Hard Tails and Soft Saddles

An incomplete guide to buying your first mountain bike

If you read our recent article on trying out mountain biking you might be at the stage where you want to purchase your own set of wheels. I’ve owned five bikes over the years and this is what I would do if I was buying my first one again. It’s probably not what everyone would do, but hopefully it’ll help you in some way.

A Kiwi in the Wild

Searching for Rowi: Ōkarito, Westland

A couple of months ago I entered a competition. The prize included two night’s accommodation in Franz Josef and the opportunity to spend a day with DOC staff tracking rowi or Ōkarito kiwi (Aperyx rowi) in South Ōkarito forest.

No Road Home

On the trail of Russian Jack

An autumn day in Greytown, a place where you really do get autumn – there were gold and russet red trees in view, a crisp coldness to the air. I propped my bicycle against a tree and a hare came dashing out, off across the grass. Otherwise there was silence, just me, at least just me above ground - this was the town cemetery.

Stick to the Green

Mountain biking, like trail running, opens up the outdoors to a new breed of appreciators. Tramping and camping aren’t for everyone. Some people also want fitness, a test of skill and some excitement mixed in with their day in the bush. That’s where mountain biking comes in.

The Blaze in the Green

Playing with toetoe

In Owls do Cry, Janet Frame wrote about the ‘gold tickle’ of toetoe around the town rubbish dump where her characters, four children, played. How many childhoods include that golden tickle or, as it always seemed to me, that golden blaze in the green, something mysteriously decorative like a lion’s mane, a horse’s plume, standing to attention in plain old flax.

This is what it looks like

Lawrence Patchett writes about a different kind of courage

My first flood scared me. The Hook River burst its banks, ripped tar seal off the road, and oozed over the paddocks. I was eight.

Getting out Alive

The survival kit

When it comes to survival in the outdoors, modern technologies often aren’t much use. We need fail-safe equipment and knowledge to get us through. The techniques and advice haven’t changed much over the years, but it’s worth keep yourself up-to-date on what you need and what you need to do.

K is for Kāhu

New Zealand’s birds of prey

The other day I started to read H is for Hawk, last year’s winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. It has a swag of good reviews behind it, and no doubt sits on bedside tables throughout the land. And one day, it sat in front of me as I took the train home. ‘What’s that about?’ asked the man beside me. ‘Someone training a hawk,’ I said.

Not Some Fantasy Land

Exploring The Catlins Coast

There is a place I used to go as child where dolphins surfed perfect barrelling waves, rare penguins nested above a stone forest, and from the same spot you could watch the sun rise and the sun set over the ocean. This was not some fantasy land of my own imagining, this place is The Catlins Coast in the far south of the South Island.

Running Hot and Cold

The pleasure of a cold swim after a day in the outdoors

For ten years I never set foot in a sauna. An early attempt had almost resulted in disaster. It took place in a cheap motel, the sauna made from flimsy yellow fibreglass - two friends were taking bets as to who could stand it the longest. After what seemed like hours but was probably only a few minutes I couldn’t take it any longer. My head swirled, I couldn’t breath and I felt nauseous.

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