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.