Top Ten Bicycle Touring Tips… for Hassle-Free Cycle Adventures in NZ

Thinking about organising a cycle adventure in New Zealand but not sure where to start? Relax…we’ve got you covered. Here’s our top ten bicycle touring tips for hassle-free cycle adventures in New Zealand.

NZ bicycling touring tips
Adventure awaits on the open road.

Touring Tip #1

Don’t try and cram everything into one trip.
New Zealand might be a fairly small looking country but take our word for it – there’s a lot to see. As a general rule we recommend:

  • One to two week holiday: focus on one or two specific areas, instead of trying to see everything.
  • One month holiday: gives you a reasonable amount of time to see bits of both islands.
  • Two months+: enables you to really explore both islands in full.

Touring Tip #2

Be open to possibility.
The beauty of cycle touring is that you never know what’s around the next corner. And sometimes, a random coffee stop or spur of the moment detour can yield the most memorable moments of your entire trip. So don’t just focus on seeing the popular tourist spots. Take your time, keep your eyes and ears open and check out some of the smaller towns and villages you pass through.

Touring Tip #3

Be prepared for all weather.
New Zealand enjoys a changeable climate, so wind and rain are always a possibility (yes, even in summer). June, July and August are generally New Zealand’s wettest months, while spring tends to be the windiest. Good quality, reliable waterproof gear is a must. In the summer months, the sun can be fierce, so remember to cover up with a hat, sunglasses, loose clothing and high factor sun cream.

Touring Tip #4

Choose a route/tour to suit your ability.
If you’ve never tried cycle touring before, a guided tour can be a great introduction to the sport. These take care of every element of your trip, from accommodation booking to route planning and include the support of an experienced local tour guide, luggage transfer and backup vehicle (jump aboard whenever the riding becomes too much). We’ve got a great range of different tours available in both the North and South islands that cater for all levels of ability. Check the tour grading for an indication of the fitness level required. Grade 1 tours are the easiest, covering lower distances per day with fewer hills, while Grade 4 tours are reserved for the expert rider only.

New Zealand is a hilly country, so if you’re touring independently, make sure you match your route to your ability. Try and take it easy for the first few days, to give your body (and backside) time to adjust.

Touring Tip #5

Build up some biking fitness before you arrive.
You don’t have to be super-fit to cycle tour, but the fitter you are, the more enjoyable your experience will be. Try and get out and do some biking before your arrival. Start with smaller distances – around half an hour a day – and then build up to two to three longer rides each week.

Touring Tip #6

Travel light.
If you’re planning on joining a guided tour, luggage transfer between hotels will be organised for you (lucky you) and you’ll be able to travel with just the essentials you need for that day. However, if you’re cycling independently you’ll be carrying everything on your bike, so pack light (leave the kitchen sink at home)!

Exactly what you bring will depend on your individual preferences, the season you’re travelling in and your accommodation options. But essential items include:

  • Clothing: Waterproof jacket and over-trousers, warm fleece, cycling shoes or trainers, comfortable cycling clothing, set of clothes for evening wear, warm hat.
  • Sun protection: sunglasses, sunscreen and lip protection, hat, neck gear/neckerchief to protect your neck.
  • Helmet (we have helmets available to hire or purchase).
  • Small first aid kit.
  • Swiss army knife, torch.
  • Bicycle repair kit and accessories. (Natural High bike hire includes a lock, multi tool, tyre levers, spare tube and repair kit.)
  • If camping: tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, cooking gear.
  • Camera.
  • Maps.

Remember, our Natural High branches in Auckland and Christchurch offer luggage storage, so if you turn up with more than you can cram into your panniers, we can store the excess until you return, or forward it on to your final destination. And if you forget to bring something important, chances are you’ll be able to find it here.

Touring Tip #7

Hire a bike or bring my own?
If you’re only planning a short stay in New Zealand, hiring a bike when you arrive is likely to be your best option. Most airlines charge additional fees for large items of baggage and there’s always a risk that your pride and joy might get damaged, or lost, en route.

At Natural High we offer a huge range of bike rentals, so while we may not be able to provide the exact same bike as you have at home, we’re sure to have something equally as good!  Plus we have depots in convenient locations throughout both islands, including Auckland Airport and Christchurch.

If you’re cycle touring for two months or longer, our “buy back” scheme could be a good option. We’ll refund half the purchase price if the bike is returned in a reasonable condition.

Touring Tip #8

Be traffic aware.
Outside of the main centres, New Zealand roads are generally quieter than other parts of the world. However, the twisty nature of many roads means limited visibility for drivers, so cyclists need to be aware of approaching traffic at all times. You might want to consider wearing reflective gear and using a bike mirror, to keep an eye on the traffic behind you.

Touring Tip #9

Know the rules of the road.
Kiwis drive on the left, as in Britain, Australia and Japan. Cycling is illegal on National Park tracks and most motorways. Helmets are compulsory and you risk a fine if you don’t wear one.
For more road rules, head here >>

Touring Tip #10

Don’t put it off!
Life is short, so hit the road sooner rather than later. We promise you won’t regret it!

Inspired to ride? Check out our great selection of self-guided or guided tours and start planning your adventure today…