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His timber milling ancestors were Central North Island pioneering settlers and he grew up roaming Tongariro National Park. The Adventure Shuttles co-owner is also long-time hiker, climber, mountain biker and amateur climbing instructor and photographer.
Wife Angie is a fellow outdoor enthusiast who helps run the couple’s small mountain bike transport company, as well as their boutique accommodation business Whakaipo Lodge.
“From the lodge, it’s a 10-minute downhill ride to the Great Lake Trails and the lake,” Garth says. “That’s part of the reason we bought here.
“I’ve owned a mountain bike for over 30 years and tramped most of the routes and tracks in the Central North Island. In our corporate days, we spent every weekend escaping the city to go tramping or biking. It’s amazing to have all that on our doorstep now.”
The shuttle business sees Garth kitting out and transporting fellow cyclists to and from the region’s best trailheads, from easy urban tracks and riverside rides to the three more technical offroad sections that collectively comprise the 90km-plus Great Lake Trails.
“Riding the Great Lake Trails, you’re going around the edge of the biggest freshwater lake in Australasia, through regenerating native bush. It is a more technical ride so many riders will want to stop frequently, to take in the beautiful views across the lake.
“Our philosophy is about enabling people to get out and experience our trails safely. When people are doing back country rides, we always include a personal locator beacon.”
He will always check rider experience and ability and recommend a trail that matches their skill level.
Alongside his personal experience on a bike, Garth and Angie spent a year managing the remote, bike-focussed Timber Trail Lodge.
“So we understand mountain bikers’ needs and we certainly know what they need to safely undertake a journey."
“The big thing we saw in our time there was how electric bikes have been a massive enabler of access to the outdoors. On the biggest days, 90 per cent of people were on e-bikes.”
Adventure Shuttles was the first local concessionaire on the Great Lake Trail, in 2013. Since then, the Londons have witnessed constant, ongoing improvements to all three sections of the trail.
“My favourite section is the W2K because it’s my local; down the hill and we’re there. My favourite bit is the seat just above Whakaipo Bay, where you can have a sit-down and look out over the lake to the volcanoes. It’s an amazing view that you can only get otherwise from a boat.”
While the grade three Great Lake Trails are undeniably spectacular, sometimes Garth and his clients want a more relaxing ride. These are his favourite alternatives.
People love it. They love the fact they can go down to the marina, which is beautiful, and hop on a bike and ride around the lake edge, virtually to Waitahanui. Going one way, you get a view over the lake to the volcanoes, the other way, you’re looking at Acacia Bay and the northwestern side of the lake. There are also great cafes to enjoy along the way.
It’s just a little easier than the Great Lake Trail in Tūrangi. It’s not super-technical, that river is stunning and you will no doubt spot anglers attempting to lure a prized trout. Don’t miss the Tongariro National Trout Centre, right on the trail, which is well worth a visit.
Everyone knows about the Rotary Ride, but it’s worth carrying on through to Aratiatia. You’re riding along the banks of the Waikato River, and it’s pretty spectacular. There are a couple of places where you have to negotiate a bit of industry, but the rest of it is through regenerating farmland and bush.
Whakaipo Lodge offers two cycle trail packages that include gourmet meals, accommodation, shuttle service and boat transfers.
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