The Pisa Range, located between Wanaka and Queenstown, is a vast expanse of high-country mountains covered in tussock. It's challenging terrain intersected with kms and kms of four wheel drive tracks, but it's country that shouldn't be taken lightly. The weather in this high-alpine environment can change rapidly, so always ride prepared with extra food and clothing.
This is home to the highest cycling trails in New Zealand, and a number of granny gear or bike-n-hike inducing climbs will certainly give the old lungs a work out. This specific ride is very much a bike-n-hike mission and one that will include over 50% of the time off the bike. It's a rewarding adventure, but one that you should only undertake if you're keen to do plenty of pushing or carrying!
From the Tuohys Gully carpark a 4WD track climbs steeply up the gully to the 1140 metre Tuohys Saddle. You'll climb over 600 metres in just about 7 kms and are rewarded with fantastic views back towards the Cardrona valley and ski field. The fittest of riders can expect to reach the saddle in about 1.5 hours, but 2 - 3 is more realistic for most.
From the saddle, a track leads left to the Meg Hut (and carries on all the way to Lowburn near Lake Dunstan) where you could overnight if you were so inclined. Another option is a track which leads to the right to Rock Peak and the Crown Range summit.
Those keen to ride the Roaring Meg track will continue straight on the poled route and end up at the Roaring Meg lookout on the SH6 in another 2 - 3 hours after having descended almost 900 metres.
The ride begins with some challenging downhill that passes through the overgrown tussock all the way to the Roaring Meg gorge. Along the way are heaps and heaps of speargrass and matagouri that will very likely give you some punctures (if you're not riding tubeless, we recommend taking a couple spare tubes per rider, really!). As you reach the gorge, you cross the stream and the marked track sidles through some steep sections as it follows the true left of the gorge.
The poled track ends above the Meg Dam where you connect with a 4WD track - after lots and lots of pushing, you're finally rewarded with some fast and easy downhill. After reaching the highway, you can either pedal back to Queenstown, to your car up the Crown Range or if you planned in advance, hop in the car you dropped off earlier in the day that has the cold beers waiting in the chilly bin!