Touring - New Zealand Tour/Bike Planning
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05-28-08, 07:13 PM
In January 2009 I am going to be heading to New Zealand, Dunedin, South Island, for a semester abroad. After the semester, my professor is leading a tour around both islands via bus. And following that, mid-march, I plan to cycle around the North Island. I plan on doing a self-supported tour, camping as much as possible and hopefully using warmshowers when I get the chance. I've read a couple journals that seem really positive and have pointed me in the right direction for planning my route, but I have some questions about bikes.
4 years ago I started riding a fixed gear when I was living in California, I still do, and commute daily on it. Last summer I jumped into road riding and purchased a Specialized Allez triple. Specs can be seen here, http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?arc=2007&spid=21893
Right now, I am trying to decide what to do my touring on. In the next year or two, I want to upgrade road bikes, and so converting the Allez into a touring machine would be good. Positives would basically be that it has a triple, it would be nice to have a light, aggressive road bike for the time I am not touring, and that I already own it. It doesn't have rack mounts, and is uncomfortable on rides over 120kms. I would end up buying something like an Axiom rack that mounts without needing mounts, and a new stem/handlebar setup and possibly getting refitted for a more relaxed riding style.
I am interested in touring in the future, but don't have a lot of money to spend on a new bike, since I have to pay for the school part/flights to NZ. I have considered a surly crosscheck since I could possibly convert it to cyclocross/something else down the line and it seems more road oriented than the long haul trucker. All the positive feedback for anything Surly are pushing me in that direction, but money is a pretty serious issue since I already have to buy panniers and camping gear.
Do you think it would be feasible using my Allez? Or would it be better to maybe switch over my drive-train/any other usable components to a Cross-Check or similar frame.
Thanks for your help! And if anyone has any other feedback for touring NZ drop me a line.
05-28-08, 08:58 PM
How about selling your Allez and putting the money toward a lightweight touring bike? You can even use skinny tires when not touring. (Or use them for touring. I know someone who tours on 20 mm slicks!)
A touring bike does not have to ride like a station wagon. Mine feels nimble, but is comfortable hour after hour. I have used it to cross the Alps, but 99% of the time I am commuting and shopping.
All things being equal, a racing bike will go faster than a tourer, but a well-tuned tourer is a fantastic all-round bike.
05-28-08, 10:00 PM
Do you have to tour the North Island? Granted, things are closer apart up there, but the S. Island is much less inhabited (read: quieter roads), and has more dramatic scenery to boot.
That said, if you do the North, the Coromandel Peninsula is a must see.
Acantor has a good idea. I would consider selling the Allez if you can't afford a tourer otherwise. The Crosscheck seems like a perfect compromise between touring toughness and road riding nimbleness. If you're going to be touring in the North Island you're going to need EASY gears. The south island has the mountain passes but the north island has far steeper climbs, especially along the coast.
The Allez would make a great credit card tourer but you should really consider something that offers room for wider tires. Road conditions in NZ can be pretty bad in areas especially away from the cities.
NZ is a wonderful place. I'm sure you'll have an amazing experience regardless of what bike you ride :thumb:
05-28-08, 11:11 PM
Wow, what a great opportunity!
It is SERIOUSLY hilly there, you want mountain bike gearing, not just a triple, if you are carrying gear. I think the decision to go north in march is a good one, it's getting on towards winter in late march, and can be cold and nasty down south. I bailed out of the south island in late march, due to winter starting. I really enjoyed the east cape at the very end of march/beginning of April 2004, the weather was perfect.
if you decide to stay with your current bike, tubus makes a rack (Fly) that you can mount on a regular road bike, with a quick-release attachment kit. rack is rated to 40 pounds, which is plenty. wayne at thetouringstore.com can hook you up. campgrounds in NZ mostly have kitchens (no pots & pans, but burners & sinks & fridges) and so do the hostels/backpackers. Really easy place to travel.
I haven't seen any hills and i live in NZ
But yes you need 20inch gear if you want to take it easy
as for backpackers as mentioned above they all have cooking etc but the backpackers have ports and pans plates etc and the beds generally have duvets ( or are they call comforters in the US ) and you would problem fine it hard to go less then 50 km or worse case 100km without finding a backpackers so it depends on the costs that you want to incur sometimes backpackers are cheaper than a tent site if there is only one of you of course you can free camp if you have enough gear
It will be warm enough in January ( maybe 20 to 28 ) but it may still rain and its also school holidays some of the best places will be packed
And the other poster was right the south island is quieter and the scenery is a lot different in fact like a different country but in saying that it does depend where you are in the north island and what roads you take all the main ones are sealed in the north but there are ones that are not and some with highway numbers are not sealed so look at your maps carefully
If you need a place to stay or some more info let me know same goes for anyone else on here
05-30-08, 11:28 AM
Well, I just got back from touring in New Zealand, oh, about 3 hours ago? So, please understand that my incoherent ramblings are most likely a result of spending the last 30 hours in various planes and airports, and excuse any glaring grammar/spelling mistakes ;)
I spend 9 months touring around the North and South (evenly divided), with generous stints of seasonal labour sprinkled throughout--most recently I worked in a box factory, which was even more boring than it sounds (if that's possible). I was born in Dunedin, but have gone to school/lived in St. Paul, Minnesota for the last 13 years or so. You will find hills in New Zealand. I'm not so sure what you should do in regards to a touring bike, but I rode all of my tour on a Panasonic bike older than myself (it was made in the 80's), which worked out alright. I weighed my panniers at the end, and I had accumulated 37KGs of crap, most of which can be attributed to my mini- mobile library of books collected along the way. I made it over several passes in the Southern Alps, including Lewis and Haast, as well as the road through Cardrona, which is the highest-altitude highway in NZ. Anyway, the point being that I didn't need the lightest/best bike, and I managed alright, albeit quite slowly.
Dunedin's an awesome place. I stayed at the Holiday Park down near the ocean for a few nights, until I got sick of paying for it and camped in the public golf course just behind. Bad idea, but funny story. Cooked sausages, so all the dogs in the neighbourhood investigated me and my hiding place. Then, just as I was about finished eating those the sprinklers came on. After that, as it was a Saturday night, i kept on hearing drunk people staggering around and yelling, keeping me awake until 4 AM. Then at 7AM on Sunday was awoken by people teeing off nearby. But it was fun.
I'm sure you'll have an awesome time. If you want another NZ blog to skim over, mine is at:
However, it isn't quite as comprehensive as I would like it to be. Also, feel free to ask me any questions you may have--I'll try my best to answer them. Good luck, I'm going to go and get some sleep!
05-31-08, 03:03 PM
Thanks for the input everyone.
Selling the Allez is an option, but parting it out might be helpful in building up my new touring bike. The more I think about, the more I am leaning towards building up a touring bike and not trying to convert the Allez.
I was planning on riding the North Island because while I'm in Dunedin I hope to do some weekend tours, or take the train to ride in other cities. I feel like I would see more new scenes if I toured the North island. I'd love to do both, but time is a factor, and have to be back for May 1st for my co-op, leaving me about a month and a half for the tour.
Thanks again, I'm sure I'll have more questions or info on my tour coming up later!
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