As I’ve mentioned in a few other entries, I’m traveling around New Zealand with a not-quite-100% knee. I broke my tibial plateau on a trip earlier in the year and spent eight weeks on crutches, but I’m now able to do most activities with just a bit of a limp. However, mountain biking is not one of those activities!
This afternoon, I was booked in for an hour-long mountain bike rental from Hanmer Adventures. Their shopfront is right in thecenter of town, so all I had to do was walk across the street from my hotel, fill out a form, and pick up a bike and helmet. I figured biking at all was going to be a problem, much less biking on bumpy trails, so I took the bike to a road with no traffic and tested my ability to pedal. There was no success there — my knee brace doesn’t bend far enough so I could only do a strange half-pedal, half-hang-my-leg-in-the-air action. As expected, within ten minutes I’d returned the bike.
The important thing that came with the bike, though, was the mountain bike trail map. This map pointed out picnic areas managed by the DOC (the Department of Conservation, which does a great job of maintaining facilities and natural areas), walking tracks, and mountain bike trails. So, instead of biking one of the trails in Hanmer Forest, I chose to drive to the closest car park (a 5-minute drive down Jollie’s Pass Road) and take a short walk instead.
There was a constant stream of bikes heading past the carpark when I arrived. The poor guys riding them were all huffing and puffing and seemed to be getting quite the workout!
After snapping a few photos, I headed towards the Woodland Walk, signposted as a 20-minute roundtrip. It was very flat and perfect for any fitness level, including mine. It definitely took me more than the signposted twenty minutes, but that’s because I ambled along, taking in the colours and sounds of the forest. It didn’t seem quite as full of birdsong as the forest in the Puhi Puhi Valley near Kaikoura, but I still really enjoyed stopping and listening to the sounds of the woodland. It was uninterrupted by any man-made noises, with the exception of the occasional clicking of gears and grinding of gravel on gravel as a mountain biker passed by on the path below.
Eventually, the path opened out into a large open area surrounded by the mountains. A few families with bicycles were here taking a breather and tossing balls around. It was here that my knee started aching a bit, but I wasn’t too concerned about having to turn around. I’d done what I came for; I got to see a bit of Hanmer Forest and a bit of the mountains, and I probably paid a bit more attention to it because I wasn’t concentrating on getting my bike up the next hill!
Biking is a very popular activity in Hanmer and bikes can be rented from a number of places. Hanmer Adventures, where I got my bike, is at 20 Conical Hill Road (just across from the Heritage Hotel).