/ Cycling in New Zealand

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gethin_allen on 03 Dec 2017
Anyone here done any cycling, thinking touring or easy MTB/cyclocross in New Zealand? Do you have any good tips on places, routes, bike hire/purchase etc?

Being a bit pissed off with work at the moment and with all that coming to an end at christmas I'm trying to work out what to do with my life/having a mid life crisis. One of my ideas is to go somewhere in the southern hemisphere and exploring a bit. This may include a few weeks cycle touring.
Any new zealand tips welcome.

dave657 on 03 Dec 2017
In reply to gethin_allen:

Only just moved here so only getti g to know it. But the one multi day mtb trip people recommend the most is the old ghost road. Not sure how easy it is, but it looks fantastic.
gethin_allen on 03 Dec 2017
In reply to dave657:
Looks interesting. The distance sounds easy enough but I'm not sure what they call a "grade 4 advanced" trail, any idea how this compares to a european style green to black diamond grading style?

I guess I need to sort out what type of bike I can get hold of and that will decide how doable it is.

Thanks for the tips.
damowilk on 03 Dec 2017
In reply to gethin_allen:

Feel free to hit me up for info, I live in Christchurch, and do a fair amount of local riding, and have done some of the longer trails, and aim to get more into bike packing here.
The Ghost Road is the hottest new trail on the West Coast, soon the be followed by the Pike River trail, and te Heaphy Great Walk is open again to MTBers 6 months of the year, all good trails.
There’s a lot of potential here, and it’s getting increasingly popular. Your aren’t allowed to just bike on any existing walking trails though.

There are a number of easier bike trails too, mostly gravel trails, a bit of road, but through some great scenery, like the West Coast Wilderness Trail, Alps to Ocean, the Otago Rail trail, and the Little River Rail trail. These are pleasant non-technical trips.

Then there is a large amount of technical day riding round the country, with centres like Rotorua, Queenstown, Nelson and Christchurch particularly good for. We are just about to get our downhill, chairlift serviced park back up and running after it burnt down in the hill fire.

There are companies that do self guided servicing of some of the trails (DOI, my partner works for one), the various trail centres will have bike hire, and there are a few companies that do longer bike hire.

I don’t like road riding so much here, though it’s popular. There is very little tolerance from drivers to bikers, and the standard of driving is low (double the road deaths of the UK per capita.) I’d recommend string together a trip from a number of the off road bike tracks, in different parts of the country.
There are good bike trail books, written by the Kennett Brothers, divided into North and South Island.
dave657 on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to gethin_allen:

I'm still getting to grips with the grading system. But I'd say a grade 4 is a red, maybe black, maybe harder.. (the few I've done have been a bit variable in difficulty!).

From what I'm told ghost road isn't extremely technical, but gets grade 4 because it's narrow in places with very steep drops. But again I've not done it, so this is all second/third hand info.

Another couple of things to bear in mind, the huts on popular trails get busy, you may need to book quite far in advance. There are not many loops that I've found, so you'll need to organise a shuttle service from finish back to your car.
damowilk on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to dave657:

That matches with what I’ve been told about Ghost Road.
The hut charging has changed for Ghost Road, and is quite annoying for bikers, given that it was meant to be primarily a MTB route: there is a fixed rate for huts, regardless of whether you want to spend 1-4 nights doing it. It’s doable in a day, but more laid back in 2.

Having just done the Heaphy, I’d strongly recommend doing it out and back from the Karamea end and avoid the transport logistics of doing in one way. We spent 2 nights in James McKay hut, first day bike in, 2 day bike as far as you want and back, usually to the saddle, but all the way to the other end and back if you feel fit, then 3rd day bike back out. It’s essential to pre-book huts, or the few camp spots, and the season runs from Apr-Oct.
Mikek on 05 Dec 2017
In reply to damowilk:

>There is very little tolerance from drivers to bikers

Totally agree! Recently back from NZ on road trip, didn't cycle but was amazed how bad drivers are, no courtesy to bikes, and dangerous at times, way worse than UK.
gethin_allen on 05 Dec 2017
In reply to Mikek:
">There is very little tolerance from drivers to bikers"

Hmm, this doesn't sound ideal. It is the case in the more remote areas or just in towns?

Any idea what the rules are for wild camping?
Mikek on 05 Dec 2017
In reply to gethin_allen:

Just my observations; worst in towns I think where most cyclists were but amazed at how close to cyclists some cars passed out in the countryside on open roads! No holding back on corners... It certainly made we wonder whether I would want to risk it.

I didn't camp but seemed there are plenty of rules for wild camping, best you Google search; there's no "right to roam" etc, as UK and it seemed a lot of great land is Maori with no access. Seems you need an access permit for things we would take for granted. But there is still a lot on offer!
damowilk on 05 Dec 2017
In reply to gethin_allen:

Quite old fashioned access laws here, IMHO much behind Scotland’s laws, or England/Wales CROW. Basically landowners decide whether to allow access or not, this can be an issue as much public access, DOC land, can be ringed by pasture land, “owned”, or rather a Crown tenancy, of private owners. Sometimes there might be a public easement through it, often not. In practice it’s mostly possible to access where you want to go, but there are a few places either impossible, or difficult to access. There just isn’t the political will or public profile to update the high country access laws.

Take care wild camping, particularly near roads, there’s understandable annoyance with camper van “freedom campers” impacting on the outskirts of towns etc. Properly in the hills it’s rarely an issue.

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