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  1. #1
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    Going to New Zealand!

    Hello!

    I'm planning a backpacking trip to New Zealand, and am thinking of biking (walking takes too long, and I'm not about to drive on the left side of the road! ). Anyway, I really don't know much about bikes, so could you give me a recommendation?

    I'll be starting on the North Island (in Auckland) and riding straight down (obviously catching a boat to get to the South Island. ). The South Island is fairly hilly, so I need something that can withstand lots of hills, mountains, and dirt roads. It needs to be light weight anbd comfortable (I'm 5'3", if that makes any difference) and most importantly; it needs to be cheap. If there is something good for under $300, that'd be fantastic.
    Oh, and if you can attach a basket on the back...I know it looks dorky, but I don't want to have to wear that backpack all the time.

    Thanks much!

  2. #2
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    I suggest you start reading the equipment and bike advice contained in the bike for Africa thread right near this one. Putting aside the various other issues of destination, you will find useful information in there (as well as some entertainment).

    There is a NZ guide book, but not the Lonely Planet one, that likely contains the route information you want. I cannot for the life of me remember the name, but someone here will. It's written by a NZer, and is regarded as the bible.

    Try www.crazyguyonabike.com for fairly recent journals on bike trips in NZ for additional tips and advice.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan
    I suggest you start reading the equipment and bike advice contained in the bike for Africa thread right near this one. Putting aside the various other issues of destination, you will find useful information in there (as well as some entertainment).

    There is a NZ guide book, but not the Lonely Planet one, that likely contains the route information you want. I cannot for the life of me remember the name, but someone here will. It's written by a NZer, and is regarded as the bible.

    Try www.crazyguyonabike.com for fairly recent journals on bike trips in NZ for additional tips and advice.
    rowan,if the author,or book name falls off the tip of your tongue,please post-thx

  4. #4
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    Pedaller's Paradise, I think.

    http://www.paradise-press.co.nz/ppguides.html

    Note: I am only relaying information I have gathered both by the web and personally talking to people who have bicycle toured in NZ. As I said, it is *regarded* as the bible. You may have a different opinion... but the reports seems reliable enough to me.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  5. #5
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    Guide book: Pedalers Paradise (north and south). Actually, the south island is mountainous, the north island is hilly and insanely steep. There is a fair amount of traffic, too.

    There is an excellent network of buses in NZ, and if you are really just looking for transportation, that might be a better way to go. You can buy a pass that will let you go around the island, getting on/off the bus whenever. It's geared towards tourism, so you'll be able to get to the start of your tramps. I don't know the charges. You can also take a train from Aukland to wellington and then the boat the SI.

    NZ is a fantastic place for bike touring, but not an easy place to cycle -really really hilly, and some challenging weather, lots of wind, even in summer. You definitely don't want to carry a full backpack on your back.

    Have a great time!
    ...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan
    Pedaller's Paradise, I think.

    http://www.paradise-press.co.nz/ppguides.html

    Note: I am only relaying information I have gathered both by the web and personally talking to people who have bicycle toured in NZ. As I said, it is *regarded* as the bible. You may have a different opinion... but the reports seems reliable enough to me.
    as a rookie touer,my opinions are limited

  7. #7
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    Heh, Rowan beat me to it. I have actually used it, and it IS the bible. Some of the info was a little out of date, but it was a thousand times better than the LP book. I ordered it from a US store... can't remember the name, but I found it via Google.

    Cheers!
    ...

  8. #8
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    Valygrl, I found out that touring bikes often have setups for saddlepacks (for lack of better words), something I did not realized before. So my worries of lugging a backpack are gone!

    The Africa thread is fairly helpful in terms of equipment...I'm browsing some spot shops looking for prices and common themes in materials/specs, so I can go to a bike hsop, and actually know something.

    Yes, I do know that NZ is not the easiest possible terrain, but quick frankly, I'm willing to put up with all of that if only for the amazing scenary. After years of cities and gasoline, I'm really looking forward to seeing stars at night.
    That, and I'm shopping for a bike now, so I can start training in plenty of time.

    I'm on www.crazyguyonabike.com right now, and it's wonderful! Very informative journals...I'm reading his most recent trip to NZ. (North Island, I believe, February and March of 2006.)

    Thanks much for the suggestions! I'll go check out that guidebook right now. The other people (on backpacking forums) have been suggesting Lonely Planet, but I haven't heard much about Pedaller's Paradise from any of them, so this will be a good resource.

    Thanks again!

  9. #9
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    I toured NZ in Feb and Mar of 2006. I did a fair amout of backpacking as well, and carried my full backpack on a trailer. I met a ton of other cyclists, and looked at Pedalars Paradise. To me it was worthless. It has out of date maps and very limited routes. Save a few bucks, buy the cheapest map you can, just detailed enough so that you know where towns are, and have fun. In EVERY town, no matter how small there is an info center with lodgeing, campgrounds, trails, LOTR scenes, anything you want is easy to find. Ask the locals for a scenic route to where you are going, I had more fun on gravel roads with no trafic than I did tar roads. The entire country is designed for tourism, people will go out of their way to help you or give directions.

  10. #10
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    I'm also heading out there: in less than 2 weeks now ( time to start seriously thinking about packing :-)

    The Pedaller's paradise books seem to be out of print at the moment. I have the South book from a previous trip, and agree it's better than the Lonely Planet book. The PP timings assume your fit and on a reasonably light touring bike - so make allowances if otherwise.

    Also check out this link http://www.cycletour.co.nz/

    As your bike experience is limited you really need a friend (e.g fellow cyclist from your backpackers/YHA ) to check bikes and kit before you buy. A second hand 26" hard-tail MTB without suspension is possibly your best budget bet (might even come with a rear pannier rack ). You will also need some basic tools and a helmet ( by law in NZ ).
    It would also help, i.e. quality wise you would get a better distance bike, if you plan to buy and then resell the bike at the end of the trip.

    Another option is to hire e.g.
    http://www.bicyclerentals.co.nz/bikes_touring.html
    Also most resorts hire MTBs so you could try hiring one for a few days running around once you get to each location.

    As Valygrl said, the busses are excellent, and are the way most backpackers get around.
    Last edited by CameraMan; 01-06-07 at 07:51 PM.

  11. #11
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    Some more information from the perspective of an American/Irish couple (she American, he Irish) who lived in NZ for several years. They are well know in racing, randonneuring and general cycling circles in the US (and likely still in NZ). They spent quite some time MTBing and trekking/tramping while in NZ.

    http://www.blayleys.com/
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  12. #12
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    I toured NZ for three months a couple of years ago. It was my sixth and longest tour so far. I was able to find a really good mini atlas (like 7" x 9" x 3/8") of NZ published by a company called HEMA. It has about a hundred pages of maps, shows all roads, LOTR sites, hiking trails, road distances, hot springs, scenic and tourist spots, all of the private campgrounds as well as the DOC (Department of Conservation) campgrounds, etc. A great set of maps-it helped me avoid some really busy roads via routes in the countryside. I just found it on my bookshelf. It was $15 NZ dollars in 2004. I used this and the PP books, which were both in the first bookstore I went into in downtown Auckland.

    For food supplies, one of my favorites became a chain of stores called "The Bin Inn". Heaps of stuff like cooking oil, pasta. cereal, sugar, spices & herbs, coffee, nuts, trail mixes, etc., all in bulk. Just get the amount you need. On the more remote parts of the South Island, I kept a couple of days of supplies with me. This paid off when weather pinned me down, stores were closed up, or when I just out wanted to hang out or take an unexpected rest day.

    KevinK159 is spot on about the number of other cyclist. Lots of Germans, Swiss, Brits, Canadians, Americans, on and on! Several times I rode with the same people for a week or three, making some great friends in the process. Unless you are really anti-social, solitude may be harder to find than companionship. The scenery is fantastic, but in the end, I'd say the people I met were the best part of my trip.

    Ibimus, you are on the right track as far as a cycle goes. Buy it where you live, make sure it fits, it works, and you know how to do some basic maintenance. An older fixed fork steel frame bike will work just fine. Have reputable bike shop give it a tuneup. Especially the wheels. I helped fix so many broken spokes and out of true wheels. And broken spokes in the middle of no where could be a real downer. Take some extra spokes and tools, and know how to use them. You don't have to be an expert to change a spoke, or keep your wheels from rubbing against the brake pads. If you have any questions you think I can help with, just post here. I'll check back in a couple of days.

    I road a lot of gravel, including the Rainbow road. There is another great ride on the South Island called the Mavora Lakes road. It goes roughly between Te Anau to Queenstown via the Walter Peak Station and a short ferry ride. Best ridden towards Queenstown. Not to be missed! Have fun!

  13. #13
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    I toured New Zealand last year and had a great time. I was using the HEMA maps mentioned above, I also bought Pedaller's Paradise but don't recall using it all that much. Any additional information I needed was gleaned through asking the locals -- most of whom were extremely friendly and only too happy to help.

    A couple of things you should be aware of on the South Island (I never made it to the North):

    Forget the hills, the wind will be the hardest thing. Seriously, New Zealand is a place where you can ride up a 1-in-5 hill and ride down the otherside without changing gears -- and no, I am not exaggerating! The wind can also swing around 180 degrees in an instant.

    The Catlins Coast between Invercargill and Dunedin is best done from west to east, largely due to the wind that I mentioned above. Save some time for detours here. You won't see much from the main roads, but places like Slope Point and the multitude of waterfalls there make it a lovely place to visit. A day to explore the Otago Peninsula near Dunedin is worth setting aside. Another worthwhile detour is the Glenorchy road near Queenstown.

    Get some lights (for the tunnel) and make sure you ride the Milford Road. The scenery along that stretch of road is amazing, and something you would miss if you travelled by a bus, which is surprisingly popular for some reason. If you can handle dirt roads, it's also worth taking the detour to Humboldt Falls, and the old cabins in Gunns Camp are delightful. Setting aside a day for a cruise in Milford Sound makes the effort worthwhile.

    If you're camping in the Alps, watch out for the keas. These are green parrots that steal anything which isn't tied down (and attack anything that is). Basically, if you don't leave any bike tools or water bottles outside where they can be taken, you should be alright (even if you do wake up to find a hole in your saddle).

    The weather -- ahh, the weather. Basically be prepared for everything! Some of the days (particulary in the deep south) were absolutely freezing. It's not unusual to encounter a summer day where the temperature fails to reach 10 degrees C at any stage. The wind chill can make it feel a lot colder. On the other hand, a couple of the days I had on the Canterbury Plains were quite warm too, so you never know the luck of the draw.

    Finally, New Zealand is a pretty informal place. I say this because I heard a dutch couple complaining that the beds weren't made in their cabin at Makarora (even though they could have just sat by the fire in the restaurant and waited there). I heard an American couple complaining about the standard of a walking track on a mountain (well you guys came for adventure, didn't you?). This shouldn't be a problem if you take a relaxed attitude yourself, but not everybody does.

    Finally, spend the money on a glacier tour on the west coast. It's not everyday you get to walk on a glacier, and with the two known advancing glaciers in the world being in New Zealand, it's worth the cost.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  14. #14
    touring roadie islandboy's Avatar
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    he said, she said ...

    We cycled the south Island in Feb 2006. Ran into a young german fellow who bought a cheap mountain bike and was cycle/tramping his way around the two Islands. He "ditched" the bike every time he went tramping. It seemed to work well for him as no-one stole his bike. He was in very good shape as he had a pack full tramping gear strapped above his rear cycling paniers. Oh, and make sure you have spare spokes! Our trip is at http://www.aye1.com/NZ2006/NZ2006.html

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    Alrightry. Last night I found a decent looking bike on LLBean.com, although I make end up buying from somewhere else. It's a 24" (becuase I'm too short for a 26") mountain bike. I also found a compact travel set of some basic bike tools (wrenches and the like). The bike does not come with an attached rack, but I found one that looks good. Panniers I'll be buying on eBay.
    Spokes, a spare inner tube, and tire patches are next on my list. Oh, and a rearview mirror, some extra lights/reflectors, and possibly a horn to let drivers know I'm there in those blind spots. I've heard from other people who used a small air horn when it was foggy, or the roads were especially narrow and curvy, and that it was a really good thing to have along.

    I'm planning to purchase a bike by April, because I want to start doing some long-distance training. Plus it'll be a great way to find any problems with the bike while I'm still close to home (and my cell phone isn't roaming. lol!)

    I'd almost rather buy a cheaper bike, and just do some upgrading on it, rather than buying something brand-new with all the bells and whistles. It'll give me a chance to get used to working on a bike, plus I'll have complete freedom as to what's there and what isn't.

    I'm also talking to local Kiwis on a backpack-New Zealand forum, and am getting lots of useful information from them.

    Found a helmet, first aide kit, Swiss Army Knife, the two Lonely Planet books (on Amazon.com) and a book of basic medical care (I think the title is When a Doctor Isn't There.) just in case...my mom feels a lot better knowing that I am planning to get that book, and take a Red Cross First Aide course.

    Chris, I actually have been on a glacier before! If you hike high enough in the Nevada Rocky Mountains, (Lamoille Canyon.) you can walk right out on the glacier. (I don't advise it, because as my dad and brother were standing there, and huge chunk of it snapped off, just yards away, and fell into the lake. They're very lucky that they didn't end up in the lake too!)
    But, I'll keep the tour in mind. Sounds like a fun thing to do!

    Steve, that's a nice journal you kept of your NZ trip. I'm really enjoying it.

  16. #16
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    This is what I call getting prepared and being aware. Good stuff.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  17. #17
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    Awesome, sounds like you have it all in order.

    Make sure you ride the bike before you buy it (does a local shop have the same model?). You may find a different model in the same price bracket that just feels nicer, or that the LBS has discounted. If you buy online you will have to pay extra for servicing and advice, take this into account when deciding on price.

    Battery-powered lights are much handier on tour than rechargable battery packs (the opposite is true commuting). Forget dynamos unless you can afford a really good one. Try to use a single battery size in all your devices and carry some spare lithiums in case you run out in the middle of nowhere. AAs cost similar to AAAs but have almost 3x the charge per battery, making them cheaper overall.

    If you are tramping (that's what the locals call it) you will need at least a daypack. You can strap a (large) daypack and two panniers to a rear rack; this works OK as long as you don't have too much weight and as long as the road isn't too bumpy. The main roads around the South Island are of good quality, so that at least won't be an issue. And everyone drives on the correct side of the road, which makes things easier! !)

    The Kea is indeed a fearsome bird. One tried to get into my daypack on Franz Joseph glacier when I put it down for a rest. Another one was a denizen of a lookout on the road between Christchurch and Greymouth; we saw it "surfing" on the roof of a car as we approached the lookout, and after we had done our sightseeing for a few minutes it started squawking at us until we got uncomfortable and decided to drive off... at which time it flew onto the roof of our car, "surfed" on the roof for about 200m, then glided off as smug as can be!

    I also hope to be cycling in NZ, in Canterbury (flat!) in May '07 if time permits. I've headed south from Christchurch (by car), so hopefuly north to the wine regions this time around.

    BTW, central Otago pinot noir is seriously good.

  18. #18
    Senior Member jurjan's Avatar
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    the PP-books are good. very handy in choosing your way. do i take the steep short route or the longer slightly flatter one?
    we never went to the south-island (next time!), but found plenty of fun on the north-island.
    friendly people, most traffic REALLY is careful around cyclists.
    do try some wines, they are excellent.
    be sure to train on gravel roads, because there are a LOT of them.
    have a nice day,
    Jurjan

  19. #19
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    do try some wines, they are excellent
    The drinking age is 18, I will most definately have some wine.

  20. #20
    Senior Member eric von zipper's Avatar
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    FYI - An American couple touring NZ now.
    http://www.erck.org/
    Surly Cross Check, Thorn Sherpa

  21. #21
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    Keas ate a hole in my saddle.

    Don't buy a bike without riding it, if you don't really know what size you are. Nothing is more important than fit.
    ...

  22. #22
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    Thanks Eric!

    Valygrl, I checked the 'size chart', and they said that 5'-5'3" should be on a 24"....still, I'm going to go to a bike shop sometime, and try out a couple different sizes just to see what actually works. They say that'll fit, but I have long legs (as long as they can be on a shorty. ), so a 26" might fit better.
    Good advice!

    Cave, what are dynamos?
    The bike is from LLBean, which raises doubts to begin with. However, I found some really cheap plane tickets into Auckland, (and it's saveing me several hundred dollars) so I'm leaning back towards REI for a bike, since those will be within my budget now. I found my local bike shop, AND local REI, so I'm hoping to head over there soon. (and then I move next month, and will have to find all these shops all over again! )

  23. #23
    aspiring wannabe hoogie's Avatar
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    thought for today: "Does my ass look fast on this bike?"

  24. #24
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ibimus
    Chris, I actually have been on a glacier before! If you hike high enough in the Nevada Rocky Mountains, (Lamoille Canyon.) you can walk right out on the glacier. (I don't advise it, because as my dad and brother were standing there, and huge chunk of it snapped off, just yards away, and fell into the lake. They're very lucky that they didn't end up in the lake too!)
    But, I'll keep the tour in mind. Sounds like a fun thing to do!
    The glaciers on the South Island are amazing. There was a Swiss guy in our party on the tour I did, and even he was impressed! Perhaps the most amazing part of it is the ride between the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, where you're passing through palm trees! I'm not exaggerating.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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    That's insane I' 5'2" I ride a 17" (compact geometry) probably a 20" in regular geometry. Go to the bike shop for help with sizes, don't start with a price range, start with functionality and size. I wasn't going to say it, but LLBean raises more than just doubts. That's probably not a bike, it's a toy. Can you post a link?

    You can also get a mountain bike and tow a trailer. I don't like trailers, but lots of people do. It leaves you with more choices for the bike, as you don't have to worry about brazeons for mounting racks, heel clearance, etc. Just get a used mountain bike off craigslist, no suspension required, and put a BOB behind it.
    ...

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