Cycle Touring in New Zealand


Cycle Touring in New Zealand
Not the easiest place to get to unless you're from Australia, New Zealand is well worth the extra travel. There is very little of the country not suitable for cycling and the level of services and facilities are among the best in the world - plus a big advantage for many is it is an English speaking country. Why should Aussies and Kiwis have it all to themselves!

The population is just over 4m and in a country 10% larger than the UK there is no shortage of space. Urban areas and some highways can be busy and not always cycle-friendly - particularly in the smaller North Island which has three quarters of the population. However of far more interest to most, is the extensive coastline and scenery plus the mixture of mountains, volcanoes, glaciers, and hot springs.
 
The climate is mild and temperate most of the year, ranging from sub-tropical up north to alpine in the south - however despite the abundance of excellent snow fields, the weather is rarely extreme either way. Rainfall is fairly high (especially in the winter on the North Island and summer on the South Island) with the effect of making the landscape lush with vegetation across the country.
 

Off-Road

To best appreciate the landscape one or more of the 23 "Great Rides" should be part of your tour. These trails are in the most scenic locations and are all built or designed with cyclists in mind. They are mostly off-road, following rivers and contours, and are unpaved making road bikes unsuitable. Many are rail trails - conversions from old railway lines, which are ideal as trains hate hills as much as most cyclists.
 
The trails range in level of difficulty but most are easily achievable by average fit riders. Some can be easily combined to make longer rides and they are well dispersed across the country. The first, best known, and probably easiest, is the 150km Otago Central Rail Trial that can be done in between one to five days depending on the rider.
 
Mountain bikers are also very well catered for with rugged mountain landscapes in most regions as well as purpose built mountain bike parks in Auckland, Kaiteriteri and Queenstown.

 
New Zealand Regions
 

On-Road

As a relatively small country there are tours linking most parts and a tour of either the North or South Island is very popular - there are longer versions that do both over two or more weeks. The road network is extensive but roads are often quite narrow away from the highways, and New Zealand motorists are not known as the most considerate to cyclists. Many of these roads can be very busy so are not recommended, particularly in the North Island, but otherwise are very enjoyable and a terrific way to take in the surrounding countryside - and a knowledgable tour guide will take all the best routes.
 
Long distance rides are very popular with over 1,600km from north to south, and with the major centres and attractions well connected, the route options are endless. However a deeper exploration into any particular region can be just as rewarding, if not more so.
 

North Island

Most tours on the North Island start from the gateway and largest city of Auckland. Further north and along the west coast do offer some good cycling, but the riding is more popular and interesting on the Coromandel Peninsula and especially around the sulphuric hot springs of rugged Rotorua. Rotorua is a springboard to several trails as well as the less populated north east coast.
 
Inland is Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake, and the surrounding area has a lot of cycling, both on and off road. East of Taupo is Napier and Hawke's Bay which is one of the most popular regions with cycle tourists. The cycling is generally flat and easy and the abundance of wineries helps explain the area's popularity.
 
Wellington in the south, the nation's capital, is very hilly as well as notoriously windy. The best cycling around here is the four sections of the Rimutaka Rail Trail. You can also get a ferry from Wellington across to the South Island - taking a bicycle is allowed and is inexpensive.
 

South Island

Marlborough, at the top of the island, is justifiably famous for it's wines and this unsurprisingly makes a bike tour even more attractive. There are three good trails up here ranging from the quite advanced Queen Charlotte Track to the easy Tasman's Great Taste Trail which is very accessible from sunny Nelson.
 
The sparsely populated wild west coast offers quiet roads, stunning Alpine scenery, glaciers and even rainforest. The 120km West Coast Wilderness Trail has 2-3 days relatively easy riding in a stunning setting.
 
Christchurch is the gateway to the South Island and many tours start or finish from here. The Canterbury region has lots to offer from mountain biking and hot springs around Hamner Springs to the varied options of Little River, the Banks Peninsula and Akaroa.
 
Further south is the longest Great Ride, the 312km Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail which has eight stages over the best of the South Island - including mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, plains and beaches.
 
In addition to the Rail Trail, Otago has other shorter trails that together can make up a longer more challenging tour - if that's what you're after. Otherwise each is a fantastic ride in it's own right. Dunedin also has some great road riding to complement the great trails and mountain biking in Otago.
 
Finally Queenstown, the skiers playground in winter, becomes a mountain biking paradise in summer. As well as the off-road Queenstown Trail and the longer Around the Mountains, Queenstown has one of the country's best mountain bike parks. There are also great wineries and restaurants for attractions off the saddle.
 
Check out below some of the awesome tours available from dozens of operators.
For more information on cycle touring we recommend the Tourism New Zealand website and the independent sites, cycletour.org.nz and newzealandcycletouring.blogspot.co.nz.

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274 Result(s) found

The Great Taste Trail Tour

0 Reviews
6 Day(s)
Easy/Moderate
195 Km
avg 39 Km
Self-guided

Enjoy exceptional tours over 3, 4, 5 or 6 days - We have itineraries to suit all abilities, especially a range of abilities within a group. We can even put together itineraries for groups made up of non-cyclists as well as cyclists. Chec ...

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Premium Great Taste Trail

0 Reviews
3 Day(s)
Easy/Moderate
115 Km
avg 38 Km
Self-guided

Allow us to take you to places most people don’t know exist. Experience the tranquility of the countryside, hop gardens, vineyards, orchards, majestic rivers, with a stunning backdrop of Kahurangi National Park. Many of our routes also pass ...

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Tasman Explorer

0 Reviews
5 Day(s)
170 Km
avg 34 Km
Self-guided

If you want to explore the area using the cycle trail and maybe some other cycling routes too and you enjoy planning your adventure but would like a little bit of help, then the Tasman Explorer is what you need.It is aimed at the experienced cycli ...

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Moutere Wine And Artisans Day Tour

0 Reviews
1 Day(s)
Easy/Moderate
35 Km
Guided|Self-guided

Visit the most scenic winery in Nelson, as well as several other boutique wineries offering award-winning wines. Discover New Zealand’s oldest pub, artisans’ studios, historical places of interest and stunning scenery all within a 10-3 ...

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Exclusive Luxury on The Great Taste Trail

0 Reviews
3 Day(s)
Easy/Moderate
Guided|Self-guided

Our two base tour allows our guests to enjoy both the coastal locations of Clifftops Retreat, Te Koi the Lodge at Bronte or Split Apple Retreat and ‘Edenhouse’, the boutique luxury lodge in the heart of the countryside.
...

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Alpine South

0 Reviews
6 Day(s)
Moderate
Guided

Queenstown and Wanaka are the jewels of NZ and the worldwide home of adventure tourism, think AJ Hacket bungy!

Mountain biking has now grown into the most popular sport in the Southern Lakes, due to its amazing diverse selection of ...

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Hot Lakes Adventure

0 Reviews
3 Hour(s)
Easy
7 Km
Guided

Hello! I'm Roge and I run Happy Ewe Cycle Tours, the only city cycle tour in Rotorua! Its a small company (me) that uses bicycles to give you a complete overview of Rotorua. I'll take you to 27 locations that best represents our historical, g ...

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Southern Scenic Tour

0 Reviews
7 Day(s)
Moderate
Guided

We follow the Southern Scenic route on a journey through magnificent mountains, along the shores of lakes and beside innumerable waterfalls to Milford Sound and beyond to the empty spaces of the Catlins Forest Park and the rugged Southern c ...

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South Island Grand Tour

0 Reviews
16 Day(s)
Mod/Advanced
1018 Km
avg 85 Km
Guided

Your South Island Cycle Adventure starts at Picton, a picturesque fishing town at the northern tip of the South Island. It is a small town (pop.2,600) nestling under the bush-clad hills of Queen Charlotte Sound, named by Captain Cook in 1770.
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Coromandel Beaches & Volcanoes

0 Reviews
15 Day(s)
Moderate
845 Km
avg 77 Km
Guided

Luxuriant forest and mountain backdrops set the scene. See a giant kauri tree and ride a bush railway at the quaint town of Coromandel . Bike by superb beaches and stop for a dip at lunch time. A farm stay will give you the opportunity to m ...

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Nelson Lakes

0 Reviews
7 Day(s)
Moderate
513 Km
avg 86 Km
Guided

Your South Island Cycle Adventure starts at Picton, a picturesque fishing town at the northern tip of the South Island. It's is a small town (pop.2,600) nestling under the bush-clad hills of Queen Charlotte Sound, named by Captain Cook ...

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Southern Alps of New Zealand cycling tour

0 Reviews
15 Day(s)
Moderate
1018 Km
avg 85 Km
Guided

Walk on a glacier, experience the rainforest on a range of short hikes and meet friendly New Zealanders. Ride to Mt Cook and stay on a sheep farm. Besides great biking, you can try jet-boating, rafting, scenic flights and bungy jumping. This is one o ...

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Southern Alps Tour

0 Reviews
10 Day(s)
Moderate
626 Km
avg 89 Km
Guided

Tens days of stunning scenery in one the most spectacular places on earth. Enjoy friendly Kiwi hospitality in a New Zealand cycling tour of the beautiful South Island. A superb scenic mix of mountain passes and easier coastal terrain that will deligh ...

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Coromandel Beaches

0 Reviews
8 Day(s)
Moderate
480 Km
avg 80 Km
Guided

The Coromandel Peninsula is a cycling gem lying east of Auckland, in one of New Zealand’s most diverse and breathtaking locations. Known for natural beauty and pristine golden beaches the peninsula is a relaxed and wonderful place to ...

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The Gannet Ride

0 Reviews
4 Hour(s)
Moderate
Self-guided

This self-guided ride starts and finishes from the Gannet Beach Adventures site at 475 Clifton Road, Clifton, Te Awanga, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand - no need for you to cart bikes all over the countryside. Turn right when you hit the beach then you&rsqu ...

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Lake Dunstan Trail & 3 Gorges

0 Reviews
5 Day(s)
Easy/Moderate
210 Km
avg 42 Km
Guided

Explore the full Lake Dunstan, Clutha Gold and Roxburgh Gorge trails at the perfect pace on this fully supported trip.

After warming up on the stunning Queenstown Trails we head to Lake Dunstan and follow the glistening lake's edge ...

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Winter West Coast Wilderness

0 Reviews
5 Day(s)
Easy/Moderate
183 Km
avg 37 Km
Guided

Bike and indulge on our special winter version of our 5 day West Coast Wilderness cycle trip. 

The West Coast is just as cycle-able in Winter as it is during Summer. So much so, that we haven't needed to change much of our sum ...

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Great West Coast Cycle

0 Reviews
9 Day(s)
Moderate
500 Km
avg 71 Km
Guided

Known as New Zealand's most famous and scenic multi-day cycle ride this spectacular trip from Christchurch to Queenstown is also regarded as one of the world's top five cycle touring routes. Averaging daily rides of up to 100kms, and many hig ...

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Alps to Ocean Classic

0 Reviews
6 Day(s)
Easy/Moderate
311 Km
avg 52 Km
Guided

Explore some of the South Island’s most spectacular landscapes by bike on our fully guided and supported Alps to Ocean Cycle tour.

From Tekapo, we head through the golden Mackenzie Country on canal paths to Lake Pukaki and the mo ...

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Marlborough and West Coast Cycle

0 Reviews
7 Day(s)
Moderate
519 Km
avg 74 Km
Guided

Exploring the northern regions of the South Island, this action packed cycling tour is sure to inspire as you cycle past bush clad lakes and tracks, along wild coastlines as well as sample some of New Zealand's very best wines! From Christchurch, ...

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