If you’ve found this post then you will probably already know that going on a cycling tour is a brilliant way to explore and experience a country. Not only from the fitness aspect but also riding a bike allows travellers to connect with the countryside and culture in a much more personal way than driving in a car.
In my opinion this is mainly due to the slower pace that allows us to see more of what we’re travelling through.
One of my favourite countries to tour with a bike in is New Zealand. It has a massive diversity of scenery from wide open plains, through gorges to snow-capped mountains.
So without me rambling on anymore, here are my top two favourite locations in New Zealand for cycle touring.
The Crown Range
I think the Crown Range offers some fantastic views and is well worth the fairly hard ride to the top.
You start from Queenstown (which is a fantastic place to stay for a week or so in the South Island) and the simplest route is to ride on SH 6A which leads into SH 6, then onto the amazing Crown Range Road and finally onto Cardrona Valley Road that ends up in Wanaka.
The above route is great but for a more interesting start, you can head north from Queenstown on Gorge Road, passing over Arthurs Point (which you can try the jet boat ride if you have the courage!) as well as passing through the historical gold mining town called Arrowtown (great place for lunch).
From Arrowtown you’ll head south along Centennial Avenue, joining up with SH6 just before the turn into Crown Range Road.
The ride on the Crown Range is quite steep and the road has a huge amount of drastic turns, so take it easy riding up and ride it well within your pace.
Once you get to the top you’ll see a rest area. Make sure you stop there as it has some outstanding views, and you might need a break by then!
The rest of the ride is much easier as it’s mostly downhill, so enjoy the ride!
The Coromandel Peninsula
This place is very different from the Crown Range and is set east of Auckland, on the North Island.
A good place to start your tour from is from a small village south east of Auckland called Clevedon.
Head north east on the Clevedon Kawakawa Road (you’ll get used to the strange names very quickly!) until you hit Kawakawa Bay on the coast. From the bay you should be able to see the Peninsula, so it’s a great spot for some photos and a break.
Once you’ve had a nice cup of tea or something, ride roughly east with the sea to your left along the Kawakawa Orere Road until you reach Waitakaruru, where you’ll turn left onto SH 25.
Continue riding with the coast to your left and enjoy the wonderful views until you reach the small coastal town of Thames.
Right, time for another cup of tea!
Unless you start really early then I recommend staying at Thames for the night.
Now keep heading north along SH 25 until you reach Coromandel with some great hills to climb with superb views.
From Coromandel you’ll continue on SH 25 heading east then hug the coast until you reach Whitianga where you’ll be rewarded with stunning coastal views.
There are plenty of things to do apart from cycling but you have to try the Hot Water Beach which is a white beach between Tairua and Whitianga. There is an underground river of hot water that runs below the beach; so many travellers like to dig a mini bath in the sand which fills up with relaxing hot water.
Either Whitianga or Tairua is probably a good place to stay for the night.
You finish the tour by continuing on SH 25 mostly hugging the coast until you head west back inland where you’ll reach Waitakaruru again and eventually Auckland.
You can either do the whole tour on the bicycles or break it up into smaller routes by using other transport such as mini busses or coaches.
Knowing where to cycle is only one of the important factors. You also need to be aware of the following;
- Wear the right clothes such as picking the right shorts for cycling, gloves and shoes. Make sure you choose the correct clothes for the area that you’re cycling in. For example; the clothes you wear should obviously be different if you’re cycling in the Southern Alps compared to the near tropical climate of Northland (which is the area north of Auckland).
- Bring the right tools (basic tools, a torch, chain lube etc) but also on the other hand don’t bring too many tools. A common problem for beginner cyclists is to bring every possible tool they think they’ll need, which completely weighs them down.
- Learn how to do at least the basic repair and maintenance jobs such as how to lube the chain and fixing incorrectly positioned brake pads, oh, and fix a puncture!
Photo thanks go to Magic World.
This guide has been written by Jack, a prolific writer who enjoys riding bicycles whenever he gets the chance. He is working with Pedaltours, a cycle touring company that have been running guided bike tours in various countries around the world since the mid 80’s.