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The Okuti Valley is one of Banks Peninsula's true gems, offering up an unbelieveable panoramic outlook across Lake Forsyth to the Pacific Ocean, and into the peninsula's lush green landscape of hills and native bush.
There are people who have lived all their lives in Christchurch and still have never heard of Okuti Valley. This is only one more reason to pump the fat tyres, mark this valley on your map and put a date on your calendar.
Where: The Okuti Valley is part of Canterbury's Banks Peninsula, accessible from Little River.
Highlights: The views. It's a 360 degree panorama, and nothing will prepare you for how memorable it is.
Who will enjoy this ride: Everyone who enjoys mountain biking. It's a road ride for fat tyres, being gravel road 90% of the way. The uphill is a challenge and the downhill is nothing but fun.
What you should know before going: There's a climb (this is the first hour). What goes up must come down - that's your Okuti Valley motto.
How to get there: From Christchurch, take SH75 to Little River. It's only a 45-minute drive, and you can park your car at the Little River General Store.
Alternatively, drive to Motukarara and cycle along (off-road) the Little River Rail Trail, park your car and head into the Okuti Valley.
In a nutshell: This is a great "Girls Weekend" ride. (Some will disagree).
It's an off-road (peaceful) ride on gravel road, requiring no technical experience (little concentration) - the only danger being that it's so incredibly peaceful, you can easily forget you're on an open road. Plus - the birdsong has been known to drown out the sound of oncoming vehicles.
Being so peaceful, there's plenty of opportunity for a bit of goss, and generous stops for photos, picnics and "peninsula gazing." Frequent comments include 'Can you believe this is less than an hour from town??'
We still can't believe it - that's why we keep going back.
The frequent stops are inspired not only by the views, but also by the gradient. It's a bit tougher than 'undulating' - but the switchbacks do provide relief and for anyone who's done their time at Bottle Lake, this is your next step.
When you come to Christchurch and Canterbury, if you love the outdoors, then come with two wheels. If you don't bring your own, there are plenty of cycle tours, cycle hire and locals to help you find your way.
For official visitor information on Christchurch City and the Canterbury region, visit http://www.christchurchnz.com/
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