Author Topic: cycling new zealand  (Read 3636 times)

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Offline heliski

cycling new zealand
« on: January 26, 2008, 01:37:51 pm »
My husband and I would like to ride around the South Island late this Fall.  Has anyone else done this - or part of this- tour?  We are planning to ride for a month?  Is this a reasonable time frame?  We are avid "roadies" and plan to train by just packing in the miles on our road bikes. Anyone train this way for touring?  Oh, I did forget to say it will be our first tour.  Are we nuts?  Suggestions for map sources?  Any and all responses will be appreciated.  

Offline valygrl

cycling new zealand
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2008, 02:43:46 pm »
Great idea.  You don't say where you are from, so it's hard to know what you do/don't know already.

I went in late Feb to early Apr of 2004, and had mostly nice weather.  By the end it was getting a little on the cold side in the mountains, so try to get the big passes done before it starts snowing.  

Pedaler's Paradise is a great map book w/info about roads, distances, topography and services.  I also had the Lonely Planet guide, and found the general information useful but the specific ride recommendations were too limited - you can pretty much just go anywhere on the south island and be happy cyclists, so don't worry too much about planning.

One month is barely enough.  Be prepared for wind, rain, sun, snow, beaches, all in the same day.  And ice cream.  It's hilly, the towns are close together and often have some kind of indoor accommodation - room above the pub, backpackers, and there are lots of nice clean holiday parks, which usually have a kitchen.  Roads are nice, traffic is friendly and sparse except around the bigger cities (Chch).  

Very low gearing is helpful, it's not uncommon to encounter 15-20% grades.  DOn't worry about training, you'll be fine, you can always do short days when you are tired, and there is plenty to do on a day off.  

Oh and the people really are as friendly as you have heard.

Have a great tour!

Offline peddler

cycling new zealand
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2008, 06:07:32 pm »
Hello! We are kiwi's (Auckland) who spend at least some weeks every year cycle touring in the sth island. The best months are Feb, March and if you are lucky April.  We did 2 weeks April 07 and has the best experience ever, no rain and no cars.  Still, April is a little risky as you could strike lots of rain, particularaly on the west coast. (you can get rain on the west coast at any time during the year through, its very pot luck).
Having cycled the transAm a couple of years back and toured in Europe the biggest difference with touring in NZ is that the roads aren't as well designed for bikes.  In saying that if you go outside of peak season (don't go late Dec, or Jan) you should find it no problem.  Avoid State Highway one as much as possible.  Suggestion:  The upper sth island - Picton, Nelson is a beautiful region and plenty of opportunities to ride on quiet roads.  A nice place to start.  If you are starting in ChCh as most do, I would avoid heading nth  - rather head south to start.  If you would like us to help plan your route feel free to reply as such with where you are starting and how much time you have and we would be happy to obligue.

Our campgrounds are really good.  Most have kitchens and TV rooms where you can chill out even if its raining.

Valygirl is right - you need a low gear ratio.  1 to 1 would be ideal - definatey a triple chain ring on the front, preferably of the mountainbike variety.  Generally the sth island has longer but less steep hills than the nth island - but a couple roads in particular (Arthurs Pass) and the Crown range (between Queenstown and Wanaka) will see you cursing if you don't have the right ratios!  Have fun, its a great country - just watch out for the crazy drivers - us cyclists aren't overlly popular - although so long as you ride single file as far left as possible on the busy roads, you shouldn't have any problems.  Good luck!

Offline heliski

cycling new zealand
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2008, 12:49:13 pm »
Thanks for the reply, appreciate you taking the time.  We are from N. Michigan, USA, quite close to the Mackinaw Bridge.  Depending on the route we choose, we can ride hills or flats - lots of really nice, quiet roads no matter where we go. We'll be renting bikes in ChCh most likely so the equipment will probably be suitable to the terrain, but we'll make sure to check the gearing before we rent.  Thanks again.  

Offline heliski

cycling new zealand
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2008, 12:51:17 pm »
Thanks for taking the time to reply to my query, nice to hear from a local.  Appreciate the info on maps.  We'll probably be riding in November, visiting friends and family.  Will also be in Australia at some point, again, visiting friends.  Maybe we'll see you there!