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TRAILS & LOGISTICS

RIDING IN THE TOP-OF-THE-SOUTH REGION

A deep history of fossicking for minerals and gold in the region has left a sprawling network of historic trails that feel purpose made for a mountain bike race with a modern full-suspension rig. A progressive and supportive council, along with a ‘can-do’ attitude from the locals means this existing network has been complemented by 100’s of kms of hand-crafted MTB trails, purpose-built for mountain bike relay races like ours.  The region’s capital, Nelson, has long been the go-to destination for Kiwis ‘in the know’, with a somewhat undeserved reputation for being steep and knarly.  Whilst it’s true that the Top of the South region has its share of challenging trails, it also has a stack-load of amazing riding at Grades 4, 4+ and 5. With just a sprinkling of low-Grade 6’s for good measure. This is the motherload of enduro racing that we’re beyond excited… 

All boiled down by several years of planning & crammed into one week of high-fives and “YEAH BOOOIS” & delivered via the metaphoric ‘intravenous injection’ that is:

NZ MTB Rallly single loop logo
2:1 PARTY-TO-PEDAL RATIO

AVG DAILY STATS

4 TO 7 RACE STAGES (30 TO 60 MINS)
25KM – 35KM IN THE
SADDLE (4 TO 6 HOURS)

800-1250M CLIMBING

2000-3000M DESCENT

YEP, THAT’S A BETTER THAN 2:1 PARTY-TO-PEDAL RATIO, RIGHT THERE!

Fastest Time 2024: 2h 48min (Thats BIG!)

70% BACKCOUNTRY  |  30% BIKE PARK

Although when the ‘bike-park’ is hand-cut beech forest goodness, we’ll forgive you if you struggling to notice the difference, at times. We’ll throw in a ‘groomer’ or two most days, but you’re here for a proper kiwi adventure….and that, sir, we can certainly deliver!

THERE ARE NO MANDATORY GAPS, DROPS OR JUMPS ANYWHERE ON THE COURSE 

Read more about specific trails that will be included in The NZ MTB Rally, in this article from Spoke Magazine

TECHNICAL DIFFICULTY

TRAIL GRADES BREAKDOWN

(EXTENDED COURSE)*

GRADE 4 (ADVANCED ) – BLUE

30%

GRADE 5 (EXPERT) – BLACK DIAMOND

50%

GRADE 6 (EXTREME) – DOUBLE BLACK DIAMOND

20%

GRADE 4 MEANS FAST AND FLOWY SINGLETRACK ALL THE WAY BABY

GRADE 5 MEANS NARROW /ROOTY / ROCKY / TIGHT / A BIT JANKY / STEEP IN PLACES / A LITTLE EXPOSED, OR ANY COMBINATION OF THE ABOVE, BUT NOT ALL AT THE SAME TIME, AND STILL WITH PLENTY OF FLOW 

GRADE 6 MEANS ANY COMBINATION OF THE ABOVE, BUT STILL HEAPS OF FLOW…ON A GOOD DAY.  (ON A BAD DAY? LESS FLOW, PERHAPS A FEW DABS, MAYBE SOME SWEARING)

Click the Box-Out below for more detail on our course setup..

25+ years of guiding experience tells us this: “How hard is it?” is not an easy question to answer.  What’s easy for one, will be child’s play for the next, and it depends on your own personal strengths and weaknesses. Steepness & exposure are relative to what you’re used to, and let’s not get into on how morning moisture on beech roots mixes things up a bit.   We believe that no matter how skilled you are, no-one enjoys to be repeatedly pushed way outside their comfort zone and made to feel like they’ve forgotten how to ride a bike. We’re certainly not here to do that at the NZ MTB Rally. We’ve carefully selected our stages to be fairly challenging for mere mortals, but still enjoyable for everyone from keen weekend warriors, to full-on EWS pros.

If you’re unsure wether you’re up for it, this probably means that you’ll have a few ‘moments’ throughout the week where you might well find yourself reconsidering your life choices. However, perhaps that’s part of the fun & challenge of it?  Only you can only answer that one…!

But please, know this: THERE ARE NO EGOS HERE. We’ll encourage you to get through the week safely and with a smile on your face. There’s no shame in walking a section or two, if you need to (you probably won’t be the only one).  It’s a free start order, so you can always set off near the back of the pack if you’d prefer to set a more relaxed pace.

Compared to other most other mutli-day enduros, we will max out on the shuttles & uplifts. Which means less time spent grinding up fire-road in granny gear. (We figure you probably already do more than enough of that back home).  But to us, that only means more time and distance to throw in some more downs, not an excuse for an early excuse dash to the bar.

We’ve got 6 FULL days of riding lined up for you – stamina, endurance, pacing yourself, good nutrition, sleep hygiene, and personal care are more useful to you, than your peak fitness. But if you regularly ride only a couple of times a month or less, you might find yourself in a bit of trouble by day 3 or 4.  Sounds like you? Don’t stress it – in the worst case scenario you can sit out a couple of stages each day if you need to, and we’ll work out getting you back to base, safely.

The NZ MTB Rally is designed for adventurous, experienced amateur riders with a strong intermediate skill level as a minimum.  Alpine or backcountry experience; even skiing, hiking and tramping – will be a particular bonus and can go a long way to make up for your ability to pop a manual or flick an euro-style ‘endo’ in a switchback.  Don’t forget, everything is raced ‘blind’ and on-sight.

Grading is especially inconsistent on backcountry trails that were not originally ‘purpose built’ for mtb. These trails are our bread & butter.  You can expect some exposure or narrow trails at times, and if it’s wet, plenty of slippery roots to keep you honest.  As well as that, we’ve also got a whole heap of off-the brakes, fast & flowy stuff, too. After all, Nelson (our start and finish point for the week’s itinerary) is one of only two IMBA Gold-Level ride centres in the world, outside of the N America.

EXTENDED COURSE VS REGULAR COURSE

We set out to design an itinerary which was the perfect compromise: A course which is challenging to everyone, yet not simply a miserable suffer-fest for most.   But eventually we realised that the best way to compromise, is to offer riders a choice. So, we did just that!  The ‘Extended’ Course consists of the same route as the regular course….plus one or two extra stages / loops which may be mid-course, or at the end of the day.   These stages are typically the hardest Grade 5 & 6 trails and/or involve a longer climb to get to.

On any given day, it’s up to you to decide if you want to attempt the extended course or not (just keep a close eye on the daily cut off times).  To earn a ranking and a chance to make the official podium for the whole week, you’ll need to complete the extended course on all 6 days of racing.   But there’s also a separate ranking and podium, for those who completed only the regular course.

The fastest time in 2024 for the Extended Course was 2h 48min, vs 2h 28min for the Regular Course.   Although note that this is not a direct comparison since extended-course riders on the podium were mostly pro-elite level as opposed to mere-mortals on the regular course.   But the point is this – even competing the regular course is no walk-in-the-park, by most enduro race standards.

 

HELI BOAT 4x4

Spiritualists; prepare to  enter Zen, now! But seriously, we’re in danger of taking the focus away from our amazing trails, over here! Please control yourselves. Try not to blow a stoke-gasket before you even step out of the shuttle. Or Heli. Or Boat. Or Land Cruiser.

We’ll max out on the shuttles and uplifts wherever possible. This means on average, three big uplifts a day (20 – 45 minutes each).

Some days, we’ll be riding right out of basecamp. Others, there might be an hour or so’s transfer to get to our next location. We’ve got coaches for this job; but these beasts can go off-road too. Don’t expect limousine levels of comfort with on-board champagne.

Bikes are transported in professional bike-trailers – the bikes don’t touch, there’s no rack-rash going on here.  On the Helicopters, we’ll use custom-made individual bike racks. (Our Pilots are pro operators who regularly run charter MTB Heli-Drops in the area).

The boat transfer is a beautiful 70-minute ride (dolpin-watchers may be in for a treat, if we’re lucky) and we’ll land directly into a conservation reserve, where you’ll ride off from the beach.  If it’s forecast a rough crossing and you are the sea-sick type, we can get you there by road – you’ll just have to leave a little earlier.

Helicopters and Boats may well be rad ways to shuttle, but they’re also at risk of disruption in stormy weather. But this isn’t our first rodeo.  Our circular itinerary and only 3 basecamp locations (rather than 6) gives us two attempts at each, in most cases.  We’ve factored in the option to swap days around should we need to, depending on weather forecasts.  And worst case scenario, we’ve got a variety of Plan B’s with alternative access routes, if we are unlucky enough to have a whole week of crappy weather.  Which we hope should be fairly unlikely, given that we picked the statistically most settled period (in a region that is renowned for its infeasibly sunny & settled weather, year-round).