Touring clothes, bike cover, New Zealand routes...
I'm new to touring and have a couple of questions. I'll be heading to New Zealand in mid-october to tour mostly the south island, in about 7 weeks. (possibly cheating with buses if I'm not fast enough!)
It's very likely to rain at least some of the time, so I need to pack a gore-tex pair of trousers and jacket. I was wondering if it mattered that those would be cycling specific? Namely cycling jackets are longer at the back to cover more of the bottom, and cycling trousers are usually designed for sitting on a saddle all day. (from what I've gathered anyway!). Does this really matter? I'm intending to do some amount of hiking as well, and I do some hiking at home too, and it's a lot easier to just find hiking trousers and jackets than cycling-specific ones, in Brighton UK anyway!
My second questions is this: from people's various lists of what to pack, a bike cover never seems to be an item. However my poor quality bike here has only spent a couple of nights outside (where it didn't even rain) and the chain is suffering already. My touring bike (which I will buy in Christchurch) would be much better quality but nonetheless - do people usually pack a bike cover if it's likely to rain? (my tent is far too small for the front part of it to provide any sort of shelter whatsoever)
Also, if anyone has toured New Zealand I'm happy with advice on which way round things are best done - my plan for now is heading north from chrischurch to kaikoura then nelson then west to reefton and greymouth. Train across back to christchurch and then cycle to queenstown the inland way - via lake tekapo etc. From Queenstown, (after a hiking trip to Milford sound) heading to Fox Glacier and the west coast, all the way back up to greymouth. That's it for the plan for now because I probably will be on buses by then due to lack of time! (heading to the north island for a week)
Any advice to give to a girl touring alone is welcome as well!
Thanks to everyone for your advice!
I find Goretex worthless on a bike and just use cheap coated nylon. I wind up soaked either way. I seldom if ever use my rain pants on the bike, but guess I would if it were cold enough (the coldest it was when we were in the rain on that tour was the upper 40's or maybe 50F).
I used small stuffable rain jacket and pants from Sierra Designs on my Trans America. They came with a little stuff sack. They were cheap and non breathable and worked out fine. They were not bike specific. BTW the jacket did not have a hood and I did not bother with a helmet cover or rain hat, but again if it were cold, maybe... The pants were only used in camp.
Bike cover? I never bother, if it is in the rain all day what difference does throwing a cover over it at night make? Just lube and generally maintain the bike while touring and don't worry about it getting rained on while on tour.
Thanks for your advice! Good point about the bike being rained on all day anyway
I'm liking the idea of not using gore-tex: far cheaper and more versatile to have a light "waterproof" jacket!
My experience has been different. Gore-Tex has worked pretty well for me. Years ago, I picked up a lightweight Gore-Tex jacket and pants that were designed for runners. It has kept me dry on many occasions. I have found that I get much wetter from my own sweat with a non-breathable rain jacket.
The only part of the South Island which did not impress me was the coast between Dunedin & Christchurch. Rather than trying to cover every last bit of the South Island, I would spend suggest you spend some time biking on the North Island, as well. The landscape is quite different and I enjoyed my cycling there.
Blow off the bike cover. Get good rain gear, you will use it. Jacket, gloves and shoe-covers are key, pants are not really that important - a pair of warm tights is fine, or you can get tights that are sort-of wind/waterproof - that's what I use. Something like http://www.rei.com/product/744302 or http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_ID=1221
You should get a jacket you are comfortable riding in, and that has pit-zips, is fairly long, and doesn't billow too much, while still being able to put several warm layers under it. I used this http://www.rei.com/product/746520 for a while, but decided that it is really really important to be visible - so go ahead and get a screaming yellow jacket with reflectors all over it. You're going to be weaing it in low visibility conditions, and it will be the biggest thing that drivers might be able to see.
I found it useful to have a mirror, so I could get off the road when needed - roads there are narrow and don't have a lot of traffic, but there are big trucks sometimes and the roads are curvy, so sometimes you have to get off the road to make room.
I found gear (bike parts, clothes) to be expensive in NZ vs. the USA (3 years ago), so make sure you really want to buy stuff over there. (Don't know where you are now.)
In terms of your bike purchase, they build the roads STEEP there, definitely try to get mountain bike gearing (22 granny, 32 or 34 cassette).
NZ is the absolute PERFECT place to solo bike tour for the first time, towns are close together, lots of camping, lots of hostels, tons of friendly people, nice roads, great scenery.
The campgrounds "Holdiay Parks" there generally have a kitchen with burners and fridges, so if you are planning on camping/cooking, you might not need to bring a stove. I brought one and only used it 2ce in 7 weeks - used the camp kitchens the rest of the time.
Your plan sounds pretty good - but NZ is so easy, you don't really need much of a plan. The book "Pedalers Paradise" (there are 2, one for each island) is a very useful resource to get ideas of service locations and hills on almost every road.
Arthur/Porter Pass is awesome.
Wanaka is nicer than Queenstown.
Dunedin is nicer than Christchurch.
From Q-town, you can take the boat across the lake, ride 2 days of remote gravel roads thru sheep station, end up in Te Anau, you can ride up to Milford or bus from Te Anau. Haast Pass from Milford to the West COast is quite nice.
West Coast = Wet Coast
CCH and the surrounding area is the flattest part of NZ.
It's really windy, the wind changes direction 90 degrees each day, you just have to deal. flexible plans help - you might find yourself choosing your next destination based on wind direction.
There's a cool bike-only hostel in a sheep ranch on the Kaikoura Coast.
Eat lots of ice cream, it's really good there.
Yes I think I won't do the coast between Dunedin and Christchurch - in fact I'm considering skipping Dunedin altogether but I do like the sound of penguins and the otago rail trail from queenstown to dunedin - I was thinking I'd do dunedin back to queenstown on a bus : )
I'll think of the north island as I go along! Unfortunately, I'm quite the beginner at touring and not particularly fit on a bike to boot - but I'm motivated and not racing anyone, so I will pace myself and see what I can do. I probably will have to use some other form of transport at some point as I'm in New Zealand 8 weeks in total, which is unfortunately not that long... if somehow I end up being pretty quick though I must admit I'd rather tour the whole time, and do bits of the north island too!
Thanks very much valygrl! I guess it would be pretty difficult to get a non-cycling visible-enough jacket so maybe I should consider cycling clothes after all. The cooking stove had already gone off the list as I'm pretty happy with cold food and snacks anyway, not to mention stopping in restaurants...
Thanks for your route advice - i'll bear that in mind! Might be worth making sure it's the west coast I do on a comfy dry bus : )
I've been trying to get my hands on the pedaller's paradise books for over a month but they're unavailable in the uk - i'm hoping they're easy enough to find once i'm there!
If you're in the UK, have a look at Montane clothing. They have a nice eVent cycling-specific top.
Every lane is a bike lane
In my view, the west coast has the best scenery on the South Island (with the possible exception of Milford Sound). I think you'd be missing a lot if you did that on a bus, particularly the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Actually, the thing I recall about New Zealand looking back was how easy it was to arrange a bus quickly without booking too far ahead. I got one from Nelson to Christchurch on two days' notice, and booked it at the information centre in Westport over the counter.
Originally Posted by lis
While the wind can change in a second, I found it was much stronger when it blew from the west or the nor'wester across the plains out of Christchurch. I actually climbed and descended Porters' Pass in the same gear because the wind was strong enough to take the change in gradient out of the equation. I hope you're travelling East between Arthur's Pass and Christchurch.
It's a good call to take the inland route between Dunedin and Christchurch, but if you're going to bus anywhere, that might be the place. There are some nice glacial lakes on the inland route, but there are also some long distances where you won't see much at all. Dunedin is a nice place, and it's worth a day trip out to the Otago Peninsula and Larnarch Castle.
I second the recommendation on the Pedallers Paradise guide books.
And as I said in another thread, make sure your bike, shoes & tent pegs are VERY clean before you arrive. Customs over there are very strict on bringing dirt into NZ.
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I just took a gap year after high school touring by bike in NZ, and I had an absolute blast!
-You should have no trouble finding Pedaller's Paradise books in NZ.
-Hostels are plentiful and fairly cheap (~$20/dorm bed) (a Budget Backpacker Hostel network (BBH) nightly discount card might be a worthwhile investment, depending on how much you plan on staying at hostels vs. camping)
-I quite liked Dunedin (full disclosure: I was born there, but have mostly lived in Minnesota), and it made a nice rest-stop for a few days.
-Otago is a great area in my opinion, but isn't everyone's cup of tea.
-They have these flavoured cans of tuna (lemon & pepper/Thai Chilli/Smoked) which make for a very satisfying/tasty/cheap sandwiches.
-I second the suggestion to indulge in NZ ice cream
-Drivers can be awful at times, but are generally considerate. Watch out for big trucks, the wind from them can mess with your carefully balanced bike.
-If you hear a sound similar to an old man choking on a drowning cat in the middle of the night, it's just possums.
-Learn to love meat pies and sausage rolls
-Never disrespect the All-Blacks