Video: Waiau-Toa Odyssey

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What if you wanted to do more than just bikepack? Why not throw rafts into the mix? This year, five men from New Zealand did just that, with inflatable pack-rafts they could strap their bikes to. Before they set off, last November’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit New Zealand’s North island, in some places radically changing the landscape and forcing alterations to their route.

There’s plenty of white water in this, and a brief interlude where they take a break from the explicitly sensible, not-death-gnar kind of riding you’d usually associate bikepacking with:

(No video? Here’s a link).

The one thing we really pity them for is that it appears they might have had to blow up the rafts with their mouths. Maybe it’s worth it for these kind of views though.

Waiau-Toa Odyssey - New Zealand
We hope those inflatable pack-rafts are dual ply.

They also kept a blog in advance of the trip, where you can find many more details about their preparation and kit. The inflatable packrafts they’re using seem to be a fairly recent invention, and this entry about training with and without bikes details how they found the rafts challenging at first, but with the weight of a bike on the front found they could plough through rapids a little easier:

“Strapping the bikes to the boats felt a little surreal after so much anticipation but as soon as I dipped my paddle in the water I was at ease, YES! was the word resounding in my head through the first bouncy rapids. The major difference in manoeuvring with the extra weight was the ability to plow through stuff. The boat did feel slightly more tippy, within a short time however it felt as if the bike wasn’t there, We paddled for roughly 2 hours that afternoon and by the time we reached the take out we were both beaming, yep this was doable, bring on Late February!”

Waiau-Toa Odyssey - New Zealand
A couple of these sequences seem to have been specifically filmed to annoy people who spend their time getting Extremely Mad Online about wheel bearings.
Waiau-Toa Odyssey - New Zealand
Waiau-Toa Odyssey - New Zealand
… and drifting!
Waiau-Toa Odyssey - New Zealand
Note that the weight of bikepacking gear probably wouldn’t help with this…
Waiau-Toa Odyssey - New Zealand
… though they said weight in the boats did help with negotiating rapids.

David Hayward

Singletrack Contributor

David started mountain biking in the 90’s, by which he means “Ineptly jumping a Saracen Kili Racer off anything available in a nearby industrial estate”. After growing up and living in some extremely flat places, David moved to Yorkshire specifically for the mountain biking. This felt like a horrible mistake at first, because the hills are so steep, but you get used to them pretty quickly.

Previously, David trifled with road and BMX, but mountain bikes always won. He’s most at peace battering down a rough trail, quietly fixing everything that does to a bike, or trying to figure out if that one click of compression damping has made things marginally better or worse. The inept jumping continues to this day.

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