The Pioneer: MTB Stage Race, Southern Alps, NZ

A familiar landscape but with an off-road twist, The Pioneer MTB Stage Race, a seven or f…

A familiar landscape but with an off-road twist, The Pioneer MTB Stage Race, a seven or four-day journey from Christchurch to Queenstown, New Zealand is an event you’ll never forget.

Words: Alex Malone

When our friend and photographer Tim Bardsley-Smith spoke of an event he’d shot in New Zealand – from the back of a dirt bike –  we were immediately intrigued. The scenery was familiar but the angle was different.

Tim had captured stunning imagery of men and women toughing it out amidst areas we had used as backdrops during our previous Kiwi Big Rides. We were seeing a side to Christchurch and the mountains above the Alps2Ocean trail around Lake Pukaki and Ohau  like never before. The first-run event was a hit in 2016 and it’s back again for 2017, scheduled to kick off in Christchurch at the all-new Adventure Park on Sunday, February 5 with the finale in Queenstown on Saturday, February 11.

“It’s a full service adventure, not just a race. An event where you and your mate get to push yourself to the limit in an amazing landscape. It’s beautiful. It’s painful. It’s an experience you won’t forget,” says Tim.


Riding together in a team of two (Dan Bonello and Alex Malone), Cyclist will take on the 7-Day Epic; a 549km journey with close to 16,000m of ascent. A departure from our usual Big Ride format, it’s fair to say it’s our biggest one yet. The Pioneer offers a rare opportunity for roadies to ride (or race) over multiple days – a treat seldom experienced by budding weekend warriors. Of course, we’ll be swapping out the 25mm rubber for something significantly wider but with barely a handful of amateur multi-day road events out there, it’s a change and challenge we’re more than willing to accept.

You can get the full scoop around The Pioneer by clicking the link below or for those with limited time, watch the video below.

Stay tuned.

The Pioneer Promo Video from The Pioneer.