Top Five Auckland MTB Parks

auckland mtb parksAuckland isn’t all lattes…

If you’re into the rough stuff, you’ll find plenty of thrill-packed mountain bike parks within a hours’ drive of the city. Here’s our top five Auckland MTB parks:

Woodhill Mountain Bike Park
Located in west Auckland, 40mins from the CBD. Over 100km of purpose-built single track, loaded with more than 250 man-made features. Trails suitable for all levels from beginner to experienced riders. There is an on-site bike mechanic, shop and café. Great for families and open all year round. Day passes ($8 adult) and concession passes ($40, 6-days) available.

440 Mountain Bike Park
Fourforty Mountain Bike Park is a gravity fuelled mountain biking park, one hours’ drive from the city centre. With 440 meters of vertical (a monster by Auckland standards), it’s by far the top destination for gravity riding in the upper North Island. The trails cater for beginner to expert riders. Shuttle prices from $10 for one run, $60 for 10 runs.

Hunua Ranges
Only 40 mins south of Auckland CBD, but a million miles away from city life. Plenty of single-track trails through native forest. Camping is also permitted within the park – make a weekend of it! Free to ride.

Totara Park
15kms of purpose-built MTB tracks near Manukau City, only 20mins from Auckland Airport. These are fantastic, all-season tracks that suit novice mountain bikers and cyclists looking for a decent aerobic workout. Free to ride.

Riverhead Forest
The West Coast Riders Club (WCRC) oversees this mountain bike trail network through the Riverhead Forest, approx 30 mins from central Auckland. Since 2007, club members have created a huge number of new trails, suitable for riders of all ages and skill levels. Free to ride.

Need MTB hire? We can hook you up. Head here to browse our range of hardtail and full-suspension mountain bikes.

Your Bike Will Appreciate These Servicing Tips

You love your bike, right? So, show it some love! Regular bike maintenance is essential for safe riding, as well as helping to prolong your bike’s lifespan and save you money.

Dan here, and today I’m going to show you some simple bike servicing tips that you can easily carry out at home. So, let’s get started.

Before/after every ride, check:


bike servicing tips Quick-release parts. If you have quick release wheels or seat posts, ensure these are closed tight before setting off.

Brake effectiveness. Squeeze the brakes to make sure they’re stopping the wheels. Check the condition of the brake pads and ensure they’re not rubbing while the wheel is spinning. If your bike has v-brakes, check that the brake pad closes onto the wheel rim, not the tyre wall. If the pads have a shiny coating, or they’re squealing a lot, then you can sand them down slightly. This will also improve braking performance.

Wheels. Spin the wheels in the frame. If you see any wobbles they may need to be trued (straightened). This is a bit of a tricky process, so you might want to pop and see a bike mechanic. Depending on the type of brakes you are using, check that either the wheel rims or disc rotors are clean. If these are dirty it will compromise stopping power. You can clean these with just a rag soaked in soapy water, then rinse off and leave to dry.

how to service your bike Tyres. Low tyre pressure can force you to use a lot more energy than needed, and will also make the tyre more prone to punctures. The recommended maximum PSI will be printed on the tyre sidewall. Check for any glass, thorns or other sharp objects that could cause a puncture.

Chain. Have a look over the chain and add lube if it looks or feels dry.

Carry spares. Leave equipped with a spare tube, puncture repair kit, tyre levers, multi-tool and a pump. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting a puncture in the middle of a great ride, having nothing to repair it with and having to walk back!

Every month, check:

(If you ride regularly or are drawn to hardcore, off-road terrain, you may need to carry out these checks more frequently.)

easy bike maintenanceNuts ‘n’ bolts. Check the tightness of connecting parts such as the cranks, pedals, handlebars and stem.

Drivetrain. Clean the chain and cassette with degreaser, then rinse, dry and re-lube.

Frame. Clean the frame and check it over for any cracks or dents.

Cables. Check for any fraying or rust and apply some lube to keep them running smooth.

how to service your bikeMoving parts. Check for any play in the bearings. Then check:

Cranks. Grab each crank arm and try to shake away from the bike.

Wheels. Hold opposite sides of the wheel, top and bottom and try to move the same as you did with the cranks.

Headset. With your bike on the floor in the riding position, squeeze the front brake with one hand and place your other on the top headset cup just below the handlebar stem. Move the bike back and forth and if you feel any movement in the headset cup it will need tightening.

These checks should help you keep your bike as fit and healthy as you! Bear in mind that you should also have a full service by a qualified bike mechanic every six months or so, as there is a lot which cannot be completed with simple tools.

Turning Up The Training For the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge

Lake Taupo Cycle ChallengeSix weeks to go until Andy and Logan head to Taupo for the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge (held on Saturday 29 November). Like last year they’re both competing in the 160km Bike Barn Solo – a one-lap circumnavigation of Lake Taupo. This week, we’re catching up with Logan to see how his training is going…

Logan’s Training Regime
Logan’s training regime began last Friday (eeek!) However, he has just returned from several weeks of mountain biking in Canada, which should give him a head start. Here’s his plan for the next six weeks:

  • Commute to and from work by bike three days a week. This is about 22.5km each way, adding up to around 135km per week. This will hopefully help me lose some weight and build base fitness.
  • One long ride each week, starting at about 2.5 hours and building to 5 hours the week before event. I’m not worried about distance/average speed, just time on the bike.
  • One 1.5 to 2-hour hilly road ride or MTB ride each week.
  • Walk/jog a few times a week.
  • Drink less alcohol!

Fancy joining Andy and Logan?
There’s still time to enter the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge – and it doesn’t have to involve a 160km slog, either. There are heaps of different entry categories available, from a leisurely 16km ride to kid’s races and relay events. Head to the Challenge website for full details

Can’t make Taupo?
There are plenty of other fun events coming up all over New Zealand. Here’s a selection:

MS Bike the Bridge, Auckland 
16 November 2014
The Auckland Harbour Bridge only opens to cyclists twice a year – don’t miss your chance to pedal across this well-known landmark. This is a charity event with three different categories: a 115km Clip On Classic, a 50km challenge or a 20km event.

Milford Mountain Classic, Milford 
24 January 2015
A 120km journey around the remote peaks and valleys of Fiordland. This new race starts at Milford Sound and ends in the little town of Te Anau.

BikeFest Nelson 
31 Jan-15 Feb 2015
Two weeks of bike-filled fun. Events include road races, family rides, bike maintenance workshops, mountain bike orienteering, heli-bike adventures and a food and wine festival to top off the festivities.

Queenstown Bike Festival, Queenstown 
13 March – 22 March 2015
Mountain bike, downhill and road biking events for all ages and abilities. Highlights include a mountain bike night ride, the Vertigo Bikes Dirtmasters Downhill and a 16Inch Pub World Championship (sure to be as wacky as it sounds).

Forrest GrapeRide, Marlborough 
28 March 2015
A 101km circuit that starts and ends at the Forrest Wines winery and includes 40km of riding through the stunning Marlborough Sounds. The grande finale? 100 riders crushing 3 tonne of pinot grapes…with their feet. (Let’s hope they shower, first).

Need a bike to help you slay the Taupo competition?

We’ve got two great deals for riders tacking the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge:

  • 2-day performance road bike hire + event insurance + bike relocation to and from Taupo: $178 (normally $268).
  • 2-day Specialized Sirrus hire + event insurance + bike relocation to and from Taupo: $148 (normally $238).

You’ll be able to pick up your bikes in Taupo on Friday (we’ll make sure they’re fitting you right) and return on Saturday after the event. Drop us an email to reserve your bike today.

Milford Sound: Spilling Over With Superlatives

milford soundThere’s a rare, magical quality to Fiordland. This remote corner of the South Island serves up scenery like no other place on earth: a dramatic, silent grandeur untainted by modern day life. Experience its splendour for yourself on our 5-day Milford Sound guided cycle tour. Here’s what awaits…

Day 1: Queenstown. Up to 46km
A relaxing day of riding to ease you into the saddle and explore the stunning scenery that surrounds Queenstown. We take a drive out to Glenorchy, considered the wildest side of the Wakatipu, and then pedal our way back to Queenstown, drinking in the lake and mountain vistas.

Day 2: Queenstown to Fiordland. 35-90kms
After a hearty breakfast, we set out along the narrow lakeside road to Kingston, home to the mighty Kingston Flyer steam train. After lunch, we drive to Lake Manapouri and walk a section of the Kepler Track. By late afternoon we’re back on the bikes for a meander through the spectacular Eglinton Valley and a chance to view the “Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain” – an optical illusion that causes the approaching mountain to get smaller rather than larger.

Day 3: Te Anau To Milford Sound. 37kms.
Your opportunity to ride one of the most scenic roads in the world. We’ll take our time, stopping to sample some of the short walks along the way, soak up the dramatic scenery and admire the ingenuity and toil of the men who built this road back in 1929, armed only with picks, shovels and sheer determination. We’ll coast through the Homer Tunnel before enjoying a 16km exhilarating descent to Milford Sound, where our floating night’s accommodation awaits. That’s right, tonight you’re sleeping on a boat! There’s time for a cruise of the Sound, a kayak and maybe even a dip, before we settle into calm, silent waters for the night.

Day 4: Milford Sound to Te Anau. 24-89kms
Set your alarm clock to experience dawn rising over the Sound – it’s truly breathtaking. After breakfast it’s back to dry land and a trek up Key Summit for a different perspective of this incredible landscape. Then it’s pedal to the metal for a late afternoon ride through the beautiful Eglinton Valley to Te Anau. Your evening is free to explore the town – you might fancy a night at the movies to see Ata Whenua – Shadowland, a film showcasing Fiordland’s extreme beauty.

Day 5: Te Anau To Queenstown. 36-58kms.
First stop of the day are the lovely Mavora Lakes, where closing scenes of Lord of the Rings were filmed. Then it’s on to the Vonn Valley for lunch. We’re signing off with a flourish – a farm style afternoon tea at Walter Peak Station before a steam-powered trip back to Queenstown aboard the TSS Earnslaw. She’s been puttering across the lake since 1912, originally carrying sheep, wool and food, today as a popular tourist attraction complete with piano and sing-song. What a fitting way to farewell your tour!

Take this tour
The Milford Sound tour is available from November through to April. Head here for exact dates. Tour costs $2275.00 NZD per person, which includes:

  • Four nights of 3-star, twin share accommodation.
  • Four breakfasts, three lunches and two dinners. (We leave you free to sample local cafes/restaurants on certain days).
  • Support vehicle to whisk you up the steep bits.
  • Luggage transfer for lightweight touring.
  • Knowledgeable, friendly tour guide.
  • High quality bike hire.
  • Overnight accommodation on the Milford Sound.
  • Cruise on the TSS Earnslaw
  • DOC fees

Grade: 2. Moderate.

To book, Fire us an email simply send us an email.

Image: Ben Wiseley

Small Town New Zealand: Te Anau

fiordland new zealandLocated in wild, remote Fiordland, in the south-west corner of the South Island, Te Anau is often skipped through by travellers en route to the dramatic splendour of Milford Sound. But this little town, known as the wilderness capital of New Zealand, is well worth a linger.

Head underground: Te Anau means “cave with a current of swirling water” and that cave just happens to be a vast underground network of whirlpools and waterfalls twinkling with the light from thousands of glow-worms. You can take a boat tour though the Te Anau Gloworm Caves with Real Journeys – your trip includes a cruise across Lake Te Anau before you drift through this silent, sparkling underworld.

Cycle: From Queenstown, a fantastic cycling adventure is to hop aboard the TSS Earnslaw for a cruise across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station. From there, saddle up and ride the Mavora Lakes backcountry road to Te Anau. Parts of this area were used to film the closing scenes of Lord of the Rings – so expect some very big vistas.

Walk: Trampers are spoilt for choice in this region and numerous short and multi-day walks can be accessed from Te Anau. These include:

Milford Track: 53.5km of dramatic scenery and varied terrain. This is a four-day trek that starts at the head of Lake Te Anau and finishes at Sandfly Point with a boat ride to Milford Sound.
Hollyford Track: A three-day, 37km walk that’s a good option for families.
Kepler: A 60km track that winds its way up and down the mountains surrounding Te Anau. It’s usually walked over three or four days.
Routeburn: 32km of exquisite scenery.

For day walks, pick up a brochure from the local DOC office.

Kayak: Don’t just gaze in awe at the pristine waters of this area – paddle them! Numerous operators offer single and multi-day kayaking experiences on both Milford and Doubtful Sound.

Jet-boat: Humpbridge Jet offers jet boat adventures along the wild Wairaurahiri River and Lake Hauroko, to the south of Te Anau. They have a variety of different packages available.

Fish: Not surprisingly, the rivers and lakes of this area are teeming with fish of all shapes and sizes. Fish Jet offer a variety of guided trips.

Drive: The Te Anau to Milford Highway is a dramatic journey through the upper corner of the Fiordland National Park, which culminates in the stunningly beautiful Milford Sound. Keep a close eye on the weather if you’re visiting between May and November – conditions can (and do) change rapidly.

Java-hit: Sandfly Café. Tasty food for the hiking pack, too.

Take flight: If there was ever a location to fork out for a helicopter ride, this is it. Fiordland’s impressive grandeur is even more breathtaking from the air and numerous operators are ready and waiting to give you a bird’s eye view.

After-hours: Hard to believe, but Te Anau does actually have a cinema. It was purpose-built by helicopter pilot and movie-maker Kim Hollows to screen Ata Whenua – Shadowland, a movie Kim filmed to showcase the majesty and beauty of Fiordland.

Quench a thirst: Black Dog bar is located at the Fiordland Cinema. It serves locally-brewed Fiordland lager and Black Dog wines, plus bar snacks. You can also take your drinks into the cinema.

Stay: Te Anau Top 10 Holiday Park is located right on the lake’s edge. Henry Creek Campsite is the closest DOC site to the town – it’s 25km from Te Anau on the road to Milford Sound.

Image: Jocelyn Kinghorn

Meet the Locals

nz wildlifeWherever you go in New Zealand, there’s a good chance you’ll bump into some fairly colourful characters (Andy included). Here’s a short introduction to some of our country’s wildest encounters….

New Zealand fur seals
Where: Palliser Bay, Wairarapa
From May to September this stretch of coastline is a popular hangout for New Zealand fur seals, who like to sunbathe on the rocks and show off in the surf. Also keep your eyes peeled for New Zealand falcon – they regularly breed in and amongst the impressive rock formations known as the Putangirua Pinnacles.
Further along the bay you’ll find the fishing village of Ngawi, famous for its collection of vintage bulldozers used to tow the fishing boats into the sea. (See if you can spot the pink one called Babe!)
Nearby cycle trails or tours: Rimutaka Rail Trail. 5 Day Guided Cycle Tour Wellington to Greytown

Underwater life
Where: Goat Island, just north of Leigh and about 90km north of Auckland.
Prepare to be amazed at just how much goes on below the surface. New Zealand’s first marine reserve has more fish than any other beach around mainland New Zealand. Strap on a snorkel and swim amongst shiny snapper, schools of kahawai, red moki and spiny crayfish – it really is another world down there. Some of the snapper are over 30 years old and even have names…like Panda, distinguished by his dark eye and snout.
Best viewing spots: in the water with snorkel gear – you can hire equipment at the reserve. Alternatively, take a tour in a glass-bottom boat. Ideally you’ll want to visit on a clear, calm day for maximum visibility. Check Seafriends for an up-to-date forecast.

Whales, dolphins, fur seals and albatrosses
Where: Kaikoura
The nutrient-rich waters of the Kaikoura Peninsula attract an abundance of marine life: dusky dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Hector’s dolphin, orca, fur seals and the giant of the deep – the sperm whale. During spring and late summer you might catch a glimpse of a passing humpback whale. Bird life is busy too, with 12 species of albatross – including the impressively-sized wandering albatross – sighted regularly.
Best viewing spots: the peninsula walkway. Watch out for fur seals lounging in the shrubs during the summer months. They’re not fond of being disturbed. Alternatively take one of the many boat tours on offer.
Nearby cycle trails or tours: 4 Day Guided Road Tour Canterbury

Birds, birds and more birds
Where: Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere, Banks Peninsula
Te Waihora has one of the most diverse bird populations in all of New Zealand, with over 98 000 birds living here at any one time. Watch out for caspian tern, white egrets, shags, bitterns and bartailed godwits, who travel here every September, making a marathon, non-stop flight from Alaska to escape the winter snows.
Best viewing spots: anywhere along the shoreline. Bring binoculars for optimum viewing.
Nearby cycle trails: The Little River Railtrail runs right along the lake shore.

Where: Oamaru
Who can resist a penguin? Oamaru in the South Island is home to yellow-eyed penguins (unique to New Zealand) and the tiny blue penguin. Penguins spend their days at sea, so dusk is prime viewing time.
Best viewing spots: Bushy Beach Scenic Reserve. There’s a free hide where you can watch the yellow-eyed penguins returning to their nests after a day fishing.
Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony. Attend an evening viewing to watch the birds swim ashore.
Nearby cycle trails or tours: Alps 2 Ocean.

Kiwi birds
Where: Stewart Island
Quiet, remote Stewart Island is one of the best places in New Zealand to experience kiwis in their natural habitat. You can join a kiwi spotting tour to maximise your chances of spying this shy bird.
Nearby cycle trails or tours: 8 Day Guided Cycle Tour from Queenstown to Dunedin
Other kiwi spotting locations: Kapiti Island, a nature reserve 70km north of the capital has overnight tours available. Or, view kiwi birds at Otorohanga Kiwi House, on the North Island.

Image: Harald Selke

EXCLUSIVE: 10% Off Campervan Hire + Two FREE Bikes

new zealand campervan hire We’re firm advocates that two wheels are a great way to experience New Zealand. But two wheels plus four? Well now, that’s even better, particularly when those four wheels also provide a kitchen, living room and ultra-comfy beds! And what if we told you that right now you can get the two wheels for FREE when you hire the four wheels? That’s right… our mates at Britz have lined up an absolute ripper of a deal just for you: a 10 per cent discount on the best campervan rate of the day + free bike hire. Now that’s a road trip worth taking them up on.

Logan and I recently got to spend a few days whizzing around the North Island in a Britz campervan (purely in the name of quality control). Here’s what transpired…

To pick up our van we hopped aboard a five-minute shuttle from Auckland Airport to the Britz offices. There buffed and polished to perfection stood our home for the next few days… the 4-berth Explorer Auto.

A friendly Britz employee gave us the grand tour – laid out on each bed was a sealed bag containing fresh linen, pillows, duvets and towels. A coat hanger, pegs and first aid kit were also included… but no teddy? I felt for Logan and will be making a note in the customer feedback.

For this trip we’d planned a whistle-stop itinerary that took in the Hauraki Rail Trail, plenty of hardcore, mountain-bike action in Rotorua and Taupo and finally the Timber Trail – a combined six days of riding in some of the North Island’s top cycling hotspots.

britz campervan hireFreedom is the name of the game with a camper and bike combination. Park up the van and jump on your bike to explore a town, forest or lakeside…or just snap a picture (clearly we couldn’t miss the opportunity to grab a shot of Paeroa’s famous L&P bottle – see left)!

A van also gives you easy access to the network of trails that make up Nga Haerenga – the NZ Cycle Trail. These rides are all over New Zealand and open up huge parts of New Zealand that you’d never get to see on four wheels.

You can choose to ride the trails as multi-day experiences, or pick ‘n’ mix shorter sections for fun, day adventures. For our Hauraki Rail Trail adventure, we parked the van in Paeroa, spent several hours riding and then returned the same way. For the Timber Trail we parked at Piropiro DOC Campsite, then organised a shuttle from the camper to the start of the track at Pureora Village and a shuttle from the end at Ongarue back to Piropiro. Takes a little bit of organising but it’s doable.

In Rotorua we rode the trails in Whakarewarewa Forest (ridiculously fun). The Waipa carpark is a good place to park up for the day – there’s even a free bike wash stand.

Best things about our campervan


  • The well-equipped kitchen. Shame Logan couldn’t be persuaded to adorn the apron and whisk up something Jamie would be proud of! We settled for Kiwi staples: beers, chips and baked beans.
  • Neat space-saving tricks which lent a spacious, roomy feel to the camper without losing necessary facilities. The rear kitchen table is easily stored away so the seat turns into a double bed, while the toilet doubles as a shower.
  • Easy, stress-free draining of the waste water tanks – yes really!
  • Coming back to comfortable accommodation after a hard day’s riding. Seeing our van waiting for us at the Piropiro Campsite after plenty of tough climbs on the Timber Trail was hugely appreciated.


Fancy a road and cycle adventure of your own? Then don’t miss this very special deal….


nz camper and bike hireAll Britz Campervans with Toilet & Shower


  • Get 10% off best rate of the day
  • PLUS two free Natural High bikes & bike rack
  • Book before 15 October
  • Travel from now, dropping off before the 15 December
  • Available for hires from Auckland to Auckland, Christchurch to Christchurch and Christchurch to Auckland


Book today


Phone inside NZ: 0800 304 304
Phone outside NZ: (international call prefix) 800 200 80 801

Quote “Natural High” to receive the offer – 10% off the best daily campervan rate PLUS 2 free bikes and a free bike rack.

britz campervan

Unmissable New Zealand Biking

Unmissable New Zealand BikingThis week we got set a challenge: list our must-do rides around New Zealand. So we pondered and puzzled and cast our minds back over the many, many rides we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing…and this is what we came up with. Agree? Disagree? We’d love to hear your favourites – head over to our Facebook page and let us know. Here’s our list of unmissable New Zealand biking:

Best Rail Trail
Otago Rail Trail
The original New Zealand rail trail through classic South Island scenery. 150 kilometres of high country sheep stations, river gorges, tunnels and viaducts.
Ability: Low skill + low level of fitness.

Best High Country Endurance Ride
Hanmer Springs – Rainbow Road – Murchison – Spring Junction – Hanmer Springs, South Island. A mix of riding terrain and landscapes, from high country stations to the iconic Lewis Pass. The Natural High team recently rode this circuit – read our account here.
Ability: Medium skill + high level of fitness.

Best Bush Ride
The Timber Trail. New Zealand bush at its best. An 85km adventure that runs from Pureora to Ongarue (and vice-versa) in the North Island. Killer views of Lake Taupo and fantastic stories about the logging industry and local Maori.
Ability: Medium skills + medium level of fitness.

Best Multi-Day Singletrack
The Heaphy. Rustic huts, diverse scenery and giant land snails known as Powelliphanta! The Heaphy Track is open to mountain bike riders from 1 May to 30 September.
Ability: Intermediate skill + high level of fitness.

Best Day Ride Through Bush
Waipoua Forest. Therapeutic, calming riding through Northland’s native Kauri forest. Make sure you say kia ora to Darby and Joan (they’re trees!).
Ability: Low skill + low level of fitness.

Best Airport Ride
The Runway MTB Park at Auckland Airport. The only MTB park at an airport – stretch your legs after a long flight or kill a few hours in transit. A fun, 6km trail that weaves in and around an old farm.
Ability: Low skill + low level of fitness.

Best Downhill Park
Queenstown Bike Park. A huge range of world-class trails suitable for all levels of shredders. Andy’s fave is Grundy but his nemesis is Thingymajig – it chewed him up, spat him out and he has a souvenir to prove it.
Ability: All skill levels + all levels of fitness (You can catch the gondi (local’s term for the gondola) to the top to avoid the uphill grunt).

Best Cycle Wine Trail
Hawke’s Bay Trails. 180 km of cycle trails that wind their way between the twin cities of Napier and Hastings. The Wineries Ride meanders past numerous award-winning wineries, including Craggy Range, Elephant Hill and Te Mata Estate. Don’t miss the Saturday market at Black Barn Vineyards (fresh fruit, pastries and breads) and the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Markets.
Ability: Low skill (debatable after you’ve sampled a few) + low level of fitness.

Best City Riding
Wellington. After a day exploring Weta Workshop and Te Papa, hit the hills around Wellington. You’ll be amazed at the quality and diversity of riding so close to the city. The Rimutaka Trail starts and finishes in Wellington and is one of the most undiscovered and underrated rides in New Zealand. End your riding with a beer at Garage Project or Ombra – the best Italian restaurant in Wellington.
Ability: All skill levels + all levels of fitness.

And the best way to get around and do all this… with one of our camper and bike combos.
Britz Campervans are high quality, spacious homes on wheels. Add in bike hire from yours truly and you’ll be all set to discover these rides for yourself. Find out more about our camper and bike combos here.

Are You FIT to Cycle Tour?

Cycle touring in New ZealandA common question we get asked by our clients is “how fit do I need to be to go cycling touring?” Honest answer? The fitter you are the more enjoyable the experience will be.

We always recommend getting some bike time in before you undertake a tour. And the earlier you start training the better, since you’ll be giving your body more time to adapt to the saddle and get stronger. Try to avoid cramming in lots of sessions right before you leave – you might end up injuring yourself.

First things first: how fit are you right now?

Are you exercising on a regular basis..or not at all? (Be honest!)

I take regular exercise each week, including several cycle sessions.
Chances are, you’re already in good shape for a cycle tour. Continue getting out and riding several times a week, making sure to include some back-to-back sessions (where you train on consecutive days).

I exercise occasionally.
Start a cycling programme that increases distance gradually and builds to at least three sessions a week. Work towards the daily distances of the tour you’re joining. So, if your tour incorporates daily distances of 50km, you’ll want to be able to cycle this distance comfortably.

I rarely (never) exercise.
Start off by cycling every third day. Gradually increase distance and regularity of sessions. You’ll need to be aiming for at least three sessions a week and to be able to comfortably ride the average daily distance of your tour. (You might also want to pay a visit to your doctor before you start your training programme).

Other ways to boost your fitness:


  • Resistance training (working with weights) can really help strengthen the muscles you need for cycling. You’ll need to get expert advice and instruction in order to ensure you’re correctly working your muscles – pop into your local gym and talk to the staff. One session a week would be a good starting point, building to two as you get stronger.
  • Stretching after rides can help ease stiffness and keep you supple for your next ride.
  • Think about the environment you’re going to be encountering on your tour and try to get plenty of practice on similar terrain.
  • Spin classes can be a great way to keep up your fitness, particularly if weather or winter darkness are hampering your outside efforts.

It probably goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway): we’re not trained fitness experts or doctors. This information is designed to give you a general overview of cycling fitness and we recommend chatting to your doc or gym coach before you undertake any type of exercise program.

Brand New: Wellington to Greytown & Rimutaka Rail Trail Cycle Tour

Rimutaka Rail Trail
Cape Palliser Lighthouse, which earned a place in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 ‘Flashiest Lighthouses!’
Right on the doorstep of Wellington – the coolest little capital in the world – is the Wairarapa, a region of rugged coastline, beautiful bush, interesting townships and vineyards aplenty. It’s also home to the Rimutaka Rail Trail, one of the easiest of the Great Rides. We’ve just put together a new, guided tour of the area. Here’s what awaits…

Day 1:
Jump aboard the Wellington ferry to Petone, where your tour guide will be waiting to greet you with your bike. Today you’ll be travelling along the Hutt River Trail, which unlike most tracks in Wellington is virtually flat. (It has a barely noticeable gradient of 0.25%.)

At Lower Hutt, stop for a peek at the Dowse Art Gallery, renowned for its edgy exhibitions and visionary collections. After lunch, you’ll continue along the trail to Upper Hutt, famous for the Trentham Military Camp and the Upper Hutt Posse, pioneers of New Zealand hip hop!

Day 2:
It’s all aboard the old Wellington to Wairarapa railway line today. Easy riding awaits, since the track’s gradient is only around 1%. You’ll pass through Tunnel Gully Reserve and the northern tip of the bush-clad Rimutaka Range, before discovering the engineering ingenuity of the Fell mountain rail system, which pulled passengers up the steep slope of the Rimutaka Incline. Take in the spectacular views before enjoying a sweeping 6km downhill to the quiet country roads of the Wairarapa valley, and an easy 10km cruise to your night’s accommodation.

Day 3:
Wild, dramatic coastline is on the cards for day three. You’ll wind your way along picturesque country roads to Palliser Bay, a vast sweep of black sand beach that’s home to one of New Zealand’s last remaining beam lighthouses. The jaunty, red and white stripes of the Cape Palliser Lighthouse earned it a place in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 ‘Flashiest Lighthouses,’ and you can climb the 253 steps to the top to enjoy grandstand views of the coast.

The area is also home to some weird and wonderful geological features, such as the spooky rock formations of the Pūtangirua Pinnacles and Kupe’s Sail, a triangular ridge of rock above the road before the lighthouse. This region has a rich Maori history and evidence of an 800-year old settlement can still be seen amongst the landscape.

Day 4:
Cleanse your palette and prepare to tantalise your tastebuds because today you’re discovering the vineyards of Martinborough! This picturesque village is home to around 20 wineries, all within easy cycling distance of each other. You’ll get to meet those in the know, stroll the vines and – of course – sample their wares.

Enjoy a leisurely lunch at a winery café, before either cycling the 18kms to Greytown or catching a lift with the support vehicle. Greytown’s tree-lined streets are packed full of charm – the town boasts the most complete collection of Victorian architecture in the country as well as a great selection of boutiques, galleries, cafes, restaurants and gift shops.

Day 5:
Your morning is free to discover more of Greytown: shopping, walking (there are several, interesting self-guided tours available from the Information Centre), a dip in the Greytown Swimming Baths or book in for a yoga or Pilates class with local Steve Impy. Transport can also be provided to visit Stonehenge Aotearoa – a modern, full-scale adaption of Stonehenge.

After lunch, you’ll return by train (1.10 hour) to Wellington, where we can either take you on to the airport or to an inner-city hotel.

5 Day Wellington Harbour to Greytown Guided Cycle Tour, now booking for 20-24 November & 25-29 March. (22-26 January is already fully booked!) Find more info here. Book here.