Biking through New Zealand is so much fun!
If ever there was a country made for exploring on a bicycle, it is undoubtedly New Zealand. With its breathtaking scenery and a wealth of attractions to explore, biking your way around the country could very well turn out to be the ride of a lifetime. As you ride through some stunning landscapes, you will be introduced to New Zealand’s cultural delights. ‘Nga Haerenga’ (the journeys) are the best way to get around the country. When you’re on a bicycle it becomes that much easier to get off the beaten tracks and stumble upon unexpected treasures.
New Zealand has a rich network of bicycle trails crisscrossing its wilderness, so it is good news to know that renting a bicycle is easy too. Almost every major city and the main centres around the Great Rides have plenty of rental providers. And the rides come in all sizes, to match every level of stamina and enthusiasm. From a few hours, to a day to a week, choose one that fits your idea of fun. Then there’s the Tour Aotearoa which is one of the greatest bicycle backpacking adventures in the world. It is a test of your will and endurance as you travel around 3,000 km from Cape Regina to Bluff.
If you’re keen to explore New Zealand on bicycle, you have plenty of choices. So, get ready for the ride of a lifetime through some epic scenery that seems to have jumped straight out of a world of fantasy.
Before you start…
Before you embark on your biking adventure, here are a few tips that will prepare you and really let you enjoy your ride.
West Coast Wilderness Trail
This is the heritage cycle trail of New Zealand that begins at Greymouth in the north and ends at Ross in the south. It passes through the Southern Alps, rainforests, beaches and lakes, but is largely flat. It is considered to be an easy enough trail, suitable for beginners. The trail is 139 kilometres long and takes around 4 days to complete at the rate of 35 kilometres a day. It leads you through the fascinating history of New Zealand as it retraces old railway lines, tram lines and even old packhorse tracks.
The section between Kumara and Lake Kaniere starts at the restored Theatre Royal Hotel in Kumara. It gradually climbs up the Kawhaka Pass leading through dense forests, historic water races, bridged gorges and Cowboy Paradise. Spend a night at the Lake Kaniere Reserve before taking on the flat section between Hokitika and Ross which spans 11 restored bridges and the Mananui Tramline.
Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail
At 306 kilometres long, this is the longest cycling trail in New Zealand. You can cover it in 6 days at the rate of around 50 kilometres a day. From the base of the Southern Alps to the Pacific Ocean, the trail serves up a veritable feast of spectacular panoramas and memorable experiences. The trail mixes it up with cross-country tracks, old railway lines, canal paths and quiet country roads. As if that’s not enough, you can enjoy a plethora of exciting activities such as penguin-spotting, glider flights, wine tastings and even soothing hot tub soaks while on the road.
Starting on the main Waitaki Highway, it follows a glacier-carved valley and jumps over the Tasman River towards Twizel. Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo are some of the highlights of the trail that also feature lush farmlands, Māori rock art, tunnels and mysterious elephant-shaped rocks. The tour ends with a celebratory toe-dip in the Pacific Ocean.
The Timber Trail
This short trail will take you on an intriguing sojourn that ventures deep into the Pureora Forest Park. The 87-kilometre-long trail is littered with the relics of a long-defunct timber industry and it meanders along old logging roads and tramlines between Pureora and Ongarue. It will take you through a teeming ancient forest and over sweeping suspension bridges for a ride that lasts 2 days. There are 8 to be exact and they are some of the highest and the longest suspension bridges in New Zealand.
The trail climbs over 350 meters over Mt. Pureora before descending across the western edge of the Hauhungaroa Range. The ancient artefacts and the exotic virgin forest are two of the main highlights of this bicycle tour. It can be undertaken as a one-day tour by choosing to ride a single section of the trail. The trail itself ends at Ongarue, but you can extend it up to Taumarunui, 26 kilometres away.
Hawke’s Bay Trails
This is perhaps the easiest bicycle trail of New Zealand. Stretching over 200 kilometres, it traverses the flat Heretaunga Plains and passes between the twin cities of Hastings and Napier. Starting from Bay View in the north, it includes many Hawke Bay attractions in between, before ending at Cape Kidnappers in the south, 4 days later. The Puketapu Loop is a half days’ worth of riding along River Tutaekuri and serves up a pretty view of the region’s beautiful countryside. You can take in the vistas of Napier’s art deco facades and cycle leisurely along the tree-lined Marine Parade.
The iWay is a network of urban cycling trails in Hastings and Napier that links to the regular trails around the cities. The ride from Clive to Clifton is graced with idyllic seaside scenery. This section also boasts of wineries that make for a relaxing pit stop for your bicycling adventure. As you advance along the trail, you will also pass through a bunch of vineyards offering cellar-door tastings accompanied by excellent meals.
Thermal Bike Trails - Te Ara Ahi
The 51-kilometre-long Te Ara Ahi is an exciting trail that takes you through a mad wonderland of bubbling mud pools, steaming vents and inviting natural thermal pools. It is rich in Māori history and folklore and covers some of the most spectacular hotspots of the Rotorua region. The 700-year-old Whakarewarewa village houses the survivors of Mt Tarawera’s eruption of 1886. Take a leisurely ride through the stunning Sulphur Point section and be sure to keep some time aside for a relaxing soak in one of the thermal pools.
The trail proceeds forward onto the Waimangu Volcanic Valley after which it climbs around the mountain. Some parts of the trail are steep and may require you to get down and push your bicycles up the slope. Once you reach Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland, it is just a 6 kilometre ride before the trails ends at Waikite Valley Thermal Springs. From here, you can either choose to take back the shuttle or turn right around and do it all over again, only in reverse this time.
Blessed with the great outdoors, the soul of New Zealand resides out there in its mountains, forests and the ocean. Biking through New Zealand is an enriching experience and the one of the best ways to get close to that essence. The simple pleasure of cycling is enhanced many-fold when accompanied by New Zealand's stunning scenery. We’ll show you the best of this spirit that makes New Zealand such an exciting destination. Book your holiday online or drop into your nearest Thomas Cook branch.