Welcome to my first official post on Girl About Queenstown! I thought I’d kick things off with an activity review of the bike tour company Around The Basin. On a sunny April morning a few weeks ago I decided to try a bike tour which, considering I hadn’t ridden a bike in literally years, could have ended in tears. However, I had nothing to worry about because I had an awesome day and was very well looked after by the Around The Basin team! I decided to do their half day Arrow River Trail which lasts around 4 hours and covers 15km. The day before the tour I gave my measurements to Lisa, one of the operations managers, so they could pick a bike for me. The following morning I turned up ready to go at 9am at the Around The Basin headquarters in central Queenstown. Our guide, Hamish, introduced himself and we set off for Arrowtown in a mini-bus – bikes in tow. On our drive, Hamish was very chatty and gave us lots of interesting facts about the area. Around 20 minutes later we had arrived in Arrowtown and were shown a quick safety video which stated the obvious – how to change gears etc. I evidently wasn’t paying enough attention as I realised 15 minutes into the cycle that I was attempting steep hills in 9th gear but we won’t dwell on that! Hamish also gave us helmets, bar bags, maps, and bottles of water which all came in handy.
We were a group of 10 or so people but once we were given our maps we were free to do the tour independently. I really liked this aspect as it meant everyone could take things at their own pace and it also gave us the opportunity to stop when we wanted to take photos (or in my case, catch your breath!). From our starting point on the Arrow River Trail we headed along the track beside the Kawarau River. Our first pit stop was one of the suspension bridges and the view from here was spectacular. I took full advantage of the photo op as you’ll see below! At the far side of the bridge Hamish was there to see how we were getting on and to give us a pep talk. I thought this was a nice touch as it gave the option to drop off any unnecessary possessions, or, if the going was too tough, to stop the cycling part of the tour and take the van to the finish point. I’m glad I persevered however as we got to cross another suspension bridge and eventually reached our next pit stop at the Kawarau Bridge. I should add at this point that the actual tour itself is not that physically demanding, I may have just been embracing the Queenstown lifestyle a bit too much over recent months and admittedly have become a bit of a couch potato – I blame 6$ Domino’s! The Kawarau Bridge was an awesome place to stop as it also acts as the location for the world’s first bungee jump! There are steps where you can stand to get a better view of people launching themselves off the bridge and I spent around 20 minutes here with my heart in my throat! When we met Hamish on the other side of the bridge he told us we were on the home stretch straight to our final destination – Gibbston Valley Winery. The promise of free tastings had my legs doing a mile a minute and before long I had reached the wine!
Granted we had lovely, sunny weather the day of our tour, but even on a gloomy day the winery would be a great place to finish up. We were able to choose three wines which were brought out to us in tasting portions and we had around half an hour to sit in the sun and enjoy them before we were driven back to Queenstown. The Around The Basin staff were amazing and the whole day from start to finish was well organised and well thought out so thank you team! I highly recommend anyone with a spare morning / afternoon to give this company a go and I will definitely be back to try their full day options – my only criticism is I wish the wine had been in full portions!
Thanks for reading!