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Cycle Touring in New Zealand flag

Mew ZealandNew Zealand - the land of the long white cloud - is a stunning country, with majestic landscapes and beautiful scenery. The South Island has the edge, in our opinion, with mountains, lakes, glaciers, fjords and forests it's an outdoor playground for some. It's also home to some 32 million sheep, outnumbering the population 7 times over.

For cycle touring it is wonderful; there are not many people and therefore not too much traffic. Yet the roads are very good and it's easy to find your way. Some say the kiwi drivers are bad, however we didn't find this to be the case, except on long bridges where they are desperate to overtake you. It depends what you are used to, compared to the driving in Asia, it's quite straight forward to cycle in NZ. Oh, did we mention that it's hilly? Yes your legs will certainly get a work out wherever you go by bike in NZ!

Wild camping is relatively easy as there are long stretches where the are no towns or houses. Petrol stations for fuel and water are dotted around, and towns are spread evenly enough to buy food and other supplies. If you go away from the main highways, you may want to take supplies for a few days - places marked on the map may actually have nothing there, in the way of shops. The hardest part about touring in NZ is knowing that whichever way you go, you are going to miss seeing something on the other side! There is so much to see and do that one trip might not be enough!

lake tekapo

The people in New Zealand are genuinely friendly and relaxed, and will take the time to stop and talk to you. Despite the 'outdoor/extreme adventure' reputation New Zealand has, many will still be surprised to see you cycling and will tell you that they couldn't do it. It's not all sky-diving, mountain running, snowboarding, bungee jumping types here!

New Zealand is made up of a semi-indigenous population of Maori people and 'Islanders' (Samoa and other Pacific islands), and white Eurpoean settlers - 'Pakeha'. The North Island gives you more opportunity to experience Maori culture, in place like Roturua and most Maori live in the North Island. Our impression was that everyone got along pretty well, although there are cultural differences and some underlying tensions.

Our cycling route (6 weeks cycling)

North Island: Auckland - Manukau - Pokehohe (Route 22) - Pirongia - Mount Messenger - Awakino Gorge - New Plymouth - Stratford - Hawera - Wanganui - Palmerston North - Levin - Wellington.

We took the ferry to from Wellington to Picton.

South Island: Picton - Queen Charlotte's Drive - Rai & Whangamoa Saddles - Cable Bay - Nelson - Golden Sands - Rainbow Valley - Molesworth Station - Hamner Springs - Weka Pass - Rangiora - Christchurch - Geraldine - Fairlie - Pass - Lake Tekapo - Twizel - Lindis Pass - Wanaka.

Cycle route through New Zealand


  • Rainbow valley route
  • Geraldine to Wanaka
  • Meeting other cycle tourers
  • Possum encounters!
  • Fresh air & blue skies
  • Whitebait fishermen, Awakino
  • Great views and long downhills
  • Wonderful wild campspots
  • Queenstown Shotover Jet & Luge
  • Abel Tasman adventures
  • Nelson & Paynes Ford (Rock climbing)
  • Queen Charlotte's Drive
  • Lovely friendly people

Watch out for...

  • Drivers overtaking on long narrow bridges
  • Big trucks and tankers
  • Long climbs
  • Can be very windy!

NelsonOur photos

Liz and Chris cycle touring in New Zealand photos from Sept - Nov 2009.

Rainbow ValleyThings to do

Go off roading through the spectacular Rainbow valley in the South Island...


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