Showing posts with label North Island Cycle Touring. Show all posts
Showing posts with label North Island Cycle Touring. Show all posts

May 02, 2015

New Zealand Cycle Touring Route - to the West Coast South of Auckland

If you are heading south down from Auckland to the West coast of the North Island there is the option of using the highway to Hamilton which is known as the Waikato Expressway. This is the main highway to Hamilton and cyclists are allowed to use this road although the roading authority suggests that it is suitable for experienced cyclists. However, the expressway carries a high volume of traffic including lots of trucks and the speed limit is 100 kilometres an hour.

The decision to use this motorway should be based on whether or not you think that you would be comfortable on this road and an image is included below to help you make this decision.

There is an alternative route to travel south through Tuakau which has far less traffic but it is longer and has some reasonable hills to ride up (Refer map below). This route goes on the western side of the Waikato River.

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 07, 2015

New Zealand Cycle Touring Route - Gisborne to Napier

It is 215 kilometers between Gisborne and Napier on state highway 2 and the distance from Gisborne to Wairoa is 97 kilometers. There is an option of going on a quieter road to Wairoa via Tiniroto (100 kilometers) which is much quieter road and is a scenic ride with a pub located half way along the road. The second option is to go via the Morere Hot Springs which is 98 kilometers. The attraction of taking this route is that at Morere Hot Springs there is a camping ground and hot pools to rejuvenate in after climbing the 507m Wharerata hill. However if you take this option you need to take great care on this stretch of road as it is windy and narrow with little shoulders.

The irony is that the railway between Gisborne and Napier is closed and there have been suggestions that it would make a great rail trail. On the other hand others are advocating that the railway should be reintroduced. Either way cyclists would benefit.

From Wairoa it is 80 kilometers to Lake Tutira including a steep climb over the Taumatataua hill. There is a cafe in Tutira and a Department of Conservation Camp at Lake Tutira. It is then only 38 kilometers from Lake Tutira to Napier.

If you have more time you could visit the Mahia peninsula is an attractive place to visit with its beaches on the Pacific ocean and has camping facilities.

March 31, 2015


Cycle Touring Route - Around Wellington

Usually when visiting Wellington because it is a compact city with lots of hills cyclists tend not to think of it as a place to cycle in. If you are visiting Wellington do some exploring on your bike. Go to Oriental parade and ride around the bays through Evans Bay Parade and then past the airport to Shelley Bay Road. The coastal road goes past Scorching and Worser Bay and then past the airport on Moa Point Road to Lyall Bay.

Then ride past Houghton Bay to Island Bay where there is a cafe the Bach cafe that overlooks the Cook Straight. This can be a wild ride on a windy day but a fantastic ride on a fine day. Then go back to the city on Happy Valley Road to Aro Valley. At this point go uphill into the suburbs of Northland and Wadestown before heading back down into the central business area via Wadestown Road.

This ride is around 50ks and will give you an appreciation of how hilly Wellington is and how different it is from most cities. Although it is hilly a tour on your bike is the best way to see it.

One word of warning is that you need to take care because of the narrowness of the streets and one local rule is that bikes are not permitted in bus lanes so watch out for the buses. There is also the one way street system to contend with. Wellington, New Zealand

March 28, 2015

New Zealand Cycle touring Route - Napier to Waipukarau

This ride starts on the Hawkes Bay bike trail riding out to Clive along the foreshore and then turn left into Mill Road and follow the signs to Haumoana and Cape Kidnappers. Follow Mill Road through a roundabout and over Black Bridge. From there you go inland along the stopbanks beside the Tukituki River. 
Hawkes Bay is making great progress with its bike trails so that a day in Napier exploring the district on your bike is worth considering.
This is vineyards and orchards country so it is a great place to ride through. After a further eight kilometers back on country roads you arrive at the Tandem cafe on Te Mata Road in Havelock North. 
After a stop in the cafe proceed along Te Mata Road which is busy road to Middle Road and then onto Waipukarau which is 50ks away.

On the cycleway to Clive

Cycleway Gates

Bikeway across bridge - great!

On road to Havelock North

March 27, 2015

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Cycle Touring Route North out of Auckland

As already outlined getting out of Auckland either south or north can be problematical. This is because the busy roads have difficulty in coping with the traffic cars and trucks let alone cyclists and the roads mostly have minimal shoulders.

There is a way around this if you head north out to Helensville rather than going on the main road north through Albany.  Use the north western cycleway to get to Helensville although at the moment the cycleway is very difficult to follow because of  the motorway reconstruction. Having reached Kumeu use the state highway to ride to Helensville. There are some back roads from Kumeu to Helensville to use to miss the traffic on this stretch if you have a map. 

From Helensville the ride up the coast to Wellsford includes some demanding hills and is a distance of 57km. From Wellsford unfortunately you need to ride on the main highway for a period and then turn left onto State Highway 12 on your way to Dargaville which is 98ks away.
The next step is to ride to Rawene which is 106ks where you catch the ferry north. 

North Island Cycle Touring

New Zealand is a hilly country so cycle touring of necessity involves a good deal of hill climbing. The map link below gives you an  idea of the topography of New Zealand.

The choice of routes is determined by the topography and the condition and the suitability of the roading network for cycling. There are not always secondary roads to ride on because of the topography but in some areas there are secondary roads and these should be used by cyclists rather than sticking to main highways.
One relevant statistic is that 76% of the population on New Zealand live in the North Island. This suggests that cycle touring in the North Island is always going to be more difficult than in the South Island. If I had a month to tour by bike in New Zealand I would always choose the South Island because of its population density and its unique scenic highlights. This recommendation comes from a cyclist who lives in Auckland.   

In the North Island if you are traveling from Auckland to Wellington the east coast is a good option although the west coast is also interesting. From  Auckland one option is to go down the east coast and head to Tauranga and Gisborne and then continue down through the Wairarapa to Wellington. This is a good route with its share of hills with the ride to the East Cape and Gisborne being a highlight.

When heading south out of Auckland the recommended route if you are going south to the east coast is to take the ferry from downtown Auckland to Pine Harbour and to begin riding from there to avoid the traffic and the lack of roads with adequate shoulders.

Route South from Pine Harbour to the East Coast

The ride from Auckland up to Northland is well worth doing but the main road north out of Auckland is generally not suitable for cycle touring so an alternative route is required for cyclists. There is an alternative route to use that goes through Helensville and up the west coast. 

The same applies when going south down through Hamilton on the west coast. There are alternative routes going through Tuakau and riding on the western side of the Waikato river rather than on the Waikato expressway.

Roads in the North Island not suitable for cycle touring

  • Auckland to Hamilton - Waikato expressway - cyclists are permitted on this road and it has adequate shoulders but it is very busy and it is not a pleasant place to be.
  • State Highway 5 - Napier to Taupo - high traffic density with limited shoulders
  • State Highway 1 - Auckland to Whangarei
  • State Highway 1 - Levin to Wellington

Note: This list is not an exhaustive one and are only the roads that I have experienced

March 03, 2015

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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.

January 22, 2015

Cycle Touring Route - Gisborne to Opotiki

It is a journey of 141 kilometers from Gisborne to Opotiki on state highway 2 via the Waioeka Gorge but you can also go to Matawai and ride to Opotiki using the Motu cycle trails. The reward will be that you ride on isolated back country roads and tracks where there are few people or cars.

It is a ride of 70 kilometers from Gisborne to Matawai where we stayed in the hotel after a hard day into the wind. The small settlement of Motu is 13.3 kilometers away from Matawai using the Motu Rail Trail. There is then a significant climb rising from 500m to 750m but the road while shingle is superbly graded.

There is then a choice of riding down the road or using the Pakihi track to get to Opotiki.

Matawai Hotel
Matawai Classic Kiwi Pub
We went down the Pakihi track which is a walking track that is also used for mountain biking. My touring bike was not really suitable for this ride. There are significant drop offs down to the Motu river in the valley below so care needs be taken. It proved easier and safer to walk my bike down the track but this took most of the day.  The option of using the road trail rather than the track may have been a better option on my bike.
Motu Valley


Motu Valley
Motu River
Pakahi Track

November 23, 2014

New Zealand Cycle Route - Tauranga to Gisborne

This route is via the East Cape around the coast to Gisborne and is a journey of 493 kilometers.

The ride can be done in easy stages so that there is time to enjoy the ride and the towns that you visit each day. The ride out to the East Cape from Te Araroa is short but is a day not to be missed.There is a climb to the lighthouse which includes 728 stairs so you need time for that.
At Tikitiki the St Marys church incorporates the carvings and Tukutuku woven panels which were created by the local Ngati Porou craftspeople and the pulpit was a gift from the Te Arawa tribe.

From To Distance
Awakeri Hot Springs Hawai 87
Hawai Waihou Bay 75
Waihou Bay Te Araroa 65
Te Araroa East Cape 44
Te Araroa Tokomaru Bay 80
Tokomaru Bay Gisborne 93

This route is through isolated and remote country so is ideal for cycle touring. The scenery is spectacular as the route hugs the coast with fantastic beaches and a dark blue ocean and while it is rolling country and there are demanding hills they are not to difficult. There are camping grounds and other accommodation on offer.

One thing to watch out for are the logging trucks especially as you near Gisborne. The drivers we found were professional and we took great care to allow for the trucks but if there are logging trucks going both ways there is not a lot of room left on the road for bikes. The condition of the roads are also deteriorating as a result of the high volume of trucks.

Papamoa Beach


Pacific Coastline

Road out of Hicks Bay
On the road to the Cape Lighthouse

Road to the East Cape

Road to the East Cape

East Cape Lighthouse

The splendid isolation of the East Cape

Te Araroa

Church at Tikitiki


New Zealand Cycle Touring Route - Auckland to Tauranga

In selecting a cycling route out of Auckland to the Coromandel or points further south the main consideration is to avoid busy main roads.

A good option is to catch the ferry from central Auckland to Pine Harbour and you also get to see one of the main attractions of Auckland the Hauraki Gulf. The ferry leaves from downtown Auckland and takes about half an hour. Once you are in Pine Harbour you are on quiet country roads which head  south alongside the coast to Maraetai and then to Clevedon and then down through Kawakawa Bay to the Thames coast and down to Kaiaua.

From Kaiaua ride onto Waitakaruru and then on the right take the Canal E Road through to the main highway and  turn left and you are on State Highway 2 and you can ride through Ngatea to Paeroa.

This can be a busy road with lots of trucks and there is an option of using the following back country roads. Heading along state highway 2 turn right into Central Road and then Torehape Road/Kaihape/Ferry/Reservoir Chanal Road/Awaiti Chanal Road/Awaiti W/Wani Rd/Pukahu. Then turn right into State Highway 2 cross the bridge and ride into Paeroa.On this route there will be very few cars or trucks to contend with.

Once you are in Paeroa you head up the Karangahake gorge but not on the main road as it is very busy and does not have an adequate shoulder. Instead use the Hauraki Rail Trail which is not steep. To get on the rail trail heading out of Paeroa turn right into State Highway 26 and then left into Rotokohu Road and this leads to the Rail Trail. Continue on the rail trail and exit the rail trail by turning right at Waitawheta Road.

This back country route joins up with State Highway 2 about 15 kilometres from Katikati. The main highway into Katikati has a shoulder but the traffic is very busy and care needs to be taken over this section.

The ride into Tauranga from Katikati is the busiest on the route and on this section there are no shoulders on the bridges. Great care is therefore required and you may have to wait to allow traffic to go by before crossing the bridges.

Past Maraetai
Hauraki Gulf

Crossing the Hauraki plains on the back roads

Hauraki Rail Trail

The Firth of Thames

September 26, 2014

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Cycle Touring Route in Auckland - Pine Harbour to Clevedon

One of the main attractions of Auckland is its harbour and as a visitor to the city one of the best things you can do is to get out into the Hauraki Gulf which is a marine park that covers more than 1.2 million hectares and is made up of more than 50 islands.

One way of getting an idea of the extent of the Hauraki Gulf is to catch the fast ferry to Pine Harbour from downtown Auckland a journey of around 30 minutes. 

Once in Pine Harbour you can get back on your bike and ride to Maraeti a small seaside town which is 5.3 kilometres away. This is an attractive coastline on a narrow country road. One word of warning is that you should avoid weekend days in the middle of summer as the road then becomes very busy and there are no shoulders. Then ride 15.9 kilometres inland to Clevedon which is a small rural town where there are good cafes.

You can then return to Pine Harbour to catch the ferry the way you came or go in a round trip to Whitford which is 10.9 kilometres from Clevedon and it is a further 10.4 kilometres back to Pine Harbour. 

This ride like the Waiheke ride allows you to get to see a bit of the gulf and its beaches and both rides are well worth doing while you are in Auckland. There is also the advantage that you escape the traffic of the city.
The ferry to Pine Harbour can also be used as a good way of getting out of Auckland when travelling south to the Corromandel and Tauranga. 

Half an hour on the ferry

Pine Harbour


September 05, 2014

New Zealand Cycling Touring Route from Waipukurau to Masterton

Note - I have not yet done this ride but intend to include it in a future ride.

This a ride of 200 kilometres on highway 52 from Waipukurau to Masterton which is a good way of riding South not on the main road.

You travel along a very quiet road on highway 52 on Porangahau road for 45 kilometres to Porangahau which is a small village with a pub and a local store. You then head to Wimbedon Tavern which is 21kilometres away. The next village is Pongaroa which is 112kms from Waipukurau. It has a tavern and a cafe. Then about 9km South is Glenross Lodge backpackers which is a good place to stay overnight. it is then 88ks to Masterton going though Alfredton.

This ride avoids the main roads but is remote so you need to take adequate food and bike tools as there is no back up until you get into Masterton. You will get to see the hill with one of the longest place names in the world. Just do not ask me to spell it!

June 29, 2014

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New Zealand Cycle Touring Route from Auckland Airport to Downtown

In common with many international airports assembling your bike and riding into the city is not easy as there is no dedicated bikeway into the city. It is 21.4 kilometres into the city from the International Air Terminal and you need to allow yourself plenty of time as the cycling route while interesting is fairly circuitous.
When you ride on the road out of the airport terminal there is an adequate shoulder to ride on but you must then take a secondary route because bikes are not allowed on the motorways. The route out to the airport is very popular with local cyclists as you can get out into the countryside alongside the Manukau Harbour. If this is your first experience of cycling in New Zealand traffic be aware that you need to take great care as motorists are not that aware or tolerant of cyclists on the roads.

One option if you do not want to stay in the city is to camp at Ambury park which is 8.1 kilometers from the airport. The facilities here are only for camping and the park is on the route into town.

Route to Ambury Park

As a cyclist you must abide by the rules of the road which are included in the road code:
New Zealand Road Code for Cyclists

The route into Auckland:

Cycling Route into Auckland

May 13, 2014


New Zealand Cycle Touring Route - Rotorua to Cambridge and Return

The idea behind this ride was to do a round trip from Rotorua that included parts of the Rotorua Bike Trail and the Waikato Bike Trail.
In planning the route the main challenge was the section of the main highway between Tirau and Rotorua which was considered to busy to be included so an alternative route was chosen.

Cycleway heading south out of Rotorua

The ride started by using the Rotorua Bike Trail that starts by Lake Rotorua and heads south alongside the main highway. The bike trail is mostly concrete and is separated from the road which is great as it is a busy highway.

The route follows the Rotorua Bike Trail up to Waimangu (26ks from Rotorua) and past Lake Oharo before turning right onto State Highway 38 and then onto State Highway 5 heading south before proceeding to Waiotapu. The ride then goes on Waikite Valley Road to Lake Ohakuri and then to Ongaroto Road. Follow this road to Whakamaru and then Mangakino. It is a total of 114ks from Rotorua to Mangakino. There is ample accommodation available in Mangakino.

As already outlined the ride was planned to include the Rotorua and Waikato bike trails but this proved impractical because the Waikato Bike Trail is not continuous and is more suited to mountain bikes.There is a section of the Waikato bike trail from Whakamaru to Mangakino which gets you alongside the river and is manageable on touring bikes.
In most places on the route the road had sufficient space for bikes and there was minimal traffic.

The next section of the ride is from Mangakino to Arapuni on the Waipapa Road which is a distance of 50ks and includes a significant climb in the middle and a long downhill at the end. Once you have reached Arapuni there are options to choose from. You can ride 14kms into Putaruru or continue on to Cambridge which is a further 40kms.

We went to Putaruru and left out the Cambridge section and headed out of Putaruru for 10kms on the main road to Whites Road and then turned into Leslie road which is the alternative route back to Rotorua via Mamaku. It is 27ks from Whites Road to Mamaku and a further 20.5ks into Rotorua.If you go on to Cambridge you can link back to Leslie Road easily and are only on the main highway for a short time.

Leslie Road leads up through the forest and starts of as a sealed surface but conditions deteriorate as you head up the road with a short stretch of the road being to boggy to ride. As an alternative route to the main highway it is interesting although challenging.

On the cycleway

Leslie Road