I have most of the gear I need, if not all I want, but will get a few things extra. My travels are going to be a mix of 4-12 day regional visits driving to a hub, then day or overnight cycles, returning home in between. Although some of the trails will require DOC hut stays I haven't planned on any camping as don't like it. Accommodation need not be luxurious unless you consider a proper bed and hot shower luxury. The other consideration is survival; particularly as some of the riding will be solo.
The driving bits
The drive legs—to areas out of Auckland—will be covered by using both my cars, Abarth 500 Esseesse [AHBART] and Fiat Bravo 155 HGT [HGT155], depending which suits.
Neither have towbars but my bike(s) fit inside—with varying degrees of disassembly, both wheels off in AHBART—so do not need a rack.
I hate those hatch mount ones, prefer the security of travelling with bikes in the car and they don't get blasted with road grime and grit. The only thing I'll need is some closed cell foam sheets to supplement the 'pool noodles' I've used in the past for packing/padding.
I navigate with HEREWeGo phone app which I prefer over Google or Waze as has easy off-line countrywide map coverage (a single download which updates as needed), navigation and accurate speed limit warnings. It chimes as you past through a limit with a tolerance you can set for 0-80km/h and 80km/h+ which is useful around country towns.
Entertainment is the phone with Bluetooth connection to the cars existing stereo system as both pre-date anything more sophisticated.
The Bravo still runs its factory head unit but I will get modified for Bluetooth as the FM adaptor used to date increasingly struggles to find 'empty' radio bands. New Zealand has more radio frequencies per capita than any other country in the world. There are 28 FM radio broadcast stations, broadcasting on 38 frequencies, just in Auckland!
Covering the South Island drive legs
I got a new(er) car because the Bravo is old and rare (<10 in NZ, 3 of the 155 like mine). I kept it because it was worth little to sell and the Abarth is also fairly rare (hundreds, not thousands, sold over the past decade). If parts have to come from Italy it takes several weeks, longer with COVID delays, so decided a 'spare car' would be useful. Besides, how could I sell my HubNut star!
Because I want, need, to return home between the three South Island legs will drive HGT155 down to Nelson/Golden Bay (yellow region) and then on to leave in Christchurch. Will fly home, use AHBART and fly South for the next leg. I will repeat for the Queenstown/Otago area (red) returning to Christchurch again, then home and back for the West Coast (blue) and drive home.
It gives me a car for low cost, flexibility, means not having to fly with bikes, and minimises the 'commutes' to the South Island. Driving there and back is no hassle, I love that drive. Transport sorted!
Bikes and bits
My existing Avanti Giro AR C1 gravel bike, "Giro", or Giant Talon 1 hardtail Mountain Bike, "Rapid Rob", are fine for most of the rides. The more extreme Old Ghost Road track, last ride planned, is better done on a full suspension bike but I can rent one for that. Both bikes are riding fine but will get a full service before departure to cover items like the headset, bottom bracket and hydraulics, I don't have the tools or skills to service.
I'll swap Giro from the road touring Schwalbe Marathon 700x35mm tyres I use for commuting to Vittoria Terreno Mix G2.0 TLR Gravel Tyre 700x38 better optimised for gravel roads and trails. They were well reviewed and in stock, an important consideration for bike parts these COVID days.
Bike racks and bags, sorted?
I already have racks sufficient for day or overnight rides but did get one more bag.
Giro doesn't have rack mounts but I have a brilliant Tailfin Rack to get around that. Although the two panniers have plenty of capacity I've ordered a AeroPack Trunk top bag as found, on the 2019 Twin Coast ride, opening the panniers in the rain to get at 'on the road' items like cash, food, cameras or just wet gear on/off compromised their, otherwise perfect, waterproofness. I will leave stuff I really need dry in the pannier and use the top bag while riding.
For Rapid Rob I have a Topeak Beam rack which can be either a rear bag or, folding out of it, small panniers for longer rides.
Without being dramatic it is rather easy to die needlessly in New Zealand.
Although we have no wildlife to worry about the geography combined with rapid weather changes can be swiftly lethal.
You don't have to go far to be out of cell-phone coverage and in a little visited place where even a simple fall could escalate. Even trails in the ranges a few kilometres from my suburban Auckland home meet these criteria!
The most important piece of kit I need is a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). With the help of a generous leaving gift from work colleagues I got a ResQLink™ 400 GPS PLB from Torpedo7 NZ.
It is small, simple, buoyant and has 'no subscription' worldwide coverage with 5-year life before servicing (battery replacement) is needed. It's a last resort emergency contact if in a life-threatening situation and uses satellite communication.
Survival Kit: The need to carry survival basics, wet weather gear and warm clothing (even in summer) mean I'll mostly be riding with a rack & bag of some type. I hate riding with a backpack, especially if it is hot.
I'm sure I will think of something else, updates here if I do!
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