Bicycling New Zealand
Bicycling New Zealand
This is our second 4 month trip bicycling New Zealand. We first bicycled New Zealand in 2001. We had such a great time, we decided to go back in 2010. There are significant differences between the trips, not the routes we took, but the expenses we incurred. In 2001, the New Zealand dollar was weak and our costs were very reasonable. By 2010, the U.S. dollar was weaker; prices in New Zealand had soared for lodging, food, groceries and even camping.
The flights across America and to New Zealand are now charging $200 per flight/per bicycle. This is a relatively new policy. In the past, we always flew the bikes as our second piece of luggage for free. Folding bikes that fit in a bike suitcase was a reasonable option because they would only charge it as an ordinary piece of luggage at $35. But that meant buying bikes with SS couplers that could be folded. Perhaps we may do that in the future, but it did not seem a good option this trip.That forced us to consider not taking bikes with us, but, buying or renting in New Zealand.
Air New Zealand is hospitable and friendly. They have not done away with all the amenities like the various American carriers. They served complimentary wine with a very fine dinner. Movie screens were in the back of each seat, so everyone had their own private viewing screen. There were multiple movies to choose from, TV shows, and music channels. The staff people were incredibly friendly and helpful with information. It was a very pleasurable experience.
Mike scoured the internet and found thousands of bikes for sale by private owners all over New Zealand. The site is called Trademe.com. There were plenty of choices, but we eventually settled on buying from a bike shop in Auckland that had a buy-back plan.
Holiday Parks, DOC campgrounds, Regional Parks and Reserves, and Backpackers will provide our sleeping quarters for the next 4 months. The Holiday Parks are like private campgrounds in the USA. They are more expensive than the government DOC camps, but have more amenities such as hot showers, kitchens and spacious sites. Only Backpacker lodging offered picnic tables. Motorists carry their own folding tables. As cyclists, we were often stuck without, or scrounged around for the one table available for 30 sites.
Our Gear for bicycling New Zealand
- No bicycles or panniers or trailer. We got all this equipment from our buy back dealer.
- We chose mountain bikes with road tires with knobbies along the edges. We knew we would be riding various gravel routes.
- No suspension, but wish we had it for the rough gravel roads.
- Good climbing gears are essential for New Zealand, no matter the bike.
- Waterproof panniers are a very good idea!
- Bright covers for the panniers and for your back are critical. New Zealand drivers do not like bicycles on their roads! Many roads have no shoulder. Bicycles are carried on buses if you need to avoid a particularly busy route.
- Helmets, clip less pedals and shoes, lock and chain long enough for two bikes.
- Waterproof stuff sacks for everything.
- Two 12″ computers since we were both writing and processing photos along the way.
- Canon Rebel XSI with 17-40 lens. Shot all photos in Raw and converted each night.
- Pelican box for the camera mounted on the front rack of my bike.
- Basic bicycle tools for adjustments on derailleur especially.
- Four spare tubes and tire puncture kit. Never had a flat.
- Minimal clothing included long underwear, good rain gear, and a warm parka, wool hat, cycling gloves for warmth. New Zealand can be wet and cold.
- Camping gear included all the usual stuff including primus stove, and pans as we knew we would be free camping in many areas.
- Butane gas for the stove had to be purchased in cities.
- Our favorite book came in two volumns, one for north Island and one for south. You can find it on www.paradise-press.co.nz/ppguides.html. Pedallers’ Paradise. They are light weight and easy to carry. They have information on many routes, with elevation profiles, stores, camping and other amenities listed.
- Lonely Planet Cycling New Zealand (http://shop.lonelyplanet.com/new-zealand/cycling-new-zealand-guide-2/). The version we carried seemed quite out of date, but we have noticed a newer copy is available both in e-book and printed.
- After finishing our second cycle tour, we wrote our own guide book. We felt the need to narrow down the maze of possible routes into special, scenically rich routes. We detail four routes on the North Island and five on the South Island. We created maps and profiles with mileages and surface conditions for every stage. These are our very favorite routes. We hope our book will help you choose just the right routes for your trip. It is available in Kindle and printed format.
Bicycling New Zealand is thrilling. The scenery is stimulating; every turn produces new views. The small towns could remind one of mid-west America in the 1950’s. Enjoy our stories and photos on the pages ahead. We hope we have given you something of the flavor and logistics of cycling New Zealand.
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