Cycling in New Zealand: best cycle adventures 2017
Since we’re on social media we meet so many people who love cycling in New Zealand. Kiwi’s, tourists, young and old. They’re cycling one of the official NZ Cycle Trails, the length of New Zealand or just an awesome trail in their back yard. What they all got in common is their love for cycling and New Zealand. So that’s why we asked them to share their best 2017 cycle adventures. Here are our favourite 10!
Blown away on the Timber Trail
I’ve ridden the Timber Trail 3 times and each time I’m blown away by the magical beauty of the forest, the history of the timber industry and railway in the area and of course the amazing suspension bridges.
The Timber Trail is an 82km ride in the Pureora forest, about one hour south of Te Kuiti, between Taumaranui and Taupo, let’s just say in the middle of nowhere, a remote and rugged place. The trail is best ridden over two days and there are lots of different options for accommodation and shuttles.
The first two times we rode the trail we had a blast riding it with friends and enjoying some post-ride chats at Black Fern Lodge. The third time we rode the trail we took our two kids (9+12) and stayed at the newly opened Timber Trial Lodge. The kids handled the journey well and it was such a great family experience. We love this trail so much we are planning to do it again next year.
Charmaine Vaughan – Buzzy in the burbs
Pakihi Track, truly untamed
The Pakihi Track is part of the Motu Trails, one of the Great Rides on The New Zealand Cycle Trail. It was first formed in the early-1900s. From about 1990 the Pakihi earned a reputation as an iconic New Zealand MTB ride and it was fully restored with 25 bridges in 2010-2012.
Back in June (New Zealand winter), a group of us from Opotiki got a shuttle to high on the Motu Road to ride the Pakihi. This was a relaxed ride, lots of photos, lots of laughs. Several times the guys got to work clearing rocks or small trees from the track and we took our time over lunch at the hut at halfway. The lower half of the 20km track is the most beautiful, you’re twisting alongside the rocky Pakihi stream and in places the track is literally cut into the cliff (focus is required!) The forest is lush, with palms and ferns. There is a sense that, unlike many popular trails, you’re experiencing a place that remains truly untamed. I’ve ridden the Pakihi many times this year, but doesn’t a fun group make every track better?
Jim Robinson – Motu Trails
Treat your eyes on the Heaphy Track
Once an important walking route by Maori seeking pounamu (greenstone), the Heaphy Track is now a hugely popular path among cyclists and trampers alike. Only open to Mountain bikers from 1 May – 30 November this 80 odd kilometre track is one you won’t forget in a hurry.
Providing an awesome off road alternative to get to the West Coast without going on the dreaded highway this one way road is an absolute treat for your eyes. The terrain will have you travel through vast tussock downs, flourishing beech forests, tropical nīkau palms to the rugged seas of the West Coast. The Heaphy, for us is the pinnacle of New Zealand travel and what we love most about this country in comparison to others we have travelled. Where else in the world would you be able to discover four different micro climates in less than 80km?
Cycling the length of New Zealand
Cycling the length of New Zealand, I found the landscapes are amazing, but there are a lot of quirky things that can be found all around the country.
In Owaka, you will find a yard that is filled with teapots. In Lawrence you can see local historical figures in the form of 2m tall painted wooden statues. Te Aroha has several steam punk animal sculptures. On the trails you can occasionally get caught up in a livestock drive, surrounded by over one hundred moving sheep. The roads are also dotted with unique mailboxes. There are penguins, microwaves, a corrugated steel whale, and Jimi-“Hedge”-rix!
Along the Otago Rail Trail there were several temporary art exhibits that weren’t there a few months prior. There is now a permanent solar system exhibit with a large sun that goes over the trail in Ranfurly. You’ll never know what you can see while out cycling.
Kaleb K – Views While Riding
Puketapu Loop, a ride in paradise
There’s a wee ride that each time I do, it peels away the day’s worries and opens up the delights of the outdoors. Just out of Taradale you can escape Napier’s suburban streets and pop onto the peaceful cycle trails. The crisp limesand trail winds along beside the river from the old road bridge by Otatara Pa, to Puketapu Bridge and back to create an 18km loop.
Enjoy riding past a local marae, golf course, orchards, farmland, church, lake, historic pa and vineyards. The yesteryear experience of riding through ‘Poplar Lane’ and the wonderful tree glens are priceless. Take a friend and be sure to stop off at the quaint Puketapu Pub, for a cuppa and a scone or a pint and some pub food. Each time I ride this piece of trail, I get to savour and appreciate our special piece of paradise.
Best year of my life
Wow! What an incredibly liberating, beautifully stunning, pristinely natural adventure of a lifetime! I flew down to Queenstown, bike in box, assembled at airport, cycled out of the airport and started my epic cycle-volun-touring sojourn.
My cycling days started in the morning, ended before sundown (except for a few unexpected hiccups) and greeted with lovely kiwi hospitality at a new WWOOF property. I stayed for a week to three weeks, then moved up the country, through central Otago, Wanaka, passing the pristine Lake Hawea, onto The Mount Aspiring National Park filled with road side waterfalls. I cycled up the uninhabited coastal bush, to Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. After a few continuous days of biking the Wild Wild West, I volunteered in Greymouth at a yoga retreat to recharge, rejuvenate and replenish my body.
After I got my zen on, I continued through chilly Arthur’s Pass. After exploring all over the northern tip of the South Island, I took the jaw dropping Queen Charlotte Sound ferry ride to Wellington in the North Island. After a few weeks of exploring Windy Welly, I had to rush up the west coast up back to Auckland to meet my family. Best year of my life!
Aaron Grobler – Volcyclart
Looking for inspiration on the Great Te Awa River Ride
If you’re looking for inspiration before your next cycling adventure then Hamilton man Richard Tahapehi will not disappoint. While operating River Riders bike hire at the Christmas at the Lakes on Saturday 16th December, we were lucky enough to bump into Richard and even luckier to have him share a few of his cycle trail adventures, although its fair to say Richard blazes his own trails in his custom blue Schwin trike that he simply refers to as ‘My Bike’. Here’re some of Richards favorite phrases:
‘I love riding because that’s what my bikes for’ 🙂
‘I left Hamilton at 7am and stopped in Tokoroa for a burger at 9:30am and decided what the heck, and carried on eventually arriving in Taupo at 12 noon’
‘I did Hamilton to Thames in 4 hours’
‘I left Hamilton at 7am and stopped in Mercer for an ice-cream and thought I might as well carry on and got to Papakura at 1pm.
If you see Richard blazing his own trail make sure you wave, say hello and if you’re lucky he might share some of his cycle trail adventures with you too.
Dan Tairaki – River Riders NZ
Having fun on the Dunes Trail
At a guess, I’ve ridden the Dunes Trail section of the Motu Trails about 50 times in 2017—if you count out-and-back, 100 times. Most of those rides blur like sand on the beach. One that doesn’t was joining a bunch of teenagers from Kawerau Blue Light youth group, led by a good friend, Bruce Webber. In part, it sticks in the mind because we spotted a whale, about 200m offshore. But also, these young folks weren’t regular cyclists.
The Dunes Trail is up-and-down most of the way so, for several of them, 18km of gravel on a hot day was a proper effort. It was neat to see all of them give it focus. All of them finished the ride. It looked like, all got a buzz from that achievement. Hopefully, they’ll remember that, and one day they’ll be back for more on the Motu Trails.
Jim Robinson – Motu Trails
The lost cartographer
There is something such not right about a lost cartographer. My adventure began when I went mistakenly off trail which took me on a different life path. I then decided these cycle trails need to be mapped onto a free app … and that is how the Great Rides App adventure began!
To ride 22 Great Rides almost back to back is a formidable but envious task. Some called it work, I called it JOY! So off my wife and I went with my trusty Trance kitted up with three GPS units, three cameras and a Personal Locater Beacon for safety.
Riding these trails provided a lifetime of memories. Etched in my mind are long white beards of the West Coast locals on the Wilderness Trail, the magnificent trails along mountain peaks on the Old Ghost Road, St James and Dun Trail, and the going-with-the-flow of the Clutha Gold, the mighty Waikato River and the Alps 2 Ocean (A2O) Trail.
My adventure is now captured in the app. I hope other’s rides will be helped to pick, plan and plot their own adventure along NZ’s greatest rides without loosing ones way.
Going for gold
We liked the Clutha Gold Trail so much, that we decided to cycle the trail twice. From Lawrence to Clutha and from Clutha back to Lawrence. We can hear you thinking…. Isn’t that a bit boring? Well, no! We saw so many new things on our way back, that we couldn’t believe this was the same trail.
The Clutha Gold cycle trail follows the mighty Clytha Mata-au River. It’s an easy 73km. We loved the beautiful turquoise colour, the constant flow and sound of the water. Very calming. But what we loved most was the history-experience. Everywhere we saw relics reminding us of the mining history. Just left there, going rusty, telling their own stories of hard work and difficult times. Stories about brave men from China, far away from their families, living in poor conditions, trying to find a little bit luck and a better life. We hope they did!
Peter and Sophie – Cycling in New Zealand