Cycling in New Zealand

Since we got back onto bikes in 2011 we have endeavoured to undertake a few cycle tours each year. Initially this was largely off road along our growing network of cycle paths. However, after cycling in Europe we decided to give on-road touring a try and during 2018 & 19 undertook two road tours on our folding electric bikes which are not so suited to some of the off-road paths.

The Otago Rail Trail was our first multi-day ride back in 2011 and is probably the most popular trail in NZ. A thoroughly enjoyable ride that got us hooked back onto two wheels. In 2017, Cliff re rode a section that was shrouded in fog back in 2011. Riding the right way this time the weather turned out to be my enemy with a gale force headwind making the uphill section from Alexandra to Ophir quite a challenge.

We rode in the wrong direction (thankfully) as the weather was our friend with tail winds all the way.
There was a bit of huffing and puffing as I battled a Nor’wester on the trail in 2017

We followed this up with ride on the Hauraki Rail Trail in early 2013 and then again in 2018. We found the flat terrain of the plains a little boring but the Karangahake Gorge section is brilliant.

Ruth surveys the Karagahake Gorge during our ride in 2013
The section from Miranda to Kopu – we rode this on the folders in 2018

The Twin Coast Trail is our local trail so it has been one that we have ridden on numerous occasions. The best section is from Okaihau to Horeke but make sure your ride from Okaihau – despite being classed as easy there is a fairly challenging hill just west of the start.

Heading towards Opua

The Motu Trails looked a tad challenging but we did cycle the coastal section from Opotiki along to where the trail turns inland. It is good surface and a very pleasant cycle along the coast.

Having a break on the beach east of Opotiki

The same year (2013) as we rode the coastal section of the Motu trail we also had three days riding the Hawkes Bay Trails. We based ourselves in Napier and rode out from there. In 2019 we again cycled along some the trails during our road ride from Rotorua to Wellington.

Heading from Napier to Havelock North during our 2019 road tour.

In 2017 we rode sections of many of the South Island trails. The Little River Rail Trail, Roxborough Trail, Clutha Gold Trail, Queenstown Trails, Alps 2 Ocean. These trails all share the same thing, stunning scenery as you will see from the following images.

With the family – Little River Trail
The Roxborough Gorge Trail was a ride with a difference
The scenery along the Queenstown trails – here alongside Lake Hayes – is unrivaled.
Into the dust – between Twizel and Lake Pukaki on the Alps 2 Ocean

In 2016 we walked the Abel Tasman Track Golden Bay and decided to cycle back from Kaiteriteri to Nelson along the Great Taste Trail. It was a great way to finish a great walk,

Heading between Motueka and Tasman on the Great Taste Trail

We acquired folding (electric) bikes in 2018 and after testing them on Waiheke Island we undertook a ride around Mt Taranaki in spring of that year. It was our first multi day ride along roads in NZ. We had chosen our roads well and thoroughly enjoyed the 5 day ride.

Testing the folders on the hilly terrain on Waiheke Island
Ruth has a break during our second day of the round Mt Taranaki Ride
A typical country road east of Inglewood
The last section of the Taranaki ride took us along the New Plymouth Coastal Path

After the success of our Taranaki ride we decided to tackle a more ambitious ride – 740km from Rotorua to Wellington. With the exception of the Hawkes Bay trails and Te Ari Ahu trail between Rotorua and Waiotapu it was all on-road. The longest section was along route 52 which proved to be largely devoid of four wheeled traffic – expect some four legged congestion.

Heading out of Rotorua through the hot mud
Heading towards rainbow mountain
Getting close to Taupo – on the back road
Ruth tries a little sheep herding on a day trip on the Hawkes Bay trails
Along Route 52
Heading up the western side of Lake Wairarapa

In 2020 we did some exploratory work for a possible Cape Reinga to Bluff ride on the folder (Cliff only) as part of testing out our AC charging Renault Zoe on a longer tour. We rode a number of trails including Te Awa river rides around the Hamilton area, from Pipiriki to Whanganui (part of the Mountains to Sea trail) Queen Charlotte Drive from Picton to Havelock, the West Coast Wilderness Trail and finally across the main divide from Haast to Makaora. Unfortunately the outbreak of Covid-19 and pending lockdown cut our travels a little short and killed off the proposed ride in Spring 20. Having had a little time to mull it all over, I decided that attempting the full journey (unassisted) on an electric bike was not the most practical of options.

Kenepuru Sound on the ride from Picton to Havelock.
The little folders handled the rougher stuff along the West Coast Wilderness trail but Ruth’s bike did not like the wet conditions – issues with the electrics.
The F19 on the easy bit alongside the Haast river – the pass itself was almost terminal for the bike which decided it had put up with ebnough.

In March 2021 I purchased a Trek X Caliber mountain bike and set about getting over my phobia of biking up hills. The bike was light (14kg) and the big 29 inch wheels made it roll along without too much effort – the hills still required effort but it was manageable, even for my aging legs. I had acquired a tent in order to give me more flexibility around destinations and finally got the opportunity to undertake a “proof of concept” ride in Autumn 2021. I decided to tackled the first section of the Tour Aotearoa route. Normally you would ride it from North to South but for convenience I chose to ride it from Kerikeri to the Cape and then back down SH 1 for pickup by Ruth.

This is a very remote ride especially the first day and then the ride up 90 mile beach to the Cape. The problem with riding it in reverse is that after 85km of beach, the last 27 or so km are over very hilly terrain. It proved to be a very good test!

However, I made it and learned plenty of lessons along the ride (especially the unsuitability for electric bikes) and pronounced myself ready to tackle the other 3,000km in late spring of 2021. Keeping the distances within my capabilities (not trying to do it in 30 days), tweaking my gear configurations and making sure that I pack essentials.

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