Cycling or Biking is a really popular way to get into the beautiful back country of New Zealand. The government has committed to having a cycle trail from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South and this has encouraged tourist operators to provide accomodation, equipment and transport for tourists to enjoy the great trails on offer. NZ Rent a Car have rentals cars, 4 wheel drives, trailers and vans available for hire to get you, your group and your gear to and from the trails.
There are also a large number of resources, books and websites with information on the trails. You can find a trail with terrain and climate to suit your ability, time restraints and the weather conditions. Two books which are really informative are the New Zealand Cycle Trail, North Island and South Island publications, both by Claudia Harsft. The detail covered in these books are Duration, Grade, Distance and Highest Point, websites and the best time to ride the trail. Points of interest such as activities, vistas and places of historical significance are included.
My favourite must do is the Alps 2 Ocean Trail in the South Island book. The starting point is the base of Mt Aoraki, New Zealand’s tallest peak and travels down through the beautiful MacKenzie Basin, past the beautiful hydro lakes, the Waitaki Valley and on to the coast at Oamaru. During the summer the weather is beautiful, with temperatures reaching into the 30’s .
Excerpt from The New Zealand Cycle Trail South Island
“ Cyclists can experience stunning vistas, wide open spaces and expansive landscapes: a World Heritage Alpine National Park, glacial fed turquoise natural and hydro lakes, golden tussock and green or dry grazing land, and picturesque limestone cliffs.
” In spring the alpine flowers are in bloom, summer brings the beautiful tussocks to life, with lovely warm summer days making it ideal to stop for a dip in one of the numerous lakes, autumn brings changes on colour and sometimes snow on the ranges“.
Another trail I think is must do is the nearly completed “Around the mountains trail”. This trail can be completed in 1 -5 days, but for most 4-5 days. Accomodation and transport facilities are fully operational for 2014 so you can start at either Walter Peak, the west arm of Lake Wakatipu or Kingston the south arm of Lake Wakatipu.
The really popular and probably original cycle trail in New Zealand is the Otago Rail Trail. The trail begins just out of Clyde and travels through the Central Otago to Middlemarch. This trail is always busy so booking is essential.
In the North Island the newly opened Hauraki Rail Trail is really popular for a day ride being so close to Tauranga Hamilton and Auckland. From Thames to Waihi it is recommended as a 1-2 day trail. The Karangahake Gorge is beautiful with searing cliff faces, and beautiful bush. There are lots of remnants from the Gold Mining days. The trail is flat so its a great trail to begin on.
There are shorter trails throughout the country, so while you are travelling through New Zealand taking a trail will allow you to take a break from your travels and get outside into the open. Hawkes Bay Trails have rides from 1-2 hours to a full 187km ride. You can eat, drink, and cycle your way around the vineyards on The Wineries Ride or head out to Cape Kidnappers on the coast where you can view the gannets, who can only be reached at low tide, so check the tides and time your ride.
Resources for cyclists
NZ Rent a Car have branches located throughout New Zealand and can help get you in a vehicle to access the most amazing cycle trails in New Zealand.