Showing posts with label Cycle Touring New Zealand. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cycle Touring New Zealand. Show all posts

March 26, 2020

Cycle Touring in New Zealand

New Zealand Cycle Touring Routes

This blog includes details of the cycle touring routes that I have ridden over the past few years.
The objective of this blog is to provide cycle tourers with information on the best cycle touring routes in New Zealand.

From my experience there are different types of cycle tourists. Some are keen on achieving goals such as riding from the North Cape to the Bluff while others may concentrate on seeing the best scenic parts of New Zealand. Which ever group you fit in this blog should provide you with valuable information to enable you to plan your route.

Part of the enjoyment of cycle touring is riding on roads that have adequate shoulders or have low traffic volumes and the blog includes strategies to avoid busy roads that have high traffic volumes and inadequate provision for cyclists,

In planning your cycling route it is important to have an idea of what to expect on the ride and based on the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words images of what you will see on the cycle routes have been included. The route descriptions are not intended to provide a turn by turn route description.

To give you a general idea of what to expect when cycling around New Zealand the links below show images and descriptions of some of the rides that I have done. I have included the Nevis and Molesworth rides in the South Island. These rides are on shingle roads and while the scenery is magnificent there are some significant climbs. You can stick to the tarmac and still see lots of great scenery.

Happy pedaling!

April 26, 2015

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New Zealand Cycle Touring - Routes in and out of Auckland.

Tamaki Drive
Auckland is the usual starting point for cycle tourists arriving from overseas.
The route from the Auckland International Airport into the city can be difficult because of the lack of dedicated bikeways but the recommended route avoids the busy main roads where possible.

Route from the Auckland Airport to the City

There are three routes out of Auckland depending on which direction you are going to head. If heading south there is generally the choice of the east or west coasts in order to ride south to Wellington. Getting in and out of Auckland on a bike is problematical because most of the roads have high traffic volumes with inadequate road shoulders for cyclists. The following routes are quieter and although usually longer will provide a more comfortable cycling experience.

Route One – Heading South on the East Coast of the North Island
This route starts by taking the ferry from downtown Auckland to Pine Harbour.

Route heading south on the East Coast of the North Island

Alternative Routes – Heading South on the East Coast of the North Island These are alternative routes to head south on the east coast.
Alternative routes heading south on the east coast

Route Two – Heading South on the West Coast of the North Island
This route heads out of Auckland South on the western side of the North Island.

Routes out of Auckland heading south on the West Coast

Route 3 – Heading North on the West Coast of the North Island
This route takes you through Helensville and avoids the busy and narrow main roads to Northland.

Route out of Auckland north on the West Coast

April 10, 2015


New Zealand Cycle Touring Route - Taihape to Napier

This 136km ride crosses from Taihape over the Gentle Annie to Fernhill in the Hawkes Bay and is a lot easier than it used be when it was mostly gravel but it is now all sealed. Nevertheless it is still a hard ride with some steep inclines and descents.
The Gentle Annie gets its name from the steep descent into the Kaweka Forest. Approximately halfway between Taihape and Napier after crossing the Ngaruroro river is the Department of Conservation Kuripapango campground which has toilets and there is a hut called Robsons Lodge which must be booked. This can be a good place to stop if 76 kilometres is far enough to travel in one day. The ride features spectacular views as you head down into the Rangitikei Gorge and then fantastic views of the Central Plateau. The route goes through a remote and scenic part of the North Island so it is worthwhile taking an extra day to enjoy the views rather than pushing through to Napier in one day.

Rangitikei River

Ngaruroro River Kuripapango

Heading to Napier

April 04, 2015

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New Zealand Cycle Touring Route - Middlemarch to Clyde

The Otago rail trail is 150 kilometers long and extends from Middlemarch to Clyde and can be easily fitted into your cycle touring ride. The surface of the trail is not perfect but can be negotiated on a touring bike provided you are not trying to cover the distance to quickly.

The Otago rail trail has become a very popular ride especially for those just taking up cycling. This is because it is off the road and as it is on an old railway the grades are not too steep and also because there are lots of cafes and accommodation along the way so that you can do shorter distances if you are not yet ready to do 80ks a day or want to take more time enjoying the countryside.

The central Otago landscape is distinctive and is well worth riding through provided it is not in the middle of winter when it can be very cold with a good chance of bad weather including snow.

March 03, 2015


The Rainbow Road and Molesworth Station

The Rainbow Road and Molesworth Station provide a fantastic opportunity to cycle tour in the South Island High Country.  The Rainbow road and the Molesworth Station are closed during the winter because of the harsh environment with frequent snow during the winter. Even when traveling in the middle of the summer you need to be prepared for sudden changes in the weather. You also need to carry all of your food for at least six nights if you are cycling and are aiming at seeing it all properly.

The Acheron Road through Molesworth station is open from Labour weekend Saturday to Easter
Monday or the second weekend in April (whichever is the later date).

The Rainbow Road entrance is about 7 kilometers from St Arnaud which is 186 kilometers from Picton.At the start to the Rainbow skifield the road is in good condition but deteriorates as you climb and some sections are very difficult to ride on. Part of the way up there is a private road to cross and there is a fee of $2 to pay.

There are options where you can ride through on a supported tour without panniers.

The Molesworth Station is spread over 180,470 hectares and is larger in area than Stewart Island and is nearly 60 kilometers long and is close to that at its widest point. The farm is owned by the Crown and is managed by the Department of Conservation. It is the single largest farm in New Zealand and is a land of dominating landscapes. 

The following are the accommodation options: 

  1. Cold Water Creek - campsite, water and toilets
  2. Lake Sedgemere Hut - 6 bunk DOC hut, toilet, water in creek, no cooking
  3. Lake Tennyson - 10 campsites, free, Toilet. Idyllic camping by lake if weather is good
  4. Acheron - 20 campsites, $6pp, tenting only,toilet,water.
  5. Molesworth Cob Cottage - 20 campsites, $6pp, tenting only, toilet, water
Link to Ride Images
My New Zealand Two Islands Ride 2015

The Rainbow Road before the skifield

St James Road and Rainbow
The Rainbow Road can be difficult to negotiate

Molesworth Station
In the Molesworth
Cottage Molesworth Station

The Rainbow Road

Lake Tennyson

Cattle Muster Molesworth Station

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New Zealand Cycle Touring Route - Masterton to Wellington

This route is important to cycle tourists because it allows them to ride from the Wairarapa to Wellington without the need to cross the Rimutaka Ranges on the main highway. It is also a scenic ride well worth doing.

From Masterton travel on SH2 through Carterton and Greytown to Featherston a distance of 35.7 kilometers. Then use the Rimutaka Rail Trail to ride into Wellington. The rail trail is ideal for touring bikes because the Rimutaka incline was built for the Fell railway engines and is therefore not too steep. There is one small section that is difficult to negotiate. Once you have crossed into the valley on the west side you can use the Hutt River Trail to travel into Wellington. The bike trail is well sign posted. When you reach Petone turn right and cross the bridge and then head south into Wellington.
The Hutt River Trail includes gates that are designed to exclude vehicles but they are not well designed as they are difficult to get through with bike panniers. There is the option of riding on the road rather than the bikeway if this proves to difficult.

Link to further ride Images

 My New Zealand Two Islands Ride 2015

Rimutaka Incline

Rimutaka Rail Trail

Hutt River Trail

The bikeway alongside the motorway into Wellington is not well designed and needs further work to make it more usable.
There are campsites on the Rimutaka Rail Trail after you reach the top of the incline where you can camp rather than riding directly into Wellington.

December 09, 2014


Cycle Touring - Transportation within New Zealand

Internal Transport for Bikes in New Zealand

When cycle touring around New Zealand there may be times where you want to use public transport to carry your bike between cities.
The options available include flying,bus, train and boat.
Because bikes are not that easy to transport there are special conditions that you need to be aware of when you include your bike with your luggage.

Christchurch International Airport

Air Travel

Bikes in general can be carried on planes at no additional cost provided you do not exceed your ticket weight restriction. This means that you have to have a good idea of how much your pannier bags and bike weigh.

The main domestic carriers are Air New Zealand and Jetstar.

Both airlines offer cheaper fares but you have to book well in advance of your travel to take advantage of these.

Air New Zealand require that your bike is contained in a bike bag or a bike box and their requirements are:

Jetstars bike Policy

As can be seen from the airline policies bikes need to be disassembled in order to be carried by Air New Zealand and Jetstar.
There are bike assembly spaces at Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown airports that are not that easy to find. It is a good idea to carry some duct tape to use when you are packing your bike.

The main thing is to ensure that you have plenty of time before your flight departs to get a bike box and to then pack your bike. This can be very important when you are boarding a flight going out of New Zealand. Air New Zealand can sell you a bike box.

Bus Travel

I recently travelled from Opotiki to Auckland by Inter City bus which was a enjoyable although a slow experience. The main consideration is the possibility that you will not be able to carry your bike on the bus because of lack of space even though you have booked a ticket. If you travel at peak times you will run the risk of not being able to load your bike because of lack of space and  some services do not carry bikes.  When you make your booking you are required to inform the bus company that you have a bike to transport and all bikes must have the pedals removed and   chain covered. I got around this by tapping a carton over the chain and bubble wrap around the pedals. The Naked Bus Company also offer cheap fares and the following is the link to their policy covering bikes.

Boat Travel

The boat trip between the North and South Islands is a popular way to move between the islands and is scenic as well as convenient as you do not have to disassemble your bike.

Train Travel

I have travelled from Wellington to Auckland by train which was an all day trip with the most interesting part being the ride through the volcanic plateau which includes the Raurimu spiral passing by Mt Ruapehu, Tongario and Ngauruhoe. It is a convenient way to travel as there was plenty of storage space but the ticket costs have gone up and it is now not the cheapest way to travel but is worth considering rather than flying.

November 02, 2014


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.

August 24, 2014


Cycle Touring - Rides Planned

There are still lots of New Zealand cycling routes to be covered in future posts. On thing about cycle tourists is that they are either just about to leave on a tour either in New Zealand or overseas or they are planning the next one.

  1. Wairarapa - highlights to include ride over the Remutaka incline from Masterton along the Remutaka rail trail and returning via Days Bay and the Orongorongo station to Masterton.
  2.  The South Island section of the ride to include the Rainbow Road to Hanmer and then the Molesworth station road on the return to Picton.


The Attractions of Cycle Touring

After deciding to go on a cycle tour there are two parts to the process both of which I find enjoyable. Firstly there is the planning of the route and finding out everything you need to know before commencing your journey. The goal when planning your ride is to find safe and interesting routes which if possible are well away from the main roads.

The second part is that when you are on the ride what you do each day is usually very flexible. In this way you can remove the need to be at a particular destination each night for booked accommodation. If you have to keep to your timetable this adds pressure and takes away from the possibility of changing your plans if you find an interesting place to spend more time in.

When you are cycle touring all you have is in your panniers so especially if you are camping you do not carry anything you do not need. The art of packing your panniers is important to a cycle tourist.

While you are always on the move when cycle touring you become well acquainted with the local topography and landscape in a way that is not possible in a car. You remember the hills but these are not to bad if you travel light and give yourself plenty of time. Food is your fuel so visiting cafes and cooking your meals each day are an enjoyable part of the ride as well as the odd glass of beer at the end of the day.

A question that is often raised is that cycle touring is to dangerous? In my view it is not dangerous if you plan your ride well and obey the laws of the road. On occasions you may have to get of your bike if you think it is unsafe and wait until for example the logging trucks have gone by.

In cycle touring there are classes of riders. You may be a cycle tourist who left your country two years ago and you are on your way around the world. On the other hand you may be doing the Otago rail trail and be doing only a few kilometres in a day. In both cases you will enjoy the freedom and challenges that cycle touring offers.

I started my rides a few years ago and I have enjoyed visiting towns especially in the rural areas all over New Zealand and I have a lot more territory to cover. As they say get on your bike!