The annual Dansey’s Pass Trail Ride is the highlight of the trail ride calendar for many riders in the South Island. Since it’s inception in 1999, well over 20,000 riders have taken on what has become the longest one-day trail ride in Australasia. This ride is over 165km of tracks through private high country farms, braided rivers, forestry, native gorge and rolling farmland in the stunning Waitaki Valley. From Beginner to Extreme, the organisers have got you covered.
In a little pocket of the central South Island is Duntroon School; a rural primary school that sits on the doorstep of some of the most varied and stunning landscapes you’ll find anywhere in the world. This location was the catalyst to create a school fundraiser like no other!
Local landowners, parents and volunteers team up every year and spend hundreds of hours planning, building and running the famous “Dansey’s Pass Trail Ride”. This little school fundraiser attracts riders by the thousands, some travelling from as far away as Australia, Japan and Scotland just to ride it!
So what makes this ride so special?
Some say it’s the huge range of landscapes you can ride through in one day. Native bush, forestry blocks, rolling dairy farm, high country tussock, braided riverbed, swamps, it’s all there. Others say it’s the non-stop challenges around every corner.
We know this for sure: No one goes home without sore muscles and a tale to tell.
“This was the first time I’ve been to the Dansey’s ride. Thought I’d better come to see what all the fuss was about and was definitely not disappointed. I rode the extreme and advanced loops, and they were bloody awesome. Challenging with a bit of everything and never a dull moment, it is a really well-organised and run event with something for everyone, and should be on every riders bucket list,” said Devon Cambridge, a punter on his first Dansey’s Pass.
The ride is split into 5 different loops to accommodate riders of all ages and stages:
Family: A great circuit for beginners, or kids and their parents to enjoy a ride together.
Intermediate: Lots of open farm track riding, rising to over 1000m with some riverbed.
Advanced Moderate: The widest variety of mixed terrain you’ll ever find on one trail. Minimal farm tracks and some gnarly hill climbs.
Advanced Hard: Very challenging hill climbs, flowing into high country tussock.
Extreme: Some of the toughest hill climb descent combos on offer anywhere! For serious riders only.
The track guys spend weeks planning the new loops, then days and days cutting bush, digging tracks and building bridges. This year, there was an added challenge as three days before the ride, the Dansey’s Pass experienced some fairly significant rain, resulting in a few extra grey hairs for organisers! Rivers rose to over 12 times the usual flow and there was a mad scramble to build an entirely new track to replace the Extreme Loop which – after the rain – had become beyond hazardous!
Even with the rain in the lead-up, the day went off perfectly: cool and clear after a little more rain, which only added to the challenge. Despite the number of riders, because the tracks are so vast it never feels crowded. This year, over 1000 riders took on the legendary Dansey’s Pass Trail Ride and – while there might be a few bikes and bodies worse for wear – they’re all keen to do it all again next year on the 23rd of March 2019.
Simon De Lange had this to say. “The best thing about the ride is the different tracks and terrain which caters to most types of riders. Whoever marked out the advanced hard track was a champ. Rode the whole track with a smile. Never once got bored always a new challenge just around the corner. Would and do recommend this ride to others.”
See www.danseyspasstrailride.org for more info.