Gliking Around New Zealand's Great Taste Trail

5 April 2015

There was a time not so long ago (17 years, actually) when the phrase ‘google it’ didn’t even exist. It’s hard to believe isn’t it?

Other made-up words now drop into our conversations as easily as a cold beer on a summer day. Glamping’s one of them (as in glamorous camping). Now there’s gliking (as in glam hiking and biking). Gliking is glamping’s more active, dare we say it, more interesting cousin.

New Zealand is no shrinking violet when it comes to trend setting (they were the first country to allow women to vote) so it comes as no surprise that they’ve embraced gliking with gusto.

The new Great Taste Trail incorporates 175 kilometres of cycle trails centred around Nelson at the top of the South Island.

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Drink-Gliking Is Legal But...

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The Gentle Cycling Company (TGCC) has made it super easy for travellers who like to bike but don’t like to haul heavy bags. They’ll provide well-maintained bikes along with safety gear and waterproof paniers (you’ll need these to carry food, wine, beer and trinkets – trust me you will buy stuff!).

 You can enjoy the views better this way (credit: Fiona Harper)

Given that drink-driving laws exclude cyclists, it’s rather convenient that the trail passes through wine country. Oh, and there’s more than 20 boutique breweries in Nelson if beer or cider is more your thing. Not that I’m recommending drink-riding. But more on refreshments later.

Nelson is the logical starting point, though you could actually pick up the trail anywhere between Nelson, Richmond or along the Motueka river valley. The coastal terrain is mostly flat with gently undulating hills so you won’t need the endurance of Cadel Evans to get around.

Kaiteriteri is the northernmost trail head as well as being the starting point for Abel Tasman National Park so you can combine biking and hiking for a true gliking holiday. If you’re feeling super energetic, Tasman Bay is splendid for sea-kayaking, making for a glam triathlon if you’re so inclined.

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The Only Concern Is Where To Stop

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One of the key elements to fun gliking is porterage – a rather odd word that gets little use but listen up, this is important. With your luggage transported from one overnight stop to the next there’s no need to load up like a cranky old pack horse.

Rather, glikers carry no more than a small daypack.With a map in hand and all the pesky logistics taken care of, your only concern is where to stop along the route.

 Gliking where cars can't go (credit: Fiona Harper)

Back to those refreshments I mentioned earlier.

Beaches, galleries and art studios. Cafes, vineyards, breweries and fruit orchards are all tempting diversions.

Westwards from Nelson the trail winds along the coast before crossing a causeway to Rabbit Island. Board the Mapua Ferry for the river crossing to Mapua Wharf where old timber apple sheds have been converted into restaurants and boutique stores. On weekends the village thumps to live music and trendy young things soak up the sun while sipping cider. It’s uber cool.

If you can’t find something delicious to eat (or drink) in this part of the world, well, you’re really not trying. Boysenberries, pears and apples are in abundance, so too fresh raw milk (topped with rich cream – yum!). Seafood, and of course lamb, is on almost every menu.

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Beverage Browsers Are Spoiled For Choice

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Boutique breweries and beer bars are ubiquitous. In fact there’s more craft breweries per head of population than anywhere else in NZ. Wine lovers are spoiled for choice too thanks to a perfect combination of rich-soil, gentle rolling hills, lashings of sunshine and little rain. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Noir vines flourish.

Try Neudorf Vineyard or Waimea Estate for indulgent vineyard lunches and Blackenbrook Vineyard for cellar door tastings or to stash some bottles on your bike. Grape Escape is a co-op showcasing the best food, wine, gifts and artworks – stop in here if you’re looking for gifts to take home.

Along the Great Taste Trail Pine Hill Lodge is a swanky B&B with sheep grazing among the vines. Others like Nautilus Lodge in the town of Motueka and Kimiora Eco Retreat at Keriteriteri work with TGCC sorting out porterage and accommodation.

 Unusual crossings are part of the adventure (credit: Fiona Harper)

In Nelson, plan your Great Taste Trails adventures from a waterfront base at the Grand Monaco Mercure.

The northern section winds through gently rolling hills and the coastal town of Kaiteriteri, the logical jumping off point to explore Abel Tasman National Park. Wilsons Abel Tasman takes over from TGCC, arranging all logistics for glikers.

Wilsons have been guiding hikers since the 1840s so you’re in good hands.


Another winery experience in NZ. Swirl, Sip and Savour – Auckland’s Villa Maria Winery

There's more to Rotorua. A Rotorua Adventure – Just Astonishing


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Porterage Frees You For The Real Joys

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A network of trails hug the coastline across golden beaches or wetland boardwalks, sometimes alongside streams leading to rainforest-clad waterfalls.

Wilsons will transport glikers to the start of the trail by boat as well as luggage porterage to the next lodge. Plus, a guide will carry morning tea and lunch – how very civilised.

 The bike parks come with spectacular views (credit: Fiona Harper)

There are two waterfront lodges along the trail, staffed by a chef and host. Naturally there’s hot showers, plush sofas around a fireplace and divine beds to rest up in each night.

While luxury or glamorous hiking and biking may sound indulgent, the real indulgence is the freedom it offers. With the pesky task of carrying heavy packs dispensed with, the real joy of gliking is evident.

An active escape becomes an enticing adventure with luxurious comfort thrown in.

Fiona Harper

Fiona is a freelance travel writer & blog editor based in Cairns. Widely travelled, highly acclaimed and much published, Fiona's articles & images are published across the globe. When she's not writing about North Queensland she's probably running a marathon or exploring the globe by foot, bike, kayak or boat: whatever mode of transport she can get her hands on!