that I have ridden many times over the years, but hadn't yet linked up in this particular fashion.

There was no doubt this was going to be a cold trip. It was the middle of winter and were heading to altitudes with predicted daytime temperatures of around 8° Celsius and overnight temperatures around -6° Celsius. The good part with the New Zealand High Country in winter is that much of the water is locked up in ice and snow meaning the river levels are low making them relatively straightforward to cross.

With three riders at the start line, we set off on what was to be a seriously awesome three day High Country adventure…

The long straight sections of tarmac departing Christchurch and heading towards the High Country were mindnumbing as normal. All any rider wants to do get to the High Country where the fun begins. To top things off, temperatures were only just above zero so it was a pretty chilly start to the day. However, as our wheels finally made contact with the start of the High Country gravel roads, the day started to warm up and we had bright blue clear skies
After dropping off some beers on a station owner’s porch for granting us access, we entered one of the first valleys
The valley was still recovering from a below zero night and many of the tracks had thick crusts of ice
As the morning went on and the sun did its best to raise the mercury. It made for perfect riding temperatures for the rest of the day, just cool enough to stop us overheating while wrestling the bikes up the valley
While the rivers were relatively low and easy to ford, we were careful not to get it wrong and end up in the drink. The snow and glacier fed rivers means the water is very little above 0° at this time of year
Reaching an altitude of around 900 metres on the valley floor, the rocks were partially blanketed in a layer of snow
After much rock wrestling later, we finally reached the planned destination... Hells Gates. An impressive array of mountain ranges housing an unnamed glacier
Reference Link : Hells Gates
Author of this article: RMOTO