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The Birth of the Rocky Ridges

An email came through with an invite to a weeklong adventure ride from a rider by the name of Stefan. I've only been riding with Stefan for about 12 months and he's bloody good value, when it comes to adventure riding he is like an excitable puppy, keen as mustard! Equally, his riding crew are a great bunch of guys so without reservation I scratched my name down on the list to complete the group of 6 riders.

Stefan had planned a decent portion of the ride but as we progressed through the route, I ended up restructuring many of the legs from RemoteMoto routes. The final 7 day route ended up being so much fun that I later reworked it, extended it into an 11 day Exploration Route and named... the Rocky Ridges.

The riding line up for this ride was…

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DRZ400
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Terra
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510
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DRZ400
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DR350
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DR650
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Water cooled Husaberg 570! More on this photo to follow...

Day One

The first two days were forecast to bring some scrappy weather but following that, the weather was scheduled to be fairly tidy. The first morning saw us being chased by rain laden storm clouds as we rode rocky ridges peaking at 1900 meters, but we managed to stay one step ahead of them

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Tom (aka JENKINS) making it look easy
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Much to Dan's approval, we were were making good progress and keeping one step ahead of the storm clouds
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Catching up with a farmer to get the key to cross some private land. Bloody hard case fella! Mark has a soft spot for the Landy as he spent a good portion of his engine reconditioning apprenticeship on these beauties
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About halfway through the day and much further south we encountered blue skies which made for some epic vistas ascending and descending more rocky ranges.
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Mind blowing views from 1800 metres
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After a seriously good day of riding we arrived at a private hut on the floor of a stunning snow tussock lined valley which was our accommodation for the night.
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A wetback fire with a hot shower went down a treat!
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As the sun was setting I took my camera for a walk...the hut
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The dunny
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A bird named Frank

Day one was a roaring success. Roll on day two...

Day Two

The next morning the clouds we evaded the day before had found us. The rain was fairly light however and didn't detract from the great ride out of the valley.

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After 20 or so river crossings through a spectacular gorge we ended up at the Vulcan Hotel for a hot pie and a coffee. Mmmmmm hot pies =)
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Very cool little pub. Not long after this, Dan parted ways, he only had a couple of days free before he had to return to the world of the working. And then there were six�
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Not too many photos were taken the rest of this day, the clouds unleashed their fury dropping the temperature to small single digits and delivering snow down to 1000 meters.
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The accommodation that night was a DOC hut
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The warm fire in the hut was a godsend.

As wet as the riding was, it was still a great day of riding. The theory now was that we should have endured all the bad weather and tomorrow would bring blue skies.

Roll on day three...

Day Three

Our theory was right! Cracking the hut door the next morning exposed the crisp chill in the air but also magic views of the sun out in full force striking freshly fallen snow on the nearby mountain tops.

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Lots of small river crossings to get out of this valley and onto our next planned route
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Bloody hooligan :)
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Stefan happy to see the sun
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Stopping in for a bite to eat, it was at this point we parted ways with the North Island rider Jeff, he needed to source a new Flux Capacitor for his bike so we planned to meet him at a hut later that day
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So it was on to the Nevis and I have to say, although I have done this route many times, this was one of the most enjoyable runs through there I have had to date. There was something about this day that just screamed awesomeness and fun.
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It didn't all go without a hitch, Mark encountered a puncture fairly early in the piece
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Not just any puncture, a whacking great piece of steel had plunged through the tyre and beat up the tube good and proper. Mark doesn't do things by halves
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Not too far up the track Mark's tube repair didn't quite do the job so it was park up under the shade of this rock, slide in a new tube, and on our way again
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Daylight was running short and we were not going to be able to reach the planned destination before dark, nor meet up with Jeff. The planned route was no place to be riding in the dark so we made a slight detour, retired for the evening at a DOC hut and planned to pick up on the route in the morning
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There was no shortage of sandflies around this hut, I reckon if you took in a vacuum cleaner you'd be able to suck up enough sandflies to make a family sized sandfly pie in about five minutes!
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Chilling out around a warm camp fire was a great way to wind up the day

Day three followed suit and was another cracking day of riding, a couple of punctures along the way but that’s to be expected on the terrain we are riding.

Roll on day four...

 

Day Four

We woke to an overcast morning but we could see the blue peeping through the thin patches of cloud.

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Stefan optimistically pointing out the blue
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To spice up the morning, before carrying on with the planned route we made a quick detour and climbed up Mt Bee to an altitude of 1200 meters. The cloud started burning off to expose magic views!
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At the top of Mt Bee. For more info on the Mt Bee track click on the reference link below
Reference Link : Mt Bee Track
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We bumped into the caretaker for Piano Flat and had a quick chat, very quick witted funny guy
Reference Link : Piano Flat Campsite
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And now for one of my favourite tracks in the South Island, Waikaia Bush Road. This track presents a smorgasbord of challenges including steep rutty zigzags, rock steps and faces, water sections mixed with spectacular high altitude views across out of this world rock landscapes. For more info on Waikaia Bush Road, click on the reference link below
Reference Link : Waikaia Bush Road
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The previous two days of rain meant some of the water sections were fairly well topped up. A few of the larger ones had to be walked to pick the right line
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Quick video of one of the water sections
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Next on the hit list was Old Man Range with simply out of this world rock formations
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After a quick Mototoken photo of Old Man Rock it was off to catch up with Jeff
Reference Link : Old Man Rock (Obelisk)
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That night we had a good pub feed and a cushy night at a holiday park to charge batteries, wash clothes, shower up and get a good night’s sleep to crack into the next morning's ride.

Roll on day five...

 

Day Five 

This leg took us through more spectacular High Country tussock land with more jaw dropping vistas and rock formations. 

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A stop under a rock for a quick repair to fix a crack in Mark�s tank
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After an absolute blast ascending and descending one mountain range we were off to the next. The second was up the Mount Buster track and across Johnstons Creek Track to stay at Ida Valley Hut. None of us had stayed in this hut and we previously discussed making it a key focus of the trip to tick it off the list.

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Ida Valley Hut, our accommodation for the night
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The day was an absolute minta, couldn’t have asked for a better day of riding!

Roll on day six...

 

 

Day Six

The next morning was overcast again but warm and great conditions for riding. We doubled back on one of our previous sections to drop off a farmer's key then it was up to a High Country valley.

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I didn't get many photos from the ride up as I was having such a blast riding but this is where we set up camp for the night
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Heavy rain was forecast for the West Coast so we chose to camp up on the eastern branch of the river just in case there was heavy spill over into the valley
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Rain laden clouds rolling in as the sun was setting

Staying in huts the entire trip was brilliant but it was nice to pull the tent out and camp up for the night. Another cracking day of riding came to an end. 

Roll on day seven...

 

Day Seven

Light rain fell right through the night but didn't really affect levels of the eastern branch. The main branch however was dark brown and up a fair bit. The weather played nice for us in the morning though, just as we were getting up the rain stopped and the clouds began parting to reveal warm blue skies 

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A braid of the main branch, high and dirty
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We skirted the edges of the river to find shallow crossing points to work our way back out the valley. Most were only around axle to wheel height with plenty of nice crossing lines to choose from

The very last crossing coming out of the valley is where Jeff provided the morning’s entertainment. This was the first trip any of us had ridden with Jeff, like all riders Jeff had strengths and weaknesses. So far, based on the number of times Jeff ended up in the water, we arrived at the conclusion that either a) water crossings were perhaps not Jeff’s strong point or b) Jeff was a fish in his past life!

Most of the crossings mishaps were in small stream crossings and proved to be a humorous facet of the trip, this crossing however took things to a whole new level. I led and picked a line across slow moving water and about 3/4 wheel depth. Jeff didn’t seem to like the line I chose so he picked a line in fast moving water at about seat height!

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The inevitable result of a fully submerged Husaburg saw Jeff quickly become the focus of the cameras
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Reviving the blue machine
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Seven days of epic riding had now come to an end, it was time for one last look over a nearby lake and then it was time to hit the tarmac and head home. All in all this was a brilliant trip. Cheers to everyone for the great company, until the next one�

If you would like to ride this route, all the GPX files and route info can be found here Rocky Ridges

Shiny side up

RMOTO