Cycle Touring in New Zealand is a blog about cycle touring in New Zealand including route maps and descriptions of the best cycle routes together with general information on cycle touring in New Zealand.
New Zealand Cycle Touring RoutesThis blog includes details of the cycle touring routes that I have ridden over the past few years. The objective of this blog is to provide cycle tourers with information on the best cycle touring routes in New Zealand.
From my experience there are different types of cycle tourists. Some are keen on achieving goals such as riding from the North Cape to the Bluff while others may concentrate on seeing the best scenic parts of New Zealand. Which ever group you fit in this blog should provide you with valuable information to enable you to plan your route.
Part of the enjoyment of cycle touring is riding on roads that have adequate shoulders or have low traffic volumes and the blog includes strategies to avoid busy roads that have high traffic volumes and inadequate provision for cyclists,
In planning your cycling route it is important to have an idea of what to expect on the ride and based on the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words images of what you will see on the cycle routes have been included. The route descriptions are not intended to provide a turn by turn route description.
To give you a general idea of what to expect when cycling around New Zealand the links below show images and descriptions of some of the rides that I have done. I have included the Nevis and Molesworth rides in the South Island. These rides are on shingle roads and while the scenery is magnificent there are some significant climbs. You can stick to the tarmac and still see lots of great scenery. Happy pedaling!
There are options for cycling around Northland. The first consideration is where to start the ride. If you are cycling up from Auckland I strongly advise against cycling up the main road to Whangerei as the carriageway is to narrow to provide a shoulder for bikes and the high volume of cars and heavy trucks. It is better to take an alternative route or to catch a bus from Auckland and to start your ride in Whangerei. Route from Auckland North:
The first option to see Northland on a bike is to ride the Pou Herenga Tai Twin coast cycle trail which goes from the Bay of Islands to the Hokianga Harbour. Details of this ride can be found on the following link. It will give you a good taste of what Northland has to offer.
If you wish to see the whole of Northland then the following route will allow you to do this.
I have just completed a 750 kilometre ride around Northland that started in Whangerei and went up the east coast and then to Cape Reinga and then went down the west coast to Dargaville. From there we cycled back to Whangerei. There are some big hills to ride up but there are some great beaches and places to stay on the route.
On the first day from Whangerei to Whangaruru we went on a back country route which avoided the main road. It was shingle which can be difficult to ride on.
If you stay at camping grounds these usually have choices of camp sites and huts which are ideal for cycle touring. On the second day we headed to Kerikeri a distance of 76 kilometres and on the following day we rode to Matauri Bay. This is a great beach with a camping ground on the foreshore. There was big hill out of Matauri Bay as we headed to Cable Bay via Russell and Waitangi.
There is a spectacular coastline to ride along and there are some big hills. We then rode out to the Karikari Peninsula which is a very worthwhile optional side trip. From there we went to Awanui on our way up to Cape Reinga.
Cape Reinga is the place to start if you are doing an New Zealand end to end cycle ride.
After you have reached the top it is time to head down the west coast to Dargaville and there some very interesting places and towns to visit. You need to catch the ferry from Kohukohu to Rawene. Opononi is a very attractive seaside town. On the way down this coast again there are some big hill climbs.
We rode the 82 kilometres from Dargaville on back roads wherever possible to avoid the traffic.
This round trip while fairly demanding because of the hills was a excellent cycle touring route provided you have sufficient time to enjoy the towns and beaches that you visit. It is best done at a leisurely pace.
As I cycle around New Zealand I have designed cycle touring routes that avoid busy roads and include towns with camp sites. These maps are included below for the benefit of other cyclists. If you want some advice on the best routes for cyclists for the places you wish to visit just send me a message on the contact form bellow.
North Island - Te Awamutu to Taihape I caught the bus from Auckland to Te Awamutu and then rode to Taihape on the following route. Route from Te Awamutu to Taihape
This route goes from Te Awamutu to Taihape and goes via Mangakino, Tauramanui and Ohakune all towns that have camping facilities and are not on state highway one.
Cycle Touring in New Zealand - Recommended Northland Route - Northland - Wellsford to Whangarei
This route has been designed with the objectives of staying of State Highway one wherever possible and also so that the route includes most of the attractions that the north has to offer. To get to Wellsford from Auckland you ride from Auckland Central out on the north western bikeway and then up the west coast
The route goes up to Wellsford and then goes up the east coast to Mangawhai and Laings beach which is a spectacular coastline to ride up. The route then takes you across to Dargaville on the west coast using back roads.
This route was designed by Kit O'halloran based on a ride that he did. He has included a short ride up the 90 mile beach but this can be left out by travelling on the road. Make sure that you visit the Matakohe Timber museum which is interesting. He can advise further on accommodation and changes to the route if it is too long.
Cycling North from Auckland When riding north from Auckland one of the main considerations is that the State Highway is a very busy narrow road and in places with minimal shoulders for cyclists. The best strategy is to keep away from main highway one by going up the west coast. However there is one section,from Wellsford to state highway 12, which is a distance of 28 kilometres which is unavoidable. When you travel this section make sure it is not a public holiday or a school holiday.
The recommended Northern route set out above involves taking a longer route up the East coast to Waipu Cove rather than riding on State Highway One for 28 kilometres.
Cycling South from the Coromandel to Tauranga
The State highway one from Waihi to Tauranga is a very busy stretch of road and you need to ride this section very carefully. The map below sets out a route that does not go on the state highway 2 for the first part of the ride.
On state highway 2 into Katikati there is a shoulder which you can cycle on but great care must be taken as the road is used by a large number of trucks.
The road after Katikati into Tauranga is also very busy and there are three bridges that do not have a shoulder to cycle on. The strategy here is to wait until the road is clear of traffic before crossing these short bridges. We stayed in Katikati overnight and we were told that a large number of residents work in Tauranga so the road is always busy first thing in the morning which it was.
This ride around Mount Taranaki takes in all of the highlights of the Taranaki province. Taranaki is dominated by Mount Taranaki which is snow covered and dramatic volcanic cone. On the ride around the mountain you may not always see the mountain because of cloud but it but it is always there. Taranaki is a farming area with dairy farming the main activity. When you cycle around Mount Taranaki you will encounter lots of hills as the countryside can best be described as undulating and you will also have to deal with the winds coming from all points of the compass. One memory of our ride in Taranaki was the wind assisted ride into Hawera which was slightly downhill where we reached speeds of up to 50 kilometres an hour without peddling.
Mt Taranaki Ride Video
Cycling around Mount Taranaki 2016 - YouTube
We started the ride in Stratford and went in the anti-clockwise direction around the mountain and on the first day went to Te Wera Valley Lodge and stayed there for two nights. This enabled us to ride to Whangamomona but this is an optional extra but well worth doing as you travel on the Forgotten Highway. There are two saddles to climb as you ride to Whangamomona and of course you have to ride them on the way back.
Cycleway into New Plymouth
The next section of the ride crosses to the coast to Onaero Bay. From Onaero Bay the route takes you into New Plymouth using the cycleway that runs along the coastline from the Bell block. This is a fantastic cycleway that significantly enhances the foreshore along the coast and the city. The only problem is navigating from the road into New Plymouth onto the cycleway. The road signage and maps need to be improved to make the route to the cycleway obvious. The highlights of Taranaki include the gardens both in New Plymouth and also the gardens in the surrounding areas. The route includes a visit to the Pukeiti Gardens which are just out of New Plymouth going south and are well worth a visit. New Plymouth has good cafes and there is the impressive Govett Brewster Art Gallery to visit.
This route allows you to ride south down the west side of the North Island to Taranaki. The ride will take you through back country New Zealand, where in parts the forest is as it was in most of the North Island in pre European times. While the ride total distance is only 241 kilometres the topography is very hilly in an isolated part of New Zealand which is known as the Forgotten Highway. The country is isolated and hilly with lots of climbing as well as shingle roads. The remoteness and the landscape are part of the attraction of riding the Forgotten Highway but you need to be fit enough for the hills and leave yourself plenty of time to enjoy the ride. In its favour the road has little traffic and the some of the few motorists we met on the road stopped for a friendly conversation.
Republic of Whangamomona Hotel
We took the back road from Otorohanga to Waitomo a distance of 14ks and spent some time in the Ruakuri reserve and walkway which is well worth a look. From Waitomo, we made our way to Piopio via the Aria and Waitewhena roads a distance of 32 kilometres. We stayed in the Tui Park camping ground which is a a great spot for cyclists.
Piopio camping ground
The next day was a 57 kilometre ride from Piopio to Ohura. There is not a lot of accommodation to be found in Ohura but we stayed in a Yurt which was good.
From Ohura to Whangamomona is 58 kilometres and includes the Tahora Saddle and the Tangarakau Gorge which is unsealed.
We stayed in a farm stay at the top of the Tahora Saddle which has a fantastic camping ground right at the summit. In the morning we coasted down the hill into Whangamomona where the hotel is a great place for a meal.
From Whangamomona to Purangi is 32 kilometres but there are two saddles the Whangamomona and the Pohokura to climb. At Purangi there is a farm stay the Old School House which is a good place for cyclists to stay.