Work stories don’t come better than Gary Patterson’s. A cartographer specialising in cycle tracks, Gary has tackled some of the world’s toughest terrain – from the Jamaican Blue Mountains to the Patagonian Andes – all in the name of work.
Originally from Wanaka, Gary studied environmental planning and mapping at university, before working with DOC on new walking trails. When he discovered mountain biking, he took a job building trails in Portugal. Mapping mountain bike trails was the logical next step.
After getting “a little disoriented” while riding the Alps 2 Ocean trail, he decided to build an app to help people navigate the New Zealand Cycle Trail.
Six months of research was followed by six months of riding every single one of the Great Rides. Along the way, he took tens of thousands of photos, made several million GPS tracking points and got really, really fit.
Launched in April 2017, the free app is now an official partner of the New Zealand Cycle Trail.
So, which trails are his favourites? The Old Ghost Road, which traces an old gold-mining route through the Mokihinui River gorge, is his top back country trail. He says it’s well-built and offers plenty of huts along the way, meaning you don’t have to carry a tent or stove.
Another standout is the 38-km Dun Mountain Trail in Nelson, a scenic loop that can be ridden in a day.
He’s also a fan of the Twin Coast Trail, which zigzags from the Bay of Islands on the east coast to Hokianga Harbour on the west.
If you’re considering tackling any of the New Zealand Cycle Trail, the Great Rides App can be downloaded for free from the App Store or Google Play. It’s stacked with maps, elevation profiles, trail section descriptions and photos, along with details of trail services such as bike hire, shuttles, food and accommodation.
Don’t forget, we can help with bike hire for the Great Rides, and we also offer guided tours along a number of the trails.
Have a good week,