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  1. #1
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    NZ in Jan/Feb06, Spain in May06

    I'd like to get some feedback from folks who have been to either New Zealand and /or Spain within the past 2 years or so

    A bud and I are planning to go to NZ in JanFeb 06, 4 weeks probably and I'm going myself to Spain in May06

    My traveling bud is an all out camper/climber/outdoors man and we both have climbed Kilimanjaro, did safari recently, so we would like to do more camping than hostels and BnBs

    I plan to do the camping thing in Spain to stay longer and cheaper

    Reasonable for us to do both North and South Islands in 4 weeks on bikes??

    In Spain I plan to fly into Madrid and stay there 5 days to do the museums, then hook a train to Barcelona for prob 5 days then ride the coast to Gibraltar and Tarifa then trip over to Tangers maybe 2 days but do the historical cities along the way plus the white towns, no time limit for me in Spain. I know Spain can be "touristy" but I'd really like to get away from that area, why I'm trying now to wrap my tongue around learning Spainish

    I'd appreciate any personal fav places anyone has visited in either of these places.

    I have a lot of info from both the NZ tourist office, plus a good cycling guide for Spain ,and Lonely Planet guides

    Take bikes or buy there? Don't want to rent either place and we both prob would donate the bikes bought locally to a charity when finished
    We both have mid level TREKS and there are good priced bikes available in Europe which might relieve shipping concerns


    I appreciate any and all info

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travelinguyrt
    Reasonable for us to do both North and South Islands in 4 weeks on bikes??

    I'd appreciate any personal fav places anyone has visited in either of these places.
    I cycled for 6 weeks in New Zealand, north and south islands, and still only saw a small portion of the country. Some of my favourite places were Rotorua, Tongariro, Abel Tasman, Fox and Franz Joseph Glaciers, and the Banks Peninsula.

  3. #3
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    I spent February and March of this year in New Zealand, most of it in the South Island. If I had it to do over I would fly into Christchurch instead of Auckland and spend the whole time on the South Island. The North Island is a wonderful place to tour but the south was more pastoral, less crowded and that's what I was looking for on this tour.

    At the end of March I was in the south of the South Island and it was getting pretty rainy and the temp was dropping. If I go back at the same time of year ever again I will ideally tour from the south to the north.

    I remember checking out this forum before I went and worrying because my itinerary didn't include some of the places members recommended but franklly you can't go wrong in New Zealand. It's simply a wonderul country. Have a great trip.

  4. #4
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    I did 7 1/2 weeks in NZ in Feb-Apr'03. 5 1/2 weeks was on the south island, the rest on the north and in transit.

    4 weeks is not long enough for either island, let alone both. If that's your timeframe, I would concentrate on one island. If you are going to the South Island but flying into Aukland, you can take an overnight train to Wellington and a ferry to the South Island. SI is more outdoorsy/mountain-y, NI is more culturally (maori) interesting, tropical, beachy, more people and cities (and more traffic).

    I personally like outdoors/camping not cities/museums, so that's my bias for the following highlights (not an itinerary):

    South Island - kaikoura coast, wanaka, milford sound, Arthur/Porter pass, dunedin. skip queenstown unless you like 'extreme' activities like bungee jumping and jetboating, except it's worth it to take the boat across the lake and then you get 2 days of remote gravel road. West coast is a rainforest - beautiful but be prepared to get very wet.

    North Island - I only rode the "east cape" (Lonely Planet route), and it was fantastic - gorgeous coastal scenery, very mellow.

    Random stuff:
    NZ is super hilly, sometimes extremely steep. Low gears (mountainbike-low) are good. Roads are excellent chipseal, but there are a few gravel roads that if you can ride on them, get you really cool places.
    Campgrounds (= caravan parks, = holiday parks ) there are very nice, and usually include a kitchen with stoves, hot water, sometimes fridge. (BYO pots/pans) I wouldn't bother with a camping stove there.
    "backpackers" = hostels are cheap and reasonable indoor accomodations.
    The food is pretty boring, except for the ice cream, which is unreal.
    I also wouldn't bother with a water filter, just iodine or if you are bringing a stove that's good enough.

    Gear is very expensive there compared to the US (I am assuming you are from the US) - i would bring a bike with you if you have one you like. Shipping is no big deal - most international airlines (including air new zealand and quantas) allow you to consider the bike as one of your 2 pieces of 70lb/each luggage. you do have to box it, but a cardboard box from your local bike shop works fine, no need for a fancy case. If you already have a fancy case, you can book a hostel for your first and last night in the country and ask them to store your case (i did this with my not-fancy cardboard box).

    Great guidebook: Pedallers Paradise - 2 small books, one for each island, easy to carry, VERY useful. Can get it online in the USA, can't remember where (google it). This is much more complete than the LP guide, including hill profiles, milage and services just about everywhere in the country.

    Have fun!
    Anna
    ...

  5. #5
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    My first visit was a month, and I feel I did see quite a bit. Personally, I think it's worthwhile to visit both islands, even on a 4 week visit, as they are very different. Also, it's an easy ferry ride or flight between the two. Generally, the cycling tends to be more difficult on the North Island, because there are few flat areas there. For example, I found cycling over Arthur's Pass easier than cycling on the Coromandel peninsula near Auckland. Given what you described about your friend & yourself, you might want to consider some hiking in the splendid national parks, as well. I spent part of my time on both trips hiking, including a couple of multi-day hikes staying in mountain huts.

    There are only a couple of areas I would not recommend for cycling: On the North Island, the highly populated area just north of Wellington. On my first trip, I hopped on a bus from Wanganui to Wellington, and was glad I did. On the South Island, I couldn't get enthused about the east coast south of Christchurch to Dunedin, though the closer you get to Dunedin, the nicer it gets.

    Some favorites spots:

    the relatively short stretch of a minor road west of Picton along Queen Charlotte Sound when you arrive by ferry from Wellington. Stunningly beautiful.

    the west coast of the South I, which pretty much everyone loves. Good luck with the weather, however.

    hiking the Routeburn Track on the South I. I don't know if you're still allowed to do it at your own pace, however.

    the town of Napier. It has the finest concentration of art deco architecture I've seen anywhere. Much more impressive than Miami Beach, I thought.

    the Otago peninsula near Dunedin. Hopefully, you're still allowed to view albatross & yellow-eyed penguins there.

  6. #6
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    This is what I appreciate about this forum

    the previous posts are exactly what I was both looking and hoping to receive

    One additional ?.If we start earlier in January will it still be moderatley comfortable at the extreme south part of the South Island, not weather/rain/wimps but don't want to spend much of the time sloshing thru rain, oh, bud said to say we are going to do some climbing while there also, thats his area of expertise, I just hold the rope

    Thanks for the fast response, only have few more weeks to get tickets lined up

  7. #7
    MaNiC! NZLcyclist's Avatar
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    One of our NZ touring members has a site - hoogie

    Hoogie's site Click here

    He also reckons that you are probably best off bringing your own bike, there are only 2 decent touring bike shops in the country - one in Auckland and one in Christchurch

    Brendon
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travelinguyrt
    One additional ?.If we start earlier in January will it still be moderatley comfortable at the extreme south part of the South Island, not weather/rain/wimps but don't want to spend much of the time sloshing thru rain, oh, bud said to say we are going to do some climbing while there also, thats his area of expertise, I just hold the rope
    Rain-wise, there's a fairly even distribution of rain throughout the year in most parts of the country. It's largely a crap shoot.

  9. #9
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    September 2004 I biked around and across the North Island and recommend especially following 2 routes:

    1. Rotorua Taupo Turangi National Park Taumarunui "Forgotten World Highway" (No. 43) towards Stratford.
    The route in mentioned direction include the most beautiful nature I saw during my trip. Mountains with snow, multi green colored fields, incredible beautiful gorge with a minimum of trafic its on gravel road. Driving towards Stratford you have Mount Egmont in front of you for many kilometers just beautiful.

    But also the route:
    2. Wairoa Lake Waikaremoana Murupara Rotorua.
    Mostly gravel road, but so beatiful and only little trafic. If you start in Wairoa in the morning you will arrive at Lake Waikaremoana just after noon. A beautiful place to recover and to think about next days ride a tough one to Murupara (accomodation), but again beautiful and worth the efforts.

    I think if you are prepared to camp it should be possible on these routes, but if its legal? I dont know

    About the weather sometimes you are getting wet, but dont worry the sun appears again and together with the wind it will keep you warm and dry

    I have a web-site with some photos. From the text below you can see the route I followed: http://hjem.get2net.dk/kuhlwein/

    I didnt go to probably the most beautiful part of the country The South Island.

    Have a nice trip.

    Regards
    Per

  10. #10
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    I'm starting from Christchurch on Feb 11, for five weeks on the South Island. Maybe I'll see you there.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
    "We invite everyone to question the entire culture we take for granted." - Manic Street Preachers.
    My blog.
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  11. #11
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    great advice here. just one thing i might add-bring some super-duper bad-ass sun block and consider wearing things like long sleeves, bandana around neck, etc. to block the sun. also, try to time rides so you miss prime burning hours (ride in the morning and later afternoons, for example). i lived in NZ for a year last year and the sun is much more intense there than N America. i grew up in Arizona so i'm no sun-weenie, but you can definitely feel the burn there. that thin ozone layer thing?
    have fun,
    tom in osaka

  12. #12
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Yes, it is the thin ozone layer. Tasmania has the same problem. Another thing to remember with sunscreen is to reapply it every couple of hours. Living in Queensland, I know that sweat can wash it off very quickly.

    As far as the section between Christchurch and Dunedin on the South Island is concerned, I'm planning on taking an inland route there past Lake Tekapo.

    I also have a copy of Bruce Ringer's New Zealand by Bike. A lot of great information in that one, but it may be a little dated by now. Does anyone know if there's an updated/republished version of that around?
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
    "We invite everyone to question the entire culture we take for granted." - Manic Street Preachers.
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  13. #13
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    See if this answers some of your questions about Spain. Just remember, in the mountains, 80% of Spain is pain!

    http://www.dulcinea.crazyguyonabike.com

    Bruce Northcutt, Raleigh, NC

  14. #14
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    Mount---ains, in Spain are mainly pain?

  15. #15
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    Thanks to you,Senor Northcutt, the account of your trip was wonderful.

    I spent several months in Europe summer 04 with my trusty TREK had a fine time but missed the comaraderie of a traveling bud, will def have to locate one for next May

  16. #16
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    I spent 10 weeks touring NZ and didn't see it all and did some 6000km trying. Four weeks is not enough.

    Brilliant cycling. There's a community of cyclists touring and they often go the same way. So you meet someone, ride with them a day. Then you go one way and they the other and then a week later meet them again. I met two Germans who were cycling togther early in my trip (who happened to meet). They gave me some gossip about a couple of cyclists one Swiss and one Irish who had met and fallen in love and were now travelling together. 8 weeks later on a dirt back road near Queenstown, I stopped to chat to two cyclists coming the opposite way. The two of the gossip.

    As for the people they are dead friendly and helpful. The two Germans above had been trusted with a key to some guy's summer house to which they, and then me, were headed. Had another guy stop as I was oiling my chain to check I was OK. I was a little embarrased to have made him stop.

    I met a whole Iwi (tribe) of Maori on the Bay of Plenty. I asked mirely to sleep under the awning of a community club and got invited to their Xmas Party at their Whare Kai (eating house). I met my invitors and all their relatives and their relative's relatives. Marvellous! I spent two nights in the Iwi's Whare Nui (meeting house). After the party I woke the next day surrounded by Mauri. One older guy next to me said "I never thought I'd wake up next to a white guy" and we both laughed our heads off. I spent a day being taken round by a guy called Robert Maxwell who explained many Mauri traditions to me. When I left on the second day it took me 6 hours to write up the experience and traditions i my journal.

    I rough camped everywhere, except where I had a personal contact. Mostly personal in the sense that I didn't know the person before I met them. I stayed with a family in Wellington I had never met. One of my best friends at the time had and Aussie girlfriend. She told her friend who was from NZ, who told the girlfriend to tell my friend to visit. Two days out on Wellington I rang to give notice. I spoke to the NZ girl's mum. I explained how I "knew" her daughter to be told that she wasn't there but back in the UK. The Mum asked me to explain it all again (my mate has a girlfriend I have never met who knows your daughter who I have never met. Mum says "Oh come along anyway, that's how it works in NZ." And it is how it works in NZ.

    Robert Maxwell gave me a brother's address in Christchurch and told me to call in. When I got to Christchurch it was a couple of days before Xmas - not the best of times to be asking to stay at someone's house. I rang. I spoke to his wife, she said "oh, such a shame as we are going away for Xmas, but Robert has another brother here and this is his phone number...."

    I could give you more stories of being given addresses of people who then gave me addresses of other people who.... Wonderful, amazing

    The only problem was the rain. I had one pair of shoes that never really dried out the first 8 weeks of my trip. In Gibson, I re-met one of the Germans mentioned above and we agreed to meet the next day to spend a day or so cycling together. The next day was wet and I said to the guy, "You don't have to go just because we agreed to go". He replied, "If I don't go today it will make no difference. It will be raining tomorrow." And off we went together. Luckily on the North Island it's warm enough to cycle in the rain. But the South Island colder and especially anywhere in Invarcargill is miserably cold. (I and another cyclist turned north here [you have to but if you didn't you would want to.] As the other said "I'm on holiday, why be cold?")

    Strangely enough the driest part of my trip was the West coast of the South Island (the wettest part of NZ). By the way do this section south to north and you get a tail wind.

    You must do the North Island first as it's beautiful. Then do the South Island as it is more again by far and away.

  17. #17
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    I didn't mention the moutains. Yes, Low gears are a must. Some roads are not sealed but just as steep and low gears mean your rear wheel my not slip as you pedal. I didn't mention because one there is so much else to mention, two, I like cycling in mountains and three it's so beautiful you won't notice your legs complaining. I am not joking about number three.

  18. #18
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    Thanks for all the help folks...

    Leaving in Jan 6 weeks, South Island first and if time left the North Island, planning to do some peak bagging also

  19. #19
    Stand For Something mntbikedude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Per Kuhlwein
    September 2004 I biked around and across the North Island and recommend especially following 2 routes:

    1. Rotorua Taupo Turangi National Park Taumarunui "Forgotten World Highway" (No. 43) towards Stratford.
    The route in mentioned direction include the most beautiful nature I saw during my trip. Mountains with snow, multi green colored fields, incredible beautiful gorge with a minimum of trafic its on gravel road. Driving towards Stratford you have Mount Egmont in front of you for many kilometers just beautiful.

    But also the route:
    2. Wairoa Lake Waikaremoana Murupara Rotorua.
    Mostly gravel road, but so beatiful and only little trafic. If you start in Wairoa in the morning you will arrive at Lake Waikaremoana just after noon. A beautiful place to recover and to think about next days ride a tough one to Murupara (accomodation), but again beautiful and worth the efforts.

    I think if you are prepared to camp it should be possible on these routes, but if its legal? I dont know

    About the weather sometimes you are getting wet, but dont worry the sun appears again and together with the wind it will keep you warm and dry

    I have a web-site with some photos. From the text below you can see the route I followed: http://hjem.get2net.dk/kuhlwein/

    I didnt go to probably the most beautiful part of the country The South Island.

    Have a nice trip.

    Regards
    Per
    I agree with all those and I would add. The glowworm caves at Otorahanga and ride out to the fishing village on the iron sands. And in the Northland I love Kiakohe riding out to Rawanee and Opinoni (sp). Just so many awesome places in NZ. The ride from Opinoni down thru the kauri forest to Dargaville would be awesome too.

  20. #20
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    You are right, the ride Opononi to Dargaville is something very special too. But with only 5 weeks - travelinquyrt must make a priority. You will need 6-10 months to explore all NZ.

    I became very annoyed down there and I think one of the reasons was lack of time. There were so many places I wanted to explore. And especially above tour is great for stealth camping. The day I passed it was beautiful sunshine - just great.

    Per
    Last edited by Per Kuhlwein; 11-20-05 at 04:32 PM.

  21. #21
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    I will be arriving in NZ in the early of FEB for 3 weeks touring in North Island only. I know that South Island will be very nice, due to time constrain, leave it till the next long holiday with a proper touring bike. (I am now using racing bike to tour)
    travellinguyrt and Chris L: hope to see you guys there.

    Cheers~

  22. #22
    Junior Member TomasV's Avatar
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    If you plan to tour Spain from Madrid to Gibraltar I suggest to avoid the coast and take secondary roads in the interior. Coast roads are usually very busy and personally I would try to avoid them, specially in the Mediterranean coast. Try the quiet roads in the interior, you will see nice villages and great landscapes.

    If you plan to take the bike in train from Madrid to Barcelona be careful as only Trenes Regionales will accept them. AVE is not very bike friendly.

    Regards from Madrid, Spain
    Tomas

  23. #23
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    This is some of the photos during the trip in New Zealand in feb 06. It is a nice country to cycle and travel

    http://heechee.blogs.friendster.com/my_blog/

    Cheers~

  24. #24
    Fattest Thin Man Az B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hcchan
    This is some of the photos during the trip in New Zealand in feb 06. It is a nice country to cycle and travel

    http://heechee.blogs.friendster.com/my_blog/

    Cheers~
    Wow! Amazing, awesome, spectacular!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Az

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