Every year thousands of New Zealanders take part in a number of fun and competitive cycling events held around the country. These events are often fundraisers and offer the chance to see the countryside from a different perspective as well as contributing to a worthy cause.
Towns and cities hosting cycle events come alive with the influx of support crews, families and spectators, creating a hive of activity, deals and entertainment. While the cycle challenges are a good excuse to get away for a few days, it needn’t be all about bikes. Pack up the kids, call in the troops, or just treat yourself and your partner to a fantastic fun filled experience for all. Looking for a cycle challenge near you? Here are our top picks:
The Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge
One of the southern hemisphere’s most popular cycling events, the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge takes place annually in the central North Island town of Taupo. The Cycle Challenge is recognised by the International Cycling Union as one of the six top recreational rides in the world and attracts a staggering number of riders from across New Zealand and around the world.
Riders have the option to complete a 160 km circuit of Lake Taupo, or choose from half, quarter or endurance distances, there is even a 5 km ride suitable for children and group rides options. Taupo also offers many charming rewards and distractions above and beyond the cycle challenge, do a spot of sight-seeing at the legendary Huka Falls if you’ve never been, the sight of 13 million litres of water a minute is well worth the very short drive.
Lake Taupo itself is actually a giant volcanic crater and the area is still a hot spot of thermal and geothermally-heated pools, perfect for soothing your aching calves. Several, such as Taupo DeBretts and AC Baths, are ideal for family groups or weary cyclists, with warm water playgrounds, hydroslides, private pools and BBQ or sauna facilities. For everything you need to know about the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge, please check their very comprehensive website, or check for updates on their Facebook page.
The Motu Special Mountain Bike Challenge
Looking for an off-road cycle challenge? The Motu Special takes you to the small settlement of Motu, approximately 70 minutes drive inland from Gisborne. The event offers five mountain bike courses and is tailored to suit children as well as experienced adult competitors. This annual event is held as a fundraiser with money collected from the modest entrance fees going to Motu Community House, a local hostel. Motu Community House is part of the facilities offered at Motu Trails, encompassing over 90kms of cycle/walking tracks and minor roads in the unspoiled wilderness of the Eastern Bay of Plenty.
The event itself will takes place in winter, starting and finishing at Motu Community House. The five categories are named after birds, to reflect the area’s strong conservation ethos; the Tomtit Special for individual kids aged 7 -10 years, the Kiwi Special for individuals 11 – 15 years, the Blue Duck Special is perfect for adult first timers, the NZ Falcon Special is an open short course of about 25km for competitors over 16 years and the Weka Special is an open long course of about 50km, again for competitors over 16 years.
As remote as it is, Motu has a longstanding connection with hosting major sporting events. The Motu Road is a fondly remembered stage of the Rally of New Zealand, which back in the 1990s was part of the World Championship circuit. The Motu Road stage was also revived in the Rally of Gisborne as part of the New Zealand Rally Championship. In multisport, the Motu Challenge has been held annually since 1994 and is one of the sport’s iconic events. Including biking, running and kayaking.
The Abel Tasman Cycle Challenge
Mountain ranges, rivers, streams, estuary’s and golden sandy beaches are the backdrop to this inaugural cycling event hosted in sunny Nelson. The popular Abel Tasman Cycle Challenge is made up of a network of roads linked together to create a rewarding ride of just under 160 km in length. The event offers a four stage structure with the option of completing the stages either in a team or solo. Stage one is 35 km, stage two 40 km, stage three 33 km and stage four the longest at 50 km. All experience levels and abilities are catered for and the ride can be completed on road or mountain bikes, or even an electric bike!
The Nelson region is famous for its beautiful golden bays, local arts and crafts and untouched national parks. With kayaking, hiking, mountain biking and fishing just some of the great activities on offer, Nelson is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream holiday location. If you have the time, taking the short drive out to the Abel Tasman National Park, definitely a must do when visiting the region. The Abel Tasman National Park is accessible by foot, boat or kayak, its sheltered bays, native bushland and golden beaches are perfect for camping, exploring and swimming.
The Nelson district is not just all about sand and sea, with over three hundred artists in the region, there are plenty of local galleries, artists’ studios and markets worth visiting. Buy direct from the artist, or seek out the jeweller who created the Lord of The Rings One Ring, whatever your desire Nelson has every type of art form on offer.
The Coast Road Cycle Challenge
Want to ride one of the top ten stretches of road on the planet? Check out the Coast Road Challenge on the West Coast of the South Island. Surrounded by breath taking rocky cliffs, native bush, farmland and ocean views the ride takes you south from Westport along the Great Coast Road, past the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes finishing in Greymouth.
Riders are offered the choice of two stages or the full 100km combined distance. The first stage is 55km ending at the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki. The second leg is 45km ending near the Monteiths Brewery in Greymouth. Individuals, two person teams and tandem bikes are permitted, conditions apply. See here for more information regarding entry fees and the course route.
Experience some of the famous West Coast hospitality while you are in town and explore a little by rental car, visit the Shantytown Heritage Park, a replica gold rush town complete with its own steam train ride and museum. Or enjoy a stroll along the Point Elizabeth Walkway as it takes you along the coastal clifftops of the Rapahoe Scenic Reserve. Hiking and walking tracks are abundant in and around Greymouth, allowing visitors access to some amazing scenery and wildlife spotting opportunities.
For more New Zealand cycling events see the Cycling New Zealand website or to hire a reliable rental car for your travels across the country contact NZ Rent A Car today. Enjoy your next cycling challenge and remember always stay safe on out there on the roads.