A number of years ago the New Zealand government committed to invest heavily in the development of cycle trails to promote cycling in New Zealand. This led to the establishment of the New Zealand Cycle Trail Great Rides. Primarily easy to intermediate rides that are in amazingly scenic places and often connecting different towns.
There is no denying, the New Zealand Cycle Trail Great Rides are indeed that, great rides and on a Flying Kiwi tour we certainly maximise the option to access these. But before the development of the Great Rides New Zealand was already a cycling mecca and it has only become more so in recent years. In this article we look at some of the other "incredible rides" that can be easily undertaken while on your Flying Kiwi camping and adventure trip. This include stunning coastal rides, challenging mountain bike trails and scenic rides by lakes and through quaint small New Zealand townships. Variety is the spice of life and travelling with Flying Kiwi you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to experiencing the many varieties of cycling options on offer.
Mountain Bike Trails.
New Zealand is mountain biking heaven. There are oodles and oodles of off road trails and mountain bike parks. All of these trails and bike parks can easily be enjoyed while on your Flying Kiwi tour by taking an afternoon or evening away from the group or with a couple of fellow travellers. One of the best parts of mountain biking is that it takes you away from the main tourist crowds and into some real New Zealand countryside. Some of our picks to experience on your Flying Kiwi Adventure Tour are:
In the North Island
Waitangi Mountain Bike Forest in the Bay of Islands is a short ride from camp and a great way to challenge yourself for the afternoon;
Rotorua is considered one of the world's best mountain bike regions. There is the opportunity to spend the afternoon mountain biking in this incredible forest setting. There are rides for all level of cyclists from easy cruising trails to some seriously hairy double diamond rides with huge drop-offs and very steep routes.
In the South Island
The South Island is home to some of the best mountain biking trails in the country. At the top of the South Island in the region of the Abel Tasman National Park you’ll find the awesome Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park with 30kms of tracks that offer a wide range of trails to suit all levels of ability and fitness. A great way to spend the afternoon and follow it up with a swim in Kaiteriteri before pedalling your way back to camp.
In the South the small town of Te Anau has a really challenging mountain bike park just behind the campground you will stay at with Flying Kiwi. This is an off road tracks in here feature everything from easy and intermediate rides to ones with very technical sections.
Finally, is the mountain biking mecca of Queenstown. The gondola assisted downhill trails on Bob's Peak in the centre of Queenstown are some of the best in the world. You can purchase an afternoons gondola pass and do as many laps as you physically can. Alternatively out of town the mountain bike at 7 miles has an amazing array of intermediate and advanced trails. For those even more experienced there are rides into the back country such as the Moonlight Trail which can be completed in a long afternoon.
Cycle Path Cycling
Cycle paths through main towns and areas of interest like forests and vineyards are scattered all over New Zealand. These are very easy riding and a great way to see a lot of an area in a short time. Some of our favourites include:
Taupo has one of our favourite cycle paths in New Zealand. The trail winds for 13km around Lake Taupo. A great way to spend the afternoon, go riding while capturing the stunning views and admiring the glistening fresh water of Lake Taupo with its mountainous backdrops.
From our camp in New Plymouth, East Coast of the North Island, the cycle path is easily accessed enabling you to explore what this coastal district offers. This is easy coastal riding hugs the coastline also for 13km. Take your camera as you get marvellous views of the coastal sunset or even the funky bike bridge that was architecturally designed to blend in with the landscape, the shape of a whale skeleton or a crashing wave, you decide. There are some local art designs positioned along the trail.
From the centre of Auckland a 15km return cycle trail along the edge of the Hauraki Gulf taking in the white sand beaches of Mission Bay, Kohimarama and St Heliers. Stop for an ice-cream or coffee and watch many of Auckland's beautiful people enjoying themselves.
Main Road Cycling
This option requires varying degrees of awareness and comes with it’s own challenges but the speed, exhilaration and distances covered while travelling from A to B can be a reward in itself. Some people think it is crazy to ride on the road others thing it is no problem. On all our Flying Kiwi New Zealand tours we provide high visibility vests which you can wear for road riding if you would like and only recommend road rides which have lesser amounts of traffic.
From Lake Wanaka we offer a great short 10km evening ride on a twisty road that follows the lake edge and finishes up at our bush camp at Boundary Creek. The views on this ride are not to be missed as the peaks you’ll see on the far side of the lake are part of the incredible Mt Aspiring National Park.
Further up the coast before arriving at the Fox Glacier township there’s another of our favourite rides - an adrenaline filled 10km downhill ride. For those seeking a good workout we recommend a challenging 20km or 50km road ride which takes in beautiful coastal and rural scenery. The roads are relatively flat with some inclines before entering Fox Glacier.
Travelling further north up the West Coast how about a 36km road ride into camp? Recommended for advanced riders, this road ride is hilly but brings massive rewards. The landscape significantly changes from incredible coastal views, rolling pastoral hills into subtropical and prehistoric limestone rock formations in Punakaiki. The magic Nikau Palms that are abundant in Punakaiki create an exotic island ambience which makes the 36km ride dramatic with such diverse scenery.
For a quick and exhilarating downhill run nothing beats a 6km cycle into Dunedin, definitely expect a rush of adrenaline!
Scenic Country Roads
Riding on mostly concrete roads, and the occasional gravel road with hardly any traffic surrounded by beautiful countryside and out-numbered by sheep, dairy cows or farmed deer and there you have a classic Kiwi scenic country road cycle ride. For many of our Flying Kiwi travellers these ride are some of the most rewarding experiences they have on tour - regardless of whether they experienced cyclists or absolute beginners.
One of our most isolated areas, is Rangitata in the South Island and this 19km ride to our accommodation bursts with scenic photography as you bike into Rangitata and the Peel Forest area, home to some beautiful native New Zealand trees.
Another of our favourite isolated areas takes us into the Fiordland National Park where an 8km gravel road into our camp awaits. This is a great and fast ride that will re-energise all as you make your way deep into the Hollyford Valley. Surrounded by lush forest, this ride really feels ‘off the beaten track’ where you are more likely to see a possum on the road rather than people before you arrive at the historic Gunns camp where we will be spending the night.
The West Coast of the South Island and yet another deserted area which offers up a superb 10km ride into our bush camp at the quaint and historic town of Okarito. This road ride winds through native forest and the highlight for sure is cycling into this small and isolated village situated around the Okarito Lagoon. A ride for any level rider, a great way to appreciate the beauty of this small wetland habitat that offers protection for some of New Zealand’s Native bird species. You might even see a Kiwi!
In the North Island the scenic country road into Waitomo offers a 17km ride. This area of New Zealand is recognised as the King Country known for sheep, beef and dairy farming. The scenery is picturesque farm land and the district is recognised as the sheep shearing capital of the world. Many passengers have compared the lush green rolling hills as scenery to that of Hobbiton. This ride can be for any level rider with a slight incline before dropping down into Waitomo where labyrinths of caves exist under rolling farmland.
Exploring your campsite and surrounding areas
In the evenings as we make camp and either before or even after there is nearly always time to explore the surrounding areas by bike. Here is a couple of our favourite gentle rides to explore the surrounding areas from camp that should not be overlooked as they completely immerse you into the idyllic locations we stay.
On arrival into our camp in the sleepy village of Moeraki there is a real treat for cyclists. Ride along a short gravel road for 6km to reach the Katiki lighthouse which is a great place to see more of New Zealand’s playful fur seals. Perhaps more impressive however is the opportunity to see some rare yellow-eyed penguins, the rarest penguin in the world. When you’re finished at the lighthouse head back on the gravel road and back to camp.
Cycling around Fox Glacier a sleepy West Coast town provides the perfect local transport option. Leaving camp it’s a short ride through fern forest along a cycle/walkway before walking up to the glacier viewpoint. After your walk head back down the trail into Fox township, from there it’s a 5km ride to Lake Matheson, where it’s time to leave the bike again as you circumnavigate the lake before cycling back to camp.
Once at camp in Punakaiki using your bike to explore the Paparoa National Park is a great way to spend the afternoon. From camp you can ride on a gravel road into the depths of Paparoa passing limestone cliffs and Nikau palms.