“Retirement can be challenging. We define ourselves by our job. Suddenly we are irrelevant and yet free to define ourselves in new ways.
For me this involved undertaking voluntary conservation work with DOC. A lifetime of mountaineering and tramping gave me a desire to give something back. Coincidentally DOC advertised a volunteer opportunity in conjunction with the development of the West Coast Wilderness Trail, maintaining a line of stoat traps along the trail to protect nesting Whio. We have kept this up reliably for the last 10 years.
I took a run in from road end to the first trap on a non-electric soft-tail bike to assess the task, 2.5 very strenuous hours. A steep 200m haul over the ridge from the Punakaiki River, a steady climb to the next gorge, up a sharp little zig zag and down to Watson Creek where the traps begin. Another 300m of uphill would bring me to the hut, and the remaining 30 traps are strung out over 250m above the hut. Too hard!!
The only viable option an E bike!
I needed a bike that would be tough, reliable and with a long battery life. This challenge would require a solid little work horse not a show pony! I began looking around and very quickly settled on MeloYelo, either a Traverse or Ascent. Affordable, local and clearly durable enough for repeated runs on a grade 4 trail. Lots of attractive extras, longer life battery, extra strong tyres, mudguards, built in lights, simple fingertip controls, true hydraulic brakes and an easily managed throttle. What more could you want?
My Traverse and I have ridden the entire route to and from the top trap at Coal Creek 700m down to the car park in the Punakaiki at sea level as we upgraded and set the traps. The bike performed admirably apart from a few teething troubles, now fixed. The battery lasted the whole journey, up to Coal Creek and back out to the road end. I biked in again a couple of weeks ago, 1hr 10m to Watson Creek bridge, and checked the first 20 traps. Two large very dead stoats reward enough for our efforts. South Island Robin hop round my boots, Kiwi call around the huts at night and there must be Whio on the rivers. Every dead stoat is another 150+ birds saved from predation. MeloYelo you have a part to play here.”