I’ve biked around all sorts of interesting and diverse places but New Zealand is one of my favorites. Yes, I am biased because I live here but it’s not only that. You see New Zealand is crammed full of very different types of countryside, ranging from heavily forested hills to snow topped mountains looking down on outstanding lake views.
On the Queen Charlotte Track. Photo credit: Masivaan
Because of this, you can enjoy very different riding experiences in quite a small space, compared to other countries anyway.
Here are some examples from both the south and north islands.
South Island – Naesby Forest
Set in central Otago, the forest near the quiet town of Naesby has become an extremely popular place for mountain bikers. There’s a bike shop in the Naesby town which has maps of the forest showing the best routes for biking, so I suggest you pay them a visit before trying for the forest. You’ll be riding through a variety of forest trails; some steep, some flat but all enjoyable! There are also some great mountain views to be had at various points. I highly recommend mountain biking in this area.
South Island – Queen Charlotte Track
This is another ‘must do’ track, located in Marlborough. You’ll need a couple of days to ride the whole track and unfortunately it is no longer free but it’s only $12 for 4 days access. First of all you have to get a boat from Picton (where the ferries arrive from Wellington) to Ship Cove where you’ll start the two day bicycle tour. You’ll enjoy some tough biking, especially on the first day but you’ll also be rewarded with some amazing sea and mountain views.
South Island – Nydia Bay
This is yet another superb track. It starts at end of Duncans Bay Road, in Duncan Bay which is north west of Picton. It’s quite difficult to explain how to get there so check this map at http://goo.gl/maps/GTJXf There are plenty of challenging parts in this track with various roots and rocks to avoid but it is well worth the challenge! You will probably have to walk on various parts though.
North Island – Rotorua
Not all of the great biking routes are in the south island. Rotorua is one of my favorite cities to visit when I want to chill out for a couple of days as it has tons of spas with real volcanic water but it’s also a good place for some mountain biking as well. There are a huge amount of tracks around Rotorua ranging from easy grade 1 to very difficult grade 6.
One of the popular difficult routes is the Taniwha Track, also known as the National Downhill. It starts at the top of Tawa Road riding downhill with various drops and jumps and ends at Pipeline Road. Another popular grade 5 track is the K2 Track. It starts at the intersection of Tokorangi Pa Rd and Katore, where you ride through some steep forest trails, which ends at Spruce Road. Word of warning though; it can be very slippery at times so ride with care.
This guide was contributed by Jack who writes for the bike tour company www.pedaltours.co.nz. They offer fully guided cycle tours (include road and mountain biking) in a number of countries including New Zealand. You can visit this page to check out their New Zealand cycle tour packages.