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Old 04-03-02, 06:04 AM   #1
MichaelW
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New Zealand advice

Im thinking about a trip to NZ, probably about 3 weeks in Oct/Nov. Anyone ridden there or any Kiwis on this list ?
What is a good time of year to go.
Which is the best part of the country to ride in.
How is traffic/accomodation (esp in the far South). Do you need camping gear ?
How widespread are good bike shops for spares.

Any other useful advice for me ...
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Old 04-04-02, 09:57 AM   #2
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I'm new to the group and have had trouble posting but I think it was a cookie issue. I believe the FAQ stated they weren't necessary but it appears they are for posting purposes. I had them blocked at first and no deal. Now with accepting cookies all is right with the world ... At any rate, this is what I wanted to post yesterday:

I toured from end to end in New Zealand in 1991. As I'm sure you're aware, the seasons are opposite ours in the Northern Hemisphere. I started my tour a day or two after New Years and stayed through May. It was a leisurely tour for the most part. About 2500 miles overall.

I camped mostly which is remarkably easy. I don't know the exact letter of the law on this, but basically you can camp on ANY public land without hassle. Many, many places are actually marked for bike tourists on private land as well. You'll just be cruising along and there's a sign saying stop in and camp if you'd like. Sometimes it is people's yards or fields (lot's of fields in New Zealand ... usually with sheep in them too) but it can also be a spare bedroom. The Kiwis are the nicest folks that live. I actually had to avoid people at some points or I'd never get from point A to point B without interruption. So bring a tent and your sense of humor.

Before I forget, you MUST get Bruce Ringer's (used to be called Bicycle Touring New Zealand's North and South Islands) book on bike touring in New Zealand. It is chuck full of good tips that are NZ specific. He lays out actually tours and days (which you could easily follow at a comfy pace) but even if you do not follow his days, you can pickup on his recommended overnight places.

Aside from camping nearly anywhere, there are a great deal of private and state/local campgrounds. Some of these are quite nice. Nearly EVERY little village had a town park that would allow camping. I've NEVER been anyplace as open and friendly to bike tourists.

I would recommend starting out from Aukland and heading EAST around the shore and then down eventually to Wellington and taking the boat across to Picton and then heading over to the Abel Tasman Park ... back to Picton and then down the East shore. I crossed over the mountains twice but my memory is failing me now how I did this. I'll have to dig out my maps and journal. I know that I went through the mountains and down through Queenstown and into the Fiordlands and then made my way back over to the East coast through Invercargil. I then went through the city of Dunedin and back over the mountains at Haast Pass (awesome) and down to the West coast and up toward the North through Greymouth and Punakaiki. I crossed back at the Buller Gorge trhough Masterton and eventually back to Picton. At that point you just go back to Wellington and up the West Coast. I think that works real well. If you should get tired at any points you have the option of taking the bike on the readily available trains and buses. If I recall correctly, the buses are the only option in the South Island. They could take bikes without problem. Seemed to mostly have these big storage areas in the back. I never had a problem and was only sometimes charged.

I would also recommend getting in touch with the Willing Workers on Organic Farms people. We don't have them in the US but I know they're active in virtually all the Commenwealth. You should have them in the UK. There is/was an place you could buy the booklet at the tourist center in Auckland. I think it was on Queen Street or some such. It was the main drag and the primary tourist office. WWOF is a good option for meeting with people and having a sanctioned place to stay where you (generally) know what you're getting into. If you get road weary you can spend a day or two ... or more. Often these are just older people with a carrot patch in the back that needs tilling for half and hour but want to talk to you for hours because they're lonely or whatever. Never regretted a single stay. All wonderful people.

Well ... I could go on. What else can I tell you?

Best,

Brian

Last edited by BikeBrian; 04-04-02 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 04-05-02, 04:47 AM   #3
beowoulfe
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THANKS for that post, Brian. Whets my appetite!
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Old 04-07-02, 02:10 PM   #4
Merriwether
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Quote:
Originally posted by MichaelW
Im thinking about a trip to NZ, probably about 3 weeks in Oct/Nov. Anyone ridden there or any Kiwis on this list ?
What is a good time of year to go.
Which is the best part of the country to ride in.
How is traffic/accomodation (esp in the far South). Do you need camping gear ?
How widespread are good bike shops for spares.

Any other useful advice for me ...
NZ's a beautiful place. You'll love it.

I second the recommendation for Ringer's book. It's an excellent source.

There's also a little thin book I bought in NZ. I forgot the name, but it's written locally and bike shops in Auckland or Christchurch are likely to have it. It's a great collection of maps, with topographic detail and a listing of bike shops, food stops, etc., along the way. Ask for it when you get there.

There are plenty of motor camps around NZ. Bring a tent and you can camp out for a pittance. If you plan right, too, you shouldn't need cooking gear. These camps usually have plates, dishes, utensils, etc., out and available for your use.

You can also camp in public lands, and I found the farmers perfectly willing to put me up out in a sheep paddock, too. If you're going to sleep in these places, though, bring cooking gear, etc.

Also, by the by, saying that you spent time out in farmland as you're checking your luggage at the airport is a good way to get your luggage tossed, your bike unpacked and scrutinized, etc. Bear this in mind...

The Kiwi roads outside the city are rough, at least by North American standards. I've not been to Britain so I can't compare your roads. If you imagine what we call a gravel road in the U.S., that is, a dirt road overlaid with crushed rocks, then imagine a thin coating of tar to seal the rocks in place, you've got the Kiwi roads. They can be tiring. Many tourists mount slightly wider tires than they would normally to cope.

There's not much traffic, even in the North Island, if you're outside the cities and off the central highway. (I think it's Highway 1 up north.) The coastal roads are usually lightly traveled.

NZ's also much more British than Oz, in my opinion. The fashion, the culture, etc., tend to lean more toward "home" than in Au. Not that this makes much difference to your question one way or another, but it's just another detail that came to mind.

I think the South Island is cold in the winter, and it may still be during the time you're going. It's not any big deal, though-- if you can handle temperatures in the 30's (near 0C) you'll be fine.

The more pressing issue is daylight. During the early spring the days can be over before you know it. Bear in mind the day's significantly longer up at the north end of the North Island as compared to the southern parts of the S.I. Perhaps this detail will affect your planning.

You'll love the place if you go. I hope you have a great time if you decide to make the trip.
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