My fingers were frozen to the handlebars and the driving rain stinging my cheeks felt suspiciously like sleet as we pedalled stubbornly onwards into a head wind straight off the Southern Alps.

Even on our zippy SmartMotion electric bikes, it was no fun so after an hour of pure masochism, we admitted defeat, turned back and slunk into the lounge at Lake Ohau Lodge.

Justine cycles across the historic Lower Shotover Bridge. Photo / Hurunui Tourism
Justine cycles across the historic Lower Shotover Bridge. Photo / Hurunui Tourism

As we jostled for position in front of the open fire alongside real McCoy cyclists who had battled the elements all day, we carefully omitted the letter 'e' while sharing biking stories and downing tummy-warming gluhwein. Luckily, no one spotted our e-bikes outside with their telltale batteries.

Not that the disapprobation of pedalling purists worried me in the least. During our two weeks of e-biking in the South Island, we had faced everything from ridicule to admiration. It's water off my high-vis back these days.

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A fully self-contained JUCY motorhome with a couple of SmartMotion e-bikes on the back. Photo / Hurunui Tourism
A fully self-contained JUCY motorhome with a couple of SmartMotion e-bikes on the back. Photo / Hurunui Tourism

E-biking has revolutionised my life and I'm immune to the 'why-don't-you-get-a-real-bike-you-wuss' insults. Unkind jokes about the male anatomy have been slightly more difficult for my husband to cope with but he'd rather we shared active outdoor pursuits like e-biking on holiday than for him to have to relax on a beach or, worse still, hang out in shops and cafes.

Any activity that makes me want to leap out of bed at the crack of dawn and spend the whole day with my legs going round in small circles rather than under a computer desk has to be positive.

Our recent autumn e-bike adventure began in Christchurch where we picked up two Kiwi-designed SmartMotion e-bikes from The Electric Bicycle Company and a fully self-contained motorhome from JUCY Rentals.

Then we were literally away laughing, heading for Hanmer where we explored forests pathways and St James Conservation area with its massive scree slopes, sparkling rivers and vast, open spaces.

At Tekapo we rode alongside the swift, silent, turquoise canals that link the McKenzie Country lakes in the Waitaki hydroelectric power scheme, whizzing along at 30km/h.

In Wanaka, we biked the spectacular Clutha River loop track from the river outlet to Luggate and back.

The entire Wakatipu Basin is a network of immaculately-maintained hiking and biking trails so we were spoilt for choice there. We cycled along the Arrow, Kawarau and Shotover rivers, crossing a variety of historic, suspension and purpose-built bridges.

The only time we rode on the open road was from Kinloch to the Greenstone Valley along the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Here we encountered one 4WD vehicle and a lone Frenchman named Hugo, who was walking the length of New Zealand on the 3000km Te Araroa Trail, The Long Pathway.

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The undulating gravel road took us across clear mountain streams and through dappled beech forests with shafts of sunlight flickering like frames in an old movie.

At Glenorchy, we took a day off cycling and went horse riding at Dart Stables. It was a peaceful, relaxing amble along country lanes and across the broad shingle flats of the braided Dart River.

These days, we love nothing better than to wander around the countryside in a comfy motorhome with a couple of e-bikes on the back, going wherever the spirit wills.

We had no fixed itinerary, the only focus of the day being to find a scenic biking trail and a picturesque place to park overnight. That's not hard in Aotearoa.