New Zealand tips needed

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Flaxman
Posts: 4
Joined: 21 Jun 2009, 7:09pm

New Zealand tips needed

Postby Flaxman » 21 Jun 2009, 7:13pm

Has anyone cycled New Zealand? I'm interested in finding a scenic but not too challenging route and also the best time of year to go, daily budget required, length of time needed for a decent stint and any other tips.

Flax

mattybain
Posts: 2
Joined: 26 Jun 2009, 10:17am

Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby mattybain » 26 Jun 2009, 10:27am

I spent a wonderful 9 weeks in NZ and did some cycling along the Otago Rail Trail. It was April and the weather was glorious (though I think we were lucky). There are some great backpacking places to stay at along the way and being an old railway track is pretty easy going.

http://www.centralotagorailtrail.co.nz/ - website of the rail trail

http://www.bbh.co.nz/ - backpackers organisation in NZ, these are not run of the mill hostels, you can stay in en-suite double beds. One in the Marlborough Sounds had free mussels, oysters and a jacuzzi overlooking the water!!

Best time of year to go is summer, probably Nov - Dec as the snow is still on the snowcapped mountains. However I think the weather is consistently better in Jan - Feb.

As for budget, it's been 5 years since I was there and the £:$ has devalued since then, I do remember food being a similar price to Australia so eating out was normally roughly the same in $ as £ so about half the price.

There is also some great walking and surfing to be done too. Just make sure you stay for long enough, even 9 weeks wasn't long enough for me.

askeans
Posts: 142
Joined: 2 Jul 2007, 5:04pm

Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby askeans » 26 Jun 2009, 3:18pm

Can't help with cycling tips.

But Speights is great and the steak and cheese pies are to die for.

rualexander
Posts: 2377
Joined: 2 Jul 2007, 9:47pm
Contact:

Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby rualexander » 26 Jun 2009, 5:38pm

Probably best to stick to the South Island, the North Island is worth visiting but cycle touring there seems to put a lot of people off, a lot of the roads are quite busy and the hills can be hard going as they tend to be regular short sharp climbs, rather than the longer gradual climbs of the South Island.
Time of year is open for debate, but generally the best summer weather is Jan/Feb although that is also when there are most tourists about and the Kiwis themselves are on holiday over Xmas into mid-Jan so campsites can be busy and hostels more so, requiring booking in advance. March can be a good time to go.
You can pick a route anywhere in the South Island and you will have a great tour. If you have time a full circuit of the island is probably best, or even a figure of eight route. Best to avoid SH1 between Christchurch and Dunedin though.
Agree that the Otago Central Rail Trail is excellent. If you are ok with gravel roads then the road through Molesworth Station (NZ's largest cattle station) is superb (although check before you go that it is open as its only open to traffic for a few weeks a year, although cyclists can get through at other times with permission), also the Mavora Lakes route from Queenstown to Te Anau is great (take the boat from Queenstown across Lake Wakatipu).
Budget wise it depends on your touring style, ie camping or hostels, etc, but with camping you should be ok on around NZ$30-NZ$40 per day depending on your eating habits! You could do it cheaper of course. Or if hostelling add another NZ$10 or so onto that.

photos from our tour there in 2007/08 here : http://www.flickr.com/photos/rualexande ... 189628023/
video here : http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=ped ... iew=videos

I've cycled in NZ several times over the past 15 years and lived in the South Island for 4 years about 10 years ago. If you need any more info let me know.

mattybain
Posts: 2
Joined: 26 Jun 2009, 10:17am

Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby mattybain » 29 Jun 2009, 3:27pm

Great advice there (and great photos too, brought back the memories!!), probably best to stick to cycling in the South Island although the North Island is amazing (and climbing Mt Teranaki is probably the most amazing thing I have ever done).

Actually rememberd that I went cycling around the wine regions in of Marlborough to (near Blenheim), man that was glorious. We cycled around trying the wines and went back the next day to buy the ones we liked.

iviehoff
Posts: 2411
Joined: 20 Jan 2009, 4:38pm

Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby iviehoff » 29 Jun 2009, 3:59pm

Ruairidh mentions the Molesworth Road, but the parallel Rainbow Road (Hanmer Springs to St Arnaud) is open to cyclists at any reasonable time (it gets blocked by snow in winter, and can be closed due to excessive fire risk) and is at least as nice, and perhaps 50km shorter. Has a couple of DOC campsites on the way. It includes the highest road pass in NZ, Island Saddle, though there is a higher dead end road somewhere. Worth bearing in mind that inland Otago is very hot in midsummer, and the west coast is very mild all year; so Dec and March can be good times to be in the south island. Further away from summer, and north island would be better. There are lots of lovely bits to cycle in the N Island, it is just that the best bits are separated with mainly rolling agricultural bits. I loved the Eastern Cape and the Urewera NP, and Great Barrier Island, etc.

rualexander
Posts: 2377
Joined: 2 Jul 2007, 9:47pm
Contact:

Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby rualexander » 29 Jun 2009, 6:14pm

Good points Ivan! The rainbow road is superb but it is a bit rougher than Molesworth, but still very manageable. East Cape is still one route that is not too busy in the North Island and a good choice, also the Wairarapa area south of Napier towards the coast in the east of the North Island is really enjoyable cycling. Plus loads of gravel roads that have less traffic than the sealed roads are a good way of planning a route through the North Island, but it can be quite hard going.

User avatar
quiksilver
Posts: 275
Joined: 13 Apr 2009, 9:38am
Location: Cornwall & London

Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby quiksilver » 6 Jul 2009, 7:36am

Good Luck with your trip. I hope you don't encounter the Moari customs officer that I did in Auckland. He accused me of being a drug user and was convinced that because I was from London I therefore must be an addict. He also reckoned that a swab from my rucksack revealed heroin. Not the sort of crap you want to hear after a 26 hour flight, they did however clean my muddy trainers for me and return them in a nice plastic bag.

askeans
Posts: 142
Joined: 2 Jul 2007, 5:04pm

Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby askeans » 6 Jul 2009, 9:36am

quiksilver wrote:Good Luck with your trip. I hope you don't encounter the Moari customs officer that I did in Auckland. He accused me of being a drug user and was convinced that because I was from London I therefore must be an addict. He also reckoned that a swab from my rucksack revealed heroin. Not the sort of crap you want to hear after a 26 hour flight, they did however clean my muddy trainers for me and return them in a nice plastic bag.



What on earth has the customs race and ethnic background got to do with his questioning of you? :(

Understand that it is not pleasant (esp after that flight) but come one do you really think his race is of any relavance?

User avatar
quiksilver
Posts: 275
Joined: 13 Apr 2009, 9:38am
Location: Cornwall & London

Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby quiksilver » 6 Jul 2009, 10:34am

askeans wrote:
quiksilver wrote:Good Luck with your trip. I hope you don't encounter the Moari customs officer that I did in Auckland. He accused me of being a drug user and was convinced that because I was from London I therefore must be an addict. He also reckoned that a swab from my rucksack revealed heroin. Not the sort of crap you want to hear after a 26 hour flight, they did however clean my muddy trainers for me and return them in a nice plastic bag.



What on earth has the customs race and ethnic background got to do with his questioning of you? :(

Understand that it is not pleasant (esp after that flight) but come one do you really think his race is of any relavance?



As far as I can see it has nothing to do with it or at least it shouldn't. I found the Moari men that I met when I was there had a certain arrogance about them. Maybe thats not exceptable to say in some peoples minds but thats what I found. This guy had this attitude about him too. And picking on anyone at the end of a long tiring flight seems pretty unfair and an abuse of his power. Sorry if that seems racist but thats how I felt.

askeans
Posts: 142
Joined: 2 Jul 2007, 5:04pm

Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby askeans » 6 Jul 2009, 10:39am

I have no doubt that is how you felt and his actions may well have been unacceptable (and having been to Auckland Airport a fair few times I find it VERY easy to believe that the staff there were rude :wink: )

But I still don't see what this man's race has to do with it.

User avatar
quiksilver
Posts: 275
Joined: 13 Apr 2009, 9:38am
Location: Cornwall & London

Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby quiksilver » 6 Jul 2009, 11:59am

I dont really want to hijack the OPs thread entirely with this although I guess I did this originally by posting what I did. You can PM me if you wish to discuss it maybe?

Flaxman
Posts: 4
Joined: 21 Jun 2009, 7:09pm

Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby Flaxman » 9 Jul 2009, 5:24pm

Thanks to all for your tips!

I have a bit of a better idea of where to go and what to see now though I think I will concentrate on South Island for this trip. Has anyone experience of going alone?

mattybain - I'll definitely have to check out the hostel in Marlborough Sounds, I take it it is the one in Hopewell? It looks just the ticket.

rualexander - Your pictures are amazing! What camera did you use? When I went to Iceland last year the colours just didn't come out on my camera. Really disappointing. What did your bikes weigh in at? What was your exact route, how long did it take you and how far did you cycle each day? That really blue lake looks fantastic. What's it called?

iviehoff - Forgive my ignorance but what are DOC campsites?

As for the custom's official debate - all I can say is that they're pretty arrogant wherever you go. The fact that you get your trainers cleaned made me laugh though. When I went to Australia a few years ago, I was expecting to be sprayed with DDT in the plane when we landed but they didn't do it and I felt cheated.

Flax

rualexander
Posts: 2377
Joined: 2 Jul 2007, 9:47pm
Contact:

Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby rualexander » 9 Jul 2009, 9:46pm

Flaxman
My camera was a Canon S3 IS, with the colours/contrast set to 'Vivid'. Our bike weights were approx. 14kg and 16kg I think. We flew with Air NZ who give an extra 10kg for sports equipment. I believe Emirates have recently increased their allowance from 20kg to 30kg so they should be good also.
Our route was North Island: Auckland-Waiheke Island-Coromandel-Bay of Plenty-Whakatane-East Cape-Gisborne-Wairoa-Napier-Herbertville-Pongaroa-Eketahuna-Masterton-Martinborough-Wellington
South Island: Picton-Blenheim-Molesworth road-hanmer Springs-Waipara-Rangiora-Ashley Gorge-Methven-Geraldine-Fairlie-Tekapo-Twizel-Lake Ohau-Omarama-Tarras-Wanaka-Queenstown-Mavora Lakes-Manapouri-Tuatapere-Invercargill
then also Wanaka-Makarora-Haast-Lake Paringa-Fox Glacier-Franz Josef-Lake Ianthe-Hokitika-Greymouth.
Auckland to Invercargill was exactly two months, the section up the west coast from Wanaka to Greymouth was about 10 days, total distance was about 3500km.
We probably averaged about 60km per day, taking a rest day every three days or so on average.
The blue lakes would be Lake Tekapo (deep turquoise), Lake Pukaki (milky blue), due to different amounts of glacial 'rockflour' in the water.
DOC campsites are basic camping areas with usually 'pit' toilets and a water supply, run by the Department of Conservation (DOC), they are good and very cheap (generally) and sometimes free, usually self registration.


The 'customs' situation at auckland airport can be a nuisance but they are only trying to protect NZ from unwelcome biohazards. You can expect your tent to be taken away and shaken out and its worth cleaning your bike and boots or whatever before you go. The couple behind us tried to claim that their tent was unused when on inspection it was obviously used and they were fined a couple of hundred dollars.

hamster
Posts: 3314
Joined: 2 Feb 2007, 12:42pm

Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby hamster » 10 Jul 2009, 9:48am

Get your tent out and ensure it's pristine. Scrub the groundsheet. Wash your bike; as for tyres it's best to fit new ones. As said, ensure that boots are washed etc.

If the customs can see that you have taken bio-contamination seriously then they are OK. Sadly too many people don't which is why they can be crabby.