With its tree-lined streets and beautifully-restored Victorian buildings, Greytown is often considered one of the prettiest towns in New Zealand. It lies in the Wairarapa region in the lower North Island, just an hour’s drive from Wellington. Let’s take a closer look…
You can easily while away a few hours (or an entire day) strolling the shops, galleries and antique stores of the main street. Greytown is a popular shopping destination from Wellington and there are boutique stores aplenty!
If delving into history is more your thing, take a self-guided tour of the town’s most interesting buildings. You can pick up a map from the Greytown Information Centre. A Heritage Tree Tour is also on offer – the town has a strong history of tree conservation and New Zealand’s first Arbor Day plantings took place in Greytown in 1890. Cobblestones Early Settlers Museum also features some of the region’s most historic buildings – it’s set up more like a village than a museum.
Main Street Deli is a bustling little eatery, well known for its pies. The Greytown Hotel serves delicious restaurant meals, as well as bar snacks or head for Bar Salute, considered one of the best restaurants in the region. Those with a sweet tooth should make a beeline for Schoc Chocolates, where a whopping 85 different flavours jostle for your tastebuds’ attention.
Work off the chocolate
Walk or bike the Greytown to Woodside trail, an easy 5km track running though the countryside. Or take a plunge at the Greytown Memorial Baths, located in Soldiers Memorial Park.
Keep your eyes peeled for Lighthouse gin, made by Greytown Fine Distillers. It’s served in several bars and restaurants about town.
Dates for the diary
The Harvest Festival is a popular annual event, showcasing food and wine from the region. Held at a beautiful, sheltered riverside setting on the banks of the Ruamahunga River, next year’s festival takes place Saturday 7 March 2015.
MTB enthusiasts often tend to skip through the Waikato, heading for the more well-known destinations of Rotorua and Taupo. But running right through the heart of the region are the Waikato River Trails – five trails that open up a beautiful, unspoilt tract of the North Island.
Two of the trails offer relatively easy riding and are perfect for day trips, while the middle – and more remote – sections are tougher and more challenging. If you’re a serious mountain biker, tackling the trail in one go would be a great adventure and there are plenty of accommodation and eating options in place – allow three to four days to complete the 100km distance comfortably.
One of the easiest sections is the Karapiro leg, halfway between Cambridge and Tirau on Highway 1.
The trail runs from the Pokaiwhenua Bridge carpark to Arapuni village. To reach the carpark take Horahora Road off the highway – it’s signposted but it’s also easy to miss!
The first 4km runs alongside the road. It’s not particularly scenic but it does provide a decent warm up – and since we hit the trail early on a freezing cold Sunday morning, it was appreciated.
At the Little Waipa Domain (also home to a carpark so if you want to miss out the boring bit, park here) you join up with the river and the rest of the section provides a pleasant mix of bush and water views, with the odd steep incline thrown in for good measure.
Highlights include a 500m boardwalk through the Huihuitaha wetland and the impressive Arapuni Swingbridge, which dangles high above the river. Arapuni is also home to the excellent Rhubarb Café, which makes for a good pit stop.
Considering it was a Sunday the trail was relatively quiet, although a few families ventured out once the sun emerged. Choose to ride on a weekday and you’ll likely have the paths to yourself.
The other sections:
Arapuni Section (36km)
Arapuni village to Waipapa Dam.
This section is the toughest! The first 5km (between Arapuni and Jones Landing) is classified as Grade 5 (expert), with the rest of the section a Grade 4. There’s a mix of on and off-road riding.
(Important: the Arapuni section from Waotu South Road (near Barnetts Reserve), down to Waipapa Dam will be closed until September 2014 as logging operations are in progress. Strictly No Access.)
Waipapa Section (19km)
Waipapa Dam to Mangakini Lakefront
A Grade 3 section, through remote bush.
Maraetai Section (12.1km)
Mangakini Lakefront to Whakamaru Dam
Running alongside the lake, this is a fun, easier section, well suited to a day trip.
Whakamaru Section (23.5km)
Whakamuru Dam to Atiamuri.
Beautiful scenery and mostly intermediate riding. To avoid the Ongaroto steps use the signposted 200m road section, or park your bike at the bottom and walk to the top to enjoy the views.
When Andy asked if I’d like to write a review of the Revelate Designs frame bags, I figured why not? Having just got back from a 10-day trip around the top of the South Island, I’ve had plenty of folks ask me about my bike set up.
Revelate Designs, founded in Anchorage Alaska in 2007, was created by a fellow named Eric Parsons in order to address a growing need for ways to carry equipment on a variety of lightweight adventures, chiefly the Iditarod Trail Invitational. Since then, the popularity of the bags has grown and Revelate Designs has made a name for themselves amongst offroad cyclists. They also continue to design new, innovative products to meet the needs of bikepackers.
It was about a year ago when I first laid eyes on a Viscacha seatbag, thanks to a fellow Canadian and good friend of mine, Ben Shillington.
He was anxiously awaiting the delivery of a seatbag to make an ultralite cycle trip to France a possibility. He intended to carefully pack this one seatbag with everything he’d need for the journey.
The benefit of the seatbag over a backpack was obvious: minimizing weight on his back would add to the overall comfort of the ride. He’d be keeping the weight of his gear lower and more in line with his bike, plus the bag would be lighter than a rack and pannier setup, which was paramount. I was impressed with the setup and the Viscacha performed perfectly as planned for him.
Shortly after I left for New Zealand and put my Revelate Designs dreams on hold. Andy can attest to my excitement when I walked into the Natural High shop and sure enough there was the Viscacha! It wasn’t too long before I had pretty much ordered the whole setup for myself.
Why did I decide to invest my cold hard cash in a frame bag setup as opposed to using any one of the dozens of racks and panniers we have available?
An accountant would probably say it’s because I’m afraid of saving money… but I had a better reason then that. I wasn’t planning on doing a lot of road touring here in NZ – I wanted to use my hardtail XC mountain bike to really explore some off-the-beaten path places. We’re talking rough roads, narrow single track, big hills and sometimes completely destroyed “hike-a-bike” sections, where I needed my bike to perform as close to possible as it does unloaded. The frame bag concept of carrying gear allows for this because the weight of your gear is evenly distributed across the frame. The bags also weigh less and by their inherent capacity limitations, ensure you aren’t travelling too heavy.
We regularly receive requests from people who love the idea of cycle touring New Zealand but aren’t really sure which route to choose – or whether they’re even capable of making it to the end (you will).
So, to make planning that first foray easier, we’ve put together a selection of rides to suit different abilities, ages and passions.
All these tours are guided because we think having everything organised will make that first experience a lot less stressful. You won’t have to worry about making a wrong turn, booking accommodation or finding somewhere for lunch, because we do it all for you.
Even better, you can ride with just your daypack (we organise luggage transfer between your overnight stops) and if the pedalling gets a bit much, you can always hop aboard the support vehicle and rest your legs for a spell.
Sounding good? Let’s check out a few tours…
Want to bring the family?
We recommend: The Otago Rail Trail
This journey is perfect for the kids since much of the riding is flat and you don’t have to worry about traffic. Plus you get to explore old goldmining towns, river gorges, tunnels and viaducts! At the end of the trail, you’ll have the added excitement of boarding the famous Taieri Express into Dunedin – considered one of the world’s great train journeys. For more details, here here >>
The 5 Day Alps to Ocean tour is also fun for families – daily distances average 50km and it’s fairly flat riding (see below for more details).
Not hugely confident of your fitness?
Maybe you’re just easing into cycling. You can handle a few hours in the saddle but you’d prefer to avoid big hills and steep slogs.
We recommend: Otago Rail Trail (see above)
5 Day North Canterbury and Marlborough Cycle Tour
This tour starts in Christchurch and takes you out into the picturesque Canterbury landscape. It’s easy riding through the Waipara Valley to Hanmer where hot pools await. From there you cycle the Molesworth Valley, flanked by mountain ranges, and stay in shearer’s quarters on Molesworth Station. The ride ends in Kaikoura, where you can hop aboard a whale watching tour. For more details, head here >>
Love the peace and quiet?
We recommend: 7 Day Road Cycle Tour Queenstown to Christchurch
This is rural South Island life at it’s best; quiet roads, stunning scenery and firsthand encounters with the local wildlife. You’ll meander alongside the beautiful lakes of Te Anau and Manapouri, experience the tranquility of remote Stewart Island – keep an eye out for the shy kiwi bird – and ride the rugged coastline of the Catlins. For more details, head here >>
Looking for a bit of everything – stunning scenery, interesting history, local wildlife and fine wining and dining?
We recommend: 6 Day Alps to Ocean
The longest continuous ride in New Zealand, this tour descends over 2000 ft from the lofty heights of Mount Cook to the coastal town of Oamaru. Along the way you’ll soak in the beauty (and hot pools) of Lake Tekapo, experience Mt Cook and the Edmund Hilary Alpine Centre, get up close with tiny Blue Penguins, discover the Victorian Quarter in Oamaru, pop into the award-winning Pasquale vineyard, the Whitestone Cheese factory and Riverstone Kitchen (a former NZ restaurant of the year) and dine in style at Loan & Merc, a medieval themed restaurant operated by highly regarded New Zealand chef Fleur Reville. Phew…that’s one fun-filled week. For more details, head here >>
Want to experience both islands?
We recommend: 17 Day Cycle Tour Auckland to Christchurch
Quite possibly the ultimate New Zealand cycling tour. Experience the white sand beaches of the Coromandel Peninsula, the volcanic landscape of the Tongariro National Park, the peace and tranquility of the Marlborough Sounds and the twists and turns of the wild West Coast. You can also do this tour from Christchurch to Auckland. For more details, head here >>
Got questions about any of these tours? Fire us an email and we’ll gladly help you out.
According to Specialized, the Camber is the perfect bike for everything from weekend trail rides to all-day epic excursions. The 29-inch-specific, 110mm-travel Camber offers a trail-specific build for confident riding at speed, and ultimately the ideal balance of efficiency and plush suspension performance for every rider.
Let’s see how it stacks up…
Logan here, and I’ve had a number of rides on the Camber now, finding it to be a very versatile bike. The traction of the big wheels and range of the 3×9 gearing is great for climbing hills and cranking along gravel roads, but it also handles tight, twisty singletrack well, and the geometry gives a very stable feel on fast descents.
I even tested the bike (and myself) down a local downhill track and while I have to admit I by-passed the gnarliest bits and took chicken lines around the massive jumps, I found the Specialized Ground Control 2.3” front and 2.1” rear tyres gripped the damp clay surface well, the suspension soaked up the rough stuff that I did ride over, and the Tektro Draco 2 hydraulic disc brakes slowed me up when things got a little too fast for my liking (quite often).
A lot of mountain bikes are coming specced with 2×10, 1×10 and even 1×11 drivetrains these days.
While all this new-fangled technology is great and certainly serves a purpose, I’ve found that the 9-speed Shimano Deore Shadow rear derailleur on the Camber 29 offers reliable, precise shifting and the 11-34 tooth cassette combined with triple chain rings up front gives a wide range of gears for a variety of riding, from Rotorua singletrack to epic South Island back country adventures.
I rode a 45km event recently, which consisted of gravel roads and farm paddocks, and was able to fly along in the big chain ring on the flatter and downhill gravel road sections, and also grovel up grass hills in the granny gear. On my own bike I have a 1×10 setup as it suits the majority of riding I do, however it does limit my top speed and also makes steep climbs hard work.
The rear X Fusion air shock on the Camber performs well, has rebound adjust, and is nice and easy to set up for different rider’s preferences or weight.
The fork is a coil sprung Suntour XCR with 110mm of travel. Specialized have specced different-sized bikes with different firmness springs – small: soft; medium: standard; large and XL: hard. This makes sense, as a light woman on a small won’t be able to use much of the travel with a standard spring, and vice versa for a big guy on an XL. However, not all tall people are heavy.
I’ve been riding medium and large Camber 29s from our fleet and at 180cm and around 89kgs, I’ve found the large frame fits me best but the forks are way too firm. The large bike I rode was pretty fresh out the box, so the forks may have just needed some more riding, but the fork on the medium with the standard spring was plusher and suited me better.
Rebound adjust and lockout on the forks are great features.
The ultimate would be an air fork that could be dialled in for individuals. While handlebars, stems, seats etc can be quite a personal preference, Specialized have done well to spec the Camber 29 for the riding it is designed for. There are different length seatposts and stems on different frame sizes which work well, and the 720mm wide bars give good control without getting too wide. It’s a good thing seats are easy to change. I found the standard Specialized Rival seat okay on shorter rides, maybe up to two hours, but anything longer than that and I had to keep standing up on the pedals for some relief.
…for someone who still isn’t completely sold on the 29er craze, I found the Camber 29 to be a fun trail bike to ride. On singletrack it rolls over trail features better than a 26” wheeled bike, but still gets around tight corners with ease. And I could pedal up steep pinch climbs that I’d usually have to push up on my own bike with 1×10 gearing and 26” wheels. It also gets along efficiently on long XC type rides. While I would definitely change a few items in the component spec if I owned one, I think Specialized has nailed it with the frame geometry and suspension travel to provide a stable, confidence-inspiring ride.
Last year, Natural High client Kirsten Edelkraut visited New Zealand from Switzerland for a spot of cycle touring…and knocked off the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge as well. With this year’s challenge now open for registration, we asked Kristen to give us her thoughts on New Zealand’s biggest cycle event…
How did you hear about the challenge and what compelled you to enter?
The story begins in 2012. I was on a bus trip to Taupo and Rotorua, when we passed Taupo on the day of the 2012 Lake Taupo Challenge. I got crazy about all these cyclists and asked myself, why the hell I didn’t bring my road bike… next time, I decided.
You took part in the 160km one-lap circumnavigation of Lake Taupo. What sort of hydration, food and supplements did you take on the ride?
It’s always a risk to rent a bicycle for any trip at all, in particular for a road race of 160km! I am used to road biking, to long distance riding as well, but never did a race about this distance. So, quite a challenge. I stocked up with sports food I’m used to – I brought these things from home. Two gels, two power bars, one banana. Plus one bottle of water, and another with electrolytes. On the race around the lake I needed one refill. Good preparation before the race (lots of carbohydrates during the week before) and some regeneration drink after.
You’ve completed a number of bike races, how did the Lake Taupo Challenge compare?
Do I? Thanks. In fact, I do a lot of road biking in Switzerland but only a few races, most of them during the Swiss Gigathlon, which is a big multiple sports event – maybe the biggest in Switzerland. The Lake Taupo Challenge compares very well to our events. Nothing completely different, except the big prices in the end.
This is your second visit to New Zealand. Why did you decide to cycle tour this time?
Last time, when I was here, I really missed my bike. I do a lot of bike touring in many different countries. My longest trip was from Triest (Italy) to Al Aquaba (Jordan) over nearly eight months. So, biking or bike touring is often part of my holidays and I was sure that when I came back to New Zealand, I would definitively have a bike with me.
Some of the scenery in Switzerland is stunning, how does the New Zealand landscape compare?
The scenery is completely different. That’s why I came to the North Island, because of its subtropical and volcanic scenery. What I can say: the wide landscape and these huge areas with nobody living there – wilderness – is completely different from Switzerland. We also have some wild areas, especially the high mountain areas, but I never feel so alone like here in the forests.
What has been your favourite ride in New Zealand and why?
Oohhh – I think, this is the most difficult question… and I think, I have not done the best ride yet. I hate-loved the ride in Whangarei, because it was probably the most difficult. I enjoyed the W2K2W-trip, especially the downhill to Kinloch. And I liked the Waikato River Trails – all of them outstanding landscapes, interesting views, nice riding. Some trails seem to be too perfectly built to me: lots of sharp (and unnecessary) curves, which take away the flow and the speed. But most parts of the trails are really good. I’ve also run some of the trails around Taupo. I like trail running and these trails are perfect for running, too. Luckily there weren’t any bikers out there that day!
Like to give the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge a crack?
This year’s event takes place on Saturday 29 November…which means you’ve got plenty of time to get into training. Not that you have to be an elite athlete to enter – there are rides to suit every level of ability and riding style, from on road to off, short to ultra-long (we’re talking 1,280km long)! Check out the website for full details.
Need to hire a bike for the event?
If you’re coming from overseas like Kristen, or want to rent a high-performance bike, we’ve got two great deals for you:
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.
The Tongariro National Park, in the centre of the North Island, is one of New Zealand’s most intriguing landscapes. With its towering mountain peaks, active volcanoes (don’t worry, they’re closely monitored), desert-like plateau, deep blue crater lakes and thick swathes of tussock and flax, this is a region of dramatic contrasts. Little wonder then that the park provided filming locations for Ithilien, Mordor and the Gates of Mordor in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The region is used all year-round by adventure seekers: the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is considered one of the best day hikes in New Zealand, there are mountain tracks aplenty, while in winter, skiers and boarders flock to the skifields of Whakapapa and Turoa. It’s also an absolutely brilliant place to explore by bike…
Introducing: Pedal the Plateau
Lake Taupo Cycling Trust has just introduced a new cycling tour of the Central Plateau. This 345km circumnavigation of the region takes place 22-28 March 2015 and takes riders from the shores of Lake Taupo through the Tongariro National Park and back to Taupo. Six days are spent in the saddle, with a full rest day to explore the alpine villages of Whakapapa and National Park.
The six legs of the journey range from 30km to 105km over undulating countryside. There are enough hill climbs to leave riders with a sense of achievement, but this isn’t a gruelling, gutbuster of a tour and anyone with a reasonable level of fitness should be able to complete it comfortably.
The entry fee for Pedal the Plateau is NZ$1495 per adult or NZ$1120 per youth (10-16 years inclusive). This includes meals during the seven days of the ride, tented accommodation in Waiouru and Tihoi and luggage transfer. Accommodation in the overnight stops of Taupo, Turangi, Ohakune and Whakapapa/National Park is an additional cost and dependent on your selection (options to suit all budgets available). Online entry is now open and places are limited – so get in quick if you want to take part. Head to the website for more information.
Natural High is providing bike hire for the event. We recommend the Specialized CrossTrail, the Specialized Sirrus or one of our high-performance road bikes. If you’re thinking of taking part and don’t want the hassle of bringing your own bike, we can hook you up. Simply send us an email with your requirements and we’ll match you up with the perfect bike.
Pedal the Plateau dates not working for your schedule? The following guided cycle tours also incorporate the Central Plateau:
The West Coast of the South Island was made for cycle touring. Wild, rugged scenery, exhilarating twists and turns and interesting, out-of-the-way townships. Today we’re giving you an insight into one of our most popular self-guided South Island tours: the 8 Day Christchurch to Queenstown Road Tour. Settle back and enjoy the ride…
Day 1: Christchurch to Hokitika. 40km
An early wakeup call and quick ride to the train station in Christchurch. You’re about to embark on one of the world’s most famous train journeys, taking you from the farmlands of Canterbury across the mighty Southern Alps to Greymouth. Sit back and enjoy the views! From Greymouth it’s a leisurely and fairly flat ride to Hokitika.
Day 2: Hokitika to Harihari. 72km
Flat to rolling ground for most of today’s ride. You’ll pass through the small gold mining town of Ross and the banks of the very photogenic Lake Lanthe.
Day 3: Harihari to Fox Glacier. 84.4km
The ominously-named Mount Hercules is one of your challenges today. Luckily it’s not as immense as it sounds and your reward is a zippy downhill to Whataroa. There’s scenery aplenty on the next stretch, before a series of short climbs and a final drop into Fox Glacier.
Day 4: Rest (or explore) day
Enjoy a break from the saddle and take in the sights of Fox Glacier. Take a guided glacier walk, head out on a hike, go white water rafting or jump out of a plane. There’s also horse riding on offer if your backside can handle it! Or kick back in the Glacier Hot Pools.
Day 5: Fox Glacier to Haast. 119km
A long day in the saddle with plenty of undulating terrain, medium climbs, rugged coastal scenery and thundering seas. The Paringa Salmon Farm is a good spot for lunch.
Day 6: Haast to Makaora. 82km
Today you’re bidding farewell to the wild west coastline and heading inland. You’ll be following the Haast River for the first part of the day, before heading up the Haast Pass. You might not welcome rain but the many waterfalls along the way really put on a show when the weather’s wet. The Gates of Haast are a compulsory photo stop.
Day 7: Makarora to Wanaka. 65km
Beautiful and gentle riding along the shores of Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. As you drop into Wanaka you’ll pass the Great Maze at Puzzling World – well worth a shot if you’ve still got the energy.
Day 8: Wanaka to Queenstown. 81km
Today you’re heading over the Crown Range, the highest highway in New Zealand. You’ll pass through charming Arrowtown (a good stop for a late lunch), before pushing on to Queenstown via the Shotover River and Arthur’s Point. Head for a famous Fergburger – you’ve earned it!
What’s included on this tour:
Specialized Sirrus Touring bike fitted with rear panniers and computer plus helmet. This is a great bike for this style of trip but you can upgrade to the superior Cannondale T2 or Surly Long Haul Trucker for an additional $194 per bike.
Detailed route notes and maps. We also provide accommodation suggestions and contact details for each overnight stop (usually backpackers, campsites and hotels), plus recommendations on where to eat and stock up on supplies.
Price: $435 NZD (train fares, accommodation and meals not included). Head here to book >> Notes: This is a challenging ride, with plenty of hill climbs.
Route alternatives: If you’re uber-fit or short of time, you can do this tour in 5 days. Or you can add in extra days to explore each area more fully.
At Natural High we’re all about getting you out into the great outdoors and having fun. But we also want to make sure you stay out of harm’s way in the process. So, at the risk of sounding like your mother, here are a few ways to keep you and your bike safe while cycling around New Zealand…
On the road
Outside of the main towns, New Zealand roads are generally fairly quiet, but be aware of large trucks and try to ride on the shoulder where possible. Many roads are also twisty, which means limited visibility for drivers. You might want to consider wearing reflective gear and using a bike mirror, to keep an eye on the traffic behind you. Bike lights are a good idea, especially if you’re going to be hitting the road early or cycling into the evening. They’re also useful on rainy days.
Helmets are compulsory in New Zealand and you risk a fine if you’re caught riding without one.
Some parts of New Zealand are remote, with big distances between townships. Make sure you carry enough food and water to get you to your next destination. For independent travellers, we recommend picking up copies of Pedallers’ Paradise by Nigel Rushton and the Kennett Brother’s Classic New Zealand Road Rides (Classic New Zealand Mountain Bike Rides is also available if you’re heading off road). All these books are available in our online store.
Some basic bike maintenance skills are also helpful as it can be a long walk between bike shops if you have a mechanical issue. Regularly check over your bike to ensure bolts are tight, chain is lubed etc.
All our self-guided cycle tours come with detailed route maps, which include the locations of supermarkets and refuel stops. Plus, we’ll let you know when you’re heading into a more remote area and need to stock up. Our guided cycle tours provide a tour leader and support vehicle, so you never have to worry about going hungry. Bike security
Common sense prevails here. Where possible, leave your bike where you can see it and lock it securely to a fixed object. Kiwi folk are, by and large, an honest group but an unlocked, top-of-the-range bike could be a temptation too far. We provide a key coil cable lock with all our rentals. Backpackers, motels, hotels often have a secure store room or garage where you can lock your bike overnight, so it pays to ask at reception.
If you’re travelling through the Southern Alps, the highly-inquisitive kea bird might prove to be more of a thief than a human. Don’t leave your belongings unattended when keas are about, they like to take a peck at just about anything – and that includes bike seats and wheels.
When you hire a bike from Natural High, you have the option of taking out insurance to cover bike theft, loss and damage whilst the bike is in your possession. You will still need to take sensible security measures, for example, locking your bike in the foyer of your accommodation overnight as opposed to outside the pub at 1am!
Back country riding
If you’re heading out into isolated, rugged country be prepared for the unexpected: a change in weather (the New Zealand climate is fickle and you could experience four seasons in one day), an accident or getting lost! Take food, water, tools, spare parts such as derailleur hanger, brake pads, emergency tyre boot, a first aid kit with emergency blanket, a map and warm clothes. You may also want to consider a GPS and emergency locator beacon, especially if you’re hitting the back country alone.
Got any useful tips you’d like to share with our readers? Leave a comment on our Facebook page >>
Want to experience some of the North Island’s most intriguing features in one hit? We’ve got just the thing. Our 9 day self guided road tour from Auckland to Taupo is one of our most popular cycle routes. Here’s where it takes you…
Day 1: Natural High depot to Orere Point. 56km
Some busy city riding to contend with, before you point your nose to the ocean and slip onto quieter roads.
Day 2: Orere Point to Thames. 65.5km
Coastal riding for a large part of today along the Firth of Thames. This shoreline is a paradise for bird watchers, with thousands of birds heading here each year to rest, breed and generally live the good life. Pop into the Miranda Shorebird Centre to read about their epic migratory journeys. Miranda is also home to some very soak-worthy thermal pools (highly rated by Andy).
Day 3: Thames to Coromandel. 54kms
Oh, you’re in for a treat today. You’ll be following the fabulous coastal road that winds its way through picturesque bays and hamlets with magnificent views over the Firth of Thames. Yes, it’s hilly and yes, it’s narrow but we think you’ll agree it’s more than worth it! Coromandel town is your base for the night and it’s an interesting place to meander around. Plenty of history and an old-fashioned general store that sells everything under the sun and more.
Day 4: Coromandel to Whitianga. 43km
A big climb to get your day off to a heart-racing start, then a succession of gentler climbs, daring descents and sweeping vistas. 28kms into the ride you’ll come across the coastal village of Kuaotunu – an ideal spot for a picnic. After Kuaotunu, you’ll tackle the last significant climb of the day before onwards to Whitianga.
Day 5: Ferry Landing to Whangamata. 64km
Jump aboard the ferry to cruise across Whitianga Harbour, before settling back into the saddle. After 11.5 km, it’s decision time: take a detour to Hot Water Beach and dig your own personal hot pool in the sand (which adds an extra 12km onto the day’s riding), or carry on regardless? (For Andy, this is a no-brainer). One important point which may help determine your move – the hot spring is only accessible a couple of hours either side of LOW TIDE. Check tide times before you leave Whitianga.
Day 6: Whangamata to Tauranga. 90km
A long day in the saddle, but with only one major climb. Breeze through Waihi and several other small settlements, keeping your eyes firmly peeled for breathtaking glimpses of the ocean.
Day 7: Tauranga to Rotorua. 63km
Today you face the biggest gutbuster of the tour, taking you from sea level to 500m. You’ll know you’ve arrived in Rotorua when you catch your first whiff of sulphur. The town’s bubbling mudpools and steam vents are truly intriguing – stop in to see the mudpools of Kuirau Park on your approach to the town.
Day 8: Rotorua
A day to soak up the cultural highlights, seek out more adventure or simply soak in a hot pool. There’s world class MTB trails on offer too – so if you’re not completely sick of the saddle, let us hook you up with an off road beast.
Day 9: Rotorua to Taupo. 80km
You’re bidding farewell to the main highway today for some off-the–beaten-track riding. Pop into the Wai-O-Tapu thermal area for another glimpse of the region’s geothermal activity, including a geyser that erupts at 10.15am smart every day! It’s only a 2km detour off the main road. Watch out for your first shimmering sight of Taupo, it’s always goosebump inducing.
What’s included on this tour:
Specialized Sirrus touring bike fitted with rear panniers and computer plus helmet.
Detailed route notes and maps, with accommodation and dining suggestions.
Bike relocation from our Taupo depot. We can also transfer any extra luggage to Taupo, so you can continue on your travels without having to return to Auckland.
Bear in mind: This is a challenging ride, featuring steep hills and narrow, windy roads and it’s best suited to more experienced cyclists. We also don’t recommend you do this trip during the peak summer/school holiday time from late December through January, due to the extra traffic on the roads.