So, the final day of the Yeti Trans New Zealand was finally here. It has been four long but amazing days of riding, racing, pushing, sliding and crashing. Now there is just one more day to go and it promises to be a good one!


The trails today were reported to be varied, the first trail mixing it up with all the different kinds of terrain you can imagine in around eight minutes of stage. Riding straight from our backpacker’s base in Queenstown early doors, today was to be spent in and around the bike park riding a myriad of natural and bike park trails, a real mixed bag!


Breakfast this morning was at 6:45am, the six o’clock alarm was a tough wakeup call after the intensity of the previous day in Alexandra. After being served up bacon, eggs and a continental brekkie, we all climbed on our bikes feeling way too full and headed off to start the mammoth climb to the top of the bike park. It was wishful thinking yesterday when I said I hoped we would be catching the gondola.


The reason for the early start was in order to get the best pick of the bike park trails without any members of the public in the tracks. One hundred riders got to the top via the fire road access climb and descended all before 10am, no mean feat! Stage one began up in the clouds, the weather didn’t look promising for the days riding ahead. It was dank and gloomy as I pedalled off the start line onto a walking track just above the bike park. This track was loose and rocky and awesome fun to ride, especially when braking into the first hard left hander I realised my brakes were damp and cold, not really working their best!


This flat out trail took us onto various bike park tails, a real mix and match affair, with race organiser Megan picking out the crème de la crème of track on offer. There were plenty of berms, jumps, roots, rocks and a few cheeky natural sections linking the trails together, oh and not to forget a minute long uphill pedal! Megan said at the start of the day this was a ‘true enduro racers stage”, she was right this had everything to test in every circumstance.


Stage two was a short pedal uphill to the top of Wynyards Jump Park. This place has some pretty massive lines of jumps, enormous in fact. I would love to watch some Queenstown pinners get wild down here! The stage was devised winding in, around over some of smaller obstacles (phew!) in the park and finishing on a rocky walkers track. Hiking and tramping tracks are the best, especially ridden blind! It’s amazing to bomb down over previous unsighted tracks and feel just what you and your bike are capable of. There are plenty of “I’m glad I made that” moments and a few “yeah buddy, that felt good!” Stage two was relatively short, only about 3 minutes long. At the bottom we got a quick shuttle back near the start of stage two but this time to begin the long haul to stage three.


This transition was labelled as a hike a bike from the start. In biking terms that means it’s steep and the organiser doesn’t think any of us have a chance in hell of riding up. Megan actually did offer $200 to anyone that managed clean the climb and who had a witness, needless to say I think she kept the cash in her pocket! An hour later and we reached to top, a steady push up a walkers track (that incidentally looked awesome to ride down!) took us a little behind and to the left of the bike park on a multi-use track called the ‘Fernhill Loop’.


Stage three started at the top of the climb on this loop track. At the top someone said this would be similar to ‘The Luge’ track so I instantly knew this was going to be awesome fun! ‘The Luge’ was the first stage on the first day and it was interesting to be ending the Trans New Zealand on a very similar stage. Race organiser Megan knows what kind of trails float mountain bikers boats, these trails rate as my number 1 and 2 most favourite all week so it’s a genius decision to open and end with them!


This stage began about 800m above Queenstown in a beautiful secluded saddle of the mountains. It was now drenched in sunshine, looking out though a break in the hillside behind us we could see Lake Wakatipu with the remnants of misty cloud hovering above it. Looking forwards and into the stage we were faced with a wall of towering mountains still murky and overcast where the sun had yet to burn off the clouds.


This stage took us on a shallow downhill gradient away from the direction of the lake and the town and off on a swooping traverse of the hillside where we could connect with the bike park trails. The upper part of the stage was a wide open rooty walker’s track with obvious high line for those man enough to hold them! The roots were relentless but incredible fun, I trod the fine line between in and out of control for a large percentage of the track! I had a word with myself halfway down the stage, I needed to be consistent and finish the week staying rubber side down! My shock worked overtime up here, there was no respite over the spider’s web of roots, TF Tuned my forks and shock will be coming at you for some love when I get home!


The trail met the bike park at the halfway point and joined ‘Singletrack Sandwich’ to begin the myriad of trails, all different to stage one, to the finish. I joined fellow competitor and riding buddy for the week, Amy at the end of the stage in a big, relieved but ecstatic high five. The inaugural Yeti Trans New Zealand had been completed! The women’s race ended as it began – Raewyn Morrison won by a large margin, Amy Pryse-Phillips came in second and me in third. For the men, Canadian rider Stu Dickson was the fastest man of the week, Dunedin rider Zac Williams came in second and then Australian Deon Baker in third place.

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At the beginning of the week I had a feeling of excitement and trepidation about this race, a week of riding the best of New Zealand’s trails was going to be physically tough and probably really gnarly in terms of trails. Kiwi’s ride hard and fast, I don’t think much phases them. I was pleasantly surprised though, the trails were awesome fun over a real mix of all kinds of terrain. There were plenty of technical sections to test everyone, I know I definitely was! There was also enough tough moments which after clearing them I felt a massive sense of achievement, from talking to the other racers this was common. All of them will go away a better rider after this week and everyone will leave enriched in terms of friends. The group of racers and volunteers I have just spent the week with are some of the most incredibly friendly people who have ever come together for a race. A real sense of family was created this week and it was awesome to be part of this mountain biking riding, tough racing, fun time crew! A big thanks to all involved, those who volunteered, marshalled, drove shuttles and cooked dinner to name but a few. Lastly thanks to Megan Rose who knows how to put on a banger of a race!

Full results here.

Check out the previous updates:

Yeti Trans New Zealand | Day 4 – 
A Day in the Desert
Yet Trans New Zealand | Day 3 – Adventure Day
Yeti Trans New Zealand | Day 2 – Slip Sliding Riding

Yeti Trans New Zealand | Day 1 – What a way to start an enduro!

Words: Rachel Gurney Photos: Yeti Trans NZ

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