Rude Rock Video
Before visiting Queenstown I had watched a video which showed riders gliding over smooth, golden hills on a trail called Rude Rock. The ride looked fun and the views? Incredible.
Late on a Tuesday afternoon I strolled into Vertigo Bikes to inquire about hiring a bike for the remainder of the week. I also wanted to sign up for their Friday Rude Rock/Skippers Canyon shuttle.
When I asked about Rude Rock the worker immediately tried to talk me out of the ride … even after I had informed him I was an advanced rider, and cited a few of the more difficult rides I had successfully completed in the U.S.
I mentioned the Rude Rock video and told him I didn’t think the ride looked real difficult. He said the guys in the video were professionals and made an extremely difficult trail look easy (see the video below).
Despite his doubts about my abilities the worker did allow me to sign up for the shuttle but informed me of the possibility of a cancellation. He said if they did not get 2 more riders to sign up by Thursday night (their minimum was 5) they would cancel the shuttle. He took my phone number and said he would call me to let me know the status of the shuttle.
When I asked about renting (hiring in NZ) the bike for the remainder of the week he told me to come in the next morning at 9:00. I had hoped I could get a bike that evening so I could get a good early start the next day.
Cindy and I continued to explore the town of Queenstown when we stumbled into a shop called Torpedo 7, which also rented bikes. After inquiring I ended up getting a better bike than Vertigo’s for $10 less (and no one tried to discourage me from any rides). I would also be able to get the bike all adjusted and out the door by 8:00 am for my early start.
I bought a Queenstown & Wakatipu Mountain Bike Trail Guide showing three different maps and a short description for each trail. I quickly noticed the Rude Rock was rated blue (Intermediate), which really made me wonder why the Vertigo fellow was so worried about me on that trail.
Anyway, they never called about the shuttle so when Friday rolled around I decided to drive to the parking area for Coronet Peak to begin the ride. My plan?
1) Ride Rude Rock
2) Turn onto P.T.S (Pack Track and Sack) Trail
3) Continue down Pack Track Trail
4) Spend 2-3 hours grinding up Skippers and Coronet Peak Roads … taking me out of Skippers Canyon and back to the car at Coronet Peak.
5) Drive to Arrowtown and do the 26 mile ride to Macetown and back (if my legs were still functioning).
INTERACTIVE MAP FOR RUDE ROCK and SKIPPERS CANYON
- Click the big blue car for driving directions to the trailhead.
- Click Tracks or Icons for More Specific Information.
On to Coronet Peak
A cool blast of air slapped my face when I opened the car door. I stretched my legs as my feet set down on the gravel parking lot for the Coronet Peak Ski Area. I was overcome by the view below. A hang glider was preparing to take flight directly below. In the distance I could see Lake Wakatipu. Looking around I spotted a few other cars in the lot but no evidence of fellow mountain bikers.
After pulling the Giant Reign Advanced 1 sideways out of the rented Rav 4 I rechecked everything, locked up, started my GPS, and pedaled across the lot. The sun was shining bright and I felt lucky to have another beautiful Autumn day in New Zealand.
To get to the Rude Rock Trailhead I had to travel a few hundred yards down a gravel doubletrack and up a slight rise.
The Rude Rock Trail deserved an intermediate rating as would any trail built exactly on a ridge line. This type of trail requires one to be careful with no uphill side to seek for safety … that is, one tiny lapse of concentration and you’ll find yourself hurtling down a fall-line (right or left) with no hope of stopping. Riders wanting to rest or take photos must also make sure they will have level ground to place a foot.
I found the Rude Rock Trail followed a typical pattern … drop down the face of one nodule, and up the next, drop down only to rise again. Occasionally the trail would break pattern by circling around the top only to regain the ridge heading to the next hump. I came across only a few rocky patches but otherwise found the trail smooth and firm. I did see a large rock towering just off the trail, but I was not sure if it looked “Rude.”
I had to stop a few times when I found myself totally overwhelmed by the distant views. The vast openness reminded me of riding the 401 Trail in Crested Butte, Colorado.
At one point I was given a preview of what was to come … seeing the Skippers Canyon 4WD road etched into a canyon wall far below.
Before I knew it I was at the end of Rude Rock and ready to start my descent into Skippers Canyon on the P.T.S. Trail.
Almost as soon as I began the P.T.S. trail turned to the north and the physical features of the earth began to change. Instead of rolling over one crest after another I found myself gradually dropping into a huge gash in the earth, exhibiting sharp spires overhead.
Several times the trail passed just a few feet from severe drop-offs. I could see why this trail was rated a black diamond. The riding wasn’t difficult, but the penalties were severe if one was to stray off the path a foot or so.
At one point I came upon a sign to my left which read, “Do Not Ride Off This Cliff.” After dropping down the trail I looked back to see what would happen if someone decided to ignore the sign. The result would have been at least a fifty foot flight!
A little farther I began to see both the Pack Track Trail and Skippers 4WD Road at the same time.
At some point the P.T.S. trail merged with the Pack Trial. I never did see a sign and the terrain did not seem to change.
Pack Track Trail
The Pack Track Trail eventually entered a small meadow with a stream and some kind of monument. My brochure said the P.T.S. Trail followed a historic stock route while the Pack Track Trail is a “classic gold mining singletrack with spectacular views.”
After inspecting the shrine I passed through a gate and followed the trail up a hillside away from the stream.
But only after climbing less than a hundred feet the trail headed right back to the stream and a beautiful grove of trees.
Just after crossing the stream the trail ended as it met up with Skippers 4WD Road. The pleasurable part of the ride had just come to an end.
My Lucky Day
For the grind back up I had packed plenty of water and snacks, my headphones, and a good book loaded onto my phone.
But, just as the fun ended and I was getting my earphones out of my pack some kind of government truck passed me heading down Skippers 4WD Road. I didn’t pay much attention to the vehicle until I heard it returning a couple of minutes later.
As the truck approached I stuck out my thumb (old American trick to ask for a ride). To my surprise the truck stopped and the young man offered a ride. I gladly threw the Reign into the back of the pickup and climbed in with it (the driver had a partner so both seats in the cab were occupied).
I had trouble staying upright as the pickup rocked and bounced … I think Skippers 4WD Road was rougher than any of the trails I’d biked. But I didn’t mind a bit!
From the back of the pickup the views were stunning, however I had quite a bit of trouble holding my camera steady enough to get clear shots.
Despite missing out on the challenge of grinding up over 2,000 feet on a hot day I was exuberant. Now I knew I would be fresh for the ride to Macetown later in the afternoon.
When the driver dropped me off at the car I tried to give the driver $20 but he refused. As we had found over the past few weeks, the New Zealanders were a kind bunch.
I was not disappointed by the Rude Rock Trail, and had a blast riding into Skippers Canyon. The scenery was stunning and I didn’t have to ride all the way out of the canyon! All in all, a great morning. Now on to Arrowtown.
During most visits I take many more photos than I can place on a page. To view every image I captured on the Rude Rock & Skippers Canyon Ride … 53 photos in all, please visit my Photo Gallery Site.
The following link can give you all the stats for my Rude Rock & Skippers Canyon … just click on the box below.