13 December 2016

Hello everybody, I hope this finds you fit and well.

Jo and I have spent a fair bit of time talking, thinking and looking at maps in the last month. We've asked a few people their thoughts and considered everybody's input.

Riding a brevet will always involve an element of risk, especially when you travel on public roads, but let's be honest, riding a bike in New Zealand on the road is a bit of a risk at any time. With the added volume of traffic travelling between Picton/Blenheim and Christchurch via the "inland route"  sitting at five times the normal level these roads are significantly more risky. With this in mind the Brevet is following a slightly revised route and the Brevette will follow an extremely revised route from past editions.

Note that these routes are NOT final - please do not use these as your final .gpx or cuesheets, we will send final confirmed route details closer to the event. I am providing this for planning purposes only.

The Brevet route can be found here:
You, as a participant in the Kiwi Brevet 2017 must be comfortable with travelling (for short sections) on much much busier roads than in pervious years.
These sections are as follows:
  • From Kawatiri Junction at kilometre 279 for approximately 9km along the St Arnaurd Kawatiri Highway to the right turn across SH63 to Howard Valley Rd on your way to the Porika Track
  • When you come out from the Mangles Valley Rd to join SH6 at kilometre 332 for approximately 5km through to Murchison
  • After the beautiful climb, and descent, of Maruia Saddle you'll join SH65 at kilometre 379 and follow this busy section for 18km when you turn right (so you are crossing SH65) onto West Bank Rd just after Maruia
  • You will rejoin SH65 (again crossing SH65) at kilometre 411 for 3.5km where you turn right at Springs Junction and head towards Reefton via the Rahu Saddle
  • The next time you join a busier section of road is a couple of days away, near the Hurunui Pub  (currently closed due to earthquake damage) where you turn left onto SH7 at kilometre 857. This section is the longest section on the busier roads, it's 43km on mostly wide and straight roads, however there are some narrower, windy sections as you get closer to the Hanmer turn off. At kilometre 900 you are turning right to cross SH7 towards Hanmer. This was a nasty intersection before the increased volume of traffic, be VERY careful.
You have approximately 79km on state highway roads that are a lot busier than in the past. YOU must decide that you are comfortable riding on these roads. We strongly suggest that you use flashing lights on both the front and back of you bikes, no matter what time of day, when you travel on these sections. Also, those riding with others on these sections should ride single file. Obviously we can't enforce this but we would really appreciate it if you respect our requests.

After Hanmer it's a LONG and tough 225km haul to Blenheim via Jacks Pass, Tophouse Road, Island Saddle, Alma Valley, the Molesworth Station Rd, Awatere Valley and Taylor's Pass. You need to prepare accordingly. Carry enough food and top up with water whenever you can.
Note that the Molesworth Station Road is only open for travel between the hours of 7am and 7pm. There is only 26km of travel on the actual Molesworth Station Rd, which includes Isolated Saddle and Wards Pass.
The last official camping is at the Sedgmere Sleepout just off the Hammer Springs Hydro Road at kilometre 967. The next official camping spot is at the Molesworth Cob Cottage at kilometre 1016 (so 49km) There is NO camping allowed along the actual Molesworth Station Rd.
Please also note that the Molesworth/Awatere Valley roads are likely to be a lot busier than normal with 4WD vehicles using this route as an alternative to the inland route.

Preparation for these events is not just about getting physically fit. You need to spend the time researching the route and planning accordingly. What services are available where? What are their opening hours? How far do you think you'll realistically get each day? Take the time now to plan.

The Brevette course can be found here:
As with the Brevet, travel on the (now much busier) state highways is unavoidable, but we have kept this to an absolute minimum however this has forced us to create a route that is a lot tougher and more remote than normal, requiring you to carry camping equipment.

This year the Brevette is approximately 663km, which is an average of 74 kilometres per day if you choose to use the full 8 1/2 days available to complete the route. This is fully achievable for anyone with a descent level of fitness.
Please note that the last 315km of the route are the toughest and involve two LONG sections without services, as in NO services.

  • There are three sections of particular note for the Brevette as follow:From Kawatiri Junction at kilometre 324 for approximately 34 km along the St Arnaurd Kawatiri Highway (SH63) to the turn off to Rainbow Rd. You will pass through St Arnaud on this section. 
  • From St Arnaurd it is 115 long and remote kilometres of back country riding along the Rainbow Rd, over Island saddle and along the corrugated Tophouse Rd to Hanmer Springs, be prepared
  • From Hanmer Springs there is another VERY long section without ANY services. You will complete 200 kilometres of remote riding before arriving at the finish in Blenheim, stock up in Hanmer as there are NO services between there and Blenheim. This is the crux section of the whole route.
Please note the Molesworth Station Road, between Archeron Accomodation and Molesworth Cob Cottage, approx. 59km is closed for ALL travel between 7pm and 7am, plan accordingly. DOC Rangers stationed at either end DO check the road after 7pm to ensure no one is on it. If you can't get through to Molesworth Cob Cottage before 7pm DO NOT start this section from Archeron Accomodation. There is NO camping allowed along the actual Molesworth Station Rd. (between Archeron Accomodation and Molesworth Cob Cottage)
Also note that the Molesworth/Awatere Valley roads are likely to be a lot busier than normal with 4WD vehicles using this route as an alternative to the inland route.

These final two sections will likely change the event for some people, it is now a serious undertaking, but if know your OWN abilities and plan accordingly it is a very achievable adventure. It might mean camping at the Archeron Accomodation after a big feed and restock in Hanmer, before making the final push to Blenheim or perhaps pushing through the Molesworth to camp at the historic Moleworth Cob Cottage before finishing the finial hilly miles into Blenheim early the next morning? Whatever you decide to do, be warned that this is a very tough 315km to ride a loaded bike, start preparing for that now.

Please remember that this is supposed to be an adventure. It should test you, not break you. Know your limits and experience. Learn new skills if required. YOU are responsible for yourself. This is a self supported adventure.
We welcome any feedback, please contact us at kiwibrevet@gmail.com