In preparation for Get Outdoors Week the team at the NZ Mountain Safety Council (MSC) have invited a range of guest contributors to share some of their tips, tricks and top spots for awesome outdoor adventures with families.
Sarah Ulmer, Olympic and Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist and Halberg Award winner shares her favourite spots to explore on bike and foot.
Thanks to Sarah for sharing your top spots!
Brendon and I have spent most of our lives travelling, being outdoors and on bikes — so I guess it’d be hard to give that lifestyle up completely (along with the fitness!) in retirement.
I absolutely love getting around NZ, exploring walks and bike trails — pretty much all of it is done with the girls in tow and bikes in the boot. No matter where you are in the country, you are never far from a stunning trail, walk, waterfall or river to explore.
And we’ve pretty much taken the kids with us from the time they could hold their head up. We’re so spoilt these days with buggies/contraptions/bike seats/trailers/tag alongs that wee ones can ride in/bike behind/fall asleep in and still be part of the fun. I think we’ve used every appendage possible with the girls until now where they’re both on their own wheels.
I’m pretty passionate about people getting on bikes and enjoying any form of cycling. I gave my car away a couple of years ago, so my bike is my transport most of the time (pretty easy here in flatlined Cambridge). But we have such a network of INCREDIBLE trails around NZ now that it’s opened up a whole new way for people to enjoy the country and enjoy being on their bikes in a different way.
When we’re travelling we’ll usually sniff out a NZ Cycle Trail to explore (just part of it) with the kids. They are literally the coolest way to explore parts of NZ and we love planning trips around ones we haven’t done.
I’d love to think we’re intrepid and go off the grid regularly in really remote places — but we tend to stick to pretty accessible options (of which there are bucketloads) but even still, feel like we’re miles away from anywhere!
Favourite Places — Locally near us
The coolest walk (sometimes we leave the wheels at home!) we’ve done recently was the Wairere Falls, Bay of Plenty — the kids just loved it! Rock hopping and river crossing their way up to the wicked view.
Te Mata peak — Havelock North. Walk up, bike down
Te Awa River Ride — this is our local trail along the Waikato River (and often how I get to work!). So much nicer than riding on the road!
We also spend loads of time in the Redwoods — Whakarewarewa Forest in Rotorua. Just the complete package for a day trip with something for everyone.
Favourite Places — Further Afield
Alps 2 Ocean — we did this with the kids a few years ago and it was INCREDIBLE! Kids LOVED it. It’s like being in completely different countries as you go from Mt Cook to Oamaru. So much stuff along the Trail to do for the kids — from Mt Cook National Park to check out, Elephant Rocks to climb, Clay Cliffs to explore, all the lakes to splash in, Penguins in Oamaru.
Another stunner walk was Rob Roy Track, just up from the Raspberry Creek carpark into the Mt Aspiring National Park (access via Wanaka). We got sunburnt on our way out, then snowed on our way back in Spring one year! But just stunning. STUNNING!
Honestly….who needs to leave NZ?!
For more helpful guidance and free resources for planning a family outdoor adventure check out:
1. Plan My Trip; a free online planning tool
2. Get Outdoors Videos; bringing the fun to how-to videos
3. Day Walking eTool; All you need to know in 15 minutes