If you’re going to wake up and have a leisurely outdoor breakfast before riding in the forest then Woodberry Farm Cottages is a pretty good place to start. The good old Ninja special with plenty of coffee and smack talk from me about how amazing the day was going to be. After getting whipped by Broom, shredded by Blackberry, broken by vertical climbs, lost by therodfather and then scalded by  hot river water , things were looking pretty rosy for a day in the world renowned Whakarewarewa forest. With its towering redwoods,  loamy native single track and a whole heap of digger built jump trails thrown in, things were looking perfect and the day was shaping up to be another stunner.

Woodberry Farm Cottages. Breakfast on the deck to riding in the forest.

We loaded up the gleaming and freshly lubed bikes and headed straight for the mountain bike hub with its great little container café and shunned the first bus uplift for the gentle pedal into the lower trails. We split the team again and this time Richard took the rowdy bunch and me and the other old folk took a casual spin up and down Challenge Roadside for a bit of air time and into the Dipper loop for more native flora. Then it was on the bus shuttle for the start of many runs down Tokorangi, a fantastic grade 3 flow trail and then opening it up a notch on Corridor.

 Our shuttle driver Sarah Fox, a local DH legend had her 5 year old son Dylan with her on the bus and he offered to take us for a run down Tokorangi to show us the goods. He was on his first outing riding his big new bike, a 20inch wheeled Scott Spark complete with a 42 tooth single ring and 12-26T cassette. Even with his seat fully down he was still at full leg extension and he schooled a few of us over the rollers and showed the older folk how to throw some shapes out of the fast bermed up corners. I am so not looking forward to when he is seven and will most likely be kicking my ass

Fooling around at the start of Tokorangi

Dylan was lead Ninja for a while before therodfather took him out (yeah I kicked his ass!)

 We regrouped after lunch and I took off ahead on the first Corridor run and perched myself on the top of a bank to take some photos. I had told the gang to stop at the bottom but as they hit the tables at full pace I realised they were heading straight at me which involved a high speed G-out into a steep two metre high step up ramp. There was some whooping as they all aired off the top to land in a stall atop the bank. Until Kristina came in a little too hot off the last high speed table top and brake checked just as she was turning into the ramp…..

There was an almighty THUD as her faithful Rocky Mountain let go on the loose marble like surface and she body smacked the wall right at my feet. Oh F***!

I was already reaching for my Personal Locator Beacon as the group ran to her assistance…She wasn’t moving and I had yet another sudden panic attack as I realised about 85% of this situation could easily lay blame on my shoulders. But the gods were chuckling and after a few moments of quiet reflection Kristina The Great rose from the dust and we hobbled her over to the shade of a pine tree while Richard checked her over and I giggled a little to myself (very quietly) and surreptitiously fired off a couple of snaps to immortalise the moment on social media for eons to come.

Mike heading up the wall a few seconds before Kristina tried to go through the wall.

What a trooper. Apart from not being able to breathe, a full forehead graze from her helmet and being coated head to toe in fine talcum powder dust there was nothing wrong with her and she soldiered on through the day with just a few pills out of Dr. rodfathers medicine pouch to keep her newly arrived headache at bay.

Just one minute after body slamming the wall, Kristina is smiling and ready to dust off and shred some more. Legend.

We finished up the day with a mock race run down Corridor, Tokanui, Turkish delight then into Grinder before I took the lads back up to show them Double down, a grade 6 feature filled trail of ladders, gaps, wall rides, skinnies and gully drops. I just love hanging out at a trail feature and egging people on to test their limits. It’s always a time of nervous laughter, near mishaps, a few mishaps and the adrenaline fuelled whooping as someone breaks the fear barrier and pulls off a move that they wouldn’t dare try if therodfather wasn’t there calling them a pussy and offering sage advice that he can’t even follow himself .

Mark was loving the native flow of Tokorangi.

We called it a day about 4:30pm and headed back to the hub for icecream before loading back up for the drive home with a bit of groaning from my poor old back . But first Mark requested that I follow him on a short walk to the toilets? What the hell? I was sure I hadn’t been too obvious with my charming personality around his wife Patty so I wasn’t too worried what was to follow….. “Lie down on that log of wood there rodfather” he said  pointing to a huge log that has wheel slots cut into it for a bike parking block. Bloody hell, Mark grabbed my head and gave it a good hard wrench back and forth and as my vertebrae cracked and my lower back spasmed. I thought to tell him to stop as I was surely about to be paralysed but before I knew it was over and he helped me up and what do you know? I sauntered back to the van feeling 10 years younger and a lot lighter on my feet. Turns out Mark is a bit of a guru massage therapist and had noticed my Forest Gump walk and obvious discomfort whenever I am off my bike (that’s another story) and wanted to help me out.

Richard razzing lower Tokorangi

Jeff navigating one of the forests rare boulders on Eastern Spice

Yours truly attempting to live up to the smack talk. We stopped at each feature on Double Down for a short skills session. photo: Jeff Balmeo

Then a short detour to the Blue lake to run and jump into the crystal clear water which was surprisingly warm before more beer and the odd wine at the Farm. While the others chilled out and freshened up I sneaked off to my favourite curry house for a load of home cooked Indian food and we introduced a few curry virgins to meat, meat, some veges and lots of gravy, rice and garlic Naan bread. Delicious…my kind of cooking. Yes that’s right, my days of cooking were looking limited and so it became my mission to introduce a culinary experience each night that involved driving, collecting and table preparation only. What a cunning plan.

oooh ahhh oooh, these stones are hurting my feet. photo: Patty Elliott

Great scenery on the way home. You can caption this one yourself.


Coming soon…DAY FIVE. The Jurassic jungle that is The Whirinaki Forest Park. (And I nearly get us lost again. This is getting a tad tiresome)