The New Zealand bike trails are more than a ride – they’re a journey. There are over 20 cycle trails available across New Zealand’s North and South Island and they’ve been specifically tailored to ensure every age, interest and fitness level is catered for.

Exploring by bike is an excellent way to experience the spectacular ‘great outdoors’ and see places you might not manage with something as big as a car or campervan. There are cycle trails that sweep around bends to reveal stunning scenery are designed to take your breath away; through dense native bush, along scenic coastal highways, stunning snow-capped peaks mirrored into millpond-calm lakes; the different rides are designed to showcase the very best of New Zealand’s landscape, environment, culture and heritage.

Why cycle?

New Zealand has a cycle trail to suit everybody  - photo credit: Miles Holden

You can cycle New Zealand whether you’re a fair-weather cyclist looking for an easy afternoon ride, or a more adventurous enthusiast looking for a 3-day adventure through the rugged high country. These planned cycle trails make it fun and easy with gentle rides allowing you to cruise along the scenic coastal trails, traverse historic old coach roads or back road country lanes, which are great options for families. With a bike, you can experience the independence and freedom of setting your own pace and choosing when, where and how you want to travel and it’s also a pretty green option!

Where can I hire a bike?

Each destination across New Zealand has a wide range of cycle suppliers who offer trail bike rentals and servicing. Many also offer half-day and full day tours, self-guided or supported rides and package deals. So whether you want a vintage retro beauty or a hard-edged off-road mountain bike – every option is available. There are many tour operators offering personalised or custom designed itineraries including accommodation and meals – ask us for more details and we’ll help you find just the right trail to suit you!

Where do you stay?

New Zealand has plenty of accommodation options to suit any budget. There’s everything from self-catering studio units and motel apartments to holiday parks. We can recommend the best options to accommodate couples, families and groups.

Great B&B, cottage, chalet and hostel accommodation options are available, as well as boutique stays including lodges, homesteads, farm stays and hill stations through to luxury lodges and spa stays. Everywhere you stay will have bike storage and many places offer on-site bikes hire/use.

If you’d like to rent a campervan, we can recommend a vehicle to suit your budget and comfort level. If you want to carry bikes with you in New Zealand, we recommend Britz campervans as they are the only models with built-in cycle carriers.

With so many incredible locations it can be hard to decide which trail to choose – so here’s some guidance to help you…

Which cycle trail should I choose?

The New Zealand Cycle Trails are categorised by grades which are determined by the gradient, surface and traffic conditions | photo credit: Camilla Stodart

First off, you need to assess your style: do you want a soft cycle? Or are you a more experience enthusiast? Now you can check out the trails on offer to match your style with where you want to explore!

The New Zealand Cycle Trails are categorised by grades which are determined by the gradient, surface and traffic conditions, as well as other key features that determine which style of bike you will require:

Grade 1 bike trails

These are the easiest – generally either firm gravel or sealed (concrete or asphalt) and on-road trails follow quiet roads with little traffic. Suitable for beginners, families and those seeking a very easy cycling experience. Single speed and children’s bikes

Grade 2

These are also easy – mostly flat with some gentle climbs. Surface is either firm gravel or sealed. Suitable for those with limited cycling experience. A multi-geared bike with medium to wide tyres recommended such as a comfort or mountain bike.

Grade 3

These are classified as intermediate – trails become more challenging with hill climbs, steep drop-offs and small river crossings. Surfaces are mostly firm, but can include obstacles and muddy or loose sections. On-road trails will have moderate traffic levels. Experienced cyclists with good level of fitness and children over 12 years of age. Mountain Bikes recommended.

Grade 4

These are for more advanced cyclists – Trails are narrow and steep, with unavoidable obstacles and poor traction in places where walking might be required. A high level of fitness required for experienced cyclists and children over 12 years of age. A quality mountain bike recommended.

When is best to cycle in New Zealand?

All the summer months (November to March) are brilliant times to visit and cycle New Zealand

All the summer months (November to March) are brilliant times to visit and cycle New Zealand. The climate at this time allows for wonderful days of cycling being complemented en-route by an array of outdoor activities on offer. Seeing New Zealand by bike will allow you to stop and explore the delights of local farmers markets, craft breweries and vineyards, art galleries and museums, wildlife colonies and unique eco-systems or just marvel at the breath-taking terrain en route! If you want to cover both the North and South islands, the ferry ride between the North and the South Island makes getting between the islands easy and scenic and we can also book the ferry for you.

What we recommend

Cycle at your own pace and stop off wherever you fancy

Unsure which trail to choose? Find out more about the wide network of trails at www.nzcycletrail.com or www.newzealand.com - two of our favourites are:

Timber Trail

The Timber Trail is a North Island based ancient forest adventure following old tramlines and suspension bridges. A 2 day, 87km easy to intermediate ride. Following old tramlines and specially designed track, the trail is a perfect weekend destination within easy reach of Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Taupo and Wellington. Great views are offered by the eight large suspension bridges along the trail, the splendour of the forest, and the sounds of birdcalls as you meander 83km across the middle of the North Island.

Great Taste Trail

The South Island's Great Taste trail is based on a loop following the booming craft brewery industry, vineyards and cafes as you follow spectacular coastal terrain. 1-4 days, 35-178km depending on which circuit you take.

Ready to go?

If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, I can help with all aspects of your trip, from flights to accommodation and tours. If you find cycle trails you like the look of, we can help you plan an itinerary that fits around the trails to make the most of your time here. I can tailor-make any itinerary to suit you – just contact Annette for more ideas.

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