We don't want to give away too many of the secret routes and memorable NZ bike rides that can be part of your Flying Kiwi tour experience. But we've collected together information on some New Zealand's best mountain bike trails and cycle routes.
This will give you a taste of what touring with us offers you, if you're looking to spend some time on a bike during your NZ visit. We might be biased, but we reckon New Zealand offers travellers biking experiences to rival any two wheel adventures on offer around the world.
Read on to learn more about some great North & South Island New Zealand cycle rides:
On arrival into Paihia, the gateway town to the Bay of Islands take a bike up to the Waitangi bike park for some off-road trails before following the road around meeting with the crew at the beautiful Haruru Falls. On our full day there are a number of places to explore in the Paihia surroundings. Cycle along the waterfront from camp, lock your bike in Paihia and jump on the ferry across to the romantic island of Russell. There are also short walks in Paihia town, boutique shops, surf cafes or always the beach for swimming. You could even head to the Waitangi Mountain Bike Forest for another round.
After leaving the Bay it is your chance to cycle the road through some of the best examples of kauri forest remaining in New Zealand in the Waipoua Forest before taking in the historical train line remnants of Donnelleys crossing and finish up at a Kauri store and cafe. This challenging ride of 33km is well worth the effort if you can manage it.
In the evening we’re back at the beach where you can enjoy the gentle 8km Te Ara Tahuna Estuary Cycleway loop from camp.
Varied On Road Varied
After admiring the sights of the famous Cathedral Cove walk and relaxing on the beach at Hahei it’s time to head to camp. A short but sweet ride of 10km with a couple of challenging hills thrown in this ride has great views and gives you a nice alternative way of getting to our camp at Hot Water Beach. On arrival set up your tent and head to the beach to dig your very own hot pool to relax those tired muscles!
One of our most liked bike rides the Huaraki Rail Trail follows an old railway line 16km from the historic gold mining town of Waihi into the heart of the mighty Karangahake gorge. The area has a wealth of history centred on gold and silver mining that you will see evidence of as you make your way into the gorge. Although mining activities still continue in this part of New Zealand Karangahake is conservation land so you can take in the history but also enjoy beautiful scenery as well as tackling the 1.1km long tunnel towards the end of the ride, a real highlight and a great way to start the day.
10km | 16km on road & Trail Easy
In Rotorua you have the chance to ride one of the oldest and most extensive mountain bike networks in the country, in the Whakarewarewa Forest. With over 100km of trails which suit levels from beginners to expert riders, it is an experience not to be missed.
To really make the most of your day jump on your bike in the centre of Rotorua and follow the Te Ara Ahi Thermal by bike trail for 10km to one of the main entrances to the forest trails. The Te Ara Ahi Trail will take you past some of the nicest sites in Rotorua and give you a glimpse of the geothermal activity that makes this area so famous.
Spend time exploring the vast trails in the forests or cycle from the park entrance a short distance to camp where you’ll be able to unwind in a geothermal hot pool.
10km + Bike park Trails road & trail Easy to advanced
For those keen to have more trail riding, a more advanced option starts at Huka falls. The trail is completely off-road and eventually winds pass a natural Thermal pool. Pack your swimwear, lock the bike and follow the hot spring signs. The natural springs sit right at the side of the Waikato River so you get the best of both worlds; swim in the cold when too hot and then soak back in the hot pool feeling completely relaxed on your Flying Kiwi adventure. Another option is to buy some lunch in Taupo town and take a bike ride along the cycle path around the Lake. This is an easy level option and the trail extends 13km along the waterfront. A great way to spend your afternoon in Taupo, go riding capturing the stunning views of glistening fresh water Lake Taupo boasts with mountainous backdrops.
5km + Trail Intermediate - Advanced
East Coast Rides
After enjoying the magnificent coastline on our way to Kaikoura our first ride on the south island includes a gentle ride through farmland to access an intermediate trail ride that takes you downhill and back to the coastline. Rub shoulders with the locals on this trail that will hopefully lay the foundations for further trails in Kaikoura in the near future. A short section on road will take you into camp where you can set up your tent and relax down by the beach.
The Peel forest road ride is a great opportunity to stretch your legs at the end of the day, with mountains in the back drop and lush green farmland all around this one is not to be missed. The Canterbury plains is one of New Zealand’s most important farming regions and you’re likely to see fields of sheep, cows and also deer along this stretch of road. This mostly flat 19km road ride takes you past the entrance to the Peel Forest, which we will explore the following day, before you make your way to our camp at the beautiful sheep shearer’s house on the edge of the Rangitata River.
18km | 19km on & off road intermediate
Central South Island Lakes
The next few days takes in some of New Zealand’s most iconic scenery, so why not explore this area by bike? Follow the Tekapo canal on part of the Alps to Ocean cycle trail and get the first glimpse of Lake Pukaki with Aoraki/Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak, in view at the top of the lake. Follow the trail for 28km and you’ll find yourself at camp with the others preparing for a refreshing swim.
The next day you can make an early start and ride 20km to another great view point on the other side of the lake before joining the crew for a hike in Aoraki/Mt Cook national park. In the afternoon there is another opportunity to do a little more of the famous Alps to Ocean trail as we start to leave the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps behind us. Hop on your bike for another 13km ending at Lake Benmore where there’s another opportunity for a quick dip to cool off.
Our first night in the Otago region is in the sleepy fishing village of Moeraki where it’s possible to take a short 12km round trip from camp out to Katiki Point Lighthouse. The highlight of this ride is seeing some more of New Zealand’s playful fur seals but perhaps even more impressive is the colony of rare yellow-eyed penguins, the rarest penguin in the world!
The following day we make our way to Dunedin where you have the option of exploring the city by cycle or take a longer ride out on the Otago Peninsula to view the stunning wildlife.
12km | 7km Gravel road & paved road Intermediate
Today we make our way from East coast to West as the farmland of Southland gives way to epic mountains of Fiordland. Another ride to stretch your legs at the end of the day the final section of road into our camp is an 8km gravel road that leads into the heart of the Hollyford valley. Surrounded by the temperate rainforest of Fiordland and following a road where you’re more likely to see a possum than another person this ride is a great way to arrive at the historic Gunn’s camp, an old work camp built in the 1930’s and preserved for us to enjoy today.
On return to Fiordland’s gateway town, Te Anau, we’ll have some time to send you on a late afternoon ride around the edge of Lake Te Anau which has incredible views of Fiordland’s mountains across the water. There’s an easy 10km loop or go a bit further if you want to explore a little.
8km | 10km Gravel road & Paved Road Easy
Once in Queenstown there are cycle options galore! Queenstown offers an array of trail cycling which will have you riding through private farm land, over suspension bridges and unspoilt insane New Zealand scenery. We urge you to pack a camera! The Queenstown trail which is part of the NZ cycle trail has almost 100km of trials in the spectacular Wakatipu Basin. With two days in Queenstown, you might like to try out the ‘Lake Wakatipu Ride’ (15km easy ride) or a more challenging ride with a combination of three different trails (42km full day).The trail takes in some of New Zealand’s most breath-taking scenery including Lake Hayes, Frankton and Queenstown. (Various lengths)
Queenstown is also home to an awesome downhill mountain bike park, however, you will need to hire a specialised downhill bike to take on this section. You will see riders have their bikes strapped on to the side of Queenstown gondola which takes you to the top of the park and then ride laps of just the downhill. The park has varying degrees of difficulty and terrain.
Varied distances from 5km - 50km Off Road Varies
On Route To The West Coast
After a busy few days in Queenstown we travel back into more remote areas to explore yet more mountains and lakes on our way to the west coast. There is an option to ride 10km on road along the edge of Lake Wanaka and into our camp at Boundary Creek. You’ll get fantastic views across the lake and the peaks of Mt Aspiring National Park in the distance.
The remote west coast has some of the best scenery in the country complete with mountains, temperate rainforest and stormy seas, to really immerse yourself you can take the challenging ride into Fox Glacier Township. Go for the longer distance of 47km leaving from the coast or we can drop you just 22km outside of town for a shorter ride taking in the mountain vistas, farmland and forest.
10km | 22km | 47km On Road Intermediate
Today we have a full day exploring the Fox Glacier and its surrounds so if you’re not heading up to the Ice by helicopter then the next best option is to ride the 5km trail up to the start of the glacier valley walkway. The off road cycle/walkway takes you through some beautiful fern forest before you set out on foot to view the Glacier. Hop on your bike and back into town to relax before heading down to Lake Matheson, another iconic New Zealand landmark that, when conditions permit, reflects the backdrop of Aoraki/Mt Cook and Mt Tasman in the water.
We leave Fox Glacier mid-afternoon and have a short drive to the little village of Okarito. It’s possible to grab the bike and ride the 10km quiet road through more native bush, bird watching on route and into camp. The camp is right next to the beach where you’ll be able to relax those tired muscles next to a campfire.
10km trail & on road easy
Shortly after a stop in the small gold mining town of Ross, cyclists can ride the remaining 14km into Hokitika following the West Coast Wilderness Trail. The trail follows an old tramline that is now shrouded in forest before crossing bridges and boardwalks through mangroves and eventually coming into Hokitika, the Greenstone capital of New Zealand.
Later that afternoon take the final opportunity to experience riding along some of the best coastal roads in New Zealand by taking on the 37km ride into our camp at Punakaiki. Starting with gorgeous coastal views, the road gradually moves inland passing the small settlement of Barrytown before the landscape takes on transformation. As you arrive in Punakaiki, Nikau palm trees appear and Limestone cliffs tower above creating an almost sub-tropical environment that feels as if you’ve just arrived in a Jurassic park movie set.
14km | 37km Trail & On road Easy - Intermediate
The Tasman region has wonderful national parks, great beaches and some awesome cycling. Grab the bike and ride the final 20km to camp via the beach town of Kaiteriteri. The best thing about this section of the Great Tastes Trail is it incorporates the Kaiteriteri mountain bike park. Stop off here for a bit of trail riding or simply follow the easy rider down to the beach for a short pit stop before making your way over the hill to Marahau, the gateway town to Abel Tasman National Park and the town we’ll be staying tonight
The Great Tastes Trail extends all the way to the city of Nelson where we will be making a stop on route to Picton so you’ll have one last opportunity to jump on the bike in the South Island. Follow the trail 20km into Nelson along the tidal inlets and waterfront of the Nelson area before stopping in the city and re-joining the crew before we depart to Picton for our ferry.