Touring Info

"It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them..." - Ernest Hemingway

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Touring Info

New Zealand

Days in Country: 106

Cycling Days: 49

Mileage: 2,280 km

Average Hours Riding per Day: 3.5

Longest Day: 117km from Omarama to Wanaka over Lindis Pass

Shortest Day: 7km Warkworth to Sandspit (don’t ask)

Highlights: Otago Rail Trail, Mackenzie Country (Mt Cook and Southern Alps), Cafés

Lowlights: Road traffic, cost of food, holiday parks during the busy season

General Info:

Overview: New Zealand is a great place to visit. Tourism is a major industry and there is something for everyone to do. The natural beauty is very unique and you will see everything imaginable if you have enough time. The best place to start in any town is the I-Site. There you will find heaps of information and they can book anything and everything for you.

Transport: The country is set up well for almost every kind of touring. You can get around by car, campervan, bus, train, airline, bicycle and foot. We learned a couple of things about booking our own travel when we didn’t want to ride. The bus was cheaper if you booked in advance and on-line. The train was cheaper when talking to a reservations agent on the phone rather than booking on-line.

Food: Self-catering is the way to go and the most cost effective. We did this 80% of the time. Food in the supermarket was a little more expensive than we expected. (We used our home, Eagle County, Colorado, as a guideline. It tends to be a more expensive region in the US.) Café food was good and we typically spent $15-$20nz on two coffee drinks and two pastries. Restaurant food was the most expensive and we only went out a few times. The menu is separated into entrees and mains with mains being the most expensive. We must have been going to the wrong places because we were least impressed with this option. Takeaways and bakeries were very cheap but not the most health conscious option. We could load up on burgers and fries or meat pies and desserts for about $15nz. Some food was available in most towns. We were able to carry a few days worth of breakfast and snacks and then shop daily for dinner.

Accommodation: Camping Holiday Parks: We camped about 60% of the time. The holiday parks in New Zealand are very well set up for a budget minded traveler. Most had great kitchens and you would need the bare minimum of a place setting, cup, utensils and your own food. All facilities had ablutions (shower/toilet). Very few places charged for showers (mainly on the North Island). A campsite cost anywhere from $20nz to $38nz. The most expensive holiday parks are in popular areas or part of the Top 10 franchise. The summer holidays are very busy at these facilities. Be prepared for more people than you’ve ever seen before. Free Camping: We’re not as hard core as other bicycle tourists and only did this once. We found that we didn’t have to carry the extra weight of a stove, fuel and extra food if we stuck to the holiday parks. If you are into free camping the big thing to remember is be discrete. We talked to a couple of people that were doing it and the rule is; if there isn’t a sign saying ‘NO’ then give it a go. Hostels/Backpackers This is where we spent the rest of the time. It was a great way to sleep in a bed, get out of the rain and meet interesting people. We always got a double room and it would usually cost between $48nz and $70nz. Hostels usually have full kitchens making self catering very easy. One of the nicest hostels we stayed at (Inn at the Park in Nelson) had it’s own pub with very affordable meals. A handful of hostels were also set up for tents. New Zealand has YHA and BBH member hostels. BBH seems to be the local membership. A great guide to hostels was the BBH list of members which included contact info and more importantly a percentage grade on how people liked it. Very useful and it seemed very accurate to our tastes. Hotels/Motor Lodges Most expensive option and probably the most comfortable. We only did this option for a couple of nights at the beginning of the trip and over Christmas. This option comes with your own bathroom and kitchen. $90-$160nz per night

Bicycle Touring Info

Traffic and Roads: When we arrived in New Zealand at the airport we had an interesting conversation with a customs official. Basically she told us that NZ was a rough place to bicycle tour and that there were many cars in the country. She also said that people drive really fast. We took her comments with a grain of salt. It’s now three months later and some of what she said was true. With that said, New Zealand is very conducive to bicycle touring. There are endless route possibilities depending on the terrain and landscapes you desire. A little planning ahead of time is a good thing. We came with no plan and no cycling guide and had a bit of a rough start. We purchased the Lonely Planet Cycling New Zealand guide about two weeks into the trip. It turned out to be very useful. In general, the North Island has more traffic and hills. The South Island has bigger climbs but lots of stretches where a flat road can go on for miles. The roads in the south see less traffic. Dunedin and Christchurch are major cities so expect some urban style riding there.

Bike Shops: Plan on being somewhat self sufficient when away from a sizeable town. All the big cities have plenty of bike shops with all the spare parts one could hope for. The smaller towns may have a bike for hire company that could provide some service. Duct tape and bailing wire can get you through most anything in a pinch. .