Everything You Need to Know About Riding The New Zealand Cycle Trail

Riding The New Zealand Cycle Trail
So, the New Zealand Cycle Trail – one enormous cycle trail that runs all over New Zealand, right?
Errr, not quite. It’s actually a collection of 23 separate cycle trails, known as Great Rides. One day they’ll all hopefully link up to form one, massive network but that’s still a way off. Tackling a Great Ride is a fantastic way to explore New Zealand, particularly since many of the trails are off-road and pass through a breathtaking range of landscapes, from sparkling coastlines to beautiful native bush and rugged mountain passes.

How do I choose a trail?
Your ability level is the most important factor. Each Great Ride is graded from 1 (easiest) to 5 (expert). Some trails stay the same grade the whole way, and others vary from section to section. Grade 1 trails are very easy, meaning almost anyone can ride them, while Grade 3 (intermediate) rides are best for reasonably fit cyclists and those over 12 years old. Grade 5 trails are for fit, experienced cyclists with excellent off-road skills. Most Great Rides are multi-day experiences, but can easily be split into shorter sections.

When is the best time to ride a Great Ride?
Most of the trails are suitable for cycling all year round. Riding in the spring and autumn will be cooler than summer, and winter riding is very doable on some trails. Just make sure you check track conditions and the weather forecast before you set out, as section closures can sometimes occur.

What kind of bike is best suited to the trails?
We recommend a hybrid bike for the easier trails, and a mountain bike for Grade 3 Rides and above.

If I choose to do a multi-day ride, where can I stay?
Most multi-day trails have a good selection of accommodation en route or nearby. Each Great Ride has its own website which includes details of all the accommodation options and other services you’ll find along its route.

What about food and drink – will I need to carry it with me?
Many of the Great Rides pass close to cafés, restaurants and shops. In fact, sampling local food and wine is a major reason many people tackle a Great Ride! The more remote trails offer no services at all, so you’ll need to carry all your food and water.

How do I get to the trails?
Many trails are close to towns and villages, while more remote rides are accessed via trailheads with car parks. We can help you arrange drop-offs and pick-ups if you’re travelling without your own transport. A combined campervan and bike rental is an ideal way to experience the trails, enabling you to park up and ride sections of trails as you traverse the country.

What do they cost?
Most of the Great Rides are free.

Do you offer guided tours of the Great Rides?
We offer guided tours of the Central Otago Rail Trail and the Rimutaka Cycle Trail. If you’re interested in riding another trail, send us an email and we might be able to put together a customised tour.

More useful information on riding the New Zealand Cycle Trail:
Find a full list of all the Great Rides, here.
Great Rides for All the Family – a breakdown of the easiest trails that are perfect for families and newbie riders.

Have a great week,
Andrew Hunt