New Zealand cycling

New Zealand cycling

Off the back of a year that saw Sir Chris Hoy win his sixth Olympic cycling gold in London and Sir Bradley Wiggins becoming the first Brit to win the Tour de France - cycling has never been more popular.

Recent research from Sport England reveals that 161,000 more people are cycling now than they were six months ago. Whether inspired by the cycling revolution in 2012 or an old hand looking for a new challenge - New Zealand's new regional cycle network has something for everyone, from off road adventures to a gentle cycle through the vines or a guided four-day tour.

Victoria Pendleton recently revealed she felt ‘most at home’ in New Zealand and with remarkable backdrops on offer from North to South - in urban and remote locations such as The Waikato Trail and Lake Heron - it is no surprise.

Here, Tourism New Zealand have brought together a helpful guide to cycling in some of the most spectacular landscapes and varied terrains in the South-Western-Pacific island country. 

Nowhere Trail, Lake Heron - guided cycle touring experience

On The Nowhere Trail, guests can pedal and enjoy the Middle-earth landscapes of the South Island’s Mid-Canterbury heartland while guides and transport take care of everything else. The new 4-day guided mountain bike tour, which starts and finishes in the ski town of Methven, follows deserted country roads and private tracks through unforgettable landscapes.

Accommodation is on historic country properties such as Glenrock Station - a lodge with sweeping views of the nearby Rakaia River and the beautifully restored farm cottages of Lake Heron Station, or in one of the Stronechrubie Chalets in rural Mt Somers. Four guided tour dates are set for January to April in 2013. 

Rotorua TrailThermal by Bike, a 37 kilometre section of Nga Haerenga, has officially opened at Te Puia in Rotorua. Cyclists can now travel from downtown Rotorua via the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, Te Puia, through Te Whakarewarewa Valley to Rainbow Mountain.

Thermal by Bike provides a compelling cycle tourism experience. It has easy family cycling and offers an enjoyable day out for visitors and locals alike. This is a pretty perfect one-day ride that complements Rotorua's unique visitor attractions and combines with local business opportunities to grow economic benefit for the whole area. 

Cycle the Queen Charlotte Track

Lochmara Lodge Punga Cove Resort and Endeavour Express are offering a three-day accommodation and transfers package to bike New Zealand’s Queen Charlotte Track in the Marlborough Sounds. The trip includes lodge accommodation, magnificent scenery and 71km of exceptional mountain biking.

The Marlborough Sounds region is renowned for its iconic coastal landscape - a series of sunken river valleys surrounded by golden sand beaches, sheltered waters and native forests. The track passes along panoramic ridgelines, past secluded bays, through native bush and farmland. En route, Punga Cove and Lochmara provide comfortable lodge accommodation and dining options.

The track is suitable for riders with a range of experience. Bike hire, walking or boat transfer (non-biking) options, and pre-trip accommodation in Picton can be added.

Cycle Alps to Ocean in comfort - Pure Trails New ZealandCycle tour operator PureTrails New Zealand has launched a new five-day cycle tour on the Alps2Ocean Cycle Trail - part of the national Nga Haerenga cycleways project. This epic but accessible 289km cycle journey passes through some of the South Island’s most stunning scenery - beginning at Lake Pukaki in the shadow of majestic Aoraki/Mt Cook and finishing at Oamaru’s historic harbour precinct on the Pacific Ocean.

En route the cycle trail travels through the spectacular Mackenzie Basin, past turquoise glacial lakes and over brown tussock plains into the vast green Waitaki Valley and a series of small rural towns. Local attractions include original Maori rock art, fossil sites, spectacular limestone formations and Oamaru’s splendid Victorian Precinct featuring New Zealand’s best 19th century architecture.

Cyclists ride the trail with vehicle support, comfortable ensuite accommodation in country hotels, all meals and trail-side coffee stops taken care of. The tour, which starts and finishes in Christchurch, runs on set departure dates from November to May for couples, singles or groups of up to 14 people. The package is priced from $1425 per person; bike hire is an additional $170. 

Escape Adventures - new guided cycle tours on Great Taste Trail, NelsonTakaka-based Escape Adventures has launched two multi-day cycle tours showcasing the natural beauty and diverse cuisine on Nelson Tasman’s new Great Taste Trail. Cycle tours begin and end in Nelson. As well as riding the trail, tours explore Nelson Lakes, Kahurangi and Abel Tasman National Parks.

With a 15 - 70km ride each day on flat and gently undulating terrain, riders have plenty of time to experience the best of the region such as spa and massage treatments, sea kayaking, sky diving, wine tasting, arts and crafts. Tours prices begin at NZ$1550 per person on twin-share basis and include all meals and accommodation. Small groups and qualified and experienced guides ensure a memorable holiday. 

Shebikeshebikes  - new cycling wine trail , Central Otago (November 2012)Launching in November, Central Otago cycling tourism operator Shebikeshebikes has developed a wine trail cycle tour in the vineyards around Alexandra. The experience includes a French-themed picnic lunch of baguette, cheese, fruit and local produce.  This will be a leisurely half day tour departing mid to late morning from Clyde.  Pricing is NZ$90p/p including lunch and bikes. 

Shebikeshebikes also run Solandra Lodge – an accommodation close to the Otago Central Rail Trail, organise complete or independent rail trail itineraries, hire bikes, transfers and offer lots of useful advice on cycling. Solandra Lodge provides quality but highly affordable family-friendly accommodation for cyclists doing the rail trail or just sampling life on a bicycle seat. It’s also within easy access of the Poolburn Reservoir – LOTR film location site of Rohan.

The two storey lodge is self-contained with three double rooms and modern amenities including a home theatre, and a welcoming environment for relaxation and rejuvenation after cycling adventures. The 10-acre property has room to roam and child-friendly equipment and spaces.

Nga Haerenga - New Zealand’s National Cycleway

New Zealand’s national cycle network is growing all the time with a host of new trails, some of which are included below:

The Waikato Trails

In the Central North Island, keen cyclists have a growing choice of cycling trails. The Waikato region offers the Waikato River Trails, the Timber Trail through Pureora Forest near Waitomo, and the Hauraki Rail Trail which takes in the towns of Te Aroha, Paeroa, Thames and Waihi.

Further south, on the Ruapehu - Whanganui Nga Ara Tuhono trail, The Old Coach Road section is a family-friendly 11km day ride, while the longer two-day Mangapurua Track ride is for more experienced cyclists.

St James Great Trail

The first fully-completed ‘great ride’ - the St James Great Trail, in the northern South Island - opened in October 2010. The 60km track, which follows river valleys and traverses the St James mountain range, is open from November until April.

Queenstown TrailQueenstown Trail - 110km of dedicated cycle route over predominantly ‘easy to intermediate’ gradients and linking some of the region’s popular tourism destinations - offers a series of sections designed for maximum choice. It can be cycled as a whole but will also provide satisfying shorter excursions and day trips.

Setting off lakeside from Steamer Wharf, in downtown Queenstown, the trail will appeal to cyclists who want to explore the region at a leisurely pace - whether that’s stopping for a photo of stunning wayside scenery, tasting a local pinot noir or leaping off the famous Kawarau Bridge bungee along the way.

The Old Ghost Road

The 80km Old Ghost Road Trail passes by numerous ghost towns and old gold mining sites. Riders and walkers don’t even need to leave the trail to connect with a major part of the West Coast’s history. Much of the heritage is lying where it was abandoned more than a century ago. The Old Ghost Road Trail is generally a grade three mountain biking trail suitable for intermediate and advanced riders.

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