Cyclists to follow in footsteps of NZ pioneers

The Pioneer, New Zealand’s first seven day mountain bike stage race, has revealed its course for the inaugural 2016 event.

The Pioneer, New Zealand’s first seven day mountain bike stage race, has revealed its course for the inaugural 2016 event.

Trails never before opened to the public will feature in the event that snakes its way from Christchurch to Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island. Getting underway on Sunday January 31, the race finishes on 6 February, New Zealand’s national day known as Waitangi Day.

The course follows spectacular scenery and some of the journeys of New Zealand’s early pioneers. Competitors will enjoy traditional Kiwi hospitality at each stopover in the event villages set up daily in breath-taking locations.

“To ensure this race was true to our vision of extraordinary scenery and unique Kiwi hospitality experiences, we needed access through privately owned land which is usually closed to the public,” said Dave Beeche, CEO of event company, Lagardere Oceania Unlimited.

“From private property owners to conservation guardians of this spectacular terrain, all have been really accommodating and are looking forward to working with us to deliver a hugely successful event.”

The course will follow two of New Zealand’s Great Rides, the Alps 2 Ocean Trail and the Queenstown Trail as well as racing through more than 30 privately-owned properties, gaining access to parts of the country few have had the privilege to explore.

The Rowley family, owners of around 6000 hectares of land near Hawea, are one of several private property owners to embrace The Pioneer and provide exclusive access through their land, not just for racing but also as the location for riders’ accommodation, offering a unique farm stay experience to the event.

"We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the country and are happy to open our gates on this special occasion to provide access for this extraordinary race and offer true Kiwi hospitality to the competitors," said one family member.

Starting in Christchurch, on the east coast of the South Island, riders will head off on a 546km journey, traversing the Southern Alps and arriving in Queenstown. Along the way, the teams of two will pass through Geraldine, Fairlie, Lake Tekapo, Lake Ohau, Hawea and Snow Farm. 

“The stage race is not limited to hard-core mountain bike riders requiring extreme technical skill to take part. The route is a combination of New Zealand cycle trails, well graded tracks and exciting off-the-grid pathways, all of which will be achievable for a range of endurance athletes,” said race ambassador, New Zealand multi-sport and adventure race legend, Steve Gurney.

“This race will take your breath away – not just because your lungs will be screaming and your legs burning, but because the spectacular scenery of our great nation will leave riders breathless.”

Each night riders will be spoilt with Kiwi hospitality, treated to a freshly cooked meal using local ingredients and tents will be ready and waiting at each stop to rest those tired legs for the next day’s riding. 

“We want the competitors to focus on the challenge of the ride, the awe-inspiring scenery and the much needed welcome and recovery they will enjoy throughout their journey – everything else, we’ll take care of,” said Beeche.

In order for as many people as possible to get a taste of The Pioneer, the race will open and close with participation races of varying lengths for social riders of all age groups.

For full course details of The Pioneer, visit thepioneer.co.nz. Competitor numbers are limited so enter early to avoid disappointment. 

The Numbers

  • 7 DAYS OF RACING - Lose yourself in the stunning Southern Alps day after day
  • 8 HOST TOWNS - Enjoy the legendary hospitality of southern New Zealand
  • 546KM OF TRAILS - Through backcountry New Zealand that is accessible only in this event
  • 15,057M OF CLIMBS - With pleasure comes pain