November 02, 2014

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Planning Your New Zealand Cycling Tour

Another Hill near Middlemarch

When planning a cycle tour in New Zealand it is important to be aware that not all roads are suitable for cycle touring. This is because some of the main roads around the larger urban centres, including Auckland and Wellington,  are very busy and do not have adequate shoulders on the roads for cyclists. As well drivers on these main roads tend to be aggressive so that while you  are entitled to ride on these roads it will not always be an enjoyable or a safe experience.

The goal of this blog is to provide basic information on the rides that I have done that I have enjoyed the most usually as part of a longer cycle tour. This hopefully will give cycle tourists some inspiration as to the best places to visit when they plan their tour.

In this blog I will identify the best cycling routes in New Zealand where there is spectacular scenery, great people and where there are adequate roads including shoulders on the roads for cyclists and low traffic volumes. On some roads there may not be any shoulders for cyclists but there are very low traffic volumes.

In planning your route as already mentioned you should avoid the main roads around Auckland and Wellington and concentrate on the areas where there are low traffic volumes. Fortunately most parts of New Zealand have a low population density and there are great touring routes in both the North and South Islands. As a cyclist using the road you are required to obey the rules of the road so you should make yourself familiar with these before you start..

Link to New Zealand Road Code

New Zealand is a hilly country and you will need to look forward to a few challenging hills along the way. Some of the roads are on shingle which can take some getting used to but can negotiated reasonably easily with a little practice.
When planning your trip you should also consider the off road rides included in the New Zealand Cycle Trail such as the Otago Rail Trail.

As you ride around you will note that New Zealand countryside is often very green and this is because most areas of New Zealand have between 600 and 1600 mm of rainfall, spread throughout the year with a dry period during the summer. You therefore need to be prepared for some rain during your stay. Because no part of New Zealand is more than 120 kilometers from the sea you are also likely to be affected by the wind.

Finally a good strategy is to learn from those who have gone before you and I have included a link to the Cycling Dutch Girl who has a fantastic website with great images of her cycle touring in New Zealand. She has included a map of her New Zealand routes which generally avoid the main roads as much as possible.

If you have any questions on cycle touring please use the contact form at the bottom to contact me  and I will endeavour to answer promptly.
I will also include posts on the issues that are facing the cyclist on the road as cycling becomes more popular as a pastime and as a mode of transport.


  1. Hi. A group of us are planning on riding from Christchurch, via Arthurs Pass and the West Coast to Wanaka and Queenstown. We would fly internationally into Christchurch with bike boxes and out of Queenstown. Any idea on a cost effective way to get our bike boxes from Christchurch airport to Queenstown Airport?