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

Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby Flaxman » 10 Jul 2009, 12:46pm

Thanks again all. I'll bear the biohazards in mind when I pack.

Cliff
Posts: 72
Joined: 23 Mar 2007, 3:34pm

Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby Cliff » 10 Jul 2009, 12:47pm

NZ is lovely - loads to see and I'm sure you will have a great time.

Apparently they have problems with birds attacking cyclist's heads/helmets (I think a helmet is compulsory) in some parts. I've been advised that you should paint (or use stickers) a basic face - eyes, nose mouth) onto the helmet as this can help prevent problems. No idea if it works!

rualexander
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Joined: 2 Jul 2007, 9:47pm
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Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby rualexander » 10 Jul 2009, 5:31pm

Cliff wrote:Apparently they have problems with birds attacking cyclist's heads/helmets (I think a helmet is compulsory) in some parts. I've been advised that you should paint (or use stickers) a basic face - eyes, nose mouth) onto the helmet as this can help prevent problems. No idea if it works!


Yes, helmets are compulsory in NZ, but having said that, in most rural areas you will hardly ever see a police patrol.
The only birds I can think of that might attack your helmet are the Kea (mountain parrot), but they will not attack you while you are cycling, and you will be unlikely to come across them except perhaps at Mt Cook Village, Fox Glacier, Franz Josef Glacier, and Arthur's Pass, as they live in the mountains. They may also take a liking to any soft parts of your bike (tyres, handlebar grips, etc), or tent, they have very strong sharp beaks and like to chew stuff! I have never had any problems with them though.

HP Velo Fan
Posts: 59
Joined: 29 Mar 2009, 8:53pm

Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby HP Velo Fan » 11 Jul 2009, 1:23am

Good luck with the trip. I was in NZ for quite a long time a few years ago. I didn't cycle but drove around a lot on the back roads. On South Island pretty much everywhere is nice so picking a route is very easy. :D Queenstown is full of tourists (not cycle tourists!) but is still very nice and WELL worth a visit. The West coast can get very windy I think so maybe something to get more info on.

I was there from late Jan onwards and the weather was nice from then on, can't remember when it got colder. Remember though that the weather can change quickly. Sun in the morning to cold rain in the afternoon was not uncommon by any means. Pretty much like the UK! 8)


hamster wrote: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.

If you got into and out of NZ a lot like I did all this can get on your nerves a bit to be honest. They do seem to ask some totally stupid questions. I had my tent strapped to the outside of my rucksack and they got it out and had a look at it. It by no means looks new by the way. They then asked me if I had used it outdoors and/or on soil or leaf covered ground. No I always do my camping indoors! :roll:
On a serious note just make sure you leave more time than normal for this sort of thing. With me they got my stuff out, took it off for a few minutes, then dumped it on the table for me to have to repack. Not what you need when having to catch a flight. :wink:

Have a great trip and if I can be of any more help just pm me or something. :D

Andy S

simonhill
Posts: 2727
Joined: 13 Jan 2007, 11:28am
Location: Essex

Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby simonhill » 11 Jul 2009, 2:58pm

When I flew in a few months ago the quarantine guys (not Customs) took my word that my bike was clean. It was boxed and they didn't even look in it. I had expected a bit more scrutiny and thought they were pretty lax.

I agree that the N Island is probably a lot tougher to cycle - hills and traffic, but to miss it out completely is doing NZ a bit of an injustice. The East Cape is pretty good, as with the Forgotten Highway. The area around National Park with the active volcanoes, Lake Taupo and Rotorua are all worth seeing.

I didn't camp as organised camp sites (not DoC) were often about as much as hostels and hostels were a lot more sociable. Probably harder to survive without camping in the S Island. Costs for food, etc just a little bit more than in the UK if going to the big supermarkets. Outside the big towns these are few and things can get very expensive in the small convenience stores (dairies). The NZ$ fell about as much as the £ over the last couple of years.

Beware the traffic, particularly the timber trucks - their trucks are twice as big as ours and their roads are half the size.

Don't forget the Peddallers Paradise books (google 'em) - small cheap and excelent info.

rualexander
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Joined: 2 Jul 2007, 9:47pm
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Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby rualexander » 11 Jul 2009, 5:03pm

simonhill wrote:I didn't camp as organised camp sites (not DoC) were often about as much as hostels and hostels were a lot more sociable. Probably harder to survive without camping in the S Island. Costs for food, etc just a little bit more than in the UK if going to the big supermarkets. Outside the big towns these are few and things can get very expensive in the small convenience stores (dairies). The NZ$ fell about as much as the £ over the last couple of years.

Beware the traffic, particularly the timber trucks - their trucks are twice as big as ours and their roads are half the size.


I would say that on average hostels are about NZ$10 more than commercial campsites ('motor camps' as they are known in NZ), but it is true that hostels are better places to meet fellow travellers, although because NZ campsites have hostel style kitchens and often tv rooms, they are ok for meeting people, and you don't have to worry about booking ahead unlike with hostels.
Unless prices have inflated significantly in the past year, I would disagree about the cost of food, I don't think it is noticeably different to what you would pay here, used to be quite a bit cheaper in NZ when there were NZ$3 plus to the pound though. Depends what you are buying, some things cheaper, some more expensive. Eating out however, is much cheaper in NZ.
The trucks are not any bigger than they are here just different with 'american style' tractor units and often with trailers to get them round the more twisty roads. The roads are not half the size as they are here, most State Highways in NZ are as good if not better than most single carriagway A roads here, and they usually have a good width of shoulder too. But watch out for the single lane bridges when the shoulder disappears and the road narrows.

cricklewood_graeme
Posts: 38
Joined: 2 Mar 2007, 6:37pm

Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby cricklewood_graeme » 17 Jul 2009, 4:23pm

I am a Kiwi now living in London and have enjoyed this thread immensely. I don't really have anything to add except after cycling in Europe I found the average road surface in NZ to be very hard going. The pebbles used in the tarmac seem larger and therefore a fatter tire than you would need here is recommended. Someone above mentioned the Takapau plains
(Wairarapa). Make sure you choose the right time to travel across that bit of godzone because when I did it a couple of years ago I rode into the teeth of a howling southerly gale as I headed to Wellington from Napier. Never been so knackered in all my life. I agree that Jan-Feb has the most glorious weather generally and less holiday makers after school has resumed at beginning of Feb but face it the country is the same size as Britain and yet the human population is only 4 million. That's probably why everybody waves at you while driving - just in case you are a cousin.

aquilegia
Posts: 27
Joined: 6 Sep 2008, 9:15pm

Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby aquilegia » 21 Jul 2009, 11:34pm

I was repeatedly attacked by a magpie on the North Island on the day that I cycled from Raitihi to Wanganui. I was wearing a helmet, but with no face painted on it. Anytime that I glanced upward when I perceived it was divebombing toward me, it would veer away at the last second. Eventually, I got out of its territory and it left me alone.

Keas are fairly rare. They're generally only seen these days in wilderness areas on the South Island, I believe. I met a cyclist whose leather saddle was taped up. She told me that a kea ate a portion of it! I personally saw a kea going after rubber door seals on a car in a parking area at the end of the Routeburn Track on the South Island, as well as attempting to attack a backpack before its owner put the backpack in his car. One night while I was hiking ("tramping" in NZese) the Routeburn Track, a kea was amusing itself in the pre-dawn hours by sliding down the corrugated metal roof of the hut I was sleeping in. It would then fly back up and repeat. Over and over. You've got to admire a bird that would amuse itself like that.

As for cycling, the most memorable parts of the South Island for me were the west coast as well as a brief stretch of road along Queen Charlotte Sound shortly after you leave Picton, the town you arrive at by ferry from Wellington. The Otago Peninsula near Dunedin made for a very nice day trip. If they still permit you to visit the albatross colony and the yellow-eyed penguin colony, I highly recommend both. I did not like biking from Dunedin to Christchurch and hopped on a bus halfway.

I thoroughly enjoyed biking on the North Island, although as others have said, it's more strenuous than the South Island. I liked my route from Rotorua to Wanganui, via Taupo and National Park (an actual place name). Avoid trying to bike from Wanganui to Wellington due to very heavy traffic and uninteresting scenery. The East Cape was fairly nice, too.

I've been to NZ twice, Nov.-Dec the 1st time, Dec-Jan the 2nd time. I definitely had better weather in January (warmer & sunnier), but also more traffic. I would guess that February to early March might be the ideal time from both a weather and traffic standpoint.

The last time I was there, there were unbelievable numbers of German cyclists there. Some backpackers (private hostels) were run by Germans, and in one or two, German was the lingua franca.

treddlie
Posts: 2
Joined: 29 Jul 2009, 11:57am

Re: New Zealand tips needed

Postby treddlie » 29 Jul 2009, 12:11pm

If you have a couple of weeks try the South Island. I was there last year

Check out my blog

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/newzealand2008