The cycle of life, from Perth to Christchurch

Hilary Weller, the founder of New Zealand bicycle touring company PureTrails New Zealand, reflects on childhood memories and unimaginable destinies.

As a youngster growing up in the city of Perth in the 80s, I cut my teeth learning to ride my bicycle ‘the green machine’ on our regular family outings, cycling a 13km circuit around the bridges spanning a stretch of the Canning River. 

I could never have imagined that thirty odd years later I would be operating cycling tours around the South Island of New Zealand. Cool blue rivers, yachts blissfully sailing by and vistas of city skyscrapers were replaced with snow clad mountains, turquoise glacial lakes, wild coastlines, alpine tussock plains and lots and lots of green countryside populated by innumerable fluffy white sheep. The South Island is postcard perfect in every sense. Stark regional variations in the landscape are quite unbelievable. The South Island is a place where it is feasible to enjoy brunch by the sea, and then drive for an hour or two to an alpine resort for skiing or bushwalking in the mountains.

It’s also the reason why it makes such a great destination for recreational cyclists looking for a little adventure. Viewing the massive landscapes from the bike saddle is quite a different experience than seeing them from the inside of a car. You can hear the birds, breathe in the fresh air, leisurely pedal past farms and get a glimpse of animals and farmers going about their day. You can even stop off and have a yarn with any farmers or other locals you encounter along the way, who are always curious, especially in the more remote areas, to see bright lycra-clad cyclists going by. Cooler temperatures, a network of new cycle trails, little road traffic, and a top class food and wine scene combine to make the South Island a top contender for any active travellers bucket list.

They say Australia is the lucky country, but I reckon I am pretty lucky to have ended up in the South Island in a job that I love. My five year old is getting the hang of her bike now and our family is starting to explore our exciting and ever-evolving post-earthquake Christchurch on two wheels. And I wonder where her bike will take her in thirty years’ time?

PureTrails New Zealand specialises in cycle tours in the South Island primarily for the baby boomer generation. They operate during October – May and offer a series of 5 day tours throughout the island from the easy to the more challenging end of the spectrum, which include comfortable accommodation, vehicle support and wholesome meals. The company is based near Christchurch Airport, where the tours start/finish.

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