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Is there any better feeling than enjoying your favourite pass-time with your best friend? This is what Taupo local Alex is lucky enough to experience in her spare time. This is a story of Alex, her dog, and her bike.
Alex, born and bred in Mexico, moved to New Zealand in 2012 after what was supposed to be a vacation turned into discovering a home-away-from-home. A Taupo local since 2013, Alex has embraced our vast outdoor adventures, and has found passion with one in particular – mountain biking. Six years ago a friend insisted Alex tag along at Craters Mountain Bike Park, and she has been clutching the handlebars ever since.
“It has always been about having fun and not ‘exercising’ – hanging out with mates, having a yarn and a good time.”
But even so, there was something missing…
If there’s one thing to be said about Alex, it’s that her love for dogs is unwavering, and by luck a four-legged best-friend came into her life two years ago. Coya, a beautifully brown-eyed Blue Healer cross, was a pound pup suggested to Alex by a close friend who knew they would be a paw-fect match. Blue Healers are cattle dogs, meaning they’re high energy and love to run - the necessary traits for a trail dog. One meet-up and it was love at first pat! Alex adopted Coya and the mountain biking began soon after, she explained;
“As a cattle dog I already knew she would love running, and thankfully she picked up mountain biking etiquette quite fast, for example I go in front on the descents and she moves to the side of the trail to let riders go past.”
You can find the pair on many trails in the Taupo region,
“…we are pretty lucky that most of the trails in the Taupo region are dog friendly. One of our favourites is Te Iringa [grade 5, DOC dog permit required]. We go up to the clearing and back, which takes around two hours; there’s beautiful beech forest. Most of the way up is hike-a-bike but the descent is so worth it.
Midweek we will ride Craters Mountain Bike Park [mixed grade]; our favourite trails are Buzzard and Sugar Daddy. In summer we head down to Reid’s Farm afterwards for a swim.
The W2K on the Great Lake Trails is also good for dogs, there’s a water tank and drinking bowl up the top, and of course Whakaipo Bay at the bottom to cool off.
Our favourite is K2K though, we pack the tent and spend the night at Kawakawa Bay quite often.”
There are certain areas of forest and bush lands that only specially trained dogs are permitted, and Coya is one of those special dogs;
"I got Coya kiwi aversion trained, meaning she was taught to avoid kiwi birds and/or kiwi nests. This was for walking and biking trails in the Kaimanawa Ranges and Pureora Forest Park."
But it’s not only Coya who’s barking-mad about hitting the trails. They are often joined by a pack of up to five more trail dogs and riders, and Alex explained how they manage to have the best rides paw-ssible -
“You have to be patient and keep the rides short to ensure the dogs don’t injure themselves trying to keep up. It can be hectic, but it’s really fun!”
After a big day of riding, there’s nothing quite like a meal and drink to cool-off and rest the legs. Taupo has some paw-some spots for both dogs and their humans to relax, and Alex and Coya have found a few favourites:
“Café Baku have large picnic tables next to the reserve across the road and a good lake view.
Kefi at the Hub is a perfect lunch spot after riding as it’s right next to Craters Mountain Bike Park, and there’s also bike wash station.
Creel Tackle House & Café in Turangi, delicious food and coffee, and right next to the Tongariro River Trail.
Two Mile Bay Sailing Club, Finns Gastro Pub & Beer Garden or Pub n Grub are close to the Great Lake Pathway so they make for an good beer stop. Two Mile in particular is great because it sits on the lake, so our dogs will play in the water while we relax with a beer and pizza. They also have their Dogs & Grog every first Saturday of the month from 2.00pm to 4.00pm, if you take your dog you get a free pizza if you buy a Peroni or a glass of wine.”
Can’t face leaving your furry friend at home? Well pack their booties because the family pooch can come too!