Cycling in New Zealand


New Zealand is a country famous for turquoise lakes, snow-capped peaks, adventure sports and just its jaw-dropping nature's beauty. Cycling in New Zealand is an outstanding way to experience the breathtaking scenery while visiting must-see attractions and discovering hidden gems. You will find easily accessible cycling tracks near most cities and are easy to ride as well as adventure-filled. Choose a cycle trail and explore the beauty of New Zealand from a whole other perspective.
Renting a cycle is simple in New Zealand with plenty of rental providers readily available near all prominent cycling trails. 

Get ready for a fun-filled ride!

Best Time for Cycling in New Zealand

The country's mild climate permits cycling in New Zealand all around the year. The best time, though, is between March and May, when the climate is pleasant. The summer heat is lightened and the holiday crowd is also reduced during this time. Having said that, New Zealand's weather varies wildly, hence you should be prepared for sudden changes.

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Things to Keep in Mind While Cycling in New Zealand - Bike Etiquette

  • Research your route.
  • Avoid main highways. Cycling is not permitted on motorways.
  • Helmets for cyclists and motorcyclists must be worn at all times.
  • Rear and front lights on cycles are required at night.
  • Wear brightly coloured or reflective clothing when cycling - you'll be easier to see.
  • At intersections follow the rules for motor vehicles, or get off your cycle and walk across.
  • If space allows, you can ride alongside another cyclist or moped. You must not ride alongside a car, truck or other motor vehicles.
  • Be patient behind slower riders and pull over where practical to let faster riders pass.
  • Always keep left. Every time you drive, keep left of the centre line.
  • Driving in New Zealand can be challenging. Many roads are narrow, winding and there are lots of hills and sharp corners. 
  • Ride in a single file if passing another vehicle.
  • Give a hand signal at least three seconds before stopping or turning.
  • Only carry a pillion passenger on your cycle if you have a pillion seat and footrest. If you’re carrying a child, make sure the pillion seat protects the child's legs from the wheels.
  • You must not leave a cycle blocking a footpath.
  • Use cycle paths or lanes, where provided.
  • Ride with lights on when it’s dark (from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise) or at other times of poor visibility, for example, when it’s foggy.
  • Keep your cycle in good working condition.

Top Five Best Trails for Cycling in New Zealand

  1. Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail

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A six-day long cycle trail, it takes you from the Alps to the Ocean on New Zealand’s South Island. Having a distance of 300 kilometres, it is considered the longest continuous ride in New Zealand. The trail takes you through a breath-taking scenery beginning from Mt. Cook/Aoraki and ends at Oamaru’s harbour at the Pacific Ocean. If you are hesitating to venture this trail because of the distance, there is a shorter route you can take beginning from Tekapo. The trail is divided into nine sections, with each one having an exciting off-the-bike activity to do. These include wine-tasting, penguin spotting, a dip in alfresco hot tubs and glider flights. You can choose to explore any one section or the trail entirely, what is guaranteed is a fun-filled unforgettable journey.

  2. Hawke's Bay Trails

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Stretching over Heretaunga Plains with Napier, Hastings and Havelock North in between, Hawke's Bay trail is an extensive, mostly flat trail network. It offers day trips for all ages and abilities, with accommodation and dining facilities available conveniently. Divided into three themed trails - water, landscape and wineries, you can choose the trail to explore according to your wish. The Puketapu Loop trails along the Tutaekuri River, starting at Art deco Napier. The trail from Clive to Clifton offers spectacular views of the Cape Kidnappers and there is an opportunity for wine tasting in vineyards located between Hastings and Havelock North.

  3. Rimutaka Cycle Trail

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Closely situated to Wellington, this cycleway showcases the lower North Island’s diverse and rugged environment. Rimutaka Cycle Trail is divided into four sections which can easily be covered in three days. The 115- kilometre trail starts from the shores of the Wellington Harbour and traverses over the Rimutaka Mountain Range. Passing through old railway tunnels, it reaches Wairarapa, a place famous for vineyards and then heads to Ocean Beach. You can either take a train back to Wellington or if you are in a mood of adventure, proceed to the final leg of the trail. The best section of the trail and also the most adventurous one, The Wild Coast takes a detour to Turakirae Head, where the Rimutaka Range dives into the mighty Pacific Ocean.

  4. Coromandel's Hauraki Rail Trail

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A Great Ride for all ages, this trail follows historic railway lines between quiet country towns within easy reach of Auckland and The Coromandel. This trail keeps on expanding with more sections being added all the time. The 173-kilometre track takes you from Martha Mine in Waihi to the Victoria Battery at Waikino through farmlands and old railway tunnels. The trail’s highlight is Karangahake Gorge – a rocky ravine hiding gold mining relics and spooky tunnels. 

  5. Otago Central Rail Trail

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New Zealand’s original Great Ride, it was the first off-road cycleway having a thick gravel pathway with no steep hillsides, making it ideal for beginner cyclists. Mountain backdrops, the pristine river and gentle terrain make it an all-time favourite of families. The 152-kilometre trail is two-way and can be split into shorter sections taking in the major highlights.

Where to Rent Bikes for Cycling in New Zealand

There isn't any shortage of bicycle rentals in New Zealand and are readily available in every place. For short and medium-length trips, hiring a cycle is best, but for longer trips, it is better to buy a cycle and then sell it afterwards. Some stores have the option of "buy-back" also.

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  • Gibbston Valley Bike Centre(Queenstown): Caters to riders above 5 years of age, it offers hard-tail and electric bikes on rent to suit all levels of riders. It provides access to some of the top trails of the region. Prices vary according to the bike you rent and the duration.
        Cost: NZD 35 - NZD 195
  • Bike it Now! (Otago Central, Alps 2 Ocean, Queenstown): Offers itinerary, accommodation and transportation planning on a personalised level. It is best for one-day rentals and bikes are available on retail as well as hire.
        Cost: NZD 40 - NZD 1900
  • Mountain Bike Rentals (Christchurch, Queenstown, Auckland, and Wellington): Based in Auckland with branches in the other three cities, it has a large variety of bikes to choose from like touring bikes, mountain bikes, tandem bikes, and trailers. 
        Cost: Touring Bike: NZD 95 for one day.                          Mountain Bike: NZD 55 - NZD 140 for one day.
We hope this guide on cycling in New Zealand was helpful to you! Let us know in the comments below what your favourite track is!

This post was published by Vidushi Nigam

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