The Original Great Southern Brevet

Monday 16 January 2023

The Original Great Southern Brevet Bikepacking Event

The idea for the original Great Southern Brevet event came during the inaugural bike-packing event in New Zealand in 2010. The most enjoyable bits (for me anyway!) were the remote, back country gravel roads and tracks. The lengthy stretches of paved roads, trying to stay safe from big trucks and cars, only made those quiet remote sections even more sought out and enjoyable. 

With this in mind I set about developing an event that would use as few as possible paved sections, and maximise the quiet, remote experience. Those paved sections were really only inserted to allow for food and services so as to not require carrying too much. The goal was to get as much remote experience but not have to carry the kitchen sink at the same time! Although I based the model of the original Great Southern Brevet on pioneering bike-packing events such as the Tour Divide and the Colorado Trail Race, we did choose an original name and added unique aspects and a course representing some of the unique locations New Zealand has to offer.

The original Great Southern Brevet ran for 10 years from 2012 to 2022. A continuation was planned, with an event in 2023. However another person decided to promote an event using our event name and details. There is no relation or affiliation between the original Great Southern Brevet event and the currently promoted 2023 event. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It is not. The huge number of hours of effort someone puts into developing an idea and building that idea into a successful event, and running it over multiple years is too easily ignored. Yes, the event is free and has very few rules so can easily be copied.

The Great Southern Brevet was designed to allow as many people to participate as possible. There were no qualifying requirements or selection based on personal knowledge. Many Great Southern Brevet riders have been first time touring/bike-packing participants and that has been rewarding to see. I have seen much pain, over many hills :-), but many more smiles, over the successive Great Southern Brevets. Introducing people to parts of the country they would not have normally had the opportunity to see has been fun. Getting people out on the bikes is what it has always been about and that is what it remains about. As long as people get out on their bikes and understand the value of the country they live in then the brief history of the Original Great Southern Brevet has been worthwhile.

Enjoy your ride.


Chief Dis-organiser, The Original Great Southern Brevet

Monday 1 February 2021

Final day arrivals

Another spectacular Mackenzie Country day awaited the remaining riders on course.

Ian, Jo, Rachel and Nina arrive early afternoon to a sunny welcome

Mike and Gordon arrive not long after

Andrew, Di and Bob descending from the Hakataramea Pass

The view from the pass, nice!

The Four Musketeers at Hakataramea pass

Excellent views of the big mountain from the bottom of the pass

Resisting multiple opportunities to throw the towel in, Andrew and Di celebrate having knock the bastard off!

Bob explains that if you jettison some of your gear on the trail you can get to the finish quicker?

Bob, with all his gear, at the finish

Quatre lanterne rouge! It was worth it just for the beer 😎


Saturday 30 January 2021

Late Txt Check-ins penultimate day

Date: Sat, 30 Jan 2021 at 14:09
Subject: [SMS] Naomi Wright
To: <greatsouthernbrevet>
Nomez and Sarah in Kurow. Almost had a DNF as Sarah knee very sore but she's come right with a bit of panadol and sunshine so we're pushing on through the hakataramea to see how far we get.

Date: Sat, 30 Jan 2021 at 16:30
Subject: [SMS] Rachel Berry
To: <greatsouthernbrevet>
Beautiful morning over danseys with no wind ! Distracted by lavender ice cream and waitaki wine tasting. Better stay in kurow as dont want a DIC fine!

Date: Sat, 30 Jan 2021 at 16:30
Subject: [SMS] Rachel Berry
To: <greatsouthernbrevet>
From Rachel, Jo, Nina and Ian

Date: Sat, 30 Jan 2021 at 19:20
Subject: [SMS] Susie Bates
To: <greatsouthernbrevet>
Tom and Susie arrived Tekapo just before 2pm. We are now sitting in the sun with beer, cider and good food. Happy days. Go well everyone.

Date: Sat, 30 Jan 2021 at 20:02
Subject: [SMS] Naomi Wright
To: <greatsouthernbrevet>

Date: Sat, 30 Jan 2021 at 21:34
Subject: [SMS] Gordon Sloane
To: <greatsouthernbrevet>
Gordon Sloane in Kurow tonight looking forward to finishing tomorrow.

Date: Sat, 30 Jan 2021 at 21:31
Subject: [SMS] Mike Brien
To: <greatsouthernbrevet>
Mike Brien in Kurow

Final finishers for the penultimate day

 Rob and Marquita rolling into town 

And still smiling

Alan relieved it is done and accomplished

Scott arrives aboard his hire bike. The second rider that required a swap out part way through the ride.

Cath, Nick and Rob managed to beat the sunset and arrive in daylight

Sarah and Naomi enjoyed the sunset out on the road but still managed to arrive before last call

A crystal clear night with a full moon reflecting in the lake

Penultimate day afternoon arrivals

 No change, still a fantastic day 😲

No stopping, Matt puts the pressure on Pascal to keep going

Rob and Marquita enjoy a Tasman Bay Foods Juicy on Hakataremea Pass

Bill, Gordie, Matt and Pascal with the GSB2021 done and dusted 👍


Roadside repairs for a tyre blow out. And to quote that other bike rider 'it's not about the bike', Pascal proves a 25+ years old bike can complete the GSB (yes they are V-brakes!).

And 1100kms on flat pedals, 'that man deserves a DB'


Hmmm ... is that coincidence, Bill's shoes match his hubs?

The Pod! Many have surmised what Bill keeps inside the stealthy addition, does it contain a motor?  does it expand to become a 5-star camping experience? 


Txt Check-ins morning penultimate day

Date: Sat, 30 Jan 2021 at 08:09
Subject: [SMS] Eileen Schwab
To: <greatsouthernbrevet>
Arrived back in Tekapo 10.30pm last night to an unexpected welcome party! What an epic ride, what a week, I'm smashed. Thanks Dave and everyone who shared the journey

Date: Sat, 30 Jan 2021 at 08:11
Subject: [SMS] Mike Brien
To: <greatsouthernbrevet>
Mike Brien in ranfurly

Date: Sat, 30 Jan 2021 at 10:20
Subject: [SMS] Harry Escott
To: <greatsouthernbrevet>
Hi Boss,
Harry here, just double confirming I'm out
Thanks so much for the amazing course. Also congrats to everyone that's finished, awesome effort was lovely to meet the people who's paths I've crossed on the way to Queenstown. It was an absolute pleasure to meet you all. Harry and The Team


Date: Sat, 30 Jan 2021 at 10:57
Subject: [SMS] Alan Christensen
To: <greatsouthernbrevet>
Kurow. On a mission to Tekapo

Date: Sat, 30 Jan 2021 at 13:09
Subject: [SMS] Nina Stupples
To: <greatsouthernbrevet>
Ian jo Rachel and nina enjoying lunch at duntroon after a perfect morning ride from naseby

Date: Sat, 30 Jan 2021 at 13:28
Subject: [SMS] Bob Vaile
To: <greatsouthernbrevet>
Vaile. Ranfurly All good

Date: Sat, 30 Jan 2021 at 13:38
Subject: [SMS] Andrew Scott
To: <greatsouthernbrevet>
Andrew and Diana had a nice tootle from Lake Onslow to Ranfurly. Heading on after lunch.

Morning arrivals the penultimate day

 Karen and Tony arrive after a night under the stars below Hakataramea Pass. They started a day later in St. Bathans so are continuing on to do the first part of the course they missed!

 Guy, Brian and Al welcomed into to Tekapo

And a cold beer, I'm sure it is 12:00 somewhere.

Spectacular day here in Tekapo

 A beautiful still morning in Lake Tekapo. If the wind stays away the riders enroute will have the incentive to push for the finish from much further away. Good luck to those still turning the pedals 😊

Friday 29 January 2021

Late evening Txt Check-ins

Date: Fri, 29 Jan 2021 at 14:32
Subject: [SMS] Alan Christensen
To: <greatsouthernbrevet>
Ranfurly. Heavy rental bike doesn't seem to have slowed Scott down. Got some winter woolies out Lake Onslow cold and some sleet

Date: Fri, 29 Jan 2021 at 14:44
Subject: [SMS] Joe Sherriff
To: <greatsouthernbrevet>
Good lunch in Kurow. Have booked a bed in Tekapo. Challange is to get there by dark.

Date: Fri, 29 Jan 2021 at 15:57
Subject: [SMS] Matt Pemberton
To: <greatsouthernbrevet>
Sorry missed ranfurly check in we are at naseby, and all well! (Matt and Pascal)

Date: Fri, 29 Jan 2021 at 16:13
Subject: [SMS] Dean Marshall
To: <greatsouthernbrevet>
Dean in Kurow
All good


Date: Fri, 29 Jan 2021 at 17:18
Subject: [SMS] Naomi Wright
To: <greatsouthernbrevet>
Sarah and Nomez in Ranfurly. Thanks to the trail angels that left us ham and cheese sandwiches for the cold pedal over Onslow! Strangely were a bit creaky so probably only heading as far as Naseby tonight

Date: Fri, 29 Jan 2021 at 17:27
Subject: [SMS] Marta Zanetti
To: <greatsouthernbrevet>
Hey king. Thanks so much for organizing this amazing ride.

Date: Fri, 29 Jan 2021 at 17:33
Subject: [SMS] Kane Thornburrow
To: <greatsouthernbrevet>
Tekapo check in. Made it! Woop woop!

Date: Fri, 29 Jan 2021 at 21:12
Subject: [SMS] Nina Stupples
To: <greatsouthernbrevet>
Hi, great day today across lake onslow and into the manitou. Wore our rain pants and woolly hats nearly all day . Happy to be enjoying a beer at the naseby pub. Nina, ian, Rachel and jo

Late Evening Arrivals

 Sea fog rolling over the Two Thumb Range

All smiles, arriving before the light fades,, David, Katie and Brendan

And out of the darkness, Joe and Eileen arrive

A fantastic evening, cool and clear, ideal for hanging around waiting for riders to arrive 😛

Dean decides to continue to the finish as others spend another night under the stars

Evening BBQ

Aliesha keeping an eye on GSB 2021 Master Chef Champion Matt

Riders turned Dot Watchers!

 Serving up

You can't beat a Trumpet!

Just in time for the BBQ

 Kane and Andy welcomed to Tekapo

And a beer!

How to carry your off the bike footwear

Jo finishes her journey back where it started.