From the Andes to the Pacific. Once across the Provence. Traversing the Savoy mountains. Maxi Dickerhoff loves multi-day Enduro races. This year, another one of his dreams came true: the TransNZ. Known as a former roving reporter, Maxi loved experiencing pain, torture and success for himself. The former racer recently quit journalism and is now focusing on his new duties at the German MTB manufacturer GHOST-Bikes for which he competes in what is probably the most beautiful race of the world – the TransNZ.

Maxi berichtet exklusiv für ENDURO vom seinen Erfahrungen beim Trans NZ.

Maxi reports on his adventures in New Zealand’s Alps exclusively for ENDURO.

Why make it easy when you can have complicated?

The backdrop you might only know from “The Lord of the Rings” movies if you live in the Northern Hemisphere of our planet – the real Middle Earth in the heart of New Zealand. Barren and jagged mountain ranges stretch to the sky in the most confined of spaces and surround breathtaking rivers and meadows. The trip from Christchurch, one of the biggest cities on New Zealand’s South Island, to Camp Zero of the multi-day race is alone already worth the trip and casts its magic spell onto the participants who are glued to the windows of our rustic coach given the beauty passing by.

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The hardships already seem to have been worth it, even though the costly and time-consuming trip there caused some doubt in the beginning. 36 hours of travel time, three lay-overs – and, the worst part – only 30 kg of free luggage. For a mountain biker on his way to a competition – almost a no-go. But only almost. Smart packing ensures half of the victory – anyone who can cheat a little at the departure airport has luck on his side. With a photo backpack, helmet bag, suitcase and a bike box, I was off to the races.

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Camp Zero – the excitement builds!

Flock Hill Lodge, nestled in a remote area in the Eastern Alps, is our base. There is no point in searching for a cell phone signal or internet connection – people who come here are searching for the silence of New Zealand’s nature. This is the concept of the TransNZ Enduro race, which has been organized by Megan Rose for a second year. The Canadian successfully made a name for herself through organizing events like the NZ Enduro Series and the renowned BC Enduro. Without a doubt – this event which is described as an adventure will also be a success.

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Expectations are high after the first rider briefing and a detailed description of the upcoming first race day. What is promised is nothing less than the best trails of the world – the best, but also the most challenging. A warning is reiterated over and over: “Watch out for Stage 1: When you have made it through stage 1, you can start enjoying the day!” The numerous high-speed sections and switchbacks that come out of nowhere, in combination with the loose rock sections may result in a sudden end of the race. Fingers crossed!

Maxis Arbeitsgerät für das Trans NZ ist ein Ghost Riot.
Maxis weapon of choice for the TransNZ is a custom Ghost FR AMR.

This promises to be an exciting race. The approximately 120 riders from all over the world can hardly wait. Traveling for almost 40 hours shall not have been in vain.

Day 1 – keep hydrated!

Heat, brutal heat: Temperatures that are normal for an ordinary late summer’s day for Aussies and Kiwis, are hard to handle for us Europeans escaping our winter. This is race day 1. As expected for a multi day race like the TransNZ, Day 1 is not for the faint of heart. Shuttle, lift support? Negative! Enduro in its purest form is what this is all about.

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Leaving the small, but cozy Flock Hill Lodge, we set off across the foothills over the local ski areas Craigieburn and Cheeseman. Uphill we go, and naturally – in typical New Zealand style – single trails it is. We are talking single trails which would qualify as fully adequate special stages of National Enduro Races at home. No surprise then that the Kiwis have the upper hand on the bikes here. If you need such excellent skills on the uphill (apart from the physical components), you are ready for anything on the downhill. As happy as we are about the diverse uphills, we have to admit: they are extremely tough. Hardly anyone makes it through the entire stage without getting off and carrying the bike towards the summit at one point or another. The heat does its number on you, as you can see in the crustacean-like skin tone of some of the riders. Drink, drink a lot, with the enormous strain in this heat it is easy to get dehydrated.

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The TransNZ is simply fantastic: Real bikers start to rave about the uphills alone, but the surrounding scenery tops even that. If this wasn’t a race, I would have loved to stop and fully enjoy and soak up the beauty of these fantastic views. The mountain panoramas resemble works of art, as do the dense forests through which these trails wind their way. Remarkable. Gigantic lichens are hanging from branches, giving you the impression as if the trail is lined with spectators from the Fangorn forest, the mystical forest of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, home to the tree people, the Ents.

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The beauty of this backdrop makes it difficult to focus on what is important here, the competition and all its different stages. But as mentioned before, New Zealand manages to top everything again: Today’s five special stages and their descents are second to none in terms of fun. The terrain varies from loose forest terrain to sandy, slippery gravel. Apart from the physical challenges, the course requires refined skills. And even though the first two stages are described as “the least challenging”, I did in fact manage to have a technical defect in stage 1.


During my spirited river crossing, my rear wheel hit a rock and I had to deal with a puncture. Luckily, the remainder of the trail was somewhat doable with a flat rear tire, which sort of limits the lost time.

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The rest of the day went smoothly, not counting the many mosquito bites. The atmosphere at the end of the first race day couldn’t have been better. All participants made it to the last finish line, some with minor injures. Aaron Bradfort, though, managed an unlucky dismount just short of the finish, resulting in deep cuts and abrasions, which forced him to spend the night in the hospital.

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Highlight Video Day 1

We are ready for Day 2!

Text: Maxi Dickerhoff Bilder: Maxi Dickerhoff/Trans NZ PR

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