Cycle Touring NZ: A Photographer’s Perspective

cycling franz josefScandinavian-based photographer Wiebke Schröder pedalled her way around New Zealand with Natural High in 2013. Here she shares her experiences, her favourite spots and her tips for keeping camera gear safe on the road.

Where did your cycle tour take you?
My tour took me all the way from Auckland on the North Island to Christchurch on the South Island and included a couple of transfers by bus and ferry. So I had a chance to visit some places of Maori heritage like Te Puia with its volcanic areas, mud pools and geysers and Tongariro National Park, as well as the glaciers of Franz Josef and Fox on the west coast of the South Island and Fiordland with Milford Sound. So pretty much some of the nicest spots across New Zealand – even though I still have some open on my bucket list.

How long were you biking for in total?
The organised part was a 15-day bike ride with two days for sightseeing in Wellington and Queenstown and I added one more ride before meeting with my group in Auckland, where I rode my bike up to Mount Eden.

What was your favourite place? (Or places if hard to pick one!)
Is it possible to have only one favourite place in New Zealand? To me, it seems to be some sort of collection of favorite places with a few in between areas where you can relax from being stunned from what you’ve just seen. But ok, favourite spots…
cycling hokitikaTongariro National Park for the mountains.
Rotorua / Wai-O-Tapu for the volcanic experience (even though I must admit that I don’t miss the smell, just the photos that I could have taken if I had the time).
The Driftwood Art and black sand in Hokitika.
The Crown Ranges – a kind of reward after climbing continuously for 40km from Wanaka on my bike.
Franz Josef Glacier.
Fiordland.

Did you encounter any problems/mishaps along the way?
The Natural High bike mechanic in Auckland – Andrew from Scotland at the time – fixed my bend derailleur hanger upon arrival, so a problem sorted before it could cause any trouble. And I am still thankful to him that he figured I had mounted my saddle post the wrong way.

At one point, on a right turn, my chain came off and I could not get out of my click pedals fast enough and I had a car behind me. Thankfully the driver was observant and I got out of it without an accident.

And a couple of times I was close to dehydration or was dehydrated – not the best feeling in the world, but thankfully it never reached the dangerous degree. So really just small stuff.

Can you tell us about your choice of gear. And how do you keep your photography gear safe (and dry) while cycling?
I brought my own hybrid bike – a Hard Rocx Cross Machine C4SL, 27 gears and V-brake – with me, just to be 100 per cent certain I had a good bike that fitted me right from the start.

I use an Ortlieb Ultimate 6 classic attached to my handlebar for my camera and the phones. And a Vaude Aqua Back pannier bag to hold rain clothes and spare lenses as well as filters and spare batteries.

The camera back then was a Pentax K20D with the battery grip attached and three lenses: a 18-55mm, a 50-300mm and a 100mm macro lens.

Plus I have a Garmin GPS mounted to my handle bar – if not for finding the right route then for saving the GPS data to later add it to the photos.

The pannier and handlebar bag are waterproof already and so far I haven’t had any trouble with that. So the keeping it dry factor is not an as big issue. Of course, in pouring rain I just don’t take those things out of the bags to start with – which only gets impractical if your last granola bar is in the same bag as your camera and it’s pouring cats and dogs… no food! Additionally the camera has like 72 seals against water, so it can handle some rain, not that I would want to deliberately try it but I wouldn’t give it up right away if there was some moisture in the bag.

And for keeping it safe from crashes I have some padding for the handlebar bag and an insert from another camera bag that fits the pannier bag. So should my bike just fall over the photo equipment should survive – unless bigger forces are used.

What do you love most about cycle touring?
I like the challenges that come with it – like have I trained enough to be able to do that climb from Wanaka to Crown Range and pushing myself to the limit and above what I thought to be the limit. 
But I also like the freedom that comes with it. If there is a nice sight somewhere along the road I’m usually able to pull over, take some photos and jump back on. If I were in a car I would have to find a parking spot or I wouldn’t see it because I would be focusing on driving the car too much. And not to mention the freedom of not thinking – it’s just me, my bike and my camera (and possibly a travel companion and friend).

Can you tell us a little about your photography business and life in Scandinavia?
I am a semi-professional photographer and have published two books about the New Zealand bike ride as well as a couple of calendars since I started taking this more seriously in 2013. I have been photographing for almost 36 years now. So my bread and butter is at this point paid for by my work as a database developer.

Lille Ulven is a nickname or trail-name that I have been given by a fellow New Zealand bike traveler after apparently having had 17 steaks and a whole pizza – it means “little wolf” and incorporates more than just the amount of food I can inhale.

You really cannot mix Sweden, Norway and Denmark together when it comes to cycling. In Denmark and Sweden, they have a long cycling history, so you’ll find bike paths and new bike paths are being built. In Copenhagen, I am more afraid of being run over by a cyclist than I am afraid of being run over by a car. And well Denmark is rather flat – compared to Norway – which is why it’s sometimes referred to as pancake country.

In Norway you will find so-called gravel bike paths up a mountain or in areas where, if you start your bike ride too late in the afternoon, you’ll not get to a place where you can get dinner that day. Not to mention Norway has real mountains: steep with narrow roads and no shoulders for cyclists.

So while you would have no big trouble finding roads to use a road bike on in Denmark, if you wanted to cycle in Norway, you would really need at least a cross if not a mountain bike.

Where would you like to visit/cycle next?
There are a couple of places that I want to go to. Starting this year I will cycle a bit – just a few hours – in northern Denmark. Next year I have plans to visit Tennessee again and maybe I’ll have the chance to cycle the Natchez Trace and a round in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains. And then I do want to do a four-week bike ride in Ireland.

But dream tours: if I can somehow find a way to make that kind of money, I would like to come back to New Zealand to stay at least three months, cycle as much as I can and stay at some places a little longer to enjoy the locations.

Wiebe took our 17-day Auckland to Christchurch guided cycle tour. Find full details here:
www.naturalhigh.co.nz/Auckland-Christchurch

If you’d like to see more photos from Wiebke’s trip, check out her website: www.lilleulven.com. She also has 2015 and 2016 calendars of her New Zealand bike trip available for sale online. Head here for previews.

cycling rotorua
Top image: Franz Josef Glacier.
Middle image: Gollum fishing at Hokitika.
Bottom image: Te Puia – Geyser.
All images courtesy of Lille Ulven.


Cycling ALL of New Zealand

cycling all of new zealandMichael recently posted on our Facebook wall:

“I’d like to cycle through ALL of New Zealand. Any suggestions? ;)”

We’ve got HEAPS of suggestions, Michael! Here are the regions we highly recommend visiting. It isn’t a complete list – you’d need a lifetime to see everything New Zealand has to offer – but it should provide a good starting point. Happy planning!

NORTH ISLAND

The Far North
Highlights: Cape Reinga with its windswept lighthouse and end-of-the-world feel, bodyboarding on Ninety Mile Beach.
Cycling option: Twin Coast Cycle Trail. Once fully completed this will run from Horeka to the Bay of Islands. Sections currently open for riding can be viewed here.

Bay of Islands
Highlights: Picture-postcard coastal scenery, the Waitangi National Reserve and Treaty House.

Coromandel
Highlights: Golden sand beaches, digging a natural spa bath at Hot Water beach, Cathedral Cove.

Rotorua
Highlights: Geysers, hot springs, bubbling mud pools and a fascinating Maori heritage.

Central Plateau
Highlights: The towering mountain peaks, active volcanoes and deep blue crater lakes of the Tongariro National Park, shimmering Lake Taupo.
Cycling option: Mountains to Sea Trail. This runs from Ohakune to Wanganui along local mountain biking trails, public roads and the river.

Wellington
Highlights: Café-hopping, great restaurants and bars, Te Papa museum, Weta Cave.
Cycling option: The Rimutaka Cycle Trail which runs from Wellington Harbour through the Rimutaka Mountain Range to the southern coast.

SOUTH ISLAND

Kaikoura
Marine wildlife, whale watching.

Christchurch
Highlights: A city on the up. Check out the Gap Filler projects, the Cardboard Cathedral or walk or bike in the Port Hills.

South Canterbury
Highlights: Beautiful Lake Tekapo, Mt Cook National Park, crystal-clear night skies.
Cycling option: Alps 2 Ocean Trail which runs from Mt Cook to to Oamaru.

North and Central Otago
Highlights: The Victorian buildings of Oamaru, blue and yellow-eyed penguin spotting, Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

The Catlins
Highlights: Remote and rugged scenery, abundant wildlife.

Fiordland National Park
Highlights: The dramatic splendour of Milford Sound, the Te Anau to Milford Highway.

Queenstown Region
Highlights: Buzzing Queenstown with its bars, restaurants and stunning mountain scenery, picturesque Glenorchy, laidback Wanaka.
Cycling option: The Crown Ranges between Queenstown and Wanaka, one of New Zealand’s classic road rides.

The West Coast
Highlights: Wild, rugged scenery and exhilarating twists and turns, the Gates of Haast, Fox Glacier, the vibrant little town of Hokitika.

Nelson region
The city of Nelson, wine-tasting at one of the many wineries, Abel Tasman National Park, swimming at beautiful Totaranui.
Cycling option: The Great Taste Trail

Cycle hire options:
If you’re planning an extended cycling tour, our buy back scheme, which refunds half the purchase price if the bike is returned in reasonable condition, could be a good option. And don’t forget, we also offer combined bike and campervan rental.


Christchurch: New Zealand’s Comeback City

discover christchurch
The colourful containers of the RE:START Mall.
Several years on from the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, Christchurch is bouncing back. Here’s the inside scoop on what to see and do in this newly-thriving city.

The Cardboard Cathedral
Debate continues over the future of ChristChurch Cathedral, badly damaged after the 2011 earthquake. To fill the void, the Cardboard Cathedral was opened in 2013. Designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, this temporary structure – built using a variety of modern construction materials, from cardboard tubes to timber beams, structural steel and concrete – provides a symbol of hope and a place of hospitality and worship for the city and wider community. To view upcoming, events and services at the Cathedral, head to its website.

Re:START Mall
Over 50 boutique stores and food outlets, located in colourful shipping containers within the heart of the city. Re:START was a way of breathing life back into the CBD after the 2011 earthquake, but the mall has become a hugely-popular tourist spot in its own right. Open Monday – Friday: 10am – 5.30pm and Saturday and Sunday: 10am – 5.00pm.

Gap Filler Projects
A seriously cool initiative, Gap Filler plugs vacant sites within the city with cool, creative projects. Since 2010, the team have helped establish temporary cafes, live music events, poetry readings, outdoor cinemas and more. Because projects are constantly changing, the best way to discover what’s happening is to check out their website.

Christchurch Botanic Gardens
Christchurch is fondly known as the Garden City and for good reason – there’s an abundance of beautiful parks and charming residential gardens dotted all over the city. The Botanic Gardens are one of Christchurch’s most visited public spaces. Wander through on foot or discover their beauty from the water – Avon River Punting Tours float right through their floral splendour. If you’re planning a visit to Akaroa (1.5 hours drive from Christchurch) don’t miss The Giant’s House, home to colourful, oversized mosaic sculptures.

Port Hills
Only 10 minutes from Christchurch city centre, the hills provide a seemingly limitless network of tracks for walking, running and mountain biking – not to mention views that stretch from the Pacific Ocean to the Southern Alps. Full track details can be found on the Christchurch City Council website. Make sure you check the status of tracks before you head out as some routes remain closed due to rock falls.

Banks Peninsula and Akaroa
Beautiful beaches, a thriving artisan community and a vast network of walking and biking tracks are all good reasons to spend a day (or longer) on the peninsula. The small seaside township of Akaroa is home to boutique shops, craft galleries and delicious dining options. Another great way to discover the peninsula is to cycle the Little River Rail Trail, which runs from the edge of Christchurch to the township of Little River (approximately 49km). If you feel your legs aren’t up to the full distance, you can choose to ride shorter sections of the route and we can provide transfers to various access points for the trail.

Watch Andy showing TV journalist Jack Tame around Christchurch
Just before Christmas, Andy helped Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism and TV journalist Jack Tame film a short video about the awesomeness of Christchurch. Take a watch…

Don’t forget…Natural High is located in Christchurch. You’ll find us on Harewood Road, close to Christchurch International Airport. Pop in for bike hire, to book a tour or just to say hi!

Top image: Re:START Mall. Shelia Thomson.


Want to Up Your Mountain Bike Skills? Here’s How…

MTB-skills-trainingIf, like us, you’ve been glued to the Cricket World Cup you’ll know that New Zealand’s generated plenty of excitement on the cricket pitch over the last few weeks. But there’s been thrills and spills of an off-road kind going on as well – the Crankworx World Tour recently stopped off in Rotorua for the first time ever, the town hosted the New Zealand Mountain Bike Championships and the 20th anniversary of the Rainbow Rage took place down south.

New Zealand is well and truly on the map as a great mountain bike destination, with popular spots including Rotorua, the Ruapehu region, Woodhill Forest in Auckland and Queenstown.

If you fancy giving mountain biking a go but you’re not sure your riding skills are up to the challenge, we offer mountain bike skills training in Christchurch and Auckland. Here’s what’s involved:

What and where:
A half-day of mountain bike skills training on local hills in either Christchurch or Auckland.

How:
We’ll start by assessing your current level. From there, we’ll give you feedback and tips to help you develop your skills and boost your confidence. We might work on nailing the basics: braking, use of gears and uphill/downhill riding position or we might focus on more specific areas: riding the rough, negotiating switchbacks or mastering hops and drops.

Who:
Our experienced instructors can teach any level required, from complete beginners through to advanced riders looking to sharpen their skills. Come by yourself or bring a buddy. We can also cater for larger groups.

Cost:
From $125. For more info, or to book a session, drop us an email.


Great Walks You Can Bike

bike heaphy trackDid you know that two of New Zealand’s Great Walks – the Heaphy and the Queen Charlotte Track – can also be tackled by bike? Here’s the lowdown…

The Heaphy Track
Mountain bikers can ride the Heaphy Track between 1 May and 30 September. It’s an 80km route through the Kahurangi National Park, in the northwest corner of the South Island. Along the way, you’ll encounter dense beech forests, limestone cliffs and white sandy beaches. Also keep an eye out for the giant and rare land snail Powelliphanta, which can be spotted on certain parts of the track during the day, particularly after rain.

The Heaphy is a tough ride (Grade 4-5), suitable for those with advanced riding skills only. Most riders complete it in two days and hut accommodation is available at a number of spots along the route. Riders can travel in either direction, but most choose to start in Collingwood and finish in Karamea.

For more information on riding the Heaphy, and to check hut availability, head here.

The Queen Charlotte Track
Biking is permitted on the track all year round except for the section between Ship Cove and Kenepuru Saddle, which is closed to bikes from 1 December to 28 February each year. It’s a beautiful ride through native bush, that offers stunning views across the Marlborough Sounds.

Allow two to three days to ride the entire 70km track. It’s classed as a Grade 3 ride, which means it’s suitable for intermediate riders. Be aware that there are several steep sections and the track can get slippery and muddy after rain. There are accommodation options to suit all budgets along the way – from basic DOC campsites to luxurious lodges.

For more information on riding the Queen Charlotte Track, head here.

Important: both these rides travel through remote areas, with no facilities for repairing bikes. Make sure you carry adequate tools and equipment and are competent to complete your own repairs.

Need mountain bike hire? We can help. Head here to check out our range of off-road warriers.

Image: Andy riding the Heaphy Track.


A Jewel in the Crown: Queenstown to Wanaka Road Ride

queenstown to wanaka road rideUK cyclists Dan and Tash have spent the summer traipsing round New Zealand. They’re keen road riders and have sampled several of New Zealand’s classic road routes. Here’s their top pick: Queenstown to Wanaka over the Crown Range.

Head out of Queenstown towards Coronet Peak Ski Field. You’ll cross over the Shotover Gorge where, if you’re lucky, you’ll see one of the jet boats whipping through the narrow canyons. Continue on through Arthur’s Point to Arrowtown, a quaint little village full of heritage buildings. You might feel like you’ve cycled back in time!

You’ll know when you’ve hit the Crown Range because the road goes up – relentlessly! Locals call this section the zig-zags and you’ll soon see why: lots and lots of switchbacks that inch you closer to the Crown Range Plateau. Luckily there’s a rest area at the top (and some mighty fine views of the Wakatipu Basin).

Unfortunately this isn’t the actual summit – that’s a further 5km of tough climbing away. We promise the end view – and the fast downhill that follows – is more than worth it.

All that uphill slog means you’ve definitely earned a drink at the Cardrona Hotel. This much-photographed pub has a great beer garden to recuperate in. From the hotel, the last 25km to Wanaka are (thankfully) either flat or downhill. Keep your eyes peeled for that first glimpse of Lake Wanaka – it’s a stunner!

We spent a few days in Wanaka before re-tracing our route home. We found Wanaka to Queenstown a much easier ride, with fewer climbs and a more favourable wind direction (that helped blow us towards Queenstown). As you come back into Queenstown we recommend stopping for a soak at the Onsen Hot Pools, high on the cliffs above the Shotover River canyon.

This ride is 70-km each way and classed as a Grade 3-4, meaning it’s suitable for experienced riders only.

Images: Dan and Tash.

crown range bike ride


Wander At Will With A New Zealand Self-Guided Cycle Tour

Self-Guided New Zealand Cycle TourWhile our all-inclusive, guided tours are highly popular with overseas travellers they’re not for everyone. If you’re more of a free-spirited traveller, sticking to a set route and timetable can sometimes feel a little restrictive.

If that’s the case, a New Zealand self-guided cycle tour could be more your style. These provide you with the all-important essentials: detailed route maps and top-quality bike gear, but give you the freedom to organise each day as you please.

What’s included:

  • Leading-brand bike hire to suit your journey, including pannier and storage options. Our bike rentals come with a lock, multi tool, tyre levers, spare tube and repair kit, and are fully serviced before hitting the road. You can choose to hire a helmet (compulsory in New Zealand) or buy a fresh new one for a discounted $45.
  • Route maps and itinerary suggestions to make exploring as easy as possible.
  • Accommodation suggestions. We provide you with a list of recommended motels, backpackers, B&B’s and campsites along your route. You make your own bookings to suit your timeframe.
  • Bike transfer. Planning a one way tour? Not a problem. We’ll make sure your bike is returned to our Auckland or Christchurch depots at the end.
  • Complete flexibility. Each tour is broken down into a recommended number of days – but you don’t have to stick to this timetable. Add on extra days and stay longer at a destination that tickles your fancy…or combine two days into one for a faster, more challenging journey. The choice is yours.

New Zealand self-guided cycle tour suggestions:

Great for beginners:
3-Day Self-Guided Waiheke Island Cycle Tour
Just a short ferry ride from Auckland, the beautiful, laid-back island of Waiheke offers picturesque bays, rolling hills and award-winning vineyards. Quiet country roads, fabulous restaurants and cellar-door tastings are what this tour’s all about.

For slightly more experienced riders:
6-Day Self-Guided Christchurch to Queenstown Road Tour
This route takes you through the centre of the South Island via the Canterbury Plains and the Rakaia Gorge. You’ll cross Burkes Pass and cycle the Tekapo hydro canals (while checking out the stunning views of Mt Cook). Then it’s on to the Lindis Pass and beautiful Central Otago before you roll into the adventure capital of Queenstown.

A more challenging tour:
9-Day Self-Guided Auckland to Taupo Road Tour
The route from Auckland to Taupo via the Coromandel, the Bay of Plenty and the Central Plateau is one of the most popular cycling routes in New Zealand. The scenery is diverse (from sandy beaches to snow covered mountains) and the riding is challenging enough to reward seasoned cyclists. A rest day in the adventure hotspot of Rotorua gives you time to soak up the cultural highlights, seek out an adrenaline fix or hit the world-renowned local MTB trails.

Check out the full list of self-guided tours on our website.


Small Town New Zealand: Wanaka

discover wanakaMore laid-back than neighbouring Queenstown, Wanaka sits on the southern edge of glistening Lake Wanaka. With hiking, biking, skiing, boarding and rock climbing opportunities galore, it’s a bit of an adventurer’s paradise…

Discover Mt Aspiring National Park
The 355,543 hectares of nearby Mt Aspiring National Park are packed with glaciers, lush forest and soaring mountain peaks. The Matukituki Valley, an hour west of Wanaka, is the quieter end of the park and offers plenty of walking opportunities. The Rob Roy track is a popular and panoramic three-hour return walk. For a longer hike, try the West Matukituki Track to Aspiring Hut. It’s a scenic, four-to-five-hour return walk over mostly grassy flats.

Snow fun
In the winter months Wanaka is a popular base for skiers and boarders. It’s a 30-minute drive to Treble Cone, one of New Zealand’s top resorts. Also nearby is Cardrona and the cross-country ski field of Snow Farm.

Take a peek at Wanaka’s islands
There are four islands on Lake Wanaka, each a public reserve: Mou Waho Scenic Reserve, Mou Tapu Scenic Reserve, Ruby Island Reserve and Te Peka Karara/Stevensons Island Scenic Reserve. Mou Waho and Te Peka Karara/Stevensons Island are home to to the rare, flightless buff weka (extinct on the mainland). Several operators run daily cruises to the islands.

Climb Mount Iron
The summit of Mount Iron offers 360-degree views of the the Pisa range, the Upper Clutha Basin, Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps. It’s a fairly gentle, 45-minute hike to the top.

Clip on your crampons
Wanaka is a popular destination for rock climbing. Top spots include Hospital Flat, 12 kilometres from Wanaka town on Mount Aspiring Road, and the Diamond Lake Conservation Area. The Wanaka Rock Climbing Club website has lots of information on routes.

Baffle your brain at Puzzling World
Things get weird at Puzzling World. Bizarre buildings, rooms of illusion and a giant maze are just some of the attractions designed to confuse and confound. Make sure you pay a visit to the toilets! Puzzling World is on the road to Cromwell, 2km from Wanaka.

In the saddle
Speed demons will love the twists and turns of the road around Lake Wanaka – just remember to stop once in a while to enjoy the views! A fun and easy day ride is the 11km Hawea River Track, which links Lake Hawea township with Albert Town. Mountain bikers are spoiled for choice: try the Lismore Jump Park or take a short drive out of town to the Sticky Forest, where a network of technical switchbacks, berms and uphill corkscrews await. For a true gut buster of a ride, head to the Pisa Range, between Wanaka and Queenstown. Here you can test your fitness levels on the Tuohys Gully to Roaring Meg trail, a 20km bike ‘n’ hike across challenging terrain.

Refuel
Kai Whaka Pai is a cool, local hangout with great coffee and food. Sagan Café and Indian has good value (and tasty) curry tubs.

Watering hole
Wanaka Beer Works brew all sorts of interestingly-named beers and ales. Their tasting room is next door to the brewery at the Flathead Café (9km out of Wanaka on the road to Cromwell).

Image: Ruth Hartnup


Take A Ride On The Arty Side

nz's best art galleriesYou don’t have to travel far in New Zealand to experience stunning natural masterpieces. But if you fancy admiring canvases of a different kind – or need to dodge a spell of bad weather – head for one of these art galleries. They’re well worth a peek!

Dunedin Public Art Gallery
dunedin.art.museum
Established in 1884, this gallery houses a significant collection of New Zealand artworks from 1860 to the present, as well as works by artists such as Turner, Gainsborough, Claude, and Machiavelli. You’ll also get to see the only Monet in a New Zealand collection. Free admission.
Where to cycle: Signal Hill Recreation Reserve. Only 3km from the city and packed full of world-class mountain bike tracks.

Christchurch Art Gallery
christchurchartgallery.org.nz
This striking building in the heart of the city was badly damaged during the Christchurch earthquake and is currently closed for repairs (expected opening is mid-December 2015). However, small exhibitions are currently showing at 209 Tuam Street.
Where to cycle: The Bottle Lake Forest Park off Waitikiri Dr offers a range of easy tracks through the forest. Rides start from the main car park. Tougher, steeper tracks can be found in the Port Hills.

World of Wearable Art, Nelson
wowcars.co.nz
The spectacular World of WearableArt™ Awards Show, held in Wellington every spring, started life in Nelson in 1987. World of Wearable Art houses 60 breathtaking garments created for the shows. A collection of classic cars are exhibited in the same building.
Where to cycle: The Great Taste Trail. Mainly flat riding and a smorgasbord of cafes, restaurants, breweries and vineyards along the way.

Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt
dowse.org.nz
A small gallery showing a mix of contemporary artwork. Exhibitions change regularly. Free admission.
Where to cycle: The Rimutaka Rail Trail. This 115km trail runs alongside the Hutt River, across the Rimutaka Range and through the Wairarapa to the coast. It’s just been named one of the world’s hottest travel experiences for 2015 by Lonely Planet! For a comprehensive account of the trail, check out this blog written by Rachel Lamb. Rachel recently rode the trail with Natural High and a group of friends.

The Sarjeant Gallery, Wanganui
sarjeant.org.nz
Housed in a magnificent, neo-classical building, the gallery features more than 5,500 international and New Zealand artworks, as well as a large collection of contemporary photography. Free admission.
Where to cycle: Ride the Pipirki to the city section (or vice-versa) of the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail. This undulating scenic ride follows the path of the Whanganui River, taking you through the Whanganui National Park and surrounding hill country.

Napier
If you’re an art deco fan, then a wander around the city of Napier is as good as any gallery visit. Pick up a map from the Art Deco Shop and discover the buildings, designs and artifacts at your own pace. Guided tours are also available.
Where to cycle: The Hawke’s Bay Trails. A mostly flat network offering three different cycling experiences: the Landscape Ride, the Water Ride and the Wineries Ride.

Auckland Art Gallery
aucklandartgallery.com
Renovated in 2011 (and winner of the 2013 World Building of the Year at the World Architecture Festival) Auckland Art Gallery holds more than 15,000 works of national and international art stretching from the 12th century to the present day, including pieces from Goldie, Lindauer, Hodgkins, Angus and McCahon. Free admission.
Where to cycle: The Auckland waterfront is a popular and scenic spot for riding, and it’s close to the gallery, too. Find full details (plus two more urban rides) here.

Photo: Dunedin NZ


Biking in Auckland Just Keeps Getting Better

auckland bikingThe city of sails is becoming the city of spokes! With a growing network of trails, boardwalks and dedicated cycle lanes, Auckland is slowly but surely becoming more accessible to cyclists. Here are three scenic (and safe) routes well worth checking out.

Auckland Waterfront
The Auckland waterfront along Tamaki Drive is one of the most popular rides in Auckland. It takes in some of Auckland’s wealthiest suburbs and several beautiful beaches: Orakei, Mission Bay, Kohimarama and St Heliers. The path is paved, flat and entirely off the road. Riding between Britomart and St Heliers takes around 30 minutes.

Westhaven Promenade
This brand new boardwalk links Beaumont Street (opposite Victoria Park) to The Sitting Duck Café in Westhaven. It’s a lovely, relaxing little ride with great city and water views. It’s possible to link the Westhaven Promenade with the Auckland waterfront ride, but it will mean navigating busy Beaumont Street.

Devonport to Takapuna
If you’re travelling around New Zealand in a campervan, campsite options in central Auckland are few and far between. If you’ve got bikes with you, here’s an easy solution. Park up at Takapuna Beach Holiday Park. It’s a little worn around the edges, but its beachfront location more than makes up for the tired amenities. Besides, you’re not going to be spending much time here, because Auckland’s attractions beckon! To reach central Auckland, hop aboard your bike and ride the Takapuna to Devonport green route. This is a well-signposted, 6km network that weaves through parks, heritage areas and residential streets (plenty of beautiful houses to gawp at). From Devonport, catch the ferry into Auckland central. Bikes travel free of charge provided there’s room, or if you prefer to navigate the CBD on foot, leave your bike at the ferry terminal – there’s plenty of bike racks.

Maps which show these routes – and many more – can be downloaded from Auckland Transport.

Need bike hire in Auckland? We’re handily located just a short stroll from the arrivals terminal at Auckland International Airport. Find out more about our Auckland services here.