We're dicing with the idea of travelling around New Zealand by bicycle but have little experience with cycling. Advice on any aspect of cycling in New Zealand or even just cycle touring in general would be gratefully received.
What kind of bikes will we need? Is a trailer better than panniers? What should we take with us? Which roads should we avoid? Are the hills really worse in the Northern Island? Will the saddle really get more comfortable with time or will my bottom just go numb?
All these questions and more are buzzing round my head right now as we contemplate cycling around New Zealand's North & South Islands.
Try Googling 'cycle NZ' or similar - there's a lot of information online. You can always buy a sheepskin bike seat cover :-)
You're going to see some awesome scenery - go at your own speed, and have a great trip!
Getting a guide such as "Cycling NZ" by Lonely Planet or Pedaller's Paridise by Nigel Rushton is a great start. Bike type depends a bit on where you want to go and your level of comfort on a bike. Either way get one that's properly sized for you, learn how to set it up, handlebars that allow multiple hand positions are a bonus and clipless pedals can make a world of difference. In my opinion, panniers on both the front and back give a very stable secure ride, they offer more organizing options, they are simpler mechanically and easier to transport on buses, trains,etc. The biggest negative is they greatly increase the effect of side winds. We travelled with a BOB trailer and would opt for a second set of panniers now. It was a pain on alternate transportation, more moving parts = more potential for trouble, and the trailer caused at least 6 wipeouts. When manuevering at low speed it could tip your bike enough to cause a crash if you leaned or turned to sharply. My girlfriend hated it. Take puncture resistant tires, a good tent, sleeping pads that you do not have to inflate, rear-view mirrors, wool or synthetic clothing, rain gear, bike tools, puncture kit, flashers for low-light/night riding ( it'll happen ), pump, bike computer, flashlight, $100 emergency cash. Avoid Hwy#1 where you can, the traffic/trucks can wear on you. The ride into Milford Sound is good as gold. If you do just one island, do the south. The saddle will get more comfortable, you'll still get sore, just less often. Buy a good pair of cycling shorts and stay away from the big cushy seats. They feel nice at first, but they're torture after an hour. Best advice? Be flexible. Enjoy and best of luck, south island NZ is probably the best place in the world to cycletour.
Hi there, I love cycling when I am away travelling as you get to see and experience so much more. New Zealand is great for cycling and the distances between towns are not too far. The only thing you should be wary of is the weather, it can be quite unpredictable. If you are interested in a few city cycle tours there is the Christchurch City Bike Tour which is fantastic and flat! There is also a cycle you can do from the gondolas as well. There are lots of smaller cycle tours you can do if you dont want to be cycling all of the time but want to enjoy the cycle experience.
Thanks all for your words of wisdom... I have just finished reading Long Cloud Ride by Josie Dew and I think it has put us off a big expedition once and for all. She talks about having a few too many near death experiences with logging trucks and lunatic drivers for my liking - I want to get home alive!
Apparently it is quite common to be peltied with bottles/spit and anything else that comes to hand as people overtake you which sounds particularly unpleasant. We also met a New Zealander who has cycled all over the world and he said that NZ is the worst place he has ever cycled and wouldn't recommend it as the place to start out.
Think we are going to leave our first major cycle expedition until we are back home in Scotland where there are lots of dedicated cycle routes. We may have to battle with the elements and the midges but at least we'll avoid being squashed like a possum... hopefully!