View Full Version : cycling in new zealand-bike question

11-18-2011, 05:43 AM
hi everyone.
I will be traveling in NZ (south island) in Jan. We are bringing our road bikes and plan to do a mix of camping, tramping and cycling, based out of a rental car or van. I am having a debate with my BF about security for the bikes: living in northern california, I am quite paranoid about leaving the bikes on a car rack when we are not around, even if they are locked to the rack. My BF thinks that the bikes will be safe and that I am being a paranoid american urbanite.

Any advice on this? My feeling is that tourist vehicles can be a crime magnet no matter where you are, and that a better option would be to stash the bikes somewhere (or hide them in the campervan if we end up going that route).

thanks for the advice. Also, feel free to share recommended rides! We are not bike touring, but anticipate doing a lot of riding.

11-18-2011, 06:31 PM
Definatley pack your bikes away on your campervan or inside the car...NZ is safe enough but i wouldnt leave mine unlocked or on back of car for long...

Not suitable for road bikes but if you can hire hybrid or mountain bike, you should go on Central Otago Rail Trail from Alexandra to Middlemarch... its awesome! Then catch steam train to Dunedin :-) google for website ....

Theres another rail trail that goes from Christchurch to Banks Pennisula - i assume it wasnt affected by earthquake in February

Enjoy... makes sure you book things in advance....january is summer holiday time and places will be busy....

11-18-2011, 09:46 PM
I leave mine chained to the bike rack while we're on holiday, but I have to admit that if I were parked in a secluded car park (like at the start of a popular tourist walkway) I'd prefer to try and have the bike somewhere a little more secure. Unfortunately even leaving it in the car itself would feel risky. New Zealand's normally pretty secure and safe, but there are always people who will try to take advantage of tourists. Have fun though - where abouts in the South Island are you thinking of going? There's some great cycling to be had, if you can get used to the prevalence of chip sealed roads!

11-18-2011, 09:50 PM
The west coast of the South Island is great for cycling. The roads aren't too busy and there are some lovely flat to undulating stretches with the odd climb to keep you alert. If you're into wine I can recommend Central Otago, and there's even an organised race you can take part in:


I'm biased about this one because my father-in-law has a vineyard not far from Cromwell in Bannockburn!

11-19-2011, 10:09 AM
My partner took off for a solo cycling trip in both the North and South Island of New Zealand ...about 12 years ago for 6 months.

He really enjoyed it. The lst month just happened to be one of the rainiest years for NZ at that time. :p

11-20-2011, 07:28 AM
thanks for all of the input!
I am still putting the rough itinerary together, so welcome any and all riding or tramping suggestions. We'll be there for about 3 weeks, then I will continue into N island for another week or so.

Planning to start in christchurch area; one possibility is:
Arthur's Pass
Punakaiki & Paparoa
Te Anau
Mt Cook
back to ChCh
(note, will break up the driving with stops)

We haven't yet looked into riding options & how they fit into this rough itinerary. We are intrigued by the mountain passes of the five-passes tour and will probably try to fit in a few (riding wise). Also, the BF found an epic ride out of ChCh area out to Akaroa (http://app.strava.com/rides/2083604#) that he is interested in.

Welcome any thoughts! thanks for the heads up on chip seal-- I am going to bring my 28s!

11-20-2011, 12:21 PM
Recommend Milford Track & Routeburn Track for hiking :) Queenstown is a great town (and they might still be filming "The Hobbit" around there).


Now I'm homesick again !!! :(:o

11-21-2011, 10:37 PM
I think that Christchurch to Akaroa ride may follow the Le Race course. http://www.lerace.co.nz/
Some good solid climbs in there, but if you're looking at riding over some passes they won't scare you!
I'd second MillieNZ's recommendations on the tramps, although you'll need to book your spot on the Milford Track because it's fairly popular. It's popular because it's stunning!
Now to go back to convincing my husband to spend New Years in Central Otago with his father ....

11-26-2011, 07:17 AM
thanks for the added input. Millford is indeed booked up thru March but we will try to do day hike on millford and/or routeburn- both look incredible. The Akaroa route does look pretty climby- we'll see how I do with it as I am still getting back into shape following injury. I am taking lower gears than usual and we;ll be doing it towards the end of the trip (so hopefully some fitness gains from riding during the trip).

New Years in Central Otago sounds fabulous- how cool is it to have a father in law with a vineyard in a beautiful location!

Hey, another question if you don't mind:

1) I know Jan is the high season for holiday travel. I've been getting mixed advice about the need for bookings in advance. We are hoping to camp, hopefully in DOC sites. We'd prefer to do some booking in advance (the first & last couple of days, key spots that are very popular), but then try to use DOC sites that don't accept reservations or do some short-term booking in advance while we are on the road. Folks at TripAdvisor (more car culture focused) think that I'm crazy to not book out the entire trip in advance. Folks on ThornTree (lonely planet, so more backpackers) seem to think that we'll probably be able to find places, eg at DOC or less popular campgrounds.

Any thoughts on necessity for booking in advance are appreciated!

2) also, I can't figure DOC site bookings. I've found some very popular sites can be booked on the DOC website (eg, campgrounds near the beginnings of the great walks). Then, DOC says that some OTHER sites can be booked at the local DOC office, by going in in person or calling, but I can't tell which ones and there is no info on how far in advance one can book and the like. Is there a way to figure out how the bookings work?

thanks again!

11-30-2011, 02:26 PM
Book as much as possible.... January is school summer holidays and a lot of people take their annual leave and head to the beaches etc.....Less popular campsites are often that way for a reason :)

I haven't used the DOC site for a couple of years since leaving NZ (sob,sob).... Maybe Pip can help ? have you tried emailing the DOC sites that you want to stay at?

Kiwi Stoker
12-06-2011, 01:59 AM
Don't forget motels (self contained accomodation) as an alternative. Yes Jan is school holidays and camping has become very popular again because of the recession. I would try and book as much as possible.

And also remember that we don't have much of an ozone layer anymore so sunscreen and long sleeved shirts/arm coolers are a must. 10 minutes and you can be badly burned. Reapply frequently as well.

Have fun!

12-11-2011, 07:03 AM
Thanks for all of the advice! And excellent tip about the ozone. I am one of those burn-under-any-circumstances type people and I will definitely get the arm protectors.

12-25-2011, 07:36 PM
Hmm, I'm not so sure about booking DOC sites online either, but the suggestion to email ahead sounds like a good one. Not long now, right? We're having stunning weather here at the moment - very sunny and warm. It may go downhill again around New Years, but hopefully it should be good for your visit!

I would agree with the suggestion regarding sunscreen. I spent a month in Europe wandering round under cloudless skies in 30 degree temperatures with not a hint of burn. I went out for a gentle Christmas day ride yesterday and got thoroughly sunburned!

If you happen to be passing between Queenstown and Cromwell look out for the Remarkable Wines tasting room in Gibbston Valley (on Coalpit Rd just off the main highway). If Richard Guthrey is behind the counter tell him his daughter-in-law Pip sent you and hopefully he will sort you out!

12-28-2011, 07:32 AM
We took our tandem on honeymoon to NZ - it was really lovely.

I definitely second booking stuff up in advance.

Take nice low gears - some of the hills were much steeper than we expected. Have a look at ariel photos of Akaroa & you will see - it's a volcanoe!

Security wise it's extremely safe I would say - definitely no personal safety issues at all anywhere. A lock is a good idea generally - but everyone seemed very friendly & honest.

Also you often get 4 seasons in one day (including some fairly fierce winds). So I would take windproofs if not waterproofs and legwarmers just in case.

I would really recommend either tramping or cycling the Queen Charlotte Track. For very little money a boat takes your stuff round to the next place you are staying - it's really lovely. But do book in advance.

12-29-2011, 05:01 PM
Hi there, thanks for the comments. Yes, the trip is soon - we leave on Sunday! Im very excited but a bit nervous about the horrible cold I've developed from Xmas travel. It better clear up before the flights!

I am bring extremely low gears. We live in northern cal so are used to the hills, but many of the climbs seem to have extended steep sections and given my present (historically low) level of fitness I thought I'd better be safe than sorry in the gear departments!

Pip: thanks for the tip about your inlaw's winery. We will definitely stop by if we are in the area!

Millie: excellent tip to email the doc sites. They responded promptly and provided info on site access/arrival times etc. as you suspected, we can't book ahead but we will try to arrive early and hopefully get into sites. Wish us luck!