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Old 06-15-05, 08:06 PM   #1
islandboy
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New Zealand in February 2006

We (2) are planning a two month road bicycle tour of New Zealand in February 2006. Anyone with insight, suggestions, etc.? Thank you for your responses in advance.
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Old 06-15-05, 11:39 PM   #2
badsac
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Lol. Me to. Feb 2006 for 6 weeks. Might run across you.
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Old 06-16-05, 12:00 AM   #3
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Hiya! I am living in Hamilton, about 1 hour drive south from auckland. If you can give me a little more detail as to what parts of the country you are wanting to tour I might be able to help you out with suggested routes and accommodation etc. Also what sort of bikes will you be using? are they suitable for gravel/dirt roads or would you want to be sticking to the hard stuff?

Hope i can help,
Brendon
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Old 06-16-05, 12:10 PM   #4
cacyclingfan
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You will have a great time! I was there all of this last December and loved it. I spent the entire time on the south island due to only having a month. But here is what I observed that might provide you some help-

1. The book Pedallers Paradise is the best guide book for cyclists. I believe this is the link to purchase it. http://www.paradise-press.co.nz/ There is one for the north island and one for the south island. I would say those books and than your general country tour book of choice (ie Fodors or Lonely Planet) will get you all you need.

2. Prior to going there visit as many forums as you care to and ask questions. 99 times out of 100 you will get responses from Kiwis who are more than happy to tell you about there beautiful country. They are great. I met two on the flight over who ended up enviting me to go sailing.

3. Tires. I am a roadie first and a tour rider second so I noticed this right away. If you have beefy touring bikes you will be fine but I typically ride on 700x23. I would recomend 700x28 with some good tread.

4. If you like social environments stay in Backpackers from time-to-time. You can buy a Backpacker card when you get there which is worth it if you stay more than 5 to 10 nights in a Backpacker. Most of the hosts are the owners as well so they take great care in your comfort and enjoyment of their town. There are a few large backpackers in big towns I would avoid but the guide you get when you buy a card will explain all of that.

5. Get a good mirror. Aside from waterproof panniers my mirror was my most prized possession. The roads are narrow much of the time.

6. Bungi Jump off the original bridge in Queenstown. It is a blast!

Have a great time. I am sure you will love it.
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Old 06-16-05, 01:24 PM   #5
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I've toured twice (1987 & 1997) in NZ, each time on both islands. While my favorite touring region was the west coast of the South I., as well as the northern part of the South I., there is some great touring on the North I. as well. Don't sell the North I. short. With two months, you'll have time to explore much of the country. One area which disappointed me was the east coast of the South Isl. from a bit north of Dunedin to Christchurch, though Christchurch itself is a pleasant town, as is Dunedin. I enjoyed the Otago peninsula just south of Dunedin, and the Albatross colony and yellow-eyed penguins there are well-worth seeking out, if that is still possible.

Wellington is a pleasant city with frequently awful weather, and both times I passed through there I took a bus between Wellington and points north on the North Island. The area immediately north of Wellington is relatively crowded, has more traffic than most of NZ, and I think is best avoided. The first time on the North I. I biked from Rotorua south to Wanganui, going on the west side of Tongararo (sp?) National Park. I enjoyed that route, despite being repeatedly dive-bombed by a territorial magpie south of Raitihi! The 2nd trip, I biked most of the route from Napier (my favorite town in NZ due largely to its fantastic art deco architecture) around the East Cape, up to the Coromandel peninsula just south of Auckland. The area is fairly remote and distances are great, but it's a pretty area. I had repeatedly heard that the Coromandel, so close to Auckland, was both very pretty and had some difficult cycling. Both proved to be true. Really lovely scenery there, but some difficult riding at times. Overall, I found the terrain of the North I. makes for more challenging riding than the South I. I've never been north of Auckland, and only one cyclist I've spoken with who had been there thought it made for good touring, though visitors otherwise liked the region.

NZ roads tend to be paved ("sealed" in local parlance) with coarse stones, so the roads aren't that smooth. However, the roads were otherwise in good condition.

My last trip I stayed mainly in "backpackers", and found the guest feedback ratings in the directory to be accurate and very useful. The first trip involved mostly camping and bunk rooms in the "motor camps".

In 1987, there were relatively few touring cyclists and it was easy to hook up with others. I biked with cyclists from 4 different countries on that trip. In 1997, the number of touring cyclists had increased at least 10-fold. There were so many cyclists that you no longer stopped and chatted with others you would pass on the road. If you did so routinely, you wouldn't get very far each day. I was amazed in 1997 how many cyclists there were from northern Europe. Most of the increase I observed seemed to be especially from Germany, but also Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia. The number of North American and Australian cyclists had remained largely constant. In some of the backpackers in 1997, the managers were German, most of the guests were German, and the lingua franca was sometimes even German. I realized how non-native English speakers must feel at times during travels throughout the world.

If you enjoy hiking ("tramping" in NZ-ese), it is superb in NZ. I hiked the gorgeous Routeburn track, as well as hikes in 2 or 3 other national parks on both islands.

Personally, I don't think cycling guidebooks are necessary for NZ. The number of roads is limited. Once you determine what regions you want to visit, you don't have much choice where to ride. I guess the cycling books (I bought a couple) can be somewhat useful for deciding which regions you wish to visit, but I think that a general guidebook is more useful.
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Old 06-17-05, 02:15 AM   #6
hoogie
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Originally Posted by islandboy
We (2) are planning a two month road bicycle tour of New Zealand in February 2006. Anyone with insight, suggestions, etc.? Thank you for your responses in advance.
all the above answers are good advice ...
if you are coming in february, i would consider starting off in the lower south island and working your way north ... it can get a bit chilly at nights in march way down south ... school holidays are over and the raods aren't as busy as a rule, except if waitangi day [feb 6th] falls on a friday or a monday, then the long weekend can be a bit busy ...

try and avoid SH1 as much as possible, that holds most of the traffic ... there are many other smaller backroads that are much quieter and are much more scenic and pleasant too ...

also check out my touring in nz webpage ... it might have some additional useful info for you ...

the NZMTB website has a worthwhile touring forum too ...
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Old 06-17-05, 02:21 AM   #7
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http://www.yha.co.nz

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Old 06-22-05, 03:17 AM   #8
Per Kuhlwein
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Hi

2 months was what I spent last Sept./Oct. touring the North Island - around 2800 km. It was a mixed experience, but you always have to compare with your expectations. New Zealand is beautiful, especially when you are looking the brochures – most of the beautiful sights from these you´ll never find them. However I did not visit the South Island - I will be back one day.

February can be warm, and thinking on my touring at the excellent temp. of 17-20 degrees C. I would not be comfortable to climb the same steep hills at a temp. of 25-30 degrees C. What I mean is if you are not very very fit – then it will be a pain. That´s why I also must tell you if you are a couple and the female is not as fit as you – then perhaps you should consider what is often seen in New Zealand – a tandem! During my 2 months I saw two young couples where it was easy to see that the lady was driven down – finito. The guy had to carry all their panniers.

But of cource Febr. 2006 – you have still 7-8 months – and it ought to be enough to get fit in due time. To get fit and to keep fit I am using the easy and fast way – I am running every second day about 12 km (1 hour) and the last month every day 12 – 16 km. It is much more efficient than bycycletrips. I combine it with few testrides with panniers.

The most beautiful tours of the North Island I did were:
9. Opononi - Dargaville (HW 12) (Map no. 2c. page 14) og (Map no. 2b. page 13)
and
13. Tauranga – Rotorua (Map No. 4b. page 24)
14. Rotorua – Taupo (Map No. 6a. page 29)
15. Taupo - Turangi - National Park – Taumarunui (Map No. 6b. page 30) og (Map No. 7b. page 35)
16. Taumarunui - Te Whakarea - Whangamomona - Te Wera (Map No. 16. page 65)
17. Te Wera - Douglas – Stratford (Map No. 16. page 65)
and
26. Wairoa - Lake Waikaremoana (Map No. 10. page 47)
27. Lake Waikaremoana. - Ruatahuna – Murupara (Map No. 10. page 47)
Reference to maps: Pedallers´ Paradise by Nigel Rushton. A cycle touring guide to New Zealand´s North Island. (Buy it – it is easy to bring along and there are the information you need. )

The weather of cource is important, but even when raining I enjoyed the tour. Shortly after the rain stopped I was dry again – except if it was heavy rain ;-)

Straddling the bike I took a lot of photos, mostly to remind myself about all the incredible green nuances. The colours was changing all the time playing with the sun, the clouds, wind and humidity. Because of your question I hurried up making a web-site - now you are all welcome to take a look:

http://hjem.get2net.dk/kuhlwein/

Regards
Per
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Old 06-22-05, 11:43 PM   #9
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Wow. Nice pics. Good work. Can't wait to try those "Mak Pies" as well. Love me pies, although why anyone would waste them by pegging them at you, I could never guess.
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