After riding around the globe finding the best trails to map, I returned home to the shores of Lake Wakatipu only to discover that the Adventure Capital (Queenstown) was about to open its own cycle network. While familiar with the area, I was eager to explore parts of the Wakatipu basin that were unreachable by road – uncharted paths in my mind leading to new adventures. Intrigued by the freshly laid gravels that wound around the contours of the basin, I was dead keen.
The initial challenge for riders is where to start. There is a mix of loops and branches on offer that take in many of varied sights, so deciding where to power up my GPS units was my first decision. Should I sample the three river systems and two lakes beside the trail, or indulge in the Arrowtown heritage and then the tasty treats tucked away in the Gibbston Valley? I decided to both sample and indulge!
I have ridden the existing lakeside trail from downtown Queenstown to Frankton many a time, so I elect to leave instead from the Jacks Point Clubhouse on the southern outskirts of town. Here in this swanky and rapidly mushrooming housing estate I enter my first waypoint, and steer my bike lake-ward. What I experience is a brilliant rolling traverse that skirts the elevated banks of the shimmering Lake Wakatipu – as the Adventure Capital draws closer, the presence of paragliders, jet boats and aeroplanes increases the tempo. It’s exciting. I find my pace picking up.
I turn the corner onto Kelvin Heights Peninsula and I am rewarded by more grand views over the lake with the mountains framed by a 2.5-tonne schist rock sculpture called Thru Link To Peak by landscape artist Shane Wooldridge. It was commissioned by the Queenstown Trails Trust in conjunction with the Lakes District Council. Nearby, a herd of corrugated iron goats (Kelvin Peninsula Goats by Jeff Thomson) ‘graze’ above me, and a bit further on a giant Corten rusted-steel statue dwells quietly in the pine forest – it is Presence, one of two Mark Hill works here. This part of the trail is becoming known unofficially as the ‘Sculpture Trail’ and it is a delight. While I could park up here with the goat herd to appreciate the vista, I urge my own steel steed onward.
Before I know it I am pedalling beside the sheltered Frankton Arm passing exclusive homes, and I arrive at Chargeabout Queenstown – an electric-bike rental and sales outfit owned by Campbell Read. Cam started this business five years ago while working in the area. He was blown away by the smashing trail network and outstanding landscape beauty, but he thought that the trails were a bit hilly for some and wanted to break down the barrier to allow folk to have a more enjoyable and comfortable experience of the trails, so he started Chargeabout.
Cam mentioned that during his start up “the e-bike revolution was underway with questions from customers about what an e-bike is and when could they rent one.” He added, “Business is booming, with our recharge points now dotted along the trail network so our riders don’t suffer battery anxiety. We are delighted when folk, after a day’s riding, comment that this was their favourite local experience, rating it higher than a chopper ride or throwing themselves off a bridge.”
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