Wilberforce Challenge

Route Overview

General Overview
This Exploration Route is hands-down the most comprehensive guide to exploring the Wilberforce Valley and the surrounding headwater valleys. It provides everything you need to ride one of the most epic High Country valleys the South Island has to offer. Contained within this Exploration Route is 4 to 5 days of amazing riding, or it can be broken up and ridden over a handful of weekend trips. 

Included in this Exploration Route are important details on fuel options, detailed route notes for exploring four separate spectacular valleys, downloadable GPX route files, information and locations on the four motorbike accessible huts and suggestions for great camping spots. All of this is bundled up in a printable booklet.

Important note: the terrain in this valley is challenging however the rewards for wrestling your bike up these spectacular valleys is absolutely worth it.
Start/Finish Point
This route is structured to start at Springfield then finish in Windwhistle. The start/finish locations can be reversed if you prefer.
Terrain includes
While some of the terrain leading up to the high country includes Tarmac, Grade 1 and Grade 2 gravel roads, the majority of this route is focused around High Country valley 4X4 tracks and virgin riverbed riding on Grade 3, Grade 4 and Grade 5 terrain.
216 km.
Max Fuel Leg
216 km.
Ride Time
Depending on your riding style, you can ride/camp this route over a period of 4 to 5 days to cover all of the routes included. You can also ride this in a series of weekends choosing different routes each time until you complete all the routes.
This route offers a mixture of hut accommodation (4 to choose from) and camping accommodation. Carrying camping equipment is essential for this route in case the huts are already occupied.
Access Permission
All routes within this Exploration Route are public access and do not require permission.
Access Limitations
While each season will vary, generally the best times to ride this Exploration Route is in the months of February, March, April and May. Late summer and through to early winter offer the lowest river levels and the best chance for successful crossings.

Mid-winter to late winter often presents a low river levels however you will need to be cautious of winter rain and snowfall making the rivers impassable and often seeing the valley floors blanketed with snow.

Spring and early summer will see high levels of snowmelt that can regularly raise the rivers to dangerous and impassable levels.
Preparation and Safety
THIS IS NOT AN EASY ROUTE! This route is not intended for new or inexperienced riders. It is only suited to riders with very good riding skills who have well setup bikes for technical adventure riding, a comprehensive toolkit and spares, good general mechanical knowledge to repair bikes on the trail, the ability to undrown bikes, quality low temperature camping gear, first aid kit, an emergency beacon or rider tracking device and a sound understanding of the risks that come with entering remote High Country areas. While it is possible for skilled riders to ride this route solo, it is recommended to ride this route in a group for safety. 

Temperatures will vary based on the season you ride this route. Late summer temperatures will often be mild while it is common for overnight temperatures in winter to be -5 degrees Celsius and lower. Unscheduled storms and poor weather can hit the High Country in ANY season bringing rain and snow. This can trap you up river valleys so carrying surplus food for three additional days is essential to allow high river levels recede before you can return. Planning around good weather is essential for success and safety. 

While this route does pass a number of huts that can be used for accommodation, in the case they are full (or you choose to camp) you need to carry quality camping gear able to withstand temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius. 

While the route is only 216 km the majority is slow going technical terrain and results in heavy fuel consumption. To ride this entire route on my KTM500 I use around 22 litres. Depending on your bike and riding style it is recommended to take at least 22 litres of fuel for most small single cylinder adventure bikes and slightly more for larger adventure bikes.

Legs in this Exploration Route

Leg 1 <span>(16 photos)</span>
Leg 1 (16 photos)
Leg 2 <span>(7 photos)</span>
Leg 2 (7 photos)
Leg 3 <span>(8 photos)</span>
Leg 3 (8 photos)
Leg 4 <span>(7 photos)</span>
Leg 4 (7 photos)
Leg 5 <span>(16 photos)</span>
Leg 5 (16 photos)
Leg 6 <span>(18 photos)</span>
Leg 6 (18 photos)
Leg 7 <span>(11 photos)</span>
Leg 7 (11 photos)

Riders that have completed this Exploration Route

No riders have completed this Exploration Route yet.