235 Days on the Road
Hanmer Springs is kind of well-known for bathing in its hot pools – the town is called Hanmer “Springs”! But did you know there are actually heaps of adventures to be had in the resort town? So much so, that there is even a place called Hanmer Adventure?! We definitely like the idea of having some crazy experiences or working your butt off before rewarding yourself in the famous hot pools…
It’s a short walk into town from our accommodation at Jack in the Green, and the Hanmer Adventure centre is not easy to miss with mountain bikes, quad bikes and “rocket bikes” proudly parked outside. One of those wheeled wonders is definitely something we want to try and will be a first on this 365 Days: 365 Activities. Today, we are going quad biking!
We sign in at reception and meet our guide for today, Eugene from Mexico, along with two of Australian backpackers who will be joining for the tour. Because the sealed roads and people-clad streets of Hanmer Springs is not the best place for a blast on the quad bikes, Eugene drives us to Hanmer Adventure’s very own dirt track out in the farmlands.
Mountains that just don’t look real!
The rolling mountains paint the perfect picture as we get closer and closer to them. Even the girls are enthusing how the landscape just: “doesn’t look real”. About 10 minutes later, we arrive at some red containers, some picnic tables, a rusty steam engine that ain’t going anywhere, and a line-up of quad bikes. Our educated guess would say that we’re going to be driving the latter…
The most extreme activity yet?!
Before we get kitted up for our off-roading adventure, Eugene goes through the necessary rules of commercial quad biking. The reason it has taken so long for us to be able to do quad biking in New Zealand is because it is considered quite a dangerous sport. Forget bungy jumping, forget skydiving, quad biking is considered more “extreme”. Not many activity operators want to touch it. As we’re hopefully about to see, it’s well worth having this experience when it’s done right! However, if doing stunts like jumps and drifts was what you have in mind, then you’re better off buying your own quad.
Meeting our quad bikes
Judging by the overalls and gumboots we’re putting on, what this tour does have is a lot of mud and a lot of water! The final touch is a sexy helmet, then Eugene is showing us how to ride a quad bike. The bikes are preset with us only needing to worry about the acceleration, breaks and steering. Eugene goes over the controls, gives us a slow practice lap on a short circuit. Once everyone is comfortable, we can begin the ride!
It’s not fun if it’s not splashy!
We head off over yonder into a mix of sheep fields and forest of a huge farm (yes, we even have to avoid a couple of sheep on two occasions but that’s New Zealand for you). The purpose-built track starts off on flat land while we still get used to riding a quad bike, but not without throwing a few puddles and muddy dips at us. We all have our different ways of handling these: some of us are casually driving through at what some might consider a “sensible” speed, while others *cough* Robin *cough* wait until the person in front is well out of the way before accelerating full-speed into the mud! The more splashing the better!
Rocking up to some amazing views!
Graduating to quad biking on the hills
Now that we are clearly experts, Eugene at the front of the single-file quad parade, stops and comes over to explain how we are going to be using our breaks for the more advanced trails, including some steep uphill and downhill sections. Speed is key when going uphill, which we definitely don’t complain about! We charge up a mountain side. With more height gained, the more epic the views are. We have a couple of stops on the way up to take in the landscape of pastoral land stretching to a dramatic mountain range. Eugene has brought the waterproof camera so he can take photos of the group and email them to us (for free) after the trip.
But what goes up, must come down, which is a slower process requiring a lot more concentration. The variety of gradient on this quad biking course shows us what these quads can do, while keeping things fresh the whole way. There’s only the odd section where we will return the same way, but with 25km of track, there’s plenty of new scenery, lumps, bumps and water to ride through.
Last blast in the fields
After some time riding in the bush, going over some rockier sections, doing some twists and turns, we arrive back in the sheep fields. For Facebook profile purposes, Eugene makes sure he captures us racing across streams one-by-one (you have to love those splashing photos!) Then, with open flat fields and a new-found confidence for quad biking, we pick up some speed on what we think is the long stretch back to base… But wait, there’s the finale of deeper stream and muddy ditches to go through over and over again! (Those are the most fun parts, right?) It is made sure that we are given optimal time on these quads during the complete 2.5 hour tour.
Adrenaline or Kiwi culture?
With wet legs (and asses for some), newly acquired freckles, and mud-splats on our sunglasses, we arrive back at base buzzing from our first outing on a quad bike. We’re so happy that we finally got to do this activity in New Zealand! After all, there are so many farms in New Zealand, it has to be a “cultural” experience rather than just an adrenline one, right?!
After peeling off our over pants, jacket, booties and helmet, we are making our way back to the Hanmer Adventure centre to pick up our photos (and get them emailed to us) and parting ways.
Join us tomorrow, for one of the many hikes around Hanmer Springs, as well as hiring a quite unusual (and we’re guessing hilarious) method of transport to get around Hanmer Springs… See you then!
Back in the lush fields of the Hanmer Basin
That’s awesome! Take a look at these articles:
- Hanmer Springs – Guide for Backpackers
- 10 Must-Dos In and Around Hanmer Springs
- 11 Epic Activities to do in New Zealand
See you tomorrow!