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South Island
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Cycling New Zealand: Tips

New Zealand is a country of changing landscapes, and changing weather. When you first think about cycling the country, you may be put off by the mountains, but the country has a lot more to offer and with some careful planning you can choose a route with gradients that will suit you and use the well established network of backpacker busses and the occasional train to negotiate the rest.

Route Guides

Pedallers’ Paradise by Nigel Rushton is a self-published set of two books comprehensively covering the cycle routes around each of New Zealand’s North and South Islands. It’s difficult to get hold of outside of NZ so plan on picking a copy up in one of the bookshops in Auckland or Wellington. The author’s website lists stockists. If you’re used to the turn-by-turn directions offered by books like Bicycling the Pacific Coast then you may find Pedallers’ Paradise a bit lacking in detail, and more confusingly laid out. However it offers options for almost every route you might need, it has gradient profiles which are useful and lists amenities in each town. It’s not a perfect guide, but is certainly the best of the slim list of guides available. You will also need a decent map to accompany the guide. Kiwimaps produce a good set of map books, we used the Compact Travellers Atlas.

Camping

The Department of Conservation  provide a small network of state camp sites which vary in facilities from basic (running water and drop toilets) to full service (hot showers, kitchen, hook-ups). You can pick up a DoC list of campsites at any iSite (tourist info centre).

The private campsites are generally very well provisioned, compared to what we were used to in the UK and US. They will usually have a kitchen with cookers, sinks, microwaves and sometimes plates and pans too. Often a lounge, laundry and pool too. These private sites charge per person, usually between $15 and $20 each.

Wild camping is technically allowed public land unless otherwise signed, but in practice is almost impossible to find. A better option is to ask a local farmer or homeowner if they’d mind if you camped in their field, and being a friendly people, they will often let you.

Weather

You can look as carefully as you like at prevailing winds and long term forecasts, but the truth is that New Zealand’s weather is changeable and can be very windy. Just take a look at Wellington’s new art installation. The West coast of the South island is covered with beautiful rainforest which makes for fun riding but it’s also a testament to the amount of rain which falls here each year. They measure the rainfall in meters here!

Our Routes

For details of the routes we took, take a look at

Cycling New Zealand: North Island

Cycling New Zealand: South Island

Cycle tourFeaturedNew Zealand

Peter • Rotorua, Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand • 18th November 2011


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Comments

  1. Larry 15th May 2012 - 8:54 pm Reply

    Great job mates! We will be right behind you as you travel across the USA. Remember to stay on the right side of the road. Keep up the good rides…..

  2. Peter 17th May 2012 - 9:59 pm Reply

    Thanks Larry. When do you set off? We have made it as far as Carson City, having a rest afternoon after making it over the pass yesterday. Amazing weather here at the moment, sunny days and not too cold at nights. Still some patches of snow about in the shade near the top of the pass but nothing to worry about.

  3. Cole @ Four Jandals 25th May 2012 - 3:44 pm Reply

    Looks like you enjoyed NZ! Hope you are going strong in USA. What a brilliant ride.

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